Indian Professor Among Three Killed in Alabama University Shooting

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Feb 13 (IANS) An Indian professor was among three faculty members killed in a shooting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville by a fellow professor apparently miffed at being denied tenure.

Three other school employees were wounded in the incident Friday. School spokesman Ray Garner identified the dead as Gopi Podila, chairman of the biological sciences department; Maria Davis, associate professor of biology; and Adriel Johnson, associate professor of biology.

Indian American professor Podila's research interests included functional genomics of plant-microbe interactions and plant molecular biology and biotechnology.

Police did not immediately identify the female shooting suspect who was in custody and a second person who was detained, "not arrested". But Huntsville Times identified the suspect as Amy Bishop, a Harvard University trained neuroscientist.

The professor had applied for tenure, been turned down, and appealed the decision, the Times said citing a faculty member. She learned Friday that she had been denied once again.

According to a 2006 profile in the newspaper, Bishop invented a portable cell growth incubator with her husband, Jim Anderson.

Bishop had told acquaintances recently that she was worried about getting tenure, according to a business associate cited by media reports.

"She began to talk about her problems getting tenure in a very forceful and animated way, saying it was unfair," the associate was quoted as saying. "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."

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."

Of the wounded, two were faculty members and the third was a staff member, he said. Two of the injured are in critical condition. The injured were identified as department members Luis Cruz-Vera and Joseph Leahy and staffer Stephanie Monticello.

Garner said the incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m. in Shelby Hall. Police arrived at 4.01 p.m.; residence halls were locked down at 4.10 p.m.; the building was secured by 5.45 p.m., he said.



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