Patterico's Pontifications

2/13/2010

The Shooting at UAH

Filed under: Crime,Education — DRJ @ 3:20 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated research scientist teaching at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, has been charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths yesterday of three colleagues and the wounding of three others. Bishop reportedly had been denied tenure.

Today, Boston area newspapers report Bishop shot and killed her 18-year-old brother two decades ago, but was released in what may have been a bungled or questionable investigation:

“Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier is now offering a different account of the shooting to The Globe: “Bishop had shot her brother during an argument and was being booked by police when the police chief at the time ordered the booking process stopped and Bishop released to her mother,” the paper reports on its Web site. Records from the case have been missing since 1987.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘coverup,’ but this does not look good,” Frazier said.

Another newspaper, The Boston Herald, is reporting that Bishop also pointed the gun at a passing car after her brother’s shooting.”

Police reportedly found the gun used in yesterday’s shooting in a second floor bathroom. They say Bishop called her husband for a ride and was arrested in the parking lot.

— DRJ

67 Responses to “The Shooting at UAH”

  1. Teachable moment.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  2. The earlier charges against Amy Bishop were dropped by District Attorney William Delahunt, who is now a Congressman from the 10th District of Massachusetts.

    Official Internet Data Office (99772e)

  3. I blame the bullets. And the guns. Not some whack-job northeast liberal whacko.

    JD (26414e)

  4. Her brother was an accomplished violinist. Yesterday she unleashed her rage on superiors in her department –all college professors. Looks like this pathetic loser has taken a lot of people from the world who were contributing and making it a better place.

    What role did her mother play in the earlier cover up I wonder.

    elissa (c7cd60)

  5. Don’t ban guns, ban tenure.

    TimesDisliker (911ec0)

  6. Daley, you can have all the teachable moments in the world but if they are not also learnable moments what good are they?

    Our president, for example, seems much more enamored with pointing out teachable moments for others, than in learning himself.

    elissa (c7cd60)

  7. From what I have read, she was also quite the lefty darling, a self described socialist. Wanna bet that never gets mentioned on PBS,NBC,CBS,…ad nauseum.

    BT (74cbec)

  8. This news won’t help Delahunt, who was already in trouble in the polls:

    The first and perhaps most stunning is a McLaughlin and Associates poll commissioned by former state treasurer Joe Malone that shows the likely GOP challenger leading the seven-term incumbent Delahunt 37 to 34 percent among likely voters. Twenty-nine percent are undecided.

    Malone’s lead grows among voters among voters who have a firm opinion of both candidates, to 48 percent to Delahunt’s 34 percent.The poll of 300 likely voters has a margin of error of 5.7 percent. It was conducted Jan. 30 and 31.

    Also worrisome for Delahunt: his favorable rating is under the 50% benchmark for a safe incumbent. Forty-four percent of likely voters rate him favorably and 33 percent unfavorably.

    And Delahunt, who was unopposed in 2008 and won reelection in previous cycles with over 60 percent of the vote, has a negative net job approval rating — 54 percent of those surveyed rate his job negatively to 35 percent who rate it positively.

    Several other Republicans are eyeing a challenge to Delahunt in the wake of Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) shocking special election win in January.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  9. They say Bishop called her husband for a ride and was arrested in the parking lot.

    “So, honey, how was your day?”

    How does that conversation continue?

    Jayc (574a02)

  10. Her mother was apparently on the Board of Personnel, whatever that is, and the investigation of Seth’s murder was stopped by Delahunt, and the records have since “disappeared.”

    Sounds like a Lehane novel. It’s like the universe is destroying the Dem party or something.

    Patricia (e1047e)

  11. Waiting for imdw or timb to come along and tell us why this was Bush’s fault.

    Old Coot (ddf8be)

  12. –It’s like the universe is destroying the Dem party or something–

    Patricia, or else Ronald Reagan is having himself a hell of a year-long 100th birthday celebration.

    elissa (c7cd60)

  13. This woman was obviously an accident waiting to happen. She was successful, or her husband was, but she does not seem to take defeat well. Brilliance does not rule out craziness.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  14. We might find out that Amy Bishop was institutionalized after killing her brother and her insanity defense is therefore already established for yesterday’s murders.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  15. LOL, elissa!

