University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting
At the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UA
Huntsville) in Huntsville, Alabama, three people were killed and
three others wounded in a shooting on February 12, 2010. During
the course of a routine meeting of the biology department attended
by approximately 12 individuals, a professor stood up and began
shooting those closest to her with a 9-millimeter handgun. Amy
Bishop, a biology professor at the university and the sole
suspect, was charged with one count of capital murder and three
counts of attempted murder.
On September 11, 2012, Bishop pleaded guilty to
the above charges in order to avoid the death penalty. The jury
heard a condensed version of the evidence on September 24, 2012,
as required by Alabama law. Amy Bishop was sentenced to life in
prison without the possibility of parole on September 24, 2012.
In March 2009, Bishop had been denied tenure at
the university and was beginning her last semester there per
university policy. Due to the attention Bishop has attracted as a
result of the shooting, previous violent incidents that were
somehow related to her have been reevaluated. She previously drew
the attention of law-enforcement officials in 1986 when she shot
her brother to death in Braintree, Massachusetts, in an incident
officially ruled an accident. She, along with her husband, were
questioned in a 1993 pipe-bomb incident directed toward her lab
The day of the shooting, Bishop taught her
anatomy and neurosciences class. According to a student in
Bishop's class, she "seemed perfectly normal" during the lecture.
She then attended a biology department faculty
meeting in Room 369 on the third floor of the Shelby Center for
Science and Technology, which houses the UA Huntsville Biology and
Mathematics departments. According to witnesses, 12 or 13 people
attended the meeting, which was described as "an ordinary faculty
meeting." Bishop's behavior was also described as "normal" just
prior to the shooting.
She sat quietly at the meeting for 30 or 40
minutes, before pulling out a 9 mm handgun "just before" 4:00 p.m.
CST, according to a faculty member. Joseph Ng, an associate
professor who witnessed the attack, said: "[She] 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."
According to another survivor, Debra Moriarity,
dean of the university's graduate program and a professor of
biochemistry, "This wasn't random shooting around the room; this
was execution style." Those who were shot were on one side of the
oval table used during the meeting, and the five individuals on
the other side, including Ng, dropped to the floor.
After Bishop had fired several rounds,
Moriarity said that Bishop pointed the gun at her and pulled the
trigger, but heard only a "click," as her gun "either jammed or
ran out of ammunition." She described Bishop as initially
appearing "angry," and then following the apparent weapon
malfunction, "perplexed." Ng said Moriarity then attempted to stop
Bishop by approaching her and asking her to stop, and then helped
the other survivors push Bishop from the room and block the door.
Ng said "Moriarity was probably the one that saved our lives. She
was the one that initiated the rush.
The suspected murder weapon, a 9 mm handgun,
was found in a bathroom on the second floor of the building.
Bishop did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, as
required by state law. She was arrested a few minutes later
outside the building. Shortly after her arrest, Bishop was quoted
as saying, "It didn't happen. There's no way." When asked about
the deaths of her colleagues, Bishop replied, "There's no way.
They're still alive."
Police interviewed Bishop's husband, James
Anderson, after it was determined that she had called him to pick
her up after the shooting; they did not charge him with a crime.
In addition, a neighbor revealed, in later interviews, that he saw
the couple leaving their home with duffel bags on Friday
afternoon, prior to the shooting. Anderson revealed that his wife
had borrowed the gun used in the shooting, and that he had
escorted her to an indoor shooting range in the weeks prior to the
Shortly after Bishop's arrest, people at the
university's biology department expressed concern to police that
she had "booby trapped the science building with a 'herpes bomb'"
intended to spread the virus. She had previously worked with the
herpes virus while completing her post-doctoral studies, and a
novel she wrote described the spread of a virus similar to herpes
throughout the world "causing pregnant women to miscarry."
However, the police had already searched the premises, finding
only the handgun used in the shooting.
Three faculty members were killed, and three
others were injured. Only a few students were present in the
building at the time of the shooting, and none were harmed. A
memorial service was held at UA Huntsville on Friday, February 19,
2010, with 3,000 people in attendance.
chairman of biology
Maria Ragland Davis
Adriel D. Johnson, Sr.
Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera
released from hospital
Joseph G. Leahy
released from hospital
released from hospital
Amy Bishop (born: April 24, 1965 (age 44 at the
time of the shooting)) is married to James Anderson and is the
mother of four children. She grew up in Massachusetts, and
completed her undergraduate degree at Northeastern University in
Boston where her father, Samuel Bishop, was a Professor in the Art
Department. She earned her Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard
Bishop's 1993 thesis at Harvard was titled
The role of methoxatin (PQQ) in the respiratory burst of
phagocytes, and was 137 pages in length. Her research
interests include induction of adaptive resistance to nitric oxide
in the central nervous system, and utilization of motor neurons
for the development of neural circuits grown on biological
computer chips. She published at least four scientific articles
between 1994 and 1998 as a lead or co-author.
She joined the faculty of the Department of
Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama (UA) in
Huntsville as an Assistant Professor in 2003 and was teaching five
courses prior to the shooting. Previously, she was an instructor
of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Bishop and her husband
competed in a technology competition and developed a "portable
cell incubator", coming in third and winning $25,000. Prodigy
Biosystems, where Anderson is employed, raised $1.25 million to
develop the "automated cell incubator," although some scientists
consulted by the press declared it unnecessary and too expensive.
According to a friend and fellow member of a
writing group in Massachusetts, Bishop had penned three
unpublished novels, one of which featured a female scientist
working to defeat a potential pandemic virus, and struggling with
suicidal thoughts at the threat of not earning tenure. She is the
second cousin of the novelist John Irving and was a member of the
Hamilton Writer's Group while living in Ipswich, Massachusetts in
the late 1990s and apparently saw writing as "her ticket out of
academia." She had a literary agent and members of the club said
she "would frequently cite her Harvard degree and family ties to
Irving to boost her credential as a serious writer." Another
member described Bishop as smart but abrasive in her interactions
with the other members and as feeling "entitled to praise."
Multiple colleagues of Bishop had expressed
concern over her behavior. She has been described as interrupting
meetings with "bizarre tangents ... left field kind of stuff,"
being "strange," "crazy," "did things that weren't normal" and she
was "out of touch with reality." One of these colleagues was a
member of Bishop's tenure-review committee. After Bishop's tenure
was denied and she learned that this colleague referred to her as
"crazy," she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging gender discrimination,
with the professor's remark to be used as possible evidence in
that case. The professor did not retract his comments: "The
professor was given the opportunity to back off the claim, or to
say it was a flippant remark. But he didn't. 'I said she was crazy
multiple times and I stand by that,' the professor said. 'This
woman has a pattern of erratic behavior. She did things that
weren't normal ... she was out of touch with reality.'"
In 2009, several students say they complained
to administrators about Bishop on at least three occasions, saying
she was "ineffective in the classroom and had odd, unsettling
ways." A petition was signed by "dozens of students," which was
then sent to the department head. The complaints, however, did not
result in any classroom changes.
Bishop was suspended without pay retroactively
on the day of the attack, and later, in a one-paragraph letter
dated February 26, 2010, she was fired. Bishop received a letter
of termination from Jack Fix, Dean of the College of Sciences,
which did not state a reason for doing so. Her termination was
effective February 12, the day of the shooting.
Tenure denial and appeal
As explained by University president Williams,
Bishop was denied tenure in March 2009 and expected not to have
her teaching contract renewed after March 2010. She appealed the
decision to the University's administration and without reviewing
the content of the tenure application itself, they determined that
the process was carried out according to policy and denied the
appeal. The faculty meeting that was under way when Bishop opened
fire was a routine meeting unrelated to her tenure.
Anderson, Bishop's husband, said that the
denial of her tenure had been "an issue" in recent months
describing the tenure process as "a long, basically hard fight."
He said that it was his understanding that she "exceeded the
qualifications for tenure," and that she was distressed at the
likelihood of losing her position barring a successful appeal. She
approached members of the University of Alabama System's Board of
Trustees, and hired a lawyer who was "finding one problem after
another with the process." One sticking point was a dispute over
whether two of her papers had been published in time to count
Bishop had previous encounters with law
enforcement officials due to "an outburst or violent act" on her
part. In each instance, she remained "unscathed" and did not come
to the attention of the UA-Huntsville administration or other
employers. She shot her brother with a shotgun, killing him in
1986, in what was initially ruled an accident based on her
mother's testimony and was therefore not charged. In 1994, she and
her husband were questioned regarding a letter-bomb incident
involving a doctor at a facility at which she had previously been
employed. She was charged with assault after striking a woman in
the head during a dispute at a restaurant in 2002, but was never
officially found guilty.
