3 Slain in Shooting Spree at Virginia Law School Ex-Clay Lawyer Met with Suspect

Article excerpt

GRUNDY, Va. -- Minutes before a struggling law school student allegedly went on a campus shooting spree yesterday, killing the dean, a professor and a student, he was in the office of a former Northeast Florida attorney, complaining about grades, the lawyer said.

The attack also wounded three students at the Appalachian School of Law before the gunman was tackled by students and taken into custody. The wounded students were in fair condition.

Just before the attacks, the gunman was in the office of Stewart Harris, 40, a former Clay County lawyer who began teaching at the school last fall.

"He did not seem the least bit agitated, the least bit violent," Harris said last night in a telephone interview with the Times-Union. "He was complaining about his grade. He was not one of my students."

Harris said he talked to the man, later identified as 42-year-old Peter Odighizuwa, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Nigeria, for about a minute, just before lunch. Odighizuwa had been dismissed from the school.

When Harris returned from eating, police were on a scene Harris described as "chaos."

Jack Briggs, a physician who practices near the school and was one of the first to arrive after the shooting in this tiny mountain community in western Virginia, echoed Harris.

"When I got there there were bodies laying everywhere," Briggs said.

Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell were gunned down in their offices, according to school officials. Police said the third person slain was student Angela Dales, 33.

Odighizuwa had arrived at school to meet with the dean about his academic suspension, which went into effect yesterday, State Police spokesman Mike Stater said.

Odighizuwa first stopped in the office of Professor Dale Rubin to talk about his grades and as he left reportedly asked Rubin to pray for him, police said.

He then walked to Sutin's and Blackwell's offices and shot them with a .380-caliber pistol, Stater said. Witnesses said Odighizuwa then went downstairs into a common area and opened fire on a crowd of students, killing Dales and seriously wounding three others. …