    Patricia (e1047e)

  16. Imagine how the coverage of this would differ if it was a white southern conservative christian male.

    JD (c45fdb)

  17. Has a temper, and can’t stand being stymied. I’ll bet her brother beat her in something and she let herself get carried away. In short, no impulse control.

    The one student evaluation tells me she was not an organized person. Some people need an organized mentor, organization she was incapable of providing. I think she would’ve been better off going into a research facility instead of teaching.

    Alan Kellogg (654668)

  18. @j curtis #14:

    Of course she was institutionalized. She’s in academia.

    Since she was never even charged for her brother’s homicide, there’s no record to establish.

    Captain Ned (28c191)

  19. Wow, the photo of her is really creepy. She has a very haunted look to her…but then again, with that incredibly bad ‘do, it’s understandable.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  20. elissa – This teachable moment certainly lends support for the partial repeal of the second amendment, at least with respect to LOONY LIBERAL LADIES. You can’t trust them around guns! I’d hate to see a bunch of those ground up bags of anger, the feminazis, lose it while they were packing heat.

    Janet Napolitano and Obama need to learn that lesson instead of focusing on peaceful pro-lofe demonstrators.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  21. 18

    Would they have charged her if she had a mental history even at the time she killed her brother or would they have sent her to the funny farm where she perhaps had already spent some time?

    I’m just imagining alternatives to what appears to be a very risky cover-up. If it’s that, there must be some interesting relationships involved for powerful people to put their careers on the line for such a risky cover-up.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  22. Wow, the photo of her is really creepy. She has a very haunted look to her

    The photo of her getting a free ride downtown looks like a “you’re next, wench” photo. Look at the way she’s looking at the woman helping her into the car.

    John Hitchcock (fe6383)

  23. JD @ #3 and TimesDisliker @ #5,

    You jest, but this is the first of a few hundred comments at the NYT article about this. It seems very representative of a whole lot of their commenters’ views.

    This is the same comment that I make whenever this kind of thing happens in a state where guns are readily available. This type of thing happens whenever there is a severe stressing of an individual and there is a gun available. If there had been no guns available this lady would just have taken her grief home and gotten over it. Because she had a gun available there are three people dead and there may even be more deaths among the three people injured.

    As long as people in this can get there hands on guns when they are angry, people will be shot and killed. Why is that so difficult for people in many states to understand.

    I like the part where she would have taken her grief home with her and gotten over it… Uh huh, because life is that neat and clean and simple.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  24. Found the police report from when she killed her brother. It’s insane.

    http://www.necn.com/02/13/10/State-Police-investigative-report-86-Bis/landing.html?blockID=180126&feedID=4215

    j curtis (5126e4)

  25. I only weep that this happened at the biology department, the UAH climate department needs a bit of culling.

    Soronel Haetir (ed9110)

  26. just when you think you’ve heard it all…..

    EricPWJohnson (a08207)

  27. That’s an interesting police report, j. curtis. In the Huntsville Times’ article, there were reports that Bishop said she couldn’t remember what happened. Apparently she said the same thing after her brother’s shooting.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  28. Also, it appears from the police report that her brother’s death was ruled accidental because their mother told the police that she was there when it happened and it was an accident. That’s questionable given that the gun was apparently discharged both in Bishop’s bedroom and again in the kitchen (where her brother was shot), but I guess the police didn’t have the evidence or the desire to rebut the mother’s claim.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  29. What is David Niewert saying about the shooting? Surely he has been all over this like white on rice.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  30. This is a bit confusing, because of the statement of the on-duty officer,

    But Chief Frazier said in his statement that the officer on duty, Ronald Solimini, remembered that Ms. Bishop had shot and killed her brother after an argument. She fired another round from the shotgun into the ceiling as she left the home, the officer said, and fled down the street with the shotgun. The officer remembered her pointing the shotgun at a motor vehicle in an attempt to get the driver to stop, the chief said.

