The case of Amy Bishop, the assistant professor of biology who was denied tenure at U. of Alabama, Huntsville, and opened fire on her tenure committee, killing 3 and wounding 3, just keeps getting weirder and weirder. [See here, here, and here for our earlier reporting.]
[Go to bottom of story for important update]
In March, 2002, Bishop walked into an International House of Pancakes in Peabody with her family, asked for a booster seat for one of her children, and learned the last seat had gone to another mother.
Bishop, according to a police report, strode over to the other woman, demanded the seat and launched into a profanity-laced rant.
When the woman would not give the seat up, Bishop punched her in the head, all the while yelling “I am Dr. Amy Bishop.”
Bishop received probation and prosecutors recommended that she be sent to anger management classes, though it is unclear from court documents whether a judge ever sent her there.
And Solomonia has a web-interview with the Bishop’s next-door neigtbor in Ipswich, MA:
…She was such a trouble maker. I disengaged from them early on. I literally did not have any conversation or interaction with either her or her husband (also a nutball) for over 3 years. Nothing…
…She made a big stink about the kids playing basketball in the neighborhood. On the day they first moved into the house they drove their moving truck into the basketball post that was situated between our two driveways and under the streetlight. For years all the neighborhood kids played ball there (and so did some of the Dads). When they ran the post down we thought it was just a dumb-ass accident. We soon found out that they did it on purpose.
One of the other neighbors put up a new hoop on his property and she complained about the kids. It was a protracted fight that involved multiple calls to the police. The end result was that the kids in the neighborhood couldn’t play ball after 7pm at night. She also complained about street hockey, skate boarding, tag, etc., etc… […]
What pissed me off was the loony venom and fury that accompanied her attacks. She alleged that the basketball players were smoking pot at night and causing other trouble. Totally untrue. Look at the newspaper, the Ipswich Police were in the Globe today calling her a “regular customer”. [NCT: presumably referring to this article.] She complained about everything.
She nearly got into a fistfight one night with one of the Moms who was defending her son’s right to play.
She complained so much the ice cream truck stopped driving through our street. If the kids wanted ice cream they had to go over to the next street and stop the truck.
Just this past Sunday morning as we were watching the news my son said, “Remember how she wouldn’t let us have ice cream?” He was about 8 at the time and thought that it really sucked. All the kids knew that she was the cause. […]
The day they moved out I was getting home as their moving van pulled away and went up the street. I got out of my car and a bunch of the neighbors were outside and I yelled “Ding Dong the witch is dead!” and a cheer went up all around. Soon after the new people showed up to clean the house and move some things in and the whole street celebrated with a pizza party. We welcomed the new folks with open arms. It was like the sun finally came out again.
[Minor update:] Concerning the ice cream truck, we learn here (h/t: Kathy Shaidle) that:
Bishop once stopped a local ice cream truck from coming into their neighborhood. According to WBZ-1030 radio, she said it because her own kids were lactose intolerant, and she didn’t think it was fair that her kids couldn’t have ice cream.
The much simpler expedient of buying Lactaid™ or one of its competitors didn’t occur to a biologist?!
More updates to follow here as they come in.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: this blog (via Israel forum), has a story at the Chronicle for Higher Education (academia’s main “trade newspaper”) which relates a first-person account by the unsung hero of the day, Prof. Debra Moriarity:
For almost an hour, the meeting focused on departmental business. Ms. Moriarity was looking at some papers on the table when the first shot was fired, killing the chairman of the department, Gopi K. Podila.
Ms. Moriarity looked up and saw Ms. Bishop fire the second shot. Apparently, Ms. Bishop was simply going down the line, starting with the people closest to her, killing Mr. Podila, Adriel D. Johnson Sr., and Maria Ragland Davis, all professors, and severely wounding Stephanie Monticciolo, a department administrator, and Joseph G. Leahy, a professor. All were shot in the head.
Another professor, Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera, was shot in the chest.
After the second shot, Ms. Moriarity dove under the table. “I was thinking ‘Oh, my God, this has to stop,” she said.
Ms. Moriarity crawled beneath the rectangular table toward Ms. Bishop, who was blocking the doorway. She grabbed at Ms. Bishop’s legs and pushed at her, yelling, “I have helped you before, I can help you again!” Ms. Moriarity had in fact worked with Ms. Bishop, and they shared some similar research interests.
Ms. Bishop stepped away from her grasp. While still on the floor, Ms. Moriarity managed to crawl partially out into the hallway. Ms. Bishop, who continued shooting the entire time, then turned her attention to Ms. Moriarity, placing two hands on the gun and pointing it at her. Ms. Bishop’s expression was angry—”intense eyes, a set jaw,” Ms. Moriarity recalled.
With Ms. Moriarity looking up at her, Ms. Bishop pulled the trigger twice. The gun clicked, apparently out of bullets.
Ms. Moriarity scrambled back to the room. Meanwhile, Ms. Bishop, now barely in the hallway, appeared to be rummaging in her bag, perhaps attempting to reload. Ms. Moriarity took advantage of Ms. Bishop’s fumbling and closed the door. Others in the room then helped her push the table against the door, fearing that Ms. Bishop would continue her rampage.
Dr. Moriarity’s colleague, Joseph Ng, said her actions took a lot of guts, and saved lives. In the meantime, Amy Bishop Anderson is said to be on suicide watch, which may be routine for a week or two. Jail officials say she is interacting normally, “just like anyone else,” and a psychiatric nurse working with Bishop says she has not exhibited any suicidal tendencies.
The stories about Bishop are beginning to leak. According to an unnamed source who knows Bishop, she was an enigmatic egghead and talking to her was “like crawling to the bottom of a coal mine with the lights off. I don’t think [her husband] ever really understood her. I don’t think anybody did.”
For reasons that require no elaboration, the CHE is covering this story extensively. All five of the most popular articles are about the case (this one was the top article):
- Huntsville Official Tried to Calm Amy Bishop in Phone Call About Her Future
- Husband of Accused Killer Says Wife Went to Shooting Range
- Alabama Shootings: an Afternoon Meeting Turns Deadly
- Guidance for Handling Tenure Denial
- another CHE article: Shooter was bright scientist with career ups and downs