Universities mull role of tenure in UAH shootings

“Any time you’re going to talk to a person and you know it’s going to be negative, there are measures you can and should take,” said Fiel, former executive director of school security for the Washington, D.C. public school system. “You never know how people are going to react … and in those situations, security should be in the immediate vicinity. Someone with authority should be there, other than the administrator.”

Meanwhile, questions also have arisen about whether UAH should have known about previous instances of violence in Bishop’s past.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said Feb. 24 that it was reviewing its investigation into an attempted mail bombing, an inquiry in which authorities once questioned Bishop.

Bishop and her husband were questioned, but not charged, in the 1993 attempted bombing. Paul Rosenberg received the bomb, which did not explode, shortly after Bishop quit her job at Children’s Hospital following a poor review by Rosenberg.

In the 1993 case, Rosenberg told authorities that Bishop had resigned her job as a post doctorate research fellow with him around the time he was mailed the pipe bomb. Rosenberg said that “he had been instrumental in her leaving, because he had felt she could not meet the standards required for the work,” according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

A witness also told the ATF that Bishop’s husband, James Anderson, said “he wanted to get back at victim Dr. Rosenberg and that he wanted to shoot him, bomb him, stab him, or strangle Rosenberg.”

In 2002, Bishop was charged with assault, battery, and disorderly conduct after a tirade at the International House of Pancakes in Peabody, Mass. Peabody police Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto 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.

Anderson responded to media reports of Bishop’s legal troubles, saying the incidents were being exaggerated in the wake of the UAH shootings.

“It was way overblown,” he said. “Someone trying to make something out of nothing.”

Security experts questioned UAH’s apparent lack of a comprehensive background check on Bishop before she was hired in 2003. Reviewing resumes and conducting interviews are important parts of evaluating applicants, Fiel said, but contacting family, friends, and former colleagues should become common practice before hires are finalized.

“You have get the jobs filled so they can start their work, but from a security standpoint, we want to get that background completed so we can make sure everything is accurate,” he said. “You can’t just judge a person based on the resume in front of you.”

Fiel encouraged campus officials to conduct annual background checks on employees to spot any legal red flags. Yearly evaluations, he said, would have warned UAH officials about Bishop before she allegedly shot and killed her colleagues.

“She had a history of violence,” he said. “Talking to people who knew her would have brought that information out before it was too late. … You have to know each and every one of your employees as best as you can.”