    At what point in time did the on-duty officer arrive at the home? And if there had been an argument would that open up speculation that this wasn’t an accident?

    And this is interesting as well,

    “The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers,” Chief Frazier said in a statement, “and I can assure you that this would not happen in this day and age.”

    What is it that he believes wouldn’t occur today: the accepted statement of the mother that it was an accident? How does the passage of time change the standing of an eye-witness?

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  31. I think it’s because the claim it was an accident doesn’t match the physical evidence, Dana.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  32. 28

    And from what I could make out, Amy was claiming that she was trying to disarm the weapon and it went off in her room putting a hole in the wall. She then must have put another shell in the chamber because she then went downstairs to get help removing the new shell and blasts her brother.

    It doesn’t add up, obviously. Why would she reload after putting a hole in her bedroom wall? Then there is a third blast and attempted carjack that doesn’t get mentioned in the report. Why would the report mention that Amy didn’t remember what happened without mentioning what actually did happen?

    They confiscated the local police report so that there would be no contradictions between that and the Delahunt directed State Police report in case anyone went snooping around.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  33. 30

    I think you are confusing the local police with Delahunt’s state police.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  34. DRJ, I get that, so wouldn’t that then, right off the bat, point to something obviously not being consistent? And if so, does the statement of the eye witness (mother) supersede any inconsistencies?

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  35. Based on what I’ve read so far, I don’t ascribe bad motives to the decision not to prosecute Bishop in the death of her brother. The mother claimed it was an accident and the authorities don’t want to do any more to this family given they had already lost one child.

    We’ve seen many examples of young people hurting family members in recent years but 20+ years ago we didn’t have the 24/7 cable media to cover these stories and police didn’t have the forensics to investigate them. I think it’s also relevant that the shooting involved a girl who claimed unfamiliarity with guns, something that was more believable then.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  36. What is it that he believes wouldn’t occur today: the accepted statement of the mother that it was an accident? How does the passage of time change the standing of an eye-witness?

    No, I’m sure he was referring to releasing the killer into the custody of the only eye witness without any serious questioning and then letting an extended period of time elapse before any interrogation of the witnesses and killer.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  37. Dana:

    “The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers,” Chief Frazier said in a statement, “and I can assure you that this would not happen in this day and age.”

    What is it that he believes wouldn’t occur today: the accepted statement of the mother that it was an accident?

    I think he could be referring to several things: The way the investigation was done, the willingness to believe the family members despite the evidence, and the willingness to let them coordinate their stories before questioning. In addition, when I first read that, I thought he was saying the outcome would probably be different today, i.e., Bishop would not have been released but probably would have been prosecuted.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  38. “And if so, does the statement of the eye witness (mother) supersede any inconsistencies?”

    Dana, you have it backwards–the physical evidence impeaches the eye witness testimony, the eye -witness testimony doesn’t impeach the physical evidence.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  39. the willingness to believe the family members despite the evidence

    Do you mean there was a time in world history that police would believe any kind of witness who claimed three shotgun blasts and an attempted carjack was accidental?

    j curtis (5126e4)

  40. I find it hard to believe she shot the gun 3 times and it was an accident. Sounds more like Momma and Delahunt were in cahoots somehow.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  41. @39, yes: The physical evidence *should* have impeached the eye witness testimony, but at the time, in this case it apparently didn’t.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  42. The physical evidence *should* have impeached the eye witness testimony, but at the time, in this case it apparently didn’t.

    I don’t think that the evidence was what was driving this investigation

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  43. 41

    Yeah, the pertinent next question is “why didn’t the physical evidence impeach the eye witness?”.

