Mitchell W. Adkins, the 19-year-old charged by Lexington police in a machete attack at Transylvania University on Friday, appears to have a history of publicly protesting what he considered the mistreatment of conservatives on college campuses.
A witness said a man walked into a coffee shop inside the Glenn Building Friday morning, asked people their political affiliation, then went on the attack.
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“He asked somebody what their political affiliation was, they said ‘Republican,’ and the guy said ‘You are safe.’ And then I realized what was going on and started getting people out,” said Tristan Reynolds, a student who was inside the campus café where the attack occurred.
Adkins withdrew from Transy in 2015, university spokeswoman Michele Gaither Sparks said Friday.
In November 2015, the Transy campus newspaper, The Rambler, published a letter from a student named Mitchell Adkins who complained that he was harassed on campus because he was a Republican.
“Being a Republican in this school makes me such a minority that I’ve had to face discrimination on a daily basis,” Adkins wrote in that letter. “Transylvania is a predominantly Democratic school. I’m always happy to listen to other people’s opinions, but as soon as I give my own, I’m called a ‘bigot,’ an ‘a----le,’ some even go as far as ‘fascist Nazi.’”
“With the election of (Republican) Matt Bevin as governor, I’ve become even more of a target for people claiming that I’m ‘responsible for ruining this country’ and that, somehow, I’m an evil person for what would make this state great,” he wrote.
That letter was signed “Mitchell Adkins,” along with a university email address that began “madkins19.”
Separately, in a November 2015 community blog post on the website Buzzfeed, a user with the name MAdkins19 identified himself as a Republican at Transylvania University who suffered political discrimination at the hands of “hardcore liberals.”
The writer referenced the election of Bevin as Kentucky’s governor that month, which he said “resulted in ugliness for all of his supporters.”
“I was at lunch when someone told me Bevin was elected, and my cheer of pride was met with looks of disgust and hatred,” he wrote. “People left the table, saying things along the lines of I was responsible for ruining this state and country, that my political opinion was wrong just because it was different. I have never been afraid to share my opinion, but being in this college has made me reluctant due to the backlash which I know is inevitable.”
In an update to the post, MAdkins19 said he had dropped out of Transy.
“The constant bullying and lack of friends drove me to an overdose, a trip to the hospital and two trips to a mental hospital,” he wrote.
“The constant thought of knowing I’d never fit in was too much for me to bear. I moved back home and started trade school in a place where I thought I fit in,” he wrote. “Despite the fact I left my past behind me, my present was too much for a friend to handle. I was very recently assaulted and literally thrown from his property after the mention of my support for Trump.”
“But the story has a happy ending. I’ve realized that some people will be stupid, unintelligent bastards, but they’re not at all the people I want to surround myself with. Dropping out of college was hard, but it made me realize that I’m here for myself, and I need to learn to ignore the occasional plagues of society so I can better myself and make sure to never stoop to their level.”
Katie Tucker, a Transy student who was president of the campus chapter of College Republicans while Adkins was in school, said Adkins attended “an initial interest meeting.” But he never returned for additional meetings, Tucker said.
“The club had no association with Adkins, though he did seem to self-identify as a Republican,” Tucker said. “He was not a member of the organization, so I did not know him.”