On Friday, a former student of Transylvania University (in Lexington, Kentucky) stormed a campus coffee shop with a machete and a bag full of knives. Police say that Michael Atkins, age 19, demanded to know the political affiliation of patrons before telling a Republican student that they had nothing to fear. Atkins then reportedly threatened several non-Republican students and injured two women, one of whom ended up in a nearby hospital. He was also transported to a medical facility for what witnesses observed as “self-inflicted injuries.” Atkins has now been charged with multiple counts of assault and wanton endangerment.
Campus police and authorities have been credited with a rapid response to a situation that could have been much worse since there were dozens of students in the coffee shop when Atkins entered the premises. The campus also makes use of a text-alert system that informed students to stay away from the shop, and one student described what he saw and heard:
Tristan Reynolds, a student who was in the campus cafe where the attack occurred, said about 30 to 40 people were there at the time.
“A guy came in, banged something, a hatchet or an ax, on the table and said ‘the day of reckoning has come,'” Reynolds said. “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.”
Campus security and local police recently underwent joint active-shooter training, which a spokesperson believes helped with the rapid lockdown process on campus and nearby schools while officers cornered and tackled Atkins. In an article about this attack, Buzzfeed notes that Atkins once wrote a post (which appeared on Buzzfeed) about his belief that conservatives experience discrimination for their political orientation.