Justine Bernard, 19, University of New Haven psychology major, dies after being shot in Atlanta


University of New Haven psychology major Justine Bernard, 19, died the morning of June 2 after a shooting in a downtown Atlanta apartment.

Ms. Bernard, of Matawan. N.J., was a member of the class of 2023. As a psychology student, she was focused on the criminal justice field and forensic psychology. Last semester, she made the university’s Dean’s List. Ms. Bernard was active in the campus community and she was interested in diversity issues.

Police report that the incident occurred in downtown Atlanta at around 5 a.m. Ms. Bernard was driven to the hospital, where she later died. CBS46 said that Nyasia Reeves, 20, was detained by Atlanta homicide investigators. Reeves was described as an acquaintance of Ms. Bernard’s.

The news was shared with the university community via email by dean of students Ophelie Rowe-Allen.

Rowe-Allen said, “Please join me in extending our heartfelt condolences to Justine’s parents, her family, friends, and classmates, and let us commit to honoring the memory of a life lost much too soon.”

Steven H. Kaplan, university president, said, “My heart breaks for Justine’s parents, her family, friends, and professors over this senseless and horrific act of violence.”

Alex Betro, a high school classmate of Ms. Bernard, and a junior electrical engineering major at the University of New Haven, described his friend as bubbly, outgoing and well-known in high school.

“She was a generous person, always volunteering and doing things for the community and our high school through our civic leadership club,” said Betro.

“Justine was a dedicated student, in my time living with her freshman year I often noticed that she’d always set time aside for schoolwork,” said Alyssa Singer, an interior design junior, “She cared about her grades and worked for what she deserved. Overall, she was an extremely smart, intellectual, kind and giving person who would always extend love and support to any one of her friends.”

Her academic advisor, Lillie Macias, said that Ms. Bernard“was motivated and curious, and she was interested in learning and in helping others. Her passing is a great loss for the field of forensic psychology.”

Linda Copney-Okeke, director of the Accessibility Resources Center, described Ms. Bernard as “a vibrant young woman who overcame obstacles and lived life with passion.”

The university said that the community will gather early in the fall semester to celebrate Ms. Bernard’s life.

Grief counseling is available through the University of New Haven’s Counseling and Psychological Services Office by calling 203-932-7333 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or by making an appointment through Navigate.

Rowe-Allen said Ms. Bernard’s memorial service will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12 at Waitt Funeral Home at 501 Hwy 79, Morganville, N.J.