Johanna Justin-Jinich, a 22-year-old Wesleyan University junior, was never late.
So when she didn't show up for a 2 p.m. spa appointment in Berlin on Wednesday, Jen Bromley became worried.
At 2:15 p.m, she called Justin-Jinich's cellphone and left a voice message. Then Bromley sent her a text: "Are you on your way??"
Bromley, 28, called her phone again. A woman answered, a friend of Justin-Jinich's who was with her at the Red & Black Cafe near Wesleyan.
"She's been shot," the woman told Bromley. A thin man with a long-haired wig "ran up in here and shot at her at point-black range."
Justin-Jinich, of Fort Collins, Colo., was shot several times at the cafe inside Broad Street Books. Her assailant, who was identified late Wednesday as Stephen Morgan, of no certain address, fled on foot and remained at large Wednesday night, police said.
Justin-Jinich was rushed to Middlesex Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police recovered a wig and a gun at the scene, although Middletown police Lt. Margaret Liseo said that police could not say whether the gun was the one used to shoot Justin-Jinich.
"This is a devastating loss for Johanna's family, friends and for the entire Wesleyan community," Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth wrote in an e-mail. "Our hearts go out to all those who grieve for Johanna, and we hope all can find comfort in the support of friends, teachers and classmates."
Friends described Justin-Jinich as witty and smart, a popular woman who never seemed to be in a bad mood. Justin-Jinich had studied abroad in Spain and had lined up a summer internship on Capitol Hill in Washington with a women's organization.
Wesleyan students had planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to remember Justin-Jinich, but in a broadcast e-mail to the Wesleyan community shortly before 7 p.m., officials warned against any such gathering.
"We are advising students to avoid large gatherings, return to their residences, and remain indoors for the rest of the evening," the e-mail said. "There is no reason to believe that the perpetrator of the shooting earlier today is on or near the campus, but we believe that the Wesleyan community could possibly be at risk."
But in another e-mail, sent shortly after 7 p.m., officials urged people on and off campus to be wary.
"Based upon additional information found processing the crime scene, we would recommend Wesleyan students and Middletown residents remain vigilant," the e-mail said. "The suspect is at large and considered armed and dangerous."
Justin-Jinich, who worked at the cafe inside the bookstore at Broad and William streets, was killed about 1 p.m. Officers with dogs and a SWAT team, which had been training nearby, responded quickly and cordoned off the area. Wesleyan and nearby schools were locked down. The state police major crime squad arrived at the scene just before 4 p.m. to catalog evidence.
The center of campus was quiet Wednesday evening, with a few students walking about.
"It almost feels like a ghost town," said Beth Davies, a 21-year-old senior.
Others were trying to enjoy what was left of their annual "Spring Fling" celebration — which was ended prematurely by the shooting and manhunt — by partying in their houses and dorms.
A few faculty members invited students to the student center, where some were overheard saying they had been excited to graduate this month but now would associate the end of their college careers with tragedy.
Leah Lucid, a 21-year-old junior, had known Justin-Jinich since the first semester of their freshmen year. They were living across the hall from each other this year and were planning on being roommates as seniors. The night before Justin-Jinich was killed, she had been talking past midnight with Lucid in Lucid's dorm room.
"She's a really loyal friend; a really loving, passionate person about life and about her friends and family," Lucid said of her friend, whom she affectionately called Yo-Yo.
Her passions included writing and her work in public health and women's issues, Lucid said. Justin-Jinich volunteered at various Planned Parenthood offices in her home state and in the area.
"She was the most giving and loving person I have ever known," Lucid said. "I'll remember her loyalty and her warm smile whenever I saw her and her very funny voices she would make with me."
Eli Allen, 21, a senior, had been at the bookstore the day before buying his cap and gown.
"It's weird because there's this general sadness. The Wesleyan community has been affected, violated."
Yudhi Kandel, a 24-year-old senior and resident assistant in a freshmen dorm, said that students were in disbelief.
"It's pretty sad. ... It's a shocking thing."
Freshman Alexandra Cuervo, 19, said she and friends were beginning to celebrate Spring Fling when they heard about the shooting. At first, they continued with their partying, she said, until more details became known on campus.
"I feel guilty," Cuervo said. "It just wasn't taken as seriously until we found out it was a Wesleyan student."
Reality set in for her and her classmates, and jovial turned to somber, she said. "I think people are also scared. They're in their dorms."
Ben Bernstein met Justin-Jinich in their Diasporas in Transnationalism class this semester and said she was "amazing."
The 20-year-old junior English and music major said that Justin-Jinich "was just a totally intelligent, terrific person in every way. She was just nice to everybody. I had great discussions with her, in and out of class. It's just a horrible thing."
Ryan La Rochelle, 23, of Boston, said he was shocked. He knew Justin-Jinich from Westtown School, a small boarding institution in southeastern Pennsylvania they attended as high schoolers. La Rochelle learned about her death from the media.
"She was a very beautiful and kind girl," La Rochelle said. "I have no idea how something like this could have happened."
After Bromley, the owner of Silk Waxing Spa, learned that Justin-Jinich had been shot, she closed the shop and drove to Middlesex Hospital with her cousin, another friend of Justin-Jinich's who attends Wesleyan. They thought she was still alive. But as they pulled into the hospital parking lot, the cousin's boyfriend called with the news.
"I've been crying and distraught all day," Bromley said Wednesday evening. "She's a really happy, really smart girl. Really intellectual. ... I can't imagine why any one person would dislike her and want her dead."
•Courant staff writers Vanessa de la Torre, David Owens, Régine Labossière, Monica Polanco, Alaine Griffin, Josh Kovner and Mark Spencer contributed to this story.
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