Appalachian School of Law Shootings
       

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Thu, 17 Jan 2002

Law school rampage kills 3 in Virginia

Fredrick Kunkle and Craig Timberg
Toronto Star

A failing student shot three people to death and wounded three more yesterday at the Appalachian School of Law, police said.

The ambitious school was created five years ago to bring newcomers and a new way of life to southwest Virginia’s poor and struggling coal-mining region.

The midday attack ended when students overpowered the gunman and held him for Buchanan County sheriff’s deputies, officials said. The law school was founded by community leaders eager to revitalize a region left decimated by the decline of the coal industry. Built in a refurbished junior high school near Grundy’s small downtown, Appalachian was living up to its promise, bringing fresh faces and economic activity.

One of those fresh faces was Anthony Sutin, a senior official in former president Bill Clinton’s justice department, who, along with his wife, Margaret Lawton, began to do exactly what the school’s founders had hoped. They both were on the faculty - Sutin was dean - and were active in the local arts council, their church and in civic life. He was among those killed.

“It’s the ultimate of ironic tragedies,” said Kent Markus, a former Harvard Law School roommate and fellow justice department official. “Here’s a case where the victim was one of the kindest … people imaginable, who saw his life as giving back.”

Police said the gunman, Peter Odighizuwa, first went to the school’s second-floor offices to discuss his academic standing with Professor Dale Reuben. When the conversation ended, Odighizuwa told Reuben to pray for him before walking down the hall to Sutin’s office about 1: 15 p.m. and opening fire at close range with a semi-automatic handgun, police said.

The attacker then shot Thomas Blackwell, a professor, to death in his office before walking downstairs to a lounge where he opened fire again, killing Angela Denise Dales, a 33-year-old student, and injuring three others, police said. Three students pounced on the gunman.

Police said Odighizuwa, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, was dismissed from the school yesterday because of his grades. Odighizuwa, 43, was described as a father of four who drove taxis in Chicago before finding the law school on a Web site.

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