    I’m sure we’ll discover more in the coming days, unless some corrupt judge issues a gag order. That will be hard to do now that Delahunt is in the middle of the scandal.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  44. This sad case may impact Massachusetts’ politics if it convinces Delahunt not to run again. Life can be so strange sometimes.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  45. The investigator’s report does not describe the shotgun. From the few “clues” in the report, I suspect that it is a semi-automatic shotgun. Based upon the model, the tube could contain from three to six shells.

    For a person unfamiliar with firearms to fire the weapon while trying to unload it is possible.

    If I was the defense attorney in the first shooting, I would describe the incident as follows :

    The girl, unfamiliar with firearms, loads the shotgun with at least three rounds. In an attempt to unload the weapon, she fires one round into her bedroom wall.

    The weapon automatically ejects the fired shell and inserts another shell into the chamber. The weapon is cocked and ready to fire.

    She takes the weapopn downstairs to get help in unloading it. In trying to follow the somewhat conflicting instructions of her mother and brother, the weapon is discharged a second time – killing the brother.

    She panics and runs out of the house and, if my memory is correct, the weapon is discharged for a third time.

    A common type of accident with firearms in the hands of unqualified persons. Nothing in the physical evidence to suggest otherwise and no testimony about any problems between brother and sister.

    Being unable to see the future, the decision of the local authorities is rational and proper.

    Longwalker (996c34)

  46. Longwalker, I can’t say that I buy your theory.

    My experience is that when someone experiences an accidental discharge, they put the weapon down, sometimes even dropping it. What they don’t do is take the weapon somewhere else and experience two more additional AD’s. That is almost unheard of, in my experience.

    Frankly, her story makes almost no sense.

    In his statement, the father says that he had a dispute with Amy that morning and that she had gone to her room and was there at the time that he left at 11:30 am. Amy claims that she picked that afternoon, after she had had a dispute with her father, to decide that it would be a good idea if she learned how to load the shotgun and that after loading it, she accidentally discharged it. She then stated that she attempted to disassemble the shotgun to unload it. Not being able to unload it, even after partially disassembling it, she claims she reassembled it! This seems very unlikely. Again, my experience is that after an accidental discharge, people want to get as far away from the gun as possible. She then claims that she went down stairs to enlist her brother’s assistance and had a second AD, killing him. Apparently, she then fled the house, experiencing yet another AD.

    Of course, there is far too much that we don’t know and will never know, such as the nature and intensity of the dispute with the father that morning, whether the brother took sides or was otherwise involved, what Amy’s relationship with her brother was, etc. But what I see here just doesn’t add up. If the six page report above represents the sum total of the Mass State Police’s efforts, it is really a stretch to call it an “investigation”.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  47. Everything I’ve read says it was a pump-action shotgun. Three accidental discharges and she pumped between each blast.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  48. Almost as ridiculous as an article in the paper that I read a few years back. Woman claimed to have accidently shot her husband NINE times with a handgun. I was afraid the jury might swallow that line, at least until the prosecution explained to the jury, that the weapon involved was a six shot revolver, and that the defendant had to reload and then fire 3 more times. It sort of put the kaibosh on her accidental discharge.

    peedoffamerican (c15fe4)

  49. If I was the defense attorney in the first shooting, I would describe the incident as follows :

    The girl, unfamiliar with firearms, loads the shotgun with at least three rounds. In an attempt to unload the weapon, she fires one round into her bedroom wall.

    The weapon automatically ejects the fired shell and inserts another shell into the chamber. The weapon is cocked and ready to fire.

    She takes the weapopn downstairs to get help in unloading it. In trying to follow the somewhat conflicting instructions of her mother and brother, the weapon is discharged a second time – killing the brother.

    She panics and runs out of the house and, if my memory is correct, the weapon is discharged for a third time.

    A common type of accident with firearms in the hands of unqualified persons

    That is not even remotely a “common type of accident with firearms”. If you accidently fire a gin, you put it down. You don’t wander around “accidently” firing it again and again. One shot is an accident. Three shots, in three separate locations, is intentional.

