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Alabama professor shot methodically at victims' heads, survivor says

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A professor who survived a deadly university shooting rampage said the colleague charged in the attack methodically shot her victims in the head until the gun apparently jammed and she was pushed out of the room.

Associate professor Joseph Ng said Tuesday he was one of 12 people at a biology department meeting Friday at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He said the meeting had been going on for about half an hour when Amy Bishop "got up suddenly, took out a gun and started shooting at each one of us. She started with the one closest to her and went down the row shooting her targets in the head."

Ng said he and the rest of the survivors dived under the table. Three people were killed and three wounded.

Bishop, 45, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist and mother of four, has been charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder in the deaths of Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and professors Adriel Johnson and Maria Ragland Davis.

In 1986, she killed her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun at their suburban Boston home. She told police she had been trying to learn how to use the gun, which her father had bought for protection, when it discharged.

Police and witnesses say she fled with the gun to a car dealership, where she pointed it at employees and demanded a getaway car. She told them her husband was going to come after her and she needed to flee.

She was caught but never charged. Police said it took 11 days before they could interview family members because they were so distraught. When they finally did, authorities decided to let her go, declaring it an accident.

John Polio, who headed the Braintree, Mass., police force at the time, at first defended the handling of the case. The 87-year-old said Tuesday that he recently read a 1987 report on the investigation written by a state trooper. At the time, he had not seen the document. But now, he says, "I would have wanted a lot more questions answered."

Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating said Tuesday that newly found police reports show there was probable cause to arrest Bishop in 1986 on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition. But, Keating said, the reports do not contradict accounts that the shooting was an accident.

Also Tuesday, radio station WBZ-AM and the Boston Globe reported that Bishop was charged with assault after a 2002 tirade at a restaurant in Peabody, Mass. A police report said Bishop became incensed when she found out another woman had received the restaurant's last booster seat. Bishop hit the woman while shouting, "I am Dr. Amy Bishop," according to the police report. Bishop received probation.

Alabama professor shot methodically at victims' heads, survivor says 02/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 10:32pm]
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