|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Fri, 18 Jan 2002
A Nigerian student angry at being dismissed stormed through the campus of the Appalachian School of Law yesterday with a handgun, killing the dean, a professor and a student and wounding three others before he was tackled by fellow students, the Virginia state police reported.
“Come get me, come get me,” the gunman was heard saying as terrorized witnesses ran for their lives, the New York Times reported
“He was a time bomb waiting to go off,” Dr. Jack Briggs, a county coroner, told news reporters about the alleged assailant, Peter Odighizuwa, 42, a student from Nigeria. The authorities said the school had told Odighizuwa on Tuesday that he was being dismissed because of failing grades.
State officials said that Odighizuwa, who was charged with three counts of capital murder, had a history of mental instability and that school authorities had sought to help him.
In a running assault, the gunman confronted and fatally shot the law school dean, L. Anthony Sutin, 42, who was a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. Mr. Sutin was shot in his second-floor office, as was Thomas F. Blackwell, 41, a member of the faculty.
The third person killed, Angela Denise Dales, 33, of Vansant, Va., was described as a former law school employee who was widely admired for achieving her dream of finally enrolling as a student. She was shot in the school lounge with a .380 semiautomatic pistol.
The gunfire stunned the campus and surrounding town of 1,100 residents as it delivered death to a school envisioned in the 1990’s as a pastoral outpost to answer the chronic problems of educational need in one of the more distant and impoverished parts of Appalachia. It opened five years ago in a renovated junior high school and now has 244 students and 19 faculty members.
Sutin was praised by faculty and students as a dedicated pioneer at the school, a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School who had specialized in legislative affairs for former Attorney General Janet Reno before turning to the school as a fresh adventure. Professor Blackwell, a graduate of Duke University School of Law, was recruited to the faculty from his law practice in Dallas.
The three wounded students, hospitalized in fair to critical condition tonight, were identified as Rebecca Claire Brown, 38, of Roanoke, Va., who was shot in the abdomen; Martha Madeline Short, 37, of Grundy, who was shot in the throat; and Stacey Bean, 22, of Berea, Ky., who was shot in the chest.
“There were pools of blood all over,” Chase Goodman, a 27-year-old student, said in describing a scene punctuated with screams and gunfire.
“When I got there there were bodies laying everywhere,” said Dr. Briggs, who arrived at the first emergency alarm. Two victims suffered point-blank wounds “execution style,” one doctor at the scene said.