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

Tue, 22 Jan 2002

With mixed feelings, students return to law school

Chris Kahn
The Associated Press State & Local Wire

Ted Besen glares over the crumbs of his sandwich, still angry about the former classmate who police say killed his school’s dean, a professor and another student in a shooting that shattered the peace of this tiny coal town.

“You just feel violated somehow,” Besen, 37, said Tuesday at a restaurant near the Appalachian School of Law. The former Marine and police officer was one of several students who charged Peter Odighizuwa, tackling him on the school’s front lawn, after the shootings last week.

When classes resume Wednesday at the Appalachian School of Law, Besen and others said they’ll return with mixed emotions. For certain, they said, nothing will be the same. v

“I’ve been having bad dreams,” said Mary Kilpatrick, 42, a third-year student from Kingsport, Tenn. “I guess there’s no more security in law schools than there is any other place.”

Odighizuwa, 43, is accused of gunning down Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas F. Blackwell, 41, in their offices last Wednesday, and of opening fire in the school lounge, killing Angela Dales, 33, and injuring three others, police said. v

Odighizuwa, a former teacher from Dayton, Ohio, had recently learned he’d flunked out of school for the second time. v

Authorities have charged him with three counts of capital murder, three counts of attempted capital murder and six weapons charges. Prosecutor Sheila Tolliver is seeking the death penalty.

“We’re going to have an unofficial class reunion the day he gets the chair,” said Matthew Harvey, 24, who spent the week driving between memorial services with other students.

Kilpatrick said she and about 20 other students spent most of Monday in the school lounge, scrubbing out blood stains in the rug and rearranging furniture.

“It’s therapeutic being back here; it keeps my mind off of things,” Kilpatrick said. v

The school reopened on Tuesday, holding a two-hour counseling session and discussing the class schedule for the rest of the semester. President Lucius Ellsworth announced that Marquette University Professor Jeffrey Kinsler has been hired to take over Sutin’s class on constitutional law.

Kinsler, who was planning to join the law school staff in the fall, will share teaching duties with both schools this semester, Ellsworth said.

Outside, faculty and students wrote good-bye messages in memorial books that will eventually be given to the victims’ families. They stepped out on the school’s front steps and released yellow and green balloons, watching quietly as the balloons rose above the hills and disappeared into a clear blue sky.

“I keep expecting Dean Sutin to come back,” said Melanie Page, 22. “I just miss them all so much.”

Wounded students Rebecca Brown, 38, of Roanoke and Martha Madeline Short, 37, of Grundy both have been released from the hospital. Stacey Beans, 22, of Berea, Ky., was discharged from Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center Tuesday. All three plan to spend time with family before returning to school.

But the memories will last forever.

Besen said he can still hear the shrieks of fleeing students when gunfire first ripped through the school. His wife had applied to Appalachian Law School in hopes of also pursuing a legal education, but now it’s likely they’ll move away after he graduates in June.

Besen said he was thinking of working as a defense attorney when he applied to the Appalachian School of Law. But Odighizuwa has changed his mind.

“I don’t ever want to defend someone like him.”

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