Remembering the Tragic of Alabama Mass Shooter’s Murders

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Below is a recap and the story of Amy Bishop, a neurobiologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, who killed people cold with a gun three years ago.

Written by New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe, an excerpt reposted from his latest piece below. It is timely given the violence related to guns discussion so prominent in the states right now.

Amy Bishop sat down at the conference table just moments before the faculty meeting began. It was three o’clock on February 12, 2010, and thirteen professors and staff members in the biology department had crowded into a windowless conference room on the third floor of the Shelby Center for Science and Technology. The department chair, a plant biologist named Gopi Podila, distributed a printed agenda. Bishop was sitting next to him, in a spot by the door. Inside her handbag was a gun.

Bishop was forty-five, with a long, pale face framed by dark hair that she wore in a pageboy, her bangs slashed just above her small blue eyes. She was normally a vocal participant in departmental meetings, but on this occasion she was silent, and she appeared to be brooding. There was an obvious explanation: a year earlier, the department had denied Bishop’s bid for tenure, and her protracted and increasingly desperate efforts to appeal the decision had been fruitless. When the semester ended, she knew, her job would end, as well. Much of Podila’s agenda concerned plans for the next semester, so there was another plausible reason for Bishop’s withdrawn manner: she didn’t really need to be there.

A biochemist named Debra Moriarity watched Bishop from across the table. Moriarity knew all about Bishop’s tenure woes; they had developed a friendship since Bishop had arrived on campus as an assistant professor, in 2003. They often talked about their families: Bishop had four children (her oldest, Lily, was a student at Huntsville); Moriarity had recently become a grandmother. Moriarity had voted against Bishop’s receiving tenure, and Bishop knew it, but they had remained cordial, and Bishop had confided in Moriarity about her professional despair. “My life is over,” she had said at one point. Moriarity reassured her that she would find another position. “It’s just a matter of the fit,” Moriarity said. During the meeting, she made a mental note to ask Bishop how her search for a new job was going.

For fifty minutes, Bishop said nothing. Then, just as the meeting was concluding, she stood up, pulled out the gun, a 9-mm. Ruger semiautomatic, and shot Podila in the head. The blast was deafening. She fired again, hitting a department assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. Next, Bishop turned and shot Adriel Johnson, a cell biologist. People screamed and ducked for cover, but Bishop was blocking the only door. Moriarity did not fully register what was happening until she saw Bishop—her jaw set, her brow furrowed—train the gun on a fourth colleague, Maria Ragland Davis, and shoot her.

For the original article and the rest of this lengthy feature, go here.  It’s well written and as a bystander on Facebook noted: Scrupulously reported and suspensfully told. There is no reference to the gun debate in the article, but the costs of easy access to firearms rings through.

Photo credit: whyy.org