Ala. university recovering a year after shootings

More than a dozen visiting professors and retired teachers helped fill the void on a rotating basis.

It’s been a year since a Harvard-educated professor opened fire during a faculty meeting in a conference room at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, killing three colleagues and wounding three others. Ever since, those staff meetings have been held elsewhere.

Professor Debra Moriarity, who narrowly escaped dying that day, works in an office nearby and said it’s too much to go back in.

“That conference room has been closed up since after the incident,” she said. “They went in, cleaned it and repainted it, but we don’t use it.”

She and the rest of the survivors of professor Amy Bishop’s Feb. 12 rampage are recovering, pulling each other through with the help of dozens of doctors, counselors, substitute teachers, relatives and friends.

“We talked to each other a lot, especially in those first few weeks,” said Moriarity, interim chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, where the shooting occurred. “We’re at an OK place now, probably better than a lot of people expected us to be.”

Moriarity has awful memories from that day: She tried to stop the shooter and wound up with a gun pointed directly at her. The weapon clicked but didn’t fire.

For some students it’s creepy just being inside the Shelby Center, a modern science building filled with classrooms and laboratories.

“It’s just weird knowing what happened there,” said senior Jonna Greer.

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Bishop remains in jail without bond just a few miles from campus. Her lawyer, Roy Miller, doesn’t deny that she opened fire or that a major factor in her attack was being denied tenure. Instead, he is laying the groundwork for an insanity defense.

After she was charged with capital murder in the UAH killings, Bishop came under renewed scrutiny as Massachusetts authorities reopened an investigation into the fatal shooting of her brother Seth at the home they shared with their parents in 1986.

Originally determined to be an accident, the shooting was reclassified as a homicide and Bishop was charged with murder in that slaying, too.

Bishop faces four lawsuits over the Alabama shooting. Authorities say she attempted suicide at least once in custody but has mostly settled into the jailhouse routine.

Meanwhile, Bishop’s office–with many of her belongings still inside–sits locked and dark at the Shelby Center. Officials still haven’t decided what to do with the contents a year later.

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