When she was 21, Bishop fatally shot her
18-year-old brother, Seth Bishop, on December 6, 1986, at their
home in Braintree, Massachusetts. The incident, in which Bishop
fired at least three shots from a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun
(one into her bedroom wall, then one into her brother's chest
while they were in the kitchen with their mother, and one into the
ceiling of a room in her house while fleeing the scene), then
later pointed the weapon at a moving vehicle on the adjacent road
and tried to get into the vehicle, was classified as an "accident"
by Braintree police. In statements to Braintree police that day,
both Amy Bishop and her mother, Judy Bishop, described the
shooting as accidental.
After a brief inquiry into the incident by the
state police in 1986 (reported in 1987), they repeated the
Braintree police department's initial assessment that the shooting
was accidental and district attorney Bill Delahunt, later a U.S.
Congressman, decided not to file charges. Detailed records of the
shooting had disappeared mysteriously by 1988, Braintree police
chief Paul Frazier said on February 13, 2010 that "The report's
gone, removed from the files."
After speaking with officers involved with the
case in 1986, Frazier called the "accident" description
inaccurate, and said that then-chief John Polio ordered Bishop
released to her mother, a member of the Braintree town meeting who
reportedly had demanded to meet with Polio personally after the
arrest, instead of being charged for the shooting. Frazier was not
on duty during the incident, but recalled "how frustrated the
members of the department were over the release." The now-retired
Polio denied that there had been a cover-up. Frazier's 2010
account and the 1987 Massachusetts State Police report differ in
several key details, including whether Bishop had been arguing
with her brother or with her father before the shooting.
On February 16, 2010, it was announced that the
files previously declared missing had been located by Braintree
officials and turned over to Norfolk County prosecutors. Norfolk
County District Attorney William Keating concluded, based upon
these files, that probable cause existed in 1986 to arrest and
charge her for crimes committed after she fled the house. She had
taken the shotgun to a nearby auto dealership shop and brandished
it at two employees in an attempt to get a car. She could have
been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a
dangerous weapon, and unlawful possession of ammunition. The
statute of limitations has expired on each of these charges, and
the most serious charge considered in 1986 was manslaughter.
Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts,
has ordered the state police to review their efforts in the
investigation saying, "It is critical that we provide as clear an
understanding as possible about all aspects of this case and its
investigation to ensure that where mistakes were made they are not
repeated in the future." An investigation has been opened in which
the state will cooperate with the current Norfolk County District
Attorney's office to assess the state and local police and
then-DA's handling of the case.
On February 25, 2010, District Attorney Keating
sent a letter to District Court Judge Mark Coven, to start a
judicial inquest into the 1986 shooting. Keating said that
recently enlarged crime scene photos from Bishop's bedroom reveal
a news article in which a similar crime was reported and that this
article may relate to Bishop's intent. Keating did not identify
the specific news article, but The Boston Globe wrote that
an internet search revealed that "two weeks earlier, the parents
of Patrick Duffy, the actor who played Bobby Ewing on the popular
television show Dallas, were killed by an assailant
wielding a 12-gauge shotgun, who then held up a car dealership,
stole a pickup truck, and fled."
On March 1, 2010, former Massachusetts State
Police Detective Brian Howe broke his silence about the case.
Howe, who retired in 2009 and no longer lives in Massachusetts,
was the lead investigator for the state police in the Bishop case.
He said he looks forward to addressing the judicial inquest into
the shooting, and stands by his 1987 report and his agreement with
the now-deceased Braintree lead investigator, Captain Theodore
Buker, that the shooting was accidental. Howe said that he was
assigned to the case nearly two hours after the shooting and then
immediately called Braintree, whereupon he learned from Buker he
would not be needed that day and that Bishop had already been
released into her parents' custody. Howe stated that Braintree
police never informed him that Bishop had allegedly accosted
employees at a car dealership at gunpoint, demanding a car. Howe
stated that he repeatedly requested the December 6 incident
reports from the Braintree police, but never received them.
On March 1, 2010, Norfolk District Attorney
William Keating announced that an inquest would be held April
13–16, 2010. Judge Mark Coven, first justice of Quincy District
Court, was scheduled to hold the inquest.
