A 22-year-old University of Kentucky student was shot and killed a block from the Lexington campus Friday morning in what police believe was a random robbery gone awry.
Jonathan W. Krueger, a junior communications major and photo editor at the school newspaper, was shot in the chest about 2 a.m. while walking home from a party.
Justin D. Smith, 18, was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with murder, robbery, tampering with evidence and evading police. Police have found no connection between the two men, and continue to search for additional suspects.
“This feels like a nightmare; it feels like everything has gone wrong,” said Adam Pennavaria, Krueger’s friend and colleague on the school newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. “He is the last person I would have ever thought something like this would happen to.”
Krueger was walking home from a party with another man near Transylvania Park, about a block from campus. The man he was with told police a minivan pulled up and confronted them, according to police. He said he managed to flee, found two men nearby and contacted authorities.
Lexington police responded to a report of shots fired and found Krueger in the street, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a half-hour later.
“He was an easy friend,” said Chris Poore, student adviser for the university’s newspaper. “He was comfortable with everybody and people felt comfortable with him. He looked you in the eye. It made him a better photographer.”
The senselessness of the killing makes it harder to believe, Pennavaria said. He knows of no connection between his friend and Smith. He’s never seen Smith or heard his name.
“It could have been anyone,” he said. “It makes the least amount of sense of anything I can imagine.”
Krueger, an avid cyclist, grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. His family owned a greenhouse that grew poinsettias and other flowers, Poore said. He was proud of his family’s work; he showed off pictures of their flowers and farm.
His grandfather, Walter Krueger Sr., said Friday that the family is devastated and asked for privacy.
University President Eli Capilouto sent a note to students and staff Friday morning calling the killing “incomprehensible.”
“Although this tragedy occurred off-campus, it is a stark reminder that all members of our campus community should at all times be vigilant about their safety and the safety of others. We are each other’s keeper,” Capilouto wrote. “It is also in a moment like this that we are reminded of how fragile and precious life is.”
Krueger’s slaying stunned photographers and Kentucky Kernel alumni across the state. Dozens called the newspaper’s office Friday, barely able to believe the news, Pennavaria said. Dozens more contacted staff through text, Twitter or Facebook.
The newspaper staff is grieving for the loss their friend, Poore said.
“It’s a hard day for them,” Poore said. “They’re working hard to figure out how to cover the news of it; how to tell the best story about Jonathan.”
The newspaper is hosting a vigil for him at 8 p.m. Monday at Memorial Hall. They ask attendees to bring photos of Krueger and messages for his family.
Krueger’s fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, is also hosting a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Friday at the Newman Center.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Claire Galofaro