HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A survivor of an Alabama university shooting said the professor charged in the attack that claimed three lives methodically shot the victims in the head until her gun apparently jammed and she was pushed out of the room.
Associate professor Joseph Ng said to The Associated Press on Tuesday he was one of 12 people at the biology department meeting Friday at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. He described the details in an e-mail to a colleague at the University of California-Irvine.
Ng said the meeting had been going on for about half an hour when Amy Bishop “got up suddenly, took out a gun and started shooting at each one of us. She started with the one closest to her and went down the row shooting her targets in the head.”
Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, was arrested and charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Killed were Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and professors Adriel Johnson and Maria Ragland Davis. Two were wounded: professor Joseph Leahy remained in critical condition and staffer Stephanie Monticciolo was in serious condition Tuesday. The third, Luis Cruz-Vera, was released from the hospital.
Ng said the meeting was held around an oval table. The six people on one side were all shot.
“The remaining 5 including myself were on the other side of the table (and) immediately dropped to the floor,” he wrote.
Ng told the AP the shooting stopped almost as soon as it started. Ng said the gun seemed to jam and he and others rushed Bishop out of the room and then barricaded the door shut with a table.
Ng said the charge was led by Debra Moriarity, a professor of biochemistry, after Bishop aimed the gun at her and attempted to fire but it didn’t shoot. He said Moriarity pushed her way to Bishop, urged her to stop and then helped force her out the door.
Ng said the survivors worried Bishop would shoot her way through the door, and frantically worked up a backup plan in case she burst through. But she never did.
Investigators haven’t commented on a possible motive, but Bishop was vocal among colleagues about her displeasure over being denied tenure by the university, forcing her to look for work elsewhere after this semester.
Some victims’ relatives have also questioned how Bishop was hired at the university in 2003 after she was involved years ago in separate criminal probes. University officials were meeting privately to review the files concerning her hiring.
In 1986, Bishop shot and killed her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun at their Braintree, Mass., home. She told police at the time that she had been trying to learn how to use the gun, which her father had bought for protection, when it accidentally discharged.
Her husband said Monday he had known about her brother being shot, but said “it was an accident. That’s all I knew about it.”
Huntsville police spokesman Sgt. Mark Roberts said his department didn’t find out about either of the older cases until after the shooting on campus.
“She was just a normal professor,” he said to The Associated Press during an interview at his home Monday.
Police have said Bishop had no permit for the gun they believe she used in the campus shooting.