Murder in UA-Huntsville faculty meeting


Many of you have probably heard the news of the workplace murders in a Biology Sciences Department faculty meeting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville yesterday.  The murderer is allegedly Assistant Professor Amy Bishop, who was recently denied tenure.  All of the media reports I’ve seen presume that the tenure denial was the motive for the shooting.  Interestingly, the AP story and the MSNBC story I’ve seen finally discuss the role that gender plays in workplace or other mass shootings:  they both note (finally!) that men are the overwhelming majority of mass murderers and the overwhelming majority of people who kill with guns.

The dead are Gopi K. Podila, who was the department Chair, and two other faculty members, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson.  Three other victims are alive and hospitalized, but two are critically injured:  faculty member Luis Cruz-Vera is listed in fair condition, but Joseph Leahy and staff member Stephanie Monticello are in critical condition and in intensive care. 

The lock-and-load on campus crowd is already maneuvering to make hay out of this tragedy.  From the MSNBC story

Gina Hammond, a UAH student, told WAFF that she lobbied the University of Alabama trustees to allow students with gun permits to carry their weapons on campus. She was turned down.“I’m scared to go back to school,” Hammond said. “However, if they were to allow me to carry my pistol on campus, I would not be as scared.

“… I’m sorry that nobody in that room had a pistol to save at least one person’s life,” Hammond said.

Narrative lines like this are like the ideological insistence that “Communism didn’t fail–it’s just never been really attempted,” or “Conservatism didn’t fail–George W. Bush wasn’t a true conservative.”  Unless the pro-gun crowd wants to make concealed-carry weapons not just permissible, but mandatory on campuses, more guns will not mean the ability to stop mass murders.  The vast majority of faculty, staff, and students on university campuses have neither the interest nor the inclination to arm themselves up.  Because there will never, ever be enough guns on campus to stop murderous rampages, the pro-gun lobby will always be able to insist that more guns is the answer.  Instead of one or two guns too many, the problem will always be an absence of guns.  Awesome!

Once again, I wonder:  where can I get a high-fashion Kevlar vest?

I hope all of you are safe this morning.  Please leave your thoughts and other links to news updates in the comments.

UPDATE, 12:05 p.m. MST:  Commenter Lucky Jane sent along a link to a Boston Globe story that reports that Amy Bishop accidentally shot killed her 18-year old brother in 1986.  Exactly how many mulligans do American murderers get before the state decides they shouldn’t own guns?  How many more people would she have had to kill before her Second Amendment rights were abrogated?

UPDATE PART 2, 2:30 MST:  From the Boston Globe, an updated version of the linked story above:

The Boston Globe reported at the time that Amy Bishop had accidentally shot her 18-year-old brother, Seth M. Bishop, an accomplished violinist who had won a number of science awards, in Braintree.

Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier confirmed today at a news conference that Amy Bishop had fatally shot her brother. But Frazier offered a different account of the shooting, saying Bishop had shot her brother during an argument and was being booked by police when the police chief at the time ordered the booking process stopped and Bishop released to her mother.

Frazier said he was basing his statements on the memories of one of his officers who was on the department at the time and had arrested Bishop. He said the records from the case have been missing since at least 1988.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘coverup’ … but this does not look good,” he said.

.       .       .       .      

Frazier said the media had been fed an incorrect story [about the 1986 shooting]. He said that there was an argument at the home on Hollis Avenue and Amy Bishop had fired three shots, then fled the house and pointed the shotgun at a motorist in an attempted carjack. She was then arrested at gunpoint by officers.

I thought graduate schools and universities did background checks on potential students and/or employees?  Hey–what about background checks for firearms owners???

0 thoughts on “Murder in UA-Huntsville faculty meeting

  1. It’s my impression that if you don’t give a hoot if it’s legal or not, just about anyone can get their hands on a gun relatively easily. She may also have borrowed it from someone; I read some interview with her husband where he mentioned they’d gone to a shooting range recently, but he had no idea where she got the gun she had with her.

    Based on interviews her husband has had with the press, not to mention the fact he’s talking to the press at all, I suspect there is more weirdness to come out of this. (Really? You went shooting with your wife of 20 years, and didn’t ask where she got the gun? wtf?)


  2. Digger–my questions exactly. He’s been in the picture a long time–probably 20 years at least, if they have an 18-year old. What part of this equation added up to “guns are an awesome idea!?!?” With the four kids?!?!


  3. Historiann, boo, you’re misinterpreting the meme.

    Ever since Reagan, Harvard has Hated America — so being a Crazy Killa Academic’s from the Ivy League is as much as an article of faith among the right than being a DFH.

    Boston Magazine has made a speciality of highlighting the deviant academics gone criminal since it was founded — it’s irresistable for them.


  4. cgeye–that was my fear initially–as someone upthread noted, the tic-like invokation of the adjectival phrase, “Harvard educated. . . ” But, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a “Harvard educated” professor really is a certifiably dangerous nutjob. (Like the Unibomber–he was “Harvard educated” too!)

