|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Thu, 17 Jan 2002
A DISGRUNTLED student shot dead a law school professor, the head teacher and a fellow pupil in a shooting spree at the school in Virginia yesterday.
Peter Odighizuma, 43, who had been suspended from the Appalachian School of Law earlier in the day, returned with a handgun and killed the three at around 6pm British time.
Three other students, all women, were wounded when Nigerian foreign exchange student Odighizuma opened fire on the college campus. “It looked like a war zone, ” said a witness to the carnage.
“There was blood all over. There was just a sea of bodies everywhere.”
Among the dead was the head of the school, Anthony Sutin, who served under former President Clinton at the Justice Department and was a leading adviser to Al Gore during his presidential election campaign last year.
Odighizuma was subdued by other students before police arrived. State policeman Jason Miles said: “He was suspended from school for some unknown reason and came back. He used a .380 semi-automatic handgun.”
Dr Jack Briggs, who knew the adult victims, spoke of his shock.
He said the dean and professor were “well liked by everybody”.
“It was not a matter of picking out a professor who has picked you out unfairly and shooting him, ” said Dr Briggs.
“It was just a matter of him releasing his anger at the world, I guess.”
The law school, which opened just five years ago in Grundy, a small town at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, has 170 students.
It was opened with the hope of easing a historic shortage of lawyers in the coal fields of south-west Virginia, to help change the region’s image and foster renewal in Appalachia.
The shootings came a day after two teenagers were shot in the back by a pupil at a high school in New York. The first shooting at a school in the city since 1994.
Both victims, one 15 and the other 17, were said to be in a “satisfactory” condition at the Manhattan hospital where they are being treated.
Tim Baylor, a spokesman for two hospitals where the injured were taken, said the three were in a “fair” condition. Two required surgery.
The shootings at Grundy are just the latest in the tragic history of school murders in the US.
The worst massacre took place at Columbine High School, Colorado, in April 1999 when 15 students were killed.
In March 2000, two people died and 13 were wounded at Santana High School in California.
A week before, four students and two teachers were wounded when an 18-year-old opened fire at a school in El Cajon, California.
The third shooting that month took place at a school in Indiana when a teenage boy was killed by one of his schoolmates.