|Appalachian School of Law Shootings|
Fri, 18 Jan 2002
One of the four students who subdued a gunman at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia on Wednesday is an N.C. native and former Charlottean.
Mikael Gross, 34, a first-year student at the small school in Grundy, Va., told The Observer he worked as a state alcohol law enforcement agent in Charlotte from 1996 until 1998 and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice at UNC Charlotte in 1997.
Two other men who helped bring the gunman under control also have worked as law enforcement officers in North Carolina - in Asheville and Wilmington, Gross said.
Gross was walking back to the law school from lunch just after 1 p.m. Wednesday with four classmates when he heard a gunshot. He yelled to the others to take cover and watched as students ran from a student lounge in the administration building.
“People were running everywhere,” Gross said. “They were jumping behind cars, running out in front of traffic, trying to get away.”
Gross ran to his car, parked about 100 yards away, without dropping the gunman from his sight, grabbed his bullet-proof vest from his trunk and a gun from under his front seat.
While the man pointed his gun at fellow students, Gross and two others ran toward him from different directions.
One of the others was Tracy Bridges, a Buncombe County sheriff’s deputy from Asheville, who also had his gun, Gross said.
When the gunman saw them, Gross said, he put his weapon down and his hands up.
The third man, Ted Besen, who has worked as a police officer in Wilmington, was not armed and ordered the gunman onto the ground. Instead, the gunman lunged at Besen, punching him in the face.
That’s when a fourth student ran up and tackled the gunman. Gross and Bridges jumped on the gunman, pulled his hands behind his back and held him as he tried to fight them off.
When the gunman was under control, Gross ran back to his car for his handcuffs. Police arrived a minute or so later, he said.
Afterward Gross and the others headed into the administration building to help those who had been shot.
“There was blood everywhere,” Gross said. “It looked like somebody had mopped the floor with blood.”
They put some of the injured onto folding tables turned into gurneys, loaded them into SUVs and drove them to the hospital.
“I let my instinct kick in and did what any good law enforcement officer would do, what any good person would do,” he said.
Gross, who graduated from Oak Ridge Military Academy in Oak Ridge in 1985 and East Carolina University in 1989, has also lived in Raleigh, Burlington and several other N.C. cities.
He worked as the director of police corps training at the N.C. Justice Academy in 1998 and 1999, he said, and the chief of police at Brevard College before heading to law school in August .
During breaks from law school, he works as a police officer in Grifton. His mother, Cecilia Wicker, lives in Charlotte.