NPR logo U of Alabama, Huntsville Prof Charged With Murder

U of Alabama, Huntsville Prof Charged With Murder

Amy Bishop, a 42-year old University of Alabama, Huntsville biology professor, was charged with capital murder, making her eligible for the death penalty if she's convicted in the shooting deaths of three colleagues at a faculty meeting.

Bishop, a geneticist who received her PhD from Harvard University, was charged with one count, it's likely more will follow, officials said.

In a case with multiple killings, prosecutors will sometimes bring a charge in only one of the murders, giving them the option to try a suspect later for the additional killings.

Besides the three deaths, three of her colleagues were wounded during the shooting which occurred in the Shelby Center on the UAH campus Friday afternoon.

The dead have been identified as the biology department chair, Gopi Podila; Maria Ragland Davis, who specialized in plant science, and Adriel Johnson, a physiologist.

Bishop, a mother of four, was denied tenure Friday morning, according to reports, and later returned to a faculty meeting and allegedly shot her colleagues.

The wounded members of the biology department were Joseph Leahy, a microbiologist and Stephanie Monticciolo, a department assistant, both in critical condition as of Friday evening. Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera, a molecular biologist, was in stable condition.

Just as an aside, one interesting aspect of this crime is the relatively subdued coverage it's gotten in the national media.

It didn't get front-page story treatment in either the New York Times or the Washington Post, for instance, though the Times at least teased an inside-the-paper story on its front page.

Meanwhile, the death of the Georgian luger at the Vancouver Olympics received front page attention. Tragic as it was, luge is known to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

On the other hand, faculty meetings aren't usually known to be perilous except for perhaps the threat to the attendees' egos. So that by itself should make the killings worthy of front page treatment.

It raises the question, at least in my mind, about whether there's a bit of an elitist bias here because this was a southern university and not even the main campus, at that, of the University of Alabama system.

It's hard to imagine that if such extraordinary shootings had happened on an Ivy League campus, stories about them would have been relegated to the inside pages of the Times and Post.

A lot of people might have guessed that Bishop's Harvard academic pedigree would have gotten the story on the front pages. They would have been wrong.

Anyway, here are some additional details related to the shooting. A 9 mm gun was found in a restroom in the building where the shootings occurred, authorities said, according to reports in the Huntsville Times and by the Associated Press.

Bishop was arrested in the parking lot outside the Shelby Center. Officials said she had called her husband, James Anderson, for a ride and that she was attempting to leave the campus when she was apprehended.

Police detained her husband but he hasn't been charged.