By Malcolm Butler
Colin Campbell thought it was just going to be another average Monday.
Little did he know that instead it would be a day he will never forget.
Campbell, an 18-year-old freshman at Louisiana Tech, was driving back to his dorm from his 8 a.m. class when he turned into the Lambright Intramural Center parking lot when he heard what he thought were screams.
“This was the earliest we’ve ever gotten out of this class which was quite fortunate,” said Colin when he exclusively spoke with the Lincoln Parish Journal about his role in Monday’s events. “I was on my way to my dorm room actually. I was just going to hang out in my dorm room and work on some projects that were due at 12 o’clock.
“I pulled up into the Lambright parking lot. Most days I listen to music while I’m driving back to my dorm, but today out of all days I wasn’t listening to anything. So with the music being off, I began to hear screams. I rolled down the window just to understand if I was hearing it correctly and I was.”
The screams were coming from Cynthia Woodard and Annie Richardson, two of the four stabbing victims from Monday mornings random act of violence by 23-year-old Tech student Jacoby Johnson. Johnson followed the women out of Lambright following the completion of their exercise class. He then proceeded to attack them and two other women with a knife outside of the east side doors of the facility.
Although Woodard and Richardson got away from Johnson, the vicious attack left the two ladies in serious trouble and looking for immediate help in the parking lot.
Enter Colin Campbell.
“These two ladies came up to me and asked me if I could take them to the hospital,” said Campbell. “I saw red on one of their hands. And another one had what looked like wadded up napkins pressed against her neck that was also red. I didn’t want to assume it was blood.
“But when they got up close to me, I could clearly see that one of them had taken a blow around the windpipe or neck area and the other one somewhere around the side of their head. I asked what happened and they said there had been a stabbing. I saw both of them were injured so I told them to get in. And I proceeded to drive them to the hospital.”
After helping the two ladies get into his blue Ford F-150 truck, Campbell called 911. It was a chaotic situation for the Tech cyber engineering major who is completing his first quarter of college.
“I proceeded to call 911,” said Campbell, whose blood-soaked truck was impounded by police for a while on Monday as part of the investigation. “I had no idea where the hospital was so the lady in my passenger seat is giving me directions to the hospital. I’m speaking to the 911 dispatcher and giving them all of the information of what is happening and what has happened and where I’m going and where I was at the current time.”
Campbell said he believes he got connected to the 911 dispatcher around the same time his truck was passing the Dawghouse Sports Grill.
“There was me speaking to the dispatcher,” he said. “The lady in my passenger seat giving me directions to the hospital. And the lady in my backseat telling me it was getting harder and harder for her to breathe, and asking me if I could roll down the window which I did. She eventually just collapsed in the back seat of my truck.”
Louisiana Tech Assistant Police Chief Bill Davis praised Campbell’s heroic actions, saying the police are convinced his quick actions saved lives.
“I think the fact he was willing to get involved and transport those women to the hospital … he recognized the urgency,” said Davis. “He stepped up and really did a wonderful thing. I think had he not, I am not really sure if one of the women would have survived waiting on an ambulance. I just don’t think she had that kind of time. I think getting her to the hospital was critical to her survive.”
Ruston mayor Ronny Walker spent much of Monday morning in the emergency room with some of the women’s family members and friends. And he agreed.
“It was one of those times where a kid, where an 18-year-old, had an opportunity to do something that was well beyond his years,” said Walker. “Colin showed a lot of courage when he stopped. Not only did he offer to put two people who were bleeding profusely in his truck, but also helped get them in the truck and rushed them to the hospital. The time he saved that would have taken an ambulance to get there, very well may have saved their lives.”
Campbell said upon his arrival at the hospital he quickly sought help.
“They weren’t waiting on the side where I parked,” Campbell said. “I think I parked on the wrong side, but I was in such a rush to get to the hospital … and I didn’t know exactly where I was going. So the (emergency room) doors that I arrived at were locked so I ran around to the other side where the doors were unlocked and ran in there and yelled for help. They immediately brought out a stretcher. It was instant.”
Almost eight hours after Colin Campbell’s normal Monday turned into anything but a routine day, he said he was still trying to process it all.
“I have just been real frantic all day,” said Campbell who said he has one final remaining to take on Wednesday. “I have been spending time with friends and family all day. Just trying to decompress. I am in my dorm room right now with family.”
The Minden High School graduate was quick to say he didn’t believe that it was just luck that placed him in the Lambright parking lot.
“It’s just a good thing that God put me right there,” he said. “I’m just the type of person where it’s my nature to try to help anybody that needs it. I’m just very grateful to God that he put me in that situation to help those people.”
And for the families and friends of Annie Richardson and Cynthia Woodard, they are also grateful that God chose Colin Campbell to be in the right place at the right time.
As of late Monday night, both Richardson and Woodard were in serious but stable condition according to reports. The Lincoln Parish Journal and its staff offer our deepest condolences to the four victims, as well as their family and friends.