The revelations that continue to emerge about Amy Bishop, the biology professor accused of the Friday shooting of six University of Alabama, Huntsville colleagues -- three fatally --are astounding to say the least and increasingly troubling.
The New York Times is now reporting she was questioned in the investigation of an attempted bombing of a Harvard University Medical School professor in 1993.
An excerpt of the paper's report:
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The neurobiologist accused of killing three colleagues at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, on Friday was also a suspect in a 1993 mail bombing plot against a Harvard Medical School professor, the Boston Globe quoted law enforcement official as saying Sunday.
Amy Bishop was questioned along with her husband, James Anderson, after two 6-inch pipe bombs were sent to the Newton, Mass., home of Dr. Paul Rosenberg. While opening the package, the doctor saw the wires and a cylinder and fled the house.
The Globe said investigators searched Dr. Bishop's and Mr. Anderson's home, but the United States Attorney's office did not seek any charges against them, and no one was ever charged in the case.
The story doesn't say why she and her husband were questioned, that is, what facts known to federal officials at the time led them to her house.
But now that we know investigators asked the couple what they knew in the 1993 attempted bombing, reporters are no doubt working their sources to learn more about the facts of the unsolved 1993 case.
Meanwhile, there's more on the 1986 case in which she shot her younger brother to death, a case that was closed as accidental by the Braintree, Mass. police department but whose handling was controversial with the police department even at the time. One suspicious aspect of the police department's handling of the case is that the police file of the investigation mysteriously disappeared decades ago.
Earlier reporting had indicated that the police ruled the death accidental because Bishop and her mother had said a shotgun in the house that Bishop had been handling unintentionally discharged, fatally blasting her brother Seth Bishop in the chest.
But a statement issued Saturday by Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier very clearly relates that the accident story was at odds with what police responding to the December 1986 shooting noted at the time.
Officer Solimini recalled the incident as follows: He said he remembers that Ms. Bishop fired a round from a pump action shotgun into the wall of her bedroom. She had a fight with her brother and shot him, which caused his death. She fired a third round from the shotgun into the ceiling as she exited the home. She fled down the street with the shotgun in her hand. At one point she allegedly pointed the shotgun at a motor vehicle in an attempt to get the driver to stop. Officer Solimini found her behind a business on Washington Street. Officer Timothy Murphy was able to take control of the suspect at gunpoint and seized the shotgun. Ms. Bishop was subsequently handcuffed and transported to the police station under arrest."
"Officer Solimini informed me that before the booking process was completed Ms. Bishop was released from custody without being charged."
"I (Chief Frazier) spoke with the retired Deputy Chief who was then a Lieutenant and was responsible for booking Ms. Bishop. He said he had started the process when he received a phone call he believes was from then Police Chief John Polio or possibly from a captain on Chief Polio's behalf. He was instructed to stop the booking process. At some point Ms. Bishop was turned over to her mother and they left the building via a rear exit."
Braintree Police Lieutenant Karen MacAleese was a high school classmate and confirmed from photographs that the suspect is the same Amy Bishop who lived in Braintree.
"I was not on duty at the time of the incident, but I recall how frustrated the members of the department were over the release of Ms. Bishop. It was a difficult time for the department as there had been three (3) shooting incidents within a short timeframe. The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers and I can assure you that this would not happen in this day and age."
Adding to the questions surrounding the case is the information that Bishop's mother was on the Braintree city personnel board, according to a Boston Globe story.
The Globe and the Times both report that Polio, the police chief at the time of the 1986 shooting, denies there was any wrongdoing. From the Globe:
John Polio, the chief in 1986, defended his conduct yesterday and disputed Frazier's version.
"That's a joke. That's got to be a joke. If anybody knows history, I never covered anything up,'' Polio said at his Braintree home. He said he thought that the Bishop family's explanation of an accident was murky and that he wanted the district attorney to hold an inquiry. A report released last night by the district attorney's office confirmed that the DA's office investigated and also ruled the shooting an accident.
The district attorney at the time is long-time congressman Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat.
All in all, what was an extraordinary story to start with, Bishop's alleged killing of three colleagues and wounding of three others at a campus faculty meeting, has now become even more remarkable. And the way this story is unspooling, you have to wonder what more we'll learn in coming days.