Professor accused of killing 3 in tenure dispute

The Huntsville campus has about 7,500 students in northern Alabama, not far from the Tennessee line. The university is known for its scientific and engineering programs and often works closely with NASA.

The space agency has a research center on the school’s campus, where many scientists and engineers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center perform Earth and space science research and development.

The university will remain closed all week, and all athletic events were canceled, an announcement on its web site said. Counselors were available to speak with students.

The wounded were still recovering in hospitals early on Feb. 13. Luis Cruz-Vera was in fair condition; Joseph Leahy in critical condition; and staffer Stephanie Monticello also was in critical condition.

It’s the second shooting in a week on an area campus. On Feb. 5, a 14-year-old student was killed in a middle school hallway in nearby Madison, Ala., allegedly by a fellow student in a gang-related dispute.

Mass shootings are rarely carried out by women, said Dr. Park Dietz, who is president of Threat Assessment Group Inc., a Newport Beach, Calif.-based violence prevention firm.

A notable exception was a 1985 rampage at a Springfield, Pa., mall in which three people were killed. In June 1986, Sylvia Seegrist was deemed guilty but mentally ill on three counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder in the shooting spree.

Dietz, who interviewed Seegrist after her arrest, said it was possible the suspect in the Feb. 12 shooting had a long-standing grudge against colleagues or superiors and felt her complaints had not been dealt with fairly.

Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI agent and private criminal profiler based in Fredericksburg, Va., said there is no typical outline of a mass shooter but noted they often share a sense of paranoia, depression, or a feeling that they are not appreciated.

“They think somebody is out to get them or has mistreated them in some way,” McCrary said. “They go back to right this perceived injustice.”

The New York Times reported that Bishop had told acquaintances recently that she was worried about getting tenure, according to a business associate who met her at a business technology open house at the end of January and asked not to be named because of the close-knit nature of the science community in Huntsville.

“She began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way, saying it was unfair,” the associate told the Times, referring to a conversation in which she blamed specific colleagues for her problems. “She seemed to be one of these persons who was just very open with her feelings. A very smart, intense person who had a variety of opinions on issues.”

The university was put on lockdown “almost instantaneously,” reported the Times. But some students reportedly complained on Twitter and to reporters that they didn’t receive the university’s alert until hours after the shooting.

“The U-Alert was triggered late because the people involved in activating that system were involved in responding to the shooting,” said Charles Gailes, chief of the university police, at a news conference. “We’re going to stop, we’re going to sit down, we’re going to review what happened. All of these actions are going to be learning points, and we’re going to be better for this.”

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