Virginia State University to Honor Paralyzed Officer Bruce Foster with Honorary Degree

Virginia State University announced Wednesday that it will confer an honorary degree this weekend to Officer Bruce Foster, the first campus police officer shot in the line of duty, who was left paralyzed from the waist down following the Nov. 12, 2023, incident.

Foster is one of two individuals with ties to VSU receiving honorary degrees during Saturday’s graduation ceremonies. The other recipient is Dr. Lucious Edwards Jr., a former VSU archivist and adjunct professor who was actively involved in university committees during his tenure.

In a statement, VSU described Foster’s story as “one of resilience and selflessness,” highlighting his acts of heroism and dedication that have earned him the respect and admiration of the entire campus community.

The incident occurred when Foster, then 39, responded to a report of an altercation near the western edge of the VSU campus. According to a Chesterfield County Police report, while detaining a possible suspect in the disturbance, Foster was shot in the back by another man who approached from behind. The shooting occurred on Boisseau Street in Ettrick, about 150 yards off campus, prompting an on-campus lockdown that lasted for several hours.

The two individuals involved, identified as Deonta M. Blount, 21, of Chester, and Reginald L. King Jr., 21, of Matoaca, were later arrested. King was identified as the alleged detainee, while Blount was the alleged shooter.

Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, president of VSU, praised Foster’s “selfless actions and unfaltering dedication” to campus safety, referring to him as a true hero. Foster, a five-year veteran of the VSU Police force, will be presented with his honorary degree during the first of two commencement ceremonies on Saturday at the VSU Multipurpose Center. This year marks the first time VSU has split its graduation into two ceremonies to accommodate students’ families and friends, with the Multipurpose Center’s capacity exceeding 6,000.

Regarding the defendants in the shooting, Blount is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 3 on charges of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. King’s hearing, on charges of assault on a law-enforcement officer, is set for May 23 in Chesterfield General District Court.