    The American contempt for intellectuals and for higher education runs so deep that this crazed killer isn’t going to make much of a difference, either way.

    Thanks to Digger for digging up that link. How nice that her husband took no action to stop Bishop, although he noted that the family didn’t own a gun, he had no idea where she got the gun, and noticed that she went to target practice before her deadly rampage.

    Please, all of you married or partnered people out there: wouldn’t this concern you, especially if your partner/spouse had in fact killed hir own brother in a shooting “accident?” Wouldn’t you at least raise the alarm for your own safety and that of the children in the house?


  5. If a wife were talking this freely about her husband accused of mass murder, what would we assume? That he’s setting up the table for a fast and advantageous divorce. Note that he’s not expressing any fear of her, which would be the motivation for distancing oneself from a lethal spouse….

    I don’t know all the facts, but there’s a difference between cooperating with the police in their inquiries, and never refusing an interview from anyone. Just by talking about details which can be contradicted under oath, he’s damaging her right to a by-the-book legal defense — and no matter how guilty she’s judged to be, she’s entitled to that.


  6. Agreed, cgeye–although the guy has a motive in wanting to distance himself from her! She called him after the murders to pick her up, and he may have responded to her call, innocently (or not.) I can understand wanting to put some space between them, if only for the sake of the 4 children who are now his responsibility to put back together and raise by himself.


  7. I’m sorry to say it, but I’m glad that she was married and with children. I am not married and have no children and every now and then get the attitude that women who are not are the very ones that you have to watch out for, as if we could be unnatural witches on the side or something.


  8. HOLY MOTHERFUCK!!!!!!!!

    In March, 2002, Bishop walked into an International House of Pancakes in Peabody with her family, asked for a booster seat for one of her children, and learned the last seat had gone to another mother.

    Bishop, according to a police report, strode over to the other woman, demanded the seat and launched into a profanity-laced rant.

    When the woman would not give the seat up, Bishop punched her in the head, all the while yelling “I am Dr. Amy Bishop.”


  9. I certainly understand your perspective, Sally. I wonder if her “lifestyle” is what got her a pass on the 1986 and 1993 incidents in her past, and how because she was heteronormative and had children, people might not have raised the alarm about concerning behavior. (A man or a woman without children who got a gun illegally and started going to target practice might have been flagged! Reasonably so. But not the mother of 4. . .)


  10. Holy Carumba, CPP!!! Great pickup. Thanks for keeping us posted on the Boston news.

    She really should have been stopped years ago. This is perhaps a lesson to all of us who have authority over whom we hire? It sure is easier not to hire someone, than to hire someone and then fire her, even if she’s untenured.


  11. Whoa. If she’s that volatile, it might explain the weird family behavior. It doesn’t happen often, but women can be abusers also. One report said that while her hubby was “setting the record straight” with the press, her kids were inside singing karaoke. Now, I am of the opinion that karaoke is always weird, but most especially the day after your mother shot 6 people and got taken to jail… In that context, the gun would freak the motherlovin’ crap out of me, but I sure as hell wouldn’t push to find out too much about it.


  12. oh my goodness. Though really none of this, necessarily, would leave a paper trail? She got (1) not charged with the brother-shooting; (2) questioned but not charged with the pipe-bombing; (3) probation with the IHOP assault; (4) a reputation as a hassle with the local Huntsville police for constantly complaining about neighbor kids, but no real record there, either.

    I’m not sure any lessons can be taken from her — she’s a really special case. I don’t believe there are a lot of parallel instances out there for which we need to be watching out.

    Oh, but Digger — yeah, for sure. It doesn’t seem at all plausible that she was only violent *outside* the house.


  13. Forget the paper trail. I think the lesson is that UA-H no haz teh Google? (Although admittedly, “Amy Bishop” is not a super-easy name to google.)

    I will never interview another candidate again without googling the $hit out of hir. And this might just push me over the edge into opening up a fB account just so I can see other people’s fB pages.


    If ever there was an example of given white man a past and it backfiring on white people it’s this incident! Only thing this was an angry white female!The University of Alabama-Huntsville white angry biology professor accused of killing three white colleagues fatally shot her white brother in Massachusetts more than two decades ago, but was given a past by white in authority. Her white young 18 years old brother is a victim of white on white crime made possible by whites in authority! The revelation by Braintree, Mass., police that Amy Bishop, then 20, shot her 18-year-old brother, Seth M. Bishop, in 1986 raised troubling questions over how that incident was handled. Bishop was never charged and police reports on the case have gone missing. The Boston Globe reported at the time that Amy Bishop had accidentally shot her brother. It quoted then-Braintree Police Chief John Polio as saying that Bishop had asked her mother, Judith, in the presence of her brother how to unload a round from the chamber of a 12-gauge shotgun when the weapon went off. Seth Bishop was struck in the abdomen and died at a hospital 46 minutes after the Dec. 6, 1986 shooting, according to the report. There are reports that after Bishop murder her brother. She ran into a store and told the person in the store that her husband was after her. She LIED! There are also reports that she was in a heated argument with her brother right before murdering him!


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