Appalachian School of Law Shootings

You can see the part of each story below that mentions how Peter O. was captured here, while an index is here

Thu, 17 Jan 2002


Paul Dellinger
Roanoke Times & World News (Roanoke, VA)

Todd Ross was walking toward the Appalachian School of Law on Wednesday when he heard the shots.

Then he saw dozens of his fellow students pouring out of the main door. He would learn later that two faculty members and a student inside had been killed and that three other students had been wounded.

Ross, a third-year law student from Johnson City, Tenn., had no idea what was happening, but he retreated into the parking lot.

“That’s when he came out,” Ross said.

Peter Odighizuwa, who had been a student at the school, emerged with both hands in the air, Ross said. In one of them, he held a pistol.

Mike Stater, a Virginia State Police spokesman, later said the eight-shot Jennings .380-caliber semiautomatic was empty, but Ross had no way of knowing that.

“I yelled at him to throw his gun down,” Ross said. Ross stood between two cars in the parking lot in case he had to duck for cover.

Odighizuwa did put the gun onto the ground, Ross said. “I told him to walk towards me.” He said Odighizuwa started to do so.

Then another student, Ted Besen, approached Odighizuwa and the two started to struggle, Ross said. He said Odighizuwa began swinging at Besen. “I ran across the lot and tackled him,” he said.

The struggle probably lasted only a few seconds, Ross said. “With me and Ted, it was pretty rough. He put up a pretty good fight,” Ross said.

A third student, who had been a police officer before entering law school, got a pair of handcuffs from his car, and the three men got them onto Odighizuwa’s wrists, Ross said.

Odighizuwa stopped fighting after that. The other students stayed and watched him until Buchanan County deputies arrived three to five minutes later, Ross said.

It was only after Odighizuwa was taken into custody that Ross and the others learned that three people had been killed and three others wounded.

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