Biology Professor Charged With Murder in Alabama Shooting

Three professors are dead; three others injured

Bob Gathany, The Huntsville Times

Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the U. of Alabama at Huntsville, is taken into custody on Friday. Police say she killed three professors and wounded three others in a shooting at a faculty meeting.
February 12, 2010

Last updated February 14, 2:53 p.m., U.S. Eastern time

More Coverage: Twitter: Live Updates From Huntsville | Forum: Personnel Policies and Workplace Violence | From the Archives: Advice on Being Denied Tenure

A biology professor who the police say began shooting at a faculty meeting Friday afternoon has been charged with murder. Three professors were killed and three others wounded in the shooting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated biologist, was charged with a single count of capital murder Friday night. 

The Associated Press reported that when she was taken Friday night from a police precinct to the county jail, she could be heard saying, "It didn't happen. There's no way. ... They are still alive."

James Anderson, Ms. Bishop's husband, told The Chronicle in an interview that he didn't know his wife had a gun when he dropped her off at the faculty meeting on Friday. Nor did he know specifically what might have caused Ms. Bishop to open fire.

But he knew that she felt she had been unfairly denied tenure. Ms. Bishop had been informed months ago that she would not be granted tenure, and a university official said the faculty meeting was not related to her tenure case.  But according to Mr. Anderson, Ms. Bishop was taking the fight to the highest level—the university's Board of Trustees.

One of the dead — Gopi K. Podila, chairman of the department of biological sciences — supported her tenure bid, according to the chairman of Huntsville's chemistry department.

The police found the murder weapon, a 9-millimeter pistol, Friday night in a second-floor bathroom in the university's Shelby Center for Science and Technology, The Huntsville Times reported.

The mass shooting was not the first violent incident in which the professor was involved: According to The Boston Globe, Ms. Bishop shot and killed her teenage brother more than two decades ago, when she was 20 years old. That shooting was ruled an accident by the police in Braintree, Mass., but Braintree's current police chief has disputed that determination.

A university spokesman identified the dead as Mr. Podila and two other faculty members in the department, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson.

Three others were injured. Officials said Joseph Leahy, a professor in the department, was in critical condition at Huntsville Hospital. Stephanie Monticciolo, a staff assistant, and Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera, another professor, were in stable condition.

The campus will be closed all of next week, as officials have canceled all classes and events. Faculty and staff members who still want to report to work will be able to do so.

More on the shooting:

A photo gallery from The Huntsville Times

Videos of briefings