On June 16, 2010, Bishop was charged with first
degree murder in her brother's death nearly 24 years after his
shooting. Keating commented, "I can't give you any explanations, I
can't give you excuses, because there are none. Jobs weren't done,
responsibilities weren't met and justice wasn't served."
According to investigators, Bishop and James
Anderson, her husband, were suspects in a 1993 letter-bomb case.
Paul Rosenberg, a Harvard Medical School professor and physician
at Children's Hospital Boston, received a package containing two
pipe bombs that failed to explode.
Rosenberg was Bishop's supervisor at a
Children's Hospital neurobiology lab; Bishop had allegedly been
concerned about receiving a negative evaluation from Rosenberg,
and reportedly "had been in a dispute" with Rosenberg. Bishop
resigned from her position at the hospital because Rosenberg felt
she "could not meet the standards required for the work."
According to documents based upon witness interviews, Bishop was
"reportedly upset" and "on the verge of a nervous breakdown" as a
Anderson reportedly told a witness that he
wanted to "shoot," "stab" or "strangle" Rosenberg prior to the
attempted bombing. Anderson denied he had ever threatened
Rosenberg saying, "I wouldn't know the guy if he walked into a
bar. And allegedly this tip came into a tip line, and the validity
of the witness was never ascertained." Per investigators, the
USPIS-ATF investigation "focused" on Bishop and Anderson, but
closed without charges filed due to lack of evidence. At one point
during the investigation, the couple refused to cooperate with
investigators, refusing to open their door, to searches of their
home and to take polygraph tests.
The chief federal prosecutor in Boston, U.S.
Attorney Carmen Ortiz, reviewed the case following the shooting
but ultimately decided Bishop would not be charged in the bombing
attempt. She determined that the initial investigation in 1993 was
"appropriate and thorough"; the case remains unsolved.
International House of Pancakes assault
In 2002, Bishop was charged with and pleaded
guilty to misdemeanor assault plus disorderly conduct, and
received probation, for punching a woman who had received the last
booster seat at an International House of Pancakes in Peabody,
According to the police report, Bishop 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's victim was identified as Michelle Gjika, and
in in the aftermath of the 2010 shooting, she declined to comment
on the restaurant incident saying, "It's not something I want to
relive." In addition to probation, prosecutors recommended that
Bishop attend anger management classes, although it is unclear
whether the judge in the case ordered her to do so. Her husband
said she had never attended anger management classes.
Bishop was charged with one count of capital
murder and three counts of attempted murder. The police
confiscated a large binder containing documents pertaining to her
"tenure battle", her computer, and the family van. She secured an
unnamed attorney, and was held at the Madison County, Alabama jail
without bail. Her court-appointed attorney was Roy W. Miller.
Bishop was eligible for either the death penalty or life in
prison, according to Alabama law.
On February 15, during a closed-door hearing
presided over by an Alabama judge, the charges were read to
Bishop. Following the hearing, Bishop was on suicide watch, a
standard procedure in such cases. Her husband said she called him
prior to her arraignment and they spoke for approximately two
minutes and said, "She seems to be doing OK." On March 12, while
executing a search warrant on Bishop's residence, the police
discovered a "suspicious device" prompting an evacuation of the
nearby neighborhood and later identified by the bomb squad as
Miller visited her in jail and said she does
not remember the shooting and was "very cogent" but seeming to
recognize that "she has a loose grip on reality." Initially he
said Bishop has severe mental health issues that appear to be
paranoid schizophrenia, but later retracted that statement saying
"he had spoken out of turn." He acknowledged Bishop's role in the
attack saying, "This is not a whodunit. This lady has committed
this offense or offenses in front of the world. It gets to be a
question in my mind of her mental capacity at the time, or her
mental state at the time that these acts were committed." Miller
also said he would be enlisting the help of one or more
psychiatrists to examine his client who said this was not the
first time she had no recollection of something that had happened.
He said he did not know if Bishop was insane and that determining
whether she was culpable for her actions would be left to a
psychiatrist and that she was "very sorry for what she's done."
On June 18, two days after Bishop was indicted
for the murder of her brother in a re-opened case, she attempted
suicide in the Huntsville jail. She survived and was treated at a
hospital and then returned to jail; her husband complained that
authorities did not inform him of the incident.