    Subotai (d08808)

  50. Calfed : I don’t buy my story either. I was just pointing out how a defense attorney could play with the facts. If, as j curtis states, it was a pump action shotgun – the theory won’t work. However, I have not seen any definite comment on the weapon involved. If it was a pump action, a double barrel or a bolt action, the theory is dead.

    I also believe that we should never underestimate what anyone who, without any practical experience or training with firearms, might do when there is an “accidental” discharge.

    I have been reading reports of one type or another for most of my life and nothing suprises me. From a calvary officer’s report of what happened to a well armed family of settlers living in a blockhouse to a recent report of a person with a stuck accelerator, life is full of suprises.

    In the case of the settlers, the whole family of eight or more adults and six children raced out of their blockhouse, without their weapons, when they heard another family member scream. The entire family was killed by the Comanche raiding party as they stood, unarmed, in their front yard.

    The person with the stuck accelerator tried to use the car’s brakes to bring the car under control. He made no attempt to put the car in neutral, the only reasonable way to handle a stuck accelerator, even though he had over twenty years of driving experience. In a simular incident, the driver turned of the ignition while the car was in motion. This froze the steering wheel and the car crashed into the side of a house. In emergencies, people do the strangest things.

    Longwalker (996c34)

  51. Delahunt has now announced he is retiring from Congress. I’m sure this case was just a coincidence.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  52. The person with the stuck accelerator tried to use the car’s brakes to bring the car under control.

    Possible, but unlikely. It’s more likely that the person had their foot on the gas pedal the whole time. That’s the real cause behind most “stuck accelerator” incidents.

    Subotai (d08808)

  53. There is an interview this morning with Ms. Bishop’s husband, Mr. Anderson, as he and his children got ready for church. He is trying to determine exactly what set off his wife. He didn’t see her as going over the edge because of the tenure denial, either.

    Since the shootings, Mr. Anderson said, he’s been searching for “the trigger”—that is, what might have caused his wife to open fire on her colleagues. He wondered if perhaps an e-mail message might have upset her. Often, according to Mr. Anderson, higher-ups at the university sent “nastygrams” on Fridays. He wondered whether she had received such an message, perhaps one affirming that university officials were standing behind her denial of tenure. But so far he hasn’t found anything.

    As for Ms. Bishop’s state of mind following her tenure denial last year, her husband said she “didn’t want to go the way of” another university scientist who had lost tenure and was now driving a shuttle bus in Huntsville. But there were reasons to be hopeful: Mr. Anderson said his wife was looking beyond the denial and had already mentioned two leads on possible jobs. She had said she was going to check on one of the leads when she got home from the faculty meeting.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  54. NYT commenters clain she was bullied. Oh boy.

    On FB, I’ve seen comments from a guy who knew Sean, the brother, who was a genius with no common sense, and little actual aptitude for work (not lazy, just inept.)

    Without starting a flame war, is it possible Amy and Sean were both on the Aspergers’ spectrum? Her lack of effect is a pretty good indicator.

    KateC (c7c0c6)

  55. […] Evolution Weekend Sermons Discuss Alleged Murderer Amy Bishop? Patterico’s Pontifications: The Shooting at UAH Conservative Nation: Politicizing Murder: Wrong No Matter Who Does It Bloodthirsty Liberal: […]

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  56. He is trying to determine exactly what set off his wife. He didn’t see her as going over the edge because of the tenure denial, either.

    I suspect that there were signs and that he is simply clueless.

    Ask yourself this-If you had “accidentally” killed your sibling, is there ANY WAY you would ever have a gun with in a country mile of you ever again? I know I couldn’t even LOOK at a gun after that. But this women acquired a gun and carried it to a meeting and used it.

    Did the husband know about the prior homicide?

    Did he know about the gun that she had acquired?

