“So let me tell you about Logan Patrick Pennington,” Ashley said as we walked up a quiet street in Sharpsburg. He was shabby and shaggy-headed, quiet but smart. In 2003 he was one of seven new English students at Shepherd University waiting to be advised on their upcoming classes. Also among the seven was Ashley. She remembers that Dr. Michael Austin, the head of the English department at the time, welcomed the new students and asked if there were any questions. Logan raised his hand: “Are there any phys-ed classes for smokers? I’m a smoker, and I’d like to do as little as possible.” It was a sincere question.
Later, Ashley found herself in a class with Logan. Taking attendance the first day, the instructor read out everyone’s full name. When she got to Logan, she read out “Logan Patrick Pennington?” He raised his hand. “Are you from royalty, Logan Patrick Pennington?” the instructor asked him. With a name like that, he might have been king of Ireland.
Saturday around 2 p.m., in the parking lot outside of Thacher Hall at Shepherd University, Logan and his younger brother Benjamin were shot and killed by their father, who then committed suicide. Logan was my age, 26. Benjamin, also a Shepherd student, was 24. A West Virginia State Trooper involved in the investigation told the Herald Mail that there is no indication of a physical or verbal altercation before the shooting started, and gave no suggestion of a possible motive. Douglas Pennington shot one of his sons in the back while he tried to flee, shot the other son in the head at close range, and shot himself. The father spent all six of the revolver’s shots to murder his children and himself. What motive could there possibly be?
There are candles and flowers in the parking lot of Thacher Hall. I am tempted to go there and see them for myself, but today is my father’s 50th birthday. More than I want to visit a place still stained by death, I want to help my Dad celebrate his life, and tell him that I love him.