In November 2010, survivors Leahy and
Monticciolo filed lawsuits against Anderson and Bishop to recover
damages. In January 2011, attorneys representing Davis' and
Johnson's families filed wrongful death lawsuits against Bishop,
Anderson, and the University. In September 2011, Bishop pleaded
not guilty by means of the insanity defense.
In 2012, the spouse of one the murdered
researchers wrote a letter to the judge presiding over the case.
In this letter, the writer indicated that the researcher's family
had greatly suffered from its loss due to Bishop's actions, but
that the family did not see a benefit from the loss of another
life. In response to this letter, Bishop's lawyers offered to
change her plea to guilty in exchange for the prosecution not
seeking the death penalty. On receiving this offer, chief
prosecutor Robert Broussard contacted and learned from the nine
survivors that none of them wanted the death sentence for Bishop.
On the basis of these opinions, Broussard decided not seek the
death penalty, and Bishop changed her plea to guilty. On September
24, 2012, Bishop was sentenced to life in prison.
Amy Bishop will not be tried
for killing her brother in 1986, Norfolk DA says
By John R. Ellement - Boston.com
September 28, 2012
Amy Bishop will not be prosecuted for allegedly
murdering her brother, Seth, inside the family’s Braintree home in
1986, a death that was first dismissed as an accident but was
later called a homicide, Norfolk District Attorney Michael
Morrissey said today.
Earlier this week, Bishop was sentenced to life
without parole in Alabama after she pleaded guilty to murdering
her colleagues during a faculty meeting at the University of
Alabama’s Huntsville campus.
Morrissey said in a statement that because
Bishop is now scheduled to end her life behind bars, the
first-degree murder charge she faced here will not be actively
“We will not move to have her returned to
Massachusetts,’’ Morrissey said. “The penalty we would seek for a
first-degree murder conviction is already in place.
Morrissey said his office early next week will
file what is known as a “nolle prosequi” which would allow
prosecutors to revive the first-degree murder charge against her
“if circumstances change.’’
Morrissey said he talked with his counterpart
in Alabama, Madison County District Attorney Robert Broussard,
before making his decision and is now convinced that Bishop is
unlikely to ever be released from custody.
“With a life-without-parole sentence in place,
there is not an issue of public safety,’’ Morrissey said. “In
almost all cases, guilty pleas mark the end of the process and the
conviction is not vulnerable to being overturned on appeal.’’
Amy Bishop used her father’s shotgun to kill
her younger brother in front of her mother, Judith, on Dec. 6,
1986. She ran from the family’s home, still armed with the
As Braintree police rushed to the shooting
scene, Bishop ran to a nearby car dealership where she tried to
commandeer a car at gunpoint.
She was then taken into custody by Braintree
police, taken back to the station, but released by police within
20 minutes into the custody of her parents. No criminal charges
were filed at the time, but the Alabama killings sparked an
inquest into Seth Bishop’s killing, which led to the first degree
According to portions of the inquest testimony
that has been made public, Braintree and State Police never shared
information about the incident with each other. The testimony of
the Braintree police chief at the time, John V. Polio, has been
sealed. Polio has since died.
Bishop’s parents testified during the inquest
and insisted that the death of their son was a horrific accident,
not a crime, according to transcripts of their testimony.
Ex-prof gets life in prison
for meeting rampage
By Jay Reeves - Boston.com
September 24, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Harvard-educated
biologist was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday
after being convicted of going on a shooting rampage during a
faculty meeting at an Alabama university, killing three colleagues
and wounding three others in 2010.
The jury deliberated for about 20 minutes
before convicting Amy Bishop. The former professor at the
University of Alabama in Huntsville showed no reaction as the
verdict was read. She did not speak in court, but her attorney
said she has often expressed great remorse for the victims and
‘‘She is shattered beyond belief,’’ attorney
Roy Miller said.
Bishop avoided a death sentence by pleading
guilty earlier this month to the shootings on Feb. 12, 2010.
Before the guilty plea — which she signed with a barely legible
scrawl — her attorneys had said they planned to use an insanity
However, she was still required to have a brief
trial because she admitted to a capital murder charge.
And she still could face a trial in
Massachusetts, where she is charged in the 1986 killing of her
18-year-old brother. Seth Bishop’s death had been ruled an
accident after Amy Bishop told investigators she shot him in the
family’s Braintree home as she tried to unload her father’s gun.
