Appalachian School of Law Shootings

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Fri, 18 Jan 2002

Law Student Shoots Six, Kills Three

Africa News

A NIGERIAN student recently suspended by his U.S. law school went on a shooting spree on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding three more, a local coroner and physician said.

The gunman used a .38-calibre semi-automatic handgun at point-blank range to shoot the school s dean and a professor, killing both men, before opening fire on his fellow students in Grundy, Virginia, said Doctor Jack Briggs.

One student was killed, and three more were injured in the rampage at the Appalachian School of Law. One woman was in fair condition and two more were in surgery, hospital staff said. After the rampage, the gunman was tackled by four male students before being arrested, said Briggs, whose medical practice is near the school.

Virginia State Police identified the man they were holding in the shooting as Peter Odighizuwa, 43. They did not immediately release any further details or announce charges.

One victim, the school s Dean, was Anthony Sutin, a former U.S. Justice Department official who worked on the 1992 election campaign for former President Bill Clinton.

Professor Thomas Blackwell was also shot dead in his office in the small law school, located in the Appalachia mountain range, about 500 km southwest of the capital Washington.

Briggs said he knew the gunman, who had complained of stress about half-a-year ago and in hindsight had been “a time bomb ready to go off”.

The student had flunked out of the school last year and, after a second attempt, had been suspended for poor grades.

“So he took his anger out on the people he felt were responsible for him leaving the school,” the doctor said. “I had no idea it would affect him this way.”

The faculty members were “executed”, said Briggs, who described gunpowder burns on the shirt of one victim who was “obviously shot at point-blank range”.

School administrators issued a statement saying they were shocked and saddened by the shooting. Classes were canceled for the rest of the week. A memorial service was held at noon yesterday.

The three wounded students were taken to Buchanan General Hospital and later transferred to other hospitals for treatment.

All three wounded students are women, said Tim Baylor, spokesman for Wellmont health system. Two of them were in surgery and the third was in fair condition, he said.

Police said one student was shot in the abdomen and arm. A second student was shot in the throat and the third student suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.

The law school, with about 170 students enrolled, began offering classes in 1997 at a renovated junior high school about 45 miles north of Bristol.

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