A man is accused of taking steps to kill children on Halloween and planning to kill the president during a stop in Colorado. Many in the community are surprised to find out the suspect, Mitchell Kusick, was living right here in Grand Junction in the past year.
It's possible the shock was even bigger for students who knew Kusick at school. Kusick was a student at Colorado Mesa University. KKCO 11 News spoke exclusively with one of his freshman roommates who spent time with him every day, one who says he never would've thought something like this would happen.
For college freshmen, often times the first face you meet is that of a new roommate.
"I ended up hanging out with my roommates, every day," CMU sophomore James Weddington said. "That was probably my closest knit group of friends that I had and shared pretty much everything with them."
For Weddington, one of those new faces last year was Mitchell, or Mitch Kusick as he was known to his friends.
"[Kusick] was one of my pod mates and I had lunch with him almost every day," Weddington said.
Kusick is now in federal custody after taking steps to shoot and kill children at Standley Lake High School and assassinate the president of the United States.
"I thought it was a joke but I looked it up and found out the whole story,” Weddington said. He found out about Kusick’s arrest only after another one of his pod mates from freshman year sent out a mass text to the suitemates.
National news outlets are referring to Kusick as a CMU student, and current students fear the tie could bring negative attention to the school.
"To hear that it's around your neck of the woods and your area, it's kind of eye opening and it's really scary," CMU senior Mathias Mata said.
"We’re all very proud of CMU here especially with the recent university status, so I would hope it wouldn't color anybody's color against us," senior Kaitlin Price added.
Weddington describes Kusick as a really smart guy, one who'd always be willing to help out or do a friend a favor. Even still, he says there would be times where the roommates could tell something was wrong.
“He wouldn't let anybody in," Weddington said.
Roommates saw a different side of Kusick, too. Weddington says sometimes Kusick’s jokes would make the roommates uncomfortable. Take for instance, an adventure to the shooting range.
"[Kusick would] say things like about, 'Oh, I wish there was just somebody down the scope of this [gun],' or something like that. It worried me, but at the same time, he'd always laugh it off and say, 'Oh, I’m just kidding,'" Weddington said.
Despite those conversations, Weddington says he can't believe it went this far, and it may take a while before the shock goes away.
"I would never have thought that would've happened," he said. "I hope and pray he figures out what's going on and they figure out what's going on. He's a really good kid, just made some bad decisions, I guess."
The university would not confirm Kusick was on campus last year, saying some personal information about students needs to stay confidential. It says he is currently an online student.
KKCO 11 News has also heard from different sources Kusick was a member of the CMU ski team at one point.
The university says Kusick was given an academic scholarship from CMU. It required at least a 3.75 high school GPA in high school and a minimum score of 29 on the ACT.
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