Students still dealing with shooting

Martina Baca

The smoke of Yuan Yuan Jiang`s cigarette slowly dissipated in the air. She was chatting with Weix Chen and two other friends in front of Peking Chinese restaurant in the evening of Oct. 24.

Chen, 28, is one of the oldest Chinese students at Ashland University.  He is currently completing his second master’s degree in AU. 

The first time he came to AU was in 2010 to earn his first master’s degree in education.   Then he went back to his home country of China, and in 2013, he once again came back to the United States, this time with his wife.

More than anybody else, Chen knows how hard it is for Chinese students to adapt to Ashland.  

He wanted this group of relatively new Chinese students to know that even though they are far from their families, they are not alone.  

He thought it would be nice to take some of these students, like Jiang, to eat at Peking Restaurant and then go roller skating at the Kroc Center.

After they were done eating, Chen, Jiang and two other Chinese students went outside to smoke a cigarette.  

When Chen was done smoking his Marlboro Light; he decided to go to his car to pick everybody up from the restaurant. 

The smoke and the small chat were interrupted by a very loud noise that neither Jiang nor her friends could recognize.   

The loud noise paralyzed Chen`s body. 

 “For the first time, it did not sound different from fireworks,” said Chen. 

He dropped his car keys and when he bent over to pick them up he heard the second loud noise really close to him.

“In China there are no guns so we didn’t know what was happening,” said Jiang. 

The same sound repeated four more times

Chen rushed his friends to move inside the restaurant. There was tension but not panic since nobody inside the restaurant was sure of what just had happened. 

“What was that sound?” a woman sitting inside said.

Nobody was certain about what had happened but Chen was really scared.  He waited around 15 minutes to actually leave the restaurant. 

He saw that everybody was very scared so in order to clear their minds, he went ahead and took them to the Kroc Center, just like they were supposed to.

It was not until after Chen called Peking`s manager to ask about a missing bag which belonged to one of the Chinese students. While on the phone he told the manager that he thought what happened was a shooting. 

“By the way, outside the wall is broken, might be a gunshot,” said Chen. 

Chen and all the chinese students went back to the restaurant and talked to the police about what had just happened. 


On Oct. 28 Chen was eating with one of his friend at Lotus restaurant when a couple of individuals interrupted their lunch.

“You guys have to go outside,” said two men that Chen could not recognize. “You should go back to your apartment because there may be a threat to Asian students in regard to Saturday’s shooting.

This changed completely the perspective Vince had about the shooting. He thought what had happened the other night was just a random act. He was wrong.

Jiang was in her English class on Wednesday when her professor informed everyone that Asian students should stay in the classroom.  At that same moment, she and all the Asian students of AU were sent an email from the International Student Services office. The email said that the police thought that the shooting of Saturday night was not a random act and that the suspect was indeed targeting Asian students. 

That day, Jiang stayed inside her room and did not go to class. She used to feel so safe and welcome in Ashland but not anymore.

Chen recommend Scott Parillo, director of international student services, to hold a meeting with an officer who could explain what happened that night and what the current situation of the shooter was.

On Oct. 30 Parillo, Dave McLaughlin, AU’s director of Safety Services and  David Marcelli, chief of the police department in Ashland, invited Asian students to get together in the auditorium of the students center to discuss the shooting and any questions that they might had.

Chief Marcelli explained that the suspect, Seph Valentine and his mother, Tammy Lunsford, were arrested and that he or his mother won’t present any danger to the community anymore.   

Even though, questions were answered, the fear among the Asian community is still tangible.

“I am scared these feelings will never go away,” said Jiang. 

She is currently in the ACCESS program and she is thinking in doing her undergraduate in AU. She is still looking at a few years in Ashland. And she wonders what would happen if the shooters were out of jail then.

 “I will stay here a long time and I don’t know how much time this guy will be in jail,” said Jiang. 

So now, she stays up until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. 

She tries to keep her mind occupied with video games or homework. 

But when she is done with her homework and tired of playing videos, her memory prevents her from going to bed. 

Happenings like this make not only Asian students but a whole community question the safety of Ashland, there are people out there who have tried really hard to portrait that this is not the image of Ashland’s community.

“My neighbors, my American friends, my professor and my classmates were concerned about me and my wife.” said Vincent. “They said we will be here for you.”