|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Thu, 17 Jan 2002
A FOREIGN student went on a shooting rampage at a small law school in the remote west of Virginia yesterday, killing three people and wounding three. One of the dead was the dean of the school.
Peter Odighizuma, 43, was believed to have been suspended from the Appalachian School of Law in the small town of Grundy earlier in the day, before returning with a .380 semi-automatic pistol. Jack Briggs, a local doctor and coroner who was one of the first to the scene, said the dean, Anthony Sutin - the chief legal adviser to the Democrat Al Gore in his failed bid for the American presidency in 2000 - and a professor had been “executed” in their offices.
Powder marks on their clothes showed that they had been shot dead at point -blank range. The gunman then emerged, firing indiscriminately at other students.
In the pandemonium, one student was killed and three others were critically wounded before four male students overpowered the gunman. “They just wanted the guy. They weren’t worried about their own personal safety,” said Dr Briggs. “Blood and bodies were everywhere.”
Last night, Mr Odighizuma was being held in custody in Grundy. Dr Briggs described him as a Nigerian who had failed his first year.
The three wounded students, one of whom had been struck by a bullet in the back and two hit in the chest, were airlifted to a nearby hospital. Dr Briggs described their condition as “critical”.
The incident is the latest in a string of shootings in schools and factories in the United States in recent weeks. The attack has had a shattering impact on a small and close-knit community in one of the poorest parts of the state, deep in the Appalachian mountains.
The school was established in 1997 to ease a shortage of lawyers and to spur development in Grundy, which has a population of only 1,400. Mark Warner, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, is a former member of the school’s board, whose first class of 34 students graduated in 2000. The school currently has 170 students and 15 members of faculty.
Mr Sutin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, was made principal with a staff of just 15. A former Justice Department official, he left the Clinton administration to become dean of the school.