Crime

Transylvania University’s police chief and president took down coffee shop attacker

Details released on Transylvania campus assault with a machete

Transylvania University President Seamus Carey, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard discuss assault on campus that sent one student to a local hospital.
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Transylvania University President Seamus Carey, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard discuss assault on campus that sent one student to a local hospital.

The chief of Transylvania University’s public safety department and the president of the university worked together to take down a knife-wielding man who attacked students in a campus coffee shop Friday morning.

The two men happened to be nearby when the violence erupted, and their quick action stopped the attacker before more people might have been hurt.

Transylvania University President Seamus Carey, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard discuss assault on campus that sent one student to a local hospital.

Gregg Muravchick, director of public safety, recalled the dramatic events in an interview Saturday.

Muravchick said he had just helped a father who was dropping some things off for his son at the Transy administration building when Muravchick received an alert from the campus police dispatcher: Someone had pressed a panic alarm behind the register at Jazzman’s Café, right next door.

As he ran toward the Glenn Building, which houses the cafe and admissions office, he saw a female student on the lawn who had been stabbed.

One person was injured and another taken into custody after a machete attack Friday morning at a Transylvania University coffee shop, according to police.

“Other students were yelling and screaming,” he said.

Inside the Glenn Building, the attacker, Mitchell Adkins, 19, had cornered several women, some of whom were students, in a breezeway at the back of the cafe.

Adkins had a machete in one hand and a scythe in the other.

With his handgun drawn, Muravchick yelled at Adkins, telling him to drop the weapons and drop to the ground.

“He turned and came toward me” as Muravchick continued to order Adkins to drop the weapons. Adkins cut himself on the arms, then put down his knives and lay down.

“I was able to lay on top of him and tell the girls to remove themselves,” Muravchick said.

Transylvania President Seamus Carey had just gotten out of his car when he saw the commotion at the Glenn Building and ran inside, university spokeswoman Michele Sparks said.

Muravchick, who was holding his handgun while restraining Adkins, didn’t have a free hand to reach his handcuffs, so Carey got them for him.

As Adkins resisted, Captain Robert Gowdy arrived and helped as well, Muravchick said. A Taser was used to subdue Adkins.

Ambulance crews and Lexington police arrived quickly, and teams were set up to begin investigating and ensure that there were no other people involved.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done without them,” Muravchick said of the Lexington police. “It was a wonderful team effort by a lot of individuals.”

He credited coffee shop employees Erika Lyvers and Marcia Figgs with saving lives by pressing the alarm button that alerted Muravchick and Gowdy to the attack.

When Adkins attacked the student, Lyvers picked up a chair and started yelling at Adkins, which caused him to shift his attention away from his victim and toward Lyvers.

“I truly think that she saved somebody’s life by diverting the attacker,” Muravchick said.

As the patrons of the coffee shop scattered, Lyvers locked herself in an area behind the counter.

“They’re the true heroes,” Muravchick said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”

After the student who was stabbed escaped onto the lawn, a university accounting department employee, Joy Henderson, attended to the student’s wounds until an ambulance arrived, Carey said in a letter to the university community.

The victim was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

A second female student was treated by paramedics on campus after Adkins hit her, according to police and fire officials.

Muravchick has led the Department of Public Safety at Transylvania for six years after more than three decades of police work at other agencies, including the Kentucky State Police, Frankfort police, Franklin County sheriff’s office and the state justice cabinet.

“I still love it,” he said. “Love the kids, love the university and community.”

Muravchick’s two sons work for the Lexington police.

He said he and his staff regularly train with the Lexington Police Department. The two departments completed an active-shooter training together just a few weeks ago.

“We were very blessed that the dad needed an escort” in the building adjacent to where the attack occurred, Muravchick said. “There were angels watching over us.”

Adkins, of Cincinnati, withdrew from Transy in 2015. He has written about being harassed on campus because he is a Republican.

A witness said Adkins asked the students in the cafe about their political affiliations before he began the attack.

He is being held in the Fayette County Detention Center on one count of first-degree assault, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment and one count of fourth-degree assault.

He is scheduled to be arraigned in Fayette District Court at 1 p.m. Monday.

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