The Asbury Park Press and the Star-Ledger are reporting that a Middletown North High School graduate was among the 32 people shot and killed by a gunman in yesterday’s carnage at Virginia Tech.


The student was identified by Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger as 23-year-old Julia Pryde, a graduate student in Biological Systems Engineering.

Pryde, Scharfenberger told the Press, was an “outstanding academic student,” as well as an athlete. She’d been on the school swimming team.

“I’m in complete and utter shock over it, and I can’t begin to fathom the enormity of the loss,” Scharfenberger said. “We’re going to do everything we can to pull together for the family. Anything we can do for them will be done.”

The Ledger has posted a heartbreaking account of how Pryde’s parents learned of their daughter’s death. Separately, the paper posted a profile of Pryde.

Though the young woman was pursuing a master’s degree in biological systems engineering, she was killed along with other 14 students while attending a class in civil engineering, Saied Mostaghimi, chairman of the biological systems engineering department told the Ledger. He and Dr. Mary Wolfe, Pryde’s advisor, met with Pryde’s parents, Chip and Karen Pryde, of Middletown, last night at an inn.

“Words can not begin to describe this enormous loss and tragedy,” Mostaghimi told the Ledger. “Amidst the shock and disbelief, we could not help but think about Julia’s family and friends. There have been many other losses on campus and we should keep all of them in our prayers and thoughts.”

Mostaghimi said Pryde was “an exceptional student academically and personally. She was the nicest person you ever met.”

Last summer, Pryde and her professor, Dr. Wolfe, had gone on a trip to Ecuador to do research on water quality issues. They were going to return this summer for follow-up work, Mostaghimi said.

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