Amy Bishop, UAH Prof, Kills Three After Denied Tenure

Amy Bishop Arrested (Bob Gathany / The Huntsville Times)

Amy Bishop Arrested (Bob Gathany / The Huntsville Times)

Neuroscientist Amy Bishop was denied tenure by the biology faculty at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  So she shot them.

WAFF48:

The woman accused of killing three faculty members at University of Alabama Huntsville has been charged with capital murder.

Police said a female member of the UA-Huntsville faculty shot and killed three co-workers on campus Friday afternoon.

Sources close to the investigation identify the suspect as Dr. Amy Bishop.

Police also have the alleged shooter’s husband in custody. He has not been formally charged with anything.

University spokesman Ray Garner said the three killed were G. K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and two associates, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson.

He also said Joseph Leahy is in critical condition at Huntsville Hospital. Stephanie Monticello and Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera are in stable condition.

Huntsville Police, Madison County Sheriff’s department and HEMSI responded to a shooting at the UAH campus at 4:00 Friday afternoon.

The shooting happened in the Shelby Center, a math and science classroom building.

Authorities said Bishop, during a Biology faculty meeting, learned she would not receive tenure. She then pulled out a gun and started shooting.

NYT:

Three faculty members at the University of Alabama in Huntsville were shot to death, and three other people were seriously wounded at a biology faculty meeting on Friday afternoon, university officials said.  The Associated Press reported that a biology professor, identified as Amy Bishop, was charged with murder.

According to a faculty member, the professor had applied for tenure, been turned down, and appealed the decision. She learned on Friday that she had been denied once again.

The newspaper identified Dr. Bishop as a Harvard-educated neuroscientist. According to a 2006 profile in the newspaper, Dr. Bishop invented a portable cell growth incubator with her husband, Jim Anderson. Police officials said that Mr. Anderson was being detained, but they did not call him a suspect.

[…]

Dr. Bishop had told acquaintances recently that she was worried about getting tenure, said a business associate who met her at a business technology open house at the end of January and asked not to be named because of the close-knit nature of the science community in Huntsville.  “She began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way, saying it was unfair,” the associate said, referring to a conversation in which she blamed specific colleagues for her problems.  “She seemed to be one of these persons who was just very open with her feelings,” he said. “A very smart, intense person who had a variety of opinions on issues.”

CNN:

Huntsville Police Chief Henry Reyes left open the possibility that more than one person had been detained. “We have a suspect and possible persons of interest,” he said late Friday. “Until we go through everything, we’re not going to say exactly how many or who we have.”

Huntsville Times:

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-University trained neuroscientist, was taken into custody, and her husband has been detained. They have not been charged with a crime. Police said they have a suspect in custody but have not named the person.

[…]

In June 2006, The Times published a story involving Bishop, biology professor and her husband, Jim Anderson, chief science officer of Cherokee Labsystems in Huntsville. Bishop is quoted in the story as co-inventor of “InQ,” a new cell growth incubator which promised to cut the costs, size and maintenance involved in the mechanics of cell generation.

Naturally, the tragic and unusual nature of this incident is drawing substantial blogospheric commentary.

Ed Morrissey takes a just-the-facts approach, noting only that he’s surprised that the shooter was a female.  So was I, actually.  

Bob Owens notes that this was clearly “premeditated murder,” since it’s not customary to bring guns to faculty meetings. The Blogprof concurs.

Stacy McCain refrains from his customary snark, given that three are dead and others are seriously injured.  His commenters, not so much, including some odd speculation on the race of the suspect.  (She would appear caucasian.)

Vox Day ties this into the global warming debate and sees this as proof that scientists aren’t rational and objective.   Which, aside from being bizarre and cruel, seems not to match events. After all, the decision to deny Dr. Bishop tenure would seem vindicated.

It’s always baffling to me when people try to politicize random tragedies — usually while they’re breaking news stories with little real information. At first blush, Bishop would seem to be extremely bright — a Harvard-trained neuroscientist doing cutting edge work — but with some serious psychological issues.  My natural tendency in these mass murder situations is to write the shooters off as mentally ill but the seeming premeditation and obvious revenge motives against the victims would seem contrary evidence.

Regardless, however, this tragic, one-off case is unlikely to significantly alter my views on higher education, gun rights, crime and punishment, or global warming.  I’ll post a follow-up if that changes.

FILED UNDER: Education, Guns and Gun Control, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. devildog666 says:

    Dr. Amy Bishop, just another Harvard-University trained liberal with an entitlement mentality.

  2. Jim Henley says:

    Wait. Vox Day said something bizarre and cruel????

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    But will it change your opinion on wearing bullet proof vests or carrying a gun to faculty functions if you return to teaching?

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Pretty hard to make a trend out of a single data point. If college profs denied tenure were shooting up faculty meetings all over the country, there might be a point to be made.

    It’s all very sad.

  5. John Burgess says:

    I’m imagining the googles of electrons that would be spent in speculation and demagoguery had Dr. Bishop been Muslim…

  6. Charles says:

    @devildog666 – What makes you think she’s a liberal, because she went to Harvard. Does that mean every graduate of Harvard is a liberal? You certainly have a fracked up understanding of reality. I think you and Dr. Amy Bishop have more in common than you probably realize.

    Let me use your insight FAIL on you:

    Does that mean your a Satanist because of your handle? Perhaps you’re gay just because I think you are. Maybe a racist from the VNN Forums because of the similarity of your post:

    http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=107484

    Stop trolling your hate mongering.

  7. Eric Florack says:

    @devildog666 – What makes you think she’s a liberal, because she went to Harvard. Does that mean every graduate of Harvard is a liberal?

