Mensah M. Dean, Ryan W. Briggs and Rodrigo Torrejón
The Philadelphia Inquirer
A Lincoln University student was fatally stabbed and two others were injured in a violent attack inside a dorm room Wednesday night, authorities said.
The slain student, identified by family as Jawine Evans, 21, died at the scene, a spokesperson for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office said. The two other victims were taken to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where they were treated and released.
Law enforcement did not identify any of the victims, but a man who said he was Evans’ father confirmed that his son had died of injuries sustained in the incident. He declined to comment further.
Police continue to investigate the attack, which they say they believe was an isolated incident.
University officials said little about the stabbings but expressed condolences to the victims’ families and said they were cooperating with law enforcement officials.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred on the campus last night,” said Dee VanSant, program assistant in the university’s communications office. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We take the safety of our students seriously and are working with the local authorities as there is an ongoing investigation.” She declined further comment.
The violence was the result of a clash between two groups of students in a narrow hallway of the Thurgood Marshall Living Learning Center, a multipurpose building designed to house more than 370 students, said Ezekiel Quattlebaum, 21, who serves as Lincoln’s student attorney general.
“I don’t know the specifics of why they were fighting, but there were multiple people fighting — group vs. group. I saw one person with a knife or scissors,” said Quattlebaum, a senior from Denver who witnessed the attack. “It was close quarters, that’s why so many people got stabbed.”
He said he knew the victims by sight but does not know their names.
“That’s information that I’m hoping the university will reveal to us because we have a right to know if one of our students died and one of our students killed someone,” he said.
Ed Rivera, a part-owner of the Third Street Barber shop in Oxford, which is a few miles from campus and is frequented by Lincoln students, said he was saddened by the incident.
“When my first clients came in today, we were just all taken aback,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful place, an institution of higher learning and they aren’t able to resolve their differences without violence. That breaks my heart.”
Quattlebaum, the student leader with a double major in religion and political science, said the episode was deeply troubling.
“This is definitely a shock. To have someone who you’ve seen in the hallways, seen in your buildings, then to know that he’s not going to be here again. It is a surreal moment,” said Quattlebaum, an aspiring lawyer who said he chose to attend Lincoln because Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended the school.
A vigil for Evans was scheduled to take place on the school’s quad at 6 p.m. Thursday. “Lions, today our hearts are heavy suffering from the loss of our LU brother Jawine Evans. … The loss is hitting our community extremely hard right now,” one poster wrote on Instagram.
Evans, who was raised in Kensington, according to a social media profile, was an aspiring basketball player.
“One thing that makes me different is my love for the game and my good attitude with players and coaches,” Evans wrote in a personal statement on a college sports prospecting site.
The site listed Evans as a former South Philadelphia High School student. He appears to have excelled at academics and was listed on the 2021 Lincoln University dean’s list.
Quattlebaum said the slaying had brought Lincoln students closer together, with many taking part in virtual prayer circles and discussion groups.
“It seems like we have record amounts of love right now. That’s what we need so we can understand each other more and avoid stuff like this in the future,” he said. “No parent deserves to hear that their student has passed, and no classmate deserves to learn that their fellow classmate will not be there anymore.”
The historically Black university was founded in 1854. In its first century, the Chester County institution produced graduates who were 20% of all Black physicians in the United States, and more than 10% of Black lawyers in the country during that period.
Among its prominent graduates were Marshall, the first Black person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court; Langston Hughes, the celebrated poet who rose to fame during the Harlem Renaissance; and Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. In 1946, Albert Einstein accepted an invitation to visit Lincoln to underscore his support for civil rights.
Lincoln, set on a leafy, 422-acre campus in Oxford, has functioned as a public, state-related university since the 1970s.. Although the school’s revenue has remained relatively stable, enrollment has fallen sharply in recent years as the coronavirus led attendance to drop. Last year, enrollment fell to 1,916 students, down from 2,376 in 2018.
In 2020, MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $20 million to the university, the largest single gift in the school’s history.
Crime is rare on campus, according to federal public safety reports. Between 2019 and 2021, the university reported no homicides and just 10 aggravated assaults.
Despite the numbers, some parents complained about campus safety and faulted university officials for a lack of discipline. Carmina Taylor, a former president of the university’s parents’ association whose son graduated from Lincoln in 2016, recalled that gunfire broke out on campus that year, but no one was hurt. And in 2018, more than a dozen students ended up in the hospital after a fight broke out that security quelled with the use of pepper spray.
“What has happened over time is they have allowed kids to party, drink, and drug,” she said. “It’s a free-for-all.”
Another parent, James Thomas, whose son is a 2016 Lincoln graduate, said he and other parents had complained about student behavior on campus but found administrators unresponsive.
“We alerted the university about potential violence on campus years ago, but they did not listen to us,” said Thomas, a professor of Pan-African studies at California State University, Los Angeles. “Instead, they shut down the parents’ association.”
Taylor and Thomas called on Lincoln president Brenda Allen to reestablish the parents’ association and renew efforts to work more closely with parents, faculty, and students to maintain order on campus.
Anyone with information about the stabbings is asked to call Chester County Detective John DiBattista at 610-344-6824 or the university’s public safety office at 484-365-7211.
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