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

Thu, 17 Jan 2002

Law School Slayings;

Hugo Kugiya
Newsday (New York)

A student who had been dismissed from law school opened fire at the campus yesterday, shooting to death three people, including the dean of the small Appalachian School of Law in rural Grundy, Va., authorities said. Police said the gunman, identified as Peter Odighizuwa, 42, also wounded three female students at the school before being overpowered by classmates and taken into custody by police. The dead included Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Prof. Thomas Blackwell, said Ellen Qualls, a spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who served on the board of the law school until he took office last week. Police identified the third victim as a student, Angela Dales, 33. The three wounded students were hospitalized yesterday in fair condition. Odighizuwa, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, had been dismissed for academic reasons effective yesterday, authorities said. Qualls said Odighizuwa had a history of mental instability, of which school officials were aware. Justin Marlowe, a first-year law student from Richwood, W.Va., attended all the same classes as Odighizuwa. “He was a real quiet guy who kept to himself,” Marlowe said. “He didn’t talk to anybody, but he gave no indication that he was capable of something like this.” Marlowe said Odighizuwa had flunked out a year ago and “the dean bent over backward to get him enrolled again.” Other students said he had failed first-year classes at least twice. When he arrived on campus yesterday, Odighizuwa first stopped in the office of Prof. Dale Rubin to talk about his grades and as he left he asked Rubin to pray for him, police said. He then walked to Sutin’s and Blackwell’s offices and shot each one with a .380-caliber pistol, said state police spokesman Mike Stater. Blackwell had taught contract law to Odighizuwa. Odighizuwa then went downstairs into a common area and opened fire on a crowd of students, killing Dales and seriously wounding three others, according to witnesses. Todd Ross, 30, of Johnson City, Tenn., was among the students who were outside when Odighizuwa left the building. Ross said the suspect was holding his hands in the air and dropped the gun at his prompting. Odighizuwa was promptly tackled and “struggled after we got him on the ground, but then just laid there,” Ross said. He said the suspect kept shouting, “I have nowhere to go. I have nowhere to go.” Dr. Jack Briggs, the county medical examiner, said Odighizuwa was tackled by four male students as he left the building. The suspect was being held at the Buchanan County Jail on three counts of capital murder and three weapons counts, authorities said. The school will be closed for the rest of the week. “This affects everyone,” said a woman who works in the town’s library one-quarter mile away. “Most of the people in the town know at least some of the people at the law school. It’s heartbreaking.” The private law school opened in 1997 in a former junior high school building and graduated its first class of 34 in 2000. About 170 students are enrolled at the school, which has yet to be accredited by the American Bar Association. Tuition is $16,000 a year. Sutin, a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School, also taught two courses in constitutional law. He was a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Hogan & Hartson before joining the U.S. Department of Justice. Blackwell, an associate professor, previously worked in private practice in Dallas. The school was opened with the hope that it would ease a shortage of lawyers and attract economic activity in the rural and depressed area. This story was supplemented with wire service reports.

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