    It’s a bet I’ll take every time. To that point, there’s this, too…. Observe please the note from TPM yesterday about Gregory Girard, who was arrested on weapons charges the other day. TPM went to great lengths to explore Girard’s politics, and cast them in a negative light, along with his gun posession. I point out that Girard hasn’t killed or injured anyone.

    Yet, where’s the lefty devotion to all things political in the case of Amy Bishop? Why are we not seeing her politics examined in the same derisive manner, after she killed three and wounded three more, one critically?

    Maybe they’re taking the same bet as I… that she’s a liberal. I’ve seen several references to her not being able to deal with reality. Here’s one such. I’ll pass that one without comment thinking the link obvious.

    But of course there’s more, in the form of the usual excuse making about her behavior…. somehting I’ve noted lacking in the breathless commentary about Girard.

  8. Kathy says:

    Well you know those Libs, fairness above all whether earned or not.

  9. Herb says:

    Perhaps you’re gay just because I think you are.

    Ha! I didn’t click over to the comments on this post to find comedy, but that’s a gem.

    In fact, I’m taking that with me to the next guy’s night out.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    re: Eric Florack | February 13, 2010 | 12:23 pm

    So, in other words, you’re just as pathetically desperate as some others to politicize anything and everything that might help your ideology…truly outstanding work on your part…

  11. I fail to see what her political predilections have to do with this situation one way or another.

    Three people are dead, three others seriously wounded and some think that this is a time to try and score extremely cheap political points? Everything isn’t about the conservative-liberal divide in the US.

    It seems far more likely that she was motivated by revenge and anger than there was by ideology.

  12. Wayne says:

    Yes it is unfair to make definitely judgments of a group by what a member of that group does or to make definitely judgments of an individual because of group they belong to.

    However if this was a member of the police force or the military, many would have different views and be quick to pass judgments on those groups.

  13. Melisa says:

    Her student reported her discussing the fact that she was a socialist, after class. See “Ratemyprofessors dot com” It is not a stretch to see a disturbed individual, who shot and killed her own brother 20 years ago, latch onto a class-warfare, victim mentality, poor-me, everything has to be fair kind of thinking. Funny, though, for a socialist to have invented a great, marketable item and win a $25K prize for it. I’m sure she ran down the street spreading the money around like birdseed. Hope she gets the needle.

    Who are these colleagues who excused her “odd” behavior and let the pc-mentality “well, just because someone has mental problems doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be employed here”. After all, she’s from Harvard. Wow. Nice to know Harvard is accepting applications from people who kill their brothers, accidentally. But that’s okay. We shouldn’t judge and should just go right ahead and assume the risk. What could go wrong?

  14. An Interested Party says:

    Well, if we want to play the stereotype game, we could extend it to all those folks at the tea party protests….a bunch of disturbed individuals, latching on to a paranoid, victim mentality, poor-me, the government isn’t being fair to me kind of thinking…funny, though, for conservative anti-government types, I’ll bet they don’t mind getting Social Security checks or having Medicare…

  15. Eric Florack says:

    So, in other words, you’re just as pathetically desperate as some others to politicize anything and everything that might help your ideology…truly outstanding work on your part…

    I’m not politicizing anything about the event itself… I merely observe the varied reactions, and see what might be drawn from them. Wayne is quite correct when he says:

    if this was a member of the police force or the military, many would have different views and be quick to pass judgments on those groups.

    And I’ll bet in that event your charge of being “pathetically desperate to politicize anything” would go unuttered. Right?

    Well, if we want to play the stereotype game, we could extend it to all those folks at the tea party protests….a bunch of disturbed individuals,

    The article at TPM as I mention is one such… You’ve stumbled directly into the point I’m making. And so pathetically desperate are you to put up a defense for the leftist status quo, you never even noticed.

  16. Eric Florack says:

    Her student reported her discussing the fact that she was a socialist, after class.

    AS I say, that’s a bet I’ll make every damned time.

  17. Phil Smith says:

    Okay, it just got weird. She shot her brother to death with a 12 gauge back in 86.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    And I’ll bet in that event your charge of being “pathetically desperate to politicize anything” would go unuttered. Right?

    Wrong, you would lose that bet…

    And so pathetically desperate are you to put up a defense for the leftist status quo, you never even noticed.

    Wrong, once again…I am not defending anything except the idea that not everything under the sun has to be politicized…

  19. anjin-san says:

    Sad that a tragedy like this is politicized by some. You would think people would leave that kind of crap out of the discussion out of respect for the families of the victims.

  20. Boyd says:

    Hopefully circling back to the original post and avoiding all of the extraneous and fact-free discussion it’s generated…

    I’ve always entertained the idea that murderers are by definition either mentally or emotionally unstable. How can they do such a thing without some such deficiency?

    It’s incomprehensible to me.

  21. Kristina says:

    How you could take a tragedy like this, and spin it anywhere neat a political realm is ridiculous. For starts your entitled to your own opinions, however you are NOT entitled to your own facts. You do not know that she is a socialist, that even one of her caliber (no pun) would even identify as such. Just because she is a PHD in biology and that just so happens to be a field for stem cell research does not make her a socialist, any more than you being an ignorant to this fallacy and mistake automatically makes you a conservative moron. I think you might like to know this is a slippery slope argument your making, as a result of cognitive bias.

  22. derf says:

    latch onto a class-warfare, victim mentality, poor-me, everything has to be fair kind of thinking

    Was that McVeigh’s thinking? Or the suicide bomber? What do they really all have in common?