A former student of Kentucky's Transylvania University was arrested Friday after he allegedly stormed a campus café with a machete and a bag of knives, quizzed students on their political affiliations, and injured two women.
Mitchell W. Adkins allegedly entered the cafe on the Lexington campus shortly before 9 a.m. local time before threatening patrons and employees, the Lexington Police Department said in a statement.
Two women suffered non-life-threatening injuries. One was taken to a hospital, while the other was treated and released at the scene.
Witnesses told local media the suspect shouted "The day of reckoning is here!" as he began his attack.
"He asked the first girl if she was a Democrat or a Republican. She said Republican. He said okay, then asked some other girl," Michael Soder told Lex 18. "By that time, some of my friends were running out and yelling for us to leave, and I tried to stay behind to see if — I mean I didn't know what to do, I wanted to help, but I knew I should get out of there."
"He asked somebody what their political affiliation was, they said ‘Republican,’ and the guy said, 'You are safe,'" campus newspaper editor-in-chief Tristan Reynolds told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "And then I realized what was going on and started getting people out.”
“We started to scatter and then very, very quickly campus security was getting everybody sheltered and secure,” Reynolds said. “They were very on it.”
Michele Sparks, the university's vice president for marketing and communications, told BuzzFeed News the café is a "popular gathering spot" that was packed with around 30 people at the time of the incident.
She said a staffer at the café quickly pushed a silent alarm, triggering an immediate response from the university's department of public safety.
"Our DPS staff was on site within minutes and apprehended the suspect very rapidly," she said. "He actually cooperated with our DPS at first. When they came into the room, he dropped his weapon pretty quickly, but then there was a minor struggle and he was taken to the ground and handcuffed."
Sparks said the university had recently held a "refresher" on a campus shooter drill, which she credited for the swift official response.
"It could have been a lot worse," she said. "We are so proud of our police force. They saved a lot of lives today."
Lexington police said Adkins was taken to a hospital to be treated for self-inflicted injuries.
Adkins has been charged with assault in the first and fourth degrees, and three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree.
"Investigators are still working to determine what led up to the attack and what may have motivated Adkins," police said.
Adkins was a former Transylvania student who withdrew from the university in 2015, according to Sparks.
In 2015, after BuzzFeed staffer and Transylvania alum Tracy Clayton wrote a viral post detailing her experiences with racism at the university, Adkins wrote a post on this website as a community contributor. (Any member of the public can create a BuzzFeed account and generate what are known as community posts.)
In the post, "Discrimination of Conservatives in Liberal Arts," Adkins wrote of making "several enemies" because he is a "proud Republican."
"It's amazing to me that when I listen to someone's political opinion and then give my own, I'm the one who's lashed out at for being a 'racist' or 'bigot,' some even go as far as saying 'bane of society' or 'fascist Nazi,'" he wrote.
Adkins discussed losing friends because of his opinions on gay marriage and Caitlyn Jenner, and detailed his unhappiness with the student newspaper urging students not to wear racially insensitive costumes for Halloween.
"I am proud of who I am, but this school has shown me that it's not okay to be a Republican anymore," he concluded. "All of these people who are all about non-discrimination and against bullies and all for equality, are more than happy to turn around and scream at someone for being different, kick him to the ground, and leave him there. I am not the bigot at this school, it is those who go back on their beliefs in order to encourage them."
In a postscript, Adkins said he had later dropped out of college.
"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."
On his Facebook page, where he first shared his BuzzFeed post, Adkins has written and shared a number of posts about his support for President Trump, his views on gun control, and his views on attacks committed by Muslims.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.