WOOSTER, OH - Prayers go out for a local college student, critically injured when investigators say he was randomly shot at an Ohio rest stop over the weekend.
Alexander Melchert, 18, a Wisconsin native is a freshman at the College of Wooster. Monday afternoon, about 175 students and faculty members held a prayer vigil inside the student center on campus.
"Even my roommate, me and him both, we've hung out with him before, gone out, had fun, and it's just awful to hear," said freshman Matt Conrad, who lives next door to Melchert in a dormitory.
"It's important to know that the thoughts and prayers of the place that you go to school and the people that surround you every day are thinking about you and care," said sophomore Danny Renbaum.
Around 11:00 a.m. Sunday, Melchert was shot at a rest stop on I-71 northbound in Delaware County. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 25-year old Shawn Johnson of Westerville got up from a bench and shot Alex six times as he was walking from the bathroom to his car.
"We don't know Alex personally, but whenever something of that magnitude happens to a fellow student, especially a first year, it's scary and it's concerning," said College of Wooster junior, Desmond Hughes.
"Everyone pretty much knows everyone here, so it's kind of really shocking to see that happen to someone in this small of a community," said sophomore Will Noel.
Troopers say after the shooting, Johnson led them on a chase up I-71 that ended in Richland County, when he drove over spikes and crashed into a guard rail. Investigators say Johnson was dead after apparently shooting himself. They believe Alex was shot at random.
"I just talked to one of his faculty members and said he's the kind of kid who's always there for office hours, made sure that he brought his parents to come meet him when it was family weekend," said College of Wooster Dean of Students Scott Brown.
Brown says his parents told him Alex's condition is improving.
"He's writing with his left hand that says 'I have class, tell them I'm not gonna be at class today', but he's really excited to get well and come back to Wooster," said Brown.