|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Thu, 17 Jan 2002
A student apparently irate over his failing grades killed three people and seriously wounded three others Wednesday at a small private law school in Grundy, Va., amid the coal fields of Appalachia, authorities said.
Other students tackled the gunman to the ground minutes after he stalked through the tiny campus of the Appalachian School of Law with a semiautomatic handgun—killing a student, a popular professor and the school’s dean.
State police said they were holding Peter Odighizuma, 43, in custody as the suspected gunman. He had been dismissed from the law school earlier Wednesday; other students said it was at least the second time that he had failed first-year classes. They described Odighizuma as a loner, a Nigerian immigrant who spoke with such a strong accent that it was difficult for them to understand him.
Odighizuma allegedly shot Professor Thomas Blackwell and Dean L. Anthony Sutin in their offices, then opened fire in the hallway and in a student lounge, where his classmates were gathered over lunch.
Sutin previously worked at the U.S. Justice Department for then-Attorney General Janet Reno, and as director of legislative affairs at the department before moving to the law school.
“The dean and the professor were executed at point-blank range,” said Dr. Jack Briggs, the county medical examiner. “The dean had a white shirt on, and you can see the two bullet holes in his back. You could see the powder burns.”
Two of the students were shot in the back, apparently as they attempted to flee the lounge, Briggs said. Police identified the slain student as Angela Dales.
Students who responded to the sound of the gunshots described a surreal scene of carnage in the lounge—and what seemed an interminable wait before police and paramedics arrived. Using folding coffee tables as makeshift stretchers, several students bundled the wounded into cars and drove them to the local hospital. Two other students, both former police officers, took control of the room and tried to maintain the crime scene.
Established five years ago, the school set forth a mission of training attorneys to serve rural Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.