But the Alabama shootings prompted a new investigation and
charges. David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney
Michael Morrissey in Massachusetts, said Monday evening that
Morrissey expects to make an announcement by the end of the week.
Bishop killed her boss, biology department
chairman Gopi Padila, plus professors Maria Ragland Davis and
Adriel Johnson. Associate professor Joseph Leahy, staff aide
Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were
shot and wounded.
Leahy said he was satisfied with the verdict
and life sentence, but no amount of remorse by Bishop could change
what she'd done.
‘She has just sort of ceased to exist for me,’’
he told reporters after the brief trial.
A police investigator testified that Bishop
initially denied having anything to do with the rampage. And
during the trial, Bishop shook her head anytime the judge or
prosecutors described the killings as intentional.
District Attorney Rob Broussard said Bishop’s
reaction in court didn’t make sense.
‘‘You can’t take a loaded 9 mm and hold it
inches away from human beings’ heads and tell me you didn’t mean
to do that,’’ said Broussard.
Investigator Charlie Gray also said police
believe Bishop opened fire during the faculty meeting because she
was angry over being denied tenure, which effectively ended her
career at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
‘She would say, ‘It didn’t happen. I wasn’t
there. It wasn’t me,'’’ Gray said.
Bishop wore a red jail uniform in court and was
shackled at the feet, seated between two attorneys at the defense
Also in court, sitting behind prosecutors, were
relatives of the people killed in the rampage.
The only other witness to testify was Debra
Moriarity, now the chairman of biological sciences at UAH. She
testified about how a routine Friday afternoon faculty meeting
turned into a scene of carnage with no warning.
Moriarty testified that Amy Bishop sat
unusually silent during the nearly hourlong faculty meeting,
during which discussions ran from a spring open house to plans for
the following fall. People were seated around a crowded conference
table in a small room on a chilly, overcast day, she said.
Moriarity said she glanced down at a piece of
paper on the table. ‘‘And there was a loud bang,’’ she said.
Moriarity said more shots followed in quick
succession without Bishop ever saying a word. Moriarity said she
was looking directly at Bishop when she shot professor Maria
Ragland Davis, who was killed instantly while still seated at the
Moriarity said she dove under the table for
safety and tried to grab Bishop’s legs, but the woman stepped out
of her grasp. ‘‘I was saying, ‘Stop, Amy, stop. Don’t do this.
I've helped you before, I'll help you again.'’’
Moriarity said Bishop pointed the gun at her
and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. She said Bishop
continued trying to shoot her in a hall outside, but the gun had
Ex-prof pleads guilty to
killing Ala. colleagues
By Jay Reeves -
September 11, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A former biology
professor accused of pulling a gun from her purse and opening fire
at a faculty meeting pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing three
colleagues and wounding three others at the University of Alabama
in Huntsville in 2010.
Amy Bishop, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of
capital murder involving two or more people and three counts of
attempted murder during a hearing in Huntsville. She had earlier
pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers said she planned to use an
Prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of
life without parole for the capital charge, and three life
sentences for the attempted murder charges. Sentencing will follow
a brief trial on Sept. 24 before Madison County Circuit Judge Alan
Prosecutors say Bishop opened fire at the
meeting on Feb. 12, 2010. Her attorneys say Bishop had mental
problems; she signed a plea agreement with a barely legible
Bishop, who lived with her family in Huntsville
before the shootings, also is charged with killing her brother in
Massachusetts in 1986. The shooting of 18-year-old Seth Bishop had
been ruled an accident after Amy Bishop told police she shot him
in the family’s Braintree home as she was trying to unload her
But the Alabama slayings led to a new
investigation and charges.
In the school shooting, police and people who
knew Bishop have described the Harvard University-educated
researcher as being angry over UAH’s refusal to grant her tenure,
a decision that effectively would have ended her employment in the
The gunfire killed Bishop’s boss, biology
department chairman Gopi Padila, plus professors Maria Ragland
Davis and Adriel Johnson. Professors Joseph Leahy, staff aide
Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were
shot and wounded.
Debra Moriarity was in the faculty meeting at
the time of the shooting and is now biology chairman at the
school. Prosecutors who met with potential witnesses last Friday
said there was a possibility