Appalachian School of Law Shootings

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Wed, 16 Jan 2002

Three dead in law school shooting

United Press International

A former student opened fire at a small law school in southwest Virginia on Tuesday, killing three people, including the school’s dean, and seriously wounding three others.

Appalachian School of Law Dean L. Anthony Sutin, Associate Professor Thomas Blackwell and a student were killed, officials said. Grundy police said three people were critically wounded and were taken to two hospitals in the region.

The alleged gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, school officials said. He was overpowered by students who saw the shootings. He was taken into custody by a town policeman.

“The whole school just came together to help out with the situation. There were quite a few heroes,” student Justin Marlowe said.

Names of the student victims were not being released pending notification of their families, officials said.

“The ASL community is profoundly shocked and saddened by this tragedy. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of the victims,” the school said in a statement.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who served on the board of the law school until he took office this week, called the shootings “a great tragedy.”

“We deplore this senseless act of violence,” said Warner, who was scheduled to formally resign from the law school board at a meeting on Wednesday night.

A memorial service for those killed in the shootings was planned for midday Thursday at Grundy Baptist Church, which is located beside the school’s library.

Classes at the school were canceled until Tuesday, Jan. 22. The school planned to have grief counselors available on campus beginning on Thursday morning.

Dr. Jack Briggs, a Buchanan County coroner, told CNN that Sutin and Blackwell were shot separately in their offices. He said he believed they were killed execution-style because of the powder marks on their clothing.

“It looked like a war zone. There was blood all over,” said Briggs, a four-year Navy veteran. He said the alleged shooter was a former patient and was a “time bomb” who complained of stress.

A student described the alleged gunman as “kind of a loner” who was “hard to approach.”

Sutin, a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brandeis University, was a former acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice before he became the law school’s dean.

Before joining the government, Sutin was a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm, where he specialized in civil litigation.

Blackwell was a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and the Duke University School of Law who specialized in business organizations, intellectual property and technology law. He was an attorney in Dallas before joining the law school.

The Appalachian School of Law opened Aug. 11, 1997, in a renovated junior high school in Grundy, a town with two traffic lights and a population of 1,118.

Grundy, located in a mountainous area about 260 miles west of Richmond, Va., was initially a logging community and coal mining town, but was heavily damaged in a 1977 flood that damaged 228 structures.

“Grundy is a community that has faced adversity in the past,” Warner said. Content: 02001000 05007000

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