    If the answer to both questions is “yes”, please don’t bother trying to convince me that there were “no signs”. That she would allow a gun into her home, let alone carry it, is a huge sign.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  57. ..is it possible Amy and Sean were both on the Aspergers’ spectrum

    Is it possible–sure

    Does it matter–not really

    Is it a defense–no way. I’m sure that Alabama uses the M’Naghten rule.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  58. I just hope they go back and re-open the case of her accidently shooting her brother and prosecute her for his murder also.

    peedoffamerican (b21f59)

  59. Hmm, turns out she is a mail bomber, just like fellow Harvard trained professor Ted Kaczynski:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/02/ala_slay_suspec.html

    j curtis (5126e4)

  60. I think her husband is just as nuts as she is. Now it’s the bomb thing, the killing of her brother, come on, Dude! You knew what was happening.

    Patricia (e1047e)

  61. When killers are released, they kill again.

    History is replete with that lesson–and with people determined not to learn it.

    When killers are released, they kill again.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  62. […] a “Rage of Blind Violence?” Or should we have seen it coming? Patterico’s Pontifications: The Shooting at UAH Conservative Nation: Politicizing Murder: Wrong No Matter Who Does It Scared Monkeys: Amy Bishop, […]

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  63. Here is what we do know. There was an argument only recently brought to light between Seth and his nineteen year old sister Amy that was left out of many documents in the report. Shortly after the argument, Amy fired a loaded shotgun which struck Seth at point blank range in his chest and tore the aorta of his heart, killing him.

    We know that Amy then went to Dave Dinger Ford and according to Thomas Pettigrew who was working in the garage, told the Boston Herald that Bishop put a shotgun against his chest and demanded a vehicle. Pettigrew said Bishop claimed she and her husband were in a fight and he was coming after her. She was arrested in the parking lot when she exited the garage, surrounded by police with guns drawn.

    I think this account may be the final nail in Longwalker’s “common multiple accidental discharge” theory.

    Calfed (c9fe79)

  64. Calfed : Please read my comment #51.

    Longwalker (4e0dda)

  65. If true, and I assume they are, the events at her home and Bishop’s actions at the car dealership following her brother’s shooting are shocking. No wonder the police were upset at her release. I hope someone decides to look more closely at those events as well as everything she’s done since.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  66. Longwalker, I had read your comment @ 51 before posting my previous comment.

    The trouble is, it isn’t clear when you are taking off your “here’s how a smart defense attorney would present this case” hat and telling us what you really think.

    Frankly, most of what you have posted, including #51, seems to be a somewhat tentative (and tortured) justification of Bishop’s actions and a defense of the Braintree Police’s handling of this matter. You say that you “have been reading reports of one type or another for most of” your life and are surprised by nothing. Fair enough. I’ve been an FBI agent for most of mine, including 11 years in the Boston Field Office, just up the road from Braintree. I was so assigned when the Braintree incident occurred. I’m now retired, but I can tell you, I have never heard of an accidental shooting death that involved multiple accidental discharges, in the way that this event was supposed to have transpired.

    I put it to you-you’ve been reading reports most of your life—can you provide an example of an accidental shooting that occurred as this one was supposed to have occurred? To wit:

    The shooter loads a gun and accidentally fires it.
    The shooter them partially disassembles the gun
    The shooter then reassembles the gun
    The shooter then takes the gun to another part of the house and accidentally fires the gun again, killing someone
    The shooter then flees the scene, accidentally firing the gun a third time and never once drops the gun or puts it down

    This scenario is just not credible, in my experience, but if you can provide an example, other than of the instant case, I’ll reconsider my position.

    I won’t even bring up Bishop’s actions at the Ford dealership, because at this time those actions have not been documented.

    You have described the actions of the Braintree Police (releasing the killer into the custody of her mother who happened to be the only eye-witness without any serious interrogation and then waiting 11 days before taking a statement) as “rational and proper”. I can only reply: “not in this universe”.

    Calfed (c9fe79)


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