UPDATE: UVA student that fell to his death entered locked building with group, slipped on icy roof

UPDATE: March 29, 9:06am

Although the investigation into the death of first-year student Tom Gilliam continues, UVA Police released new information to the media this morning.

Lt. Melissa Fielding reports that the Physics Building had been locked, but “someone compromised the lock on the east door in order to gain entrance.” According to students’ accounts, Gilliam entered the building from the east door, let other students in through the front door and then reached the roof. 

“We are aware that there is a group of University students who try to enter secured spaces on Grounds as part of a challenge," says Fielding via e-mail. "They do so illegally and at great risk to their personal safety." Cold, wet conditions on Saturday and Sunday made for a slick roof. According to UVA Police, Gilliam slipped and fell 40′. He later died from his injuries at the UVA Medical Center.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan, who is traveling, issued this statement:

“Today is a day of great sadness for the family and friends of Tom Gilliam and for the entire University community. By all accounts, Tom was a bright light. Those who knew him thought him destined to lead an interesting life that would include his deep faith, his interest in caring for those less fortunate, and world politics. As a member of First Year Council, he opened himself to a wide network of friends, and I am told he was hopeful of becoming a resident advisor next year. We mourn the loss of Tom, the promises unfilled, and offer prayers for his family and friends as they begin to deal with their unbearable loss.”

UPDATE: March 28, 2:32pm

The UVA student that died following a fall from the roof of the school physics building has been identified by school officials as Thomas W. Gilliam, IV, a first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences. Gilliam’s body is undergoing an autopsy, says UVA spokesperson Carol Wood via e-mail.

"At this time, we do not believe that either foul play or alcohol were involved. Nor do we believe that this was a suicide. Investigators believe it was a tragic accident," writes Wood. She adds that the University does not know how Gilliam entered the physics building or how he reached the roof.

"Again, as with any student death, our first priority is the student’s family and closest friends," writes Wood. "While the student’s father is here, we are awaiting the mother’s arrival in Charlottesville, which should be within 24 hours."


The University of Virginia Police is investigating the death of an unidentified male student, who fell from the roof of the UVA physics building. According to a release from UVA Police Lieutenant Melissa Fielding, police responded to the incident on Sunday, March 27, around 11:30pm.

The student, whose name has not been released, died from his injuries at the UVA Medical Center. Dean of Students Allen Groves is working with the student’s family and friends.

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