Appalachian School of Law Shootings

This shows the part of each story that mentions how Peter O. was captured. The full text of these stories is here, while an index is here

Fri, 18 Jan 2002


Wire Reports
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The expelled law-school student accused of killing his dean and two others in a campus shooting spree was so paranoid and prone to outbursts that at least one classmate said he saw the violence coming.

At Thursday’s arraignment on three counts of capital murder, Peter Odighizuwa, 43, told the judge he was sick and needed help.

“I was supposed to see my doctor,” Odighizuwa said, hiding his face behind a green arrest warrant. “He was supposed to help me out. . . . I don’t have my medication.”

Police said Odighizuwa was evaluated and given medication in jail, but declined to identify the drug.

Police say he opened fire with a handgun at the Appalachian School of Law on Wednesday, a day after he was dismissed from the school for a second time. Dean L. Anthony Sutin, professor Thomas Blackwell and student Angela Dales, 33, were slain and three other students were wounded.

Prosecutor Sheila Tolliver said she will seek the death penalty.

On Thursday, students wept in small, shivering circles, many wondering about the classmate who always seemed aloof and was prone to vulgar outbursts.

Kenneth Brown, 28, said his friends always joked that Odighizuwa was one of those guys who would finally crack and bring a gun to school.

“He was kind of off-balance,” Brown said. “When we met last year, he actually came up and shook my hand and asked my name. Then, like five minutes later he came back and said, ‘You know I’m not crazy, but people tick me off sometimes.’ Out of the blue.”

Zeke Jackson, 40, said he stopped trying to recruit Odighizuwa for the school’s Black Law Students’ Association after Odighizuwa sent the dean a letter complaining that Jackson was harassing him.

“I knew he’d do something like this,” Jackson said.

Odighizuwa arrived here two years ago, intent on a law degree. He, his wife Abieyuwa, and four sons soon needed charity, and Grundy residents quietly obliged, with Sutin helping him get a car and a loan, according to school colleagues.

“That’s what doesn’t make sense,” said Mary Kilpatrick, a third-year student, wondering aloud why Odighizuwa would kill the dean. “He’s the one who allowed him to stay here.”

But the student’s life worsened as he struggled in class, flunked courses and then faced wife-beating charges last August. Those charges are pending.

Police said Odighizuwa approached them repeatedly with concerns about people breaking into his house.

Chief Deputy Randall Ashby said Odighizuwa told police last year that someone placed a bullet in a stairway at his home. Three months ago, he complained again that his home has been broken into.

“Both times my deputies checked it out and found nothing,” Ashby said.

Odighizuwa also regularly visited the sheriff’s office to nitpick with deputies over the wording of the police reports he’d filed, Ashby said.

“Everybody helped the man,” said Richard Mullins, the town’s combination bike-shop proprietor and official law-school book dealer. “But with Peter, life was always a matter of somebody else’s fault.”

“We’re all devastated,” said Tom Scott, a local lawyer and close friend of Sutin’s.

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