A friend and colleague of the history professor who was shot and killed at Delta State University says that “everyone in the community is absolutely shocked.”
Ethan Schmidt, a father of three, was “beloved by everyone,” Don Allan Mitchell tells PEOPLE. “He was so active in our community.”
Schmidt was shot in the head while he was in his office in Cleveland, Mississippi, according to CNN.
Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham named Shannon Lamb, who teaches geography at the school, as a person of interest in the case. He remains at large.
He is also the suspect in the murder of a woman this morning in Gautier, Mississippi, which is more than 300 miles away.
When Mitchell heard that Lamb’s name was tied to what happened, he was floored.
“All I know is that he took a leave at the beginning of the school year,” he says. “He was an easy going guy. I can’t believe it’s true.”
He said that while Lamb and Schmidt were in the same department and knew each other, he didn’t think they were close friends.
“There are also rumors going around that Ethan and him had some love triangle going on,” he says. “But that is absolute hogwash.”
Mitchell says that Schmidt wasn’t just a great guy – he was a great father.
“He was a family man. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word,” says Mitchell. “They’re reeling right now. It’s so tragic.”
Schmidt also led the first year seminar for the students and involved in youth basketball.
“We would talk about the Kansas Jayhawks because that’s where he was from,” he says. “He was a huge fan.”
Moving forward, Mitchell and his colleagues will continue to support Schmidt’s family.
“We will surround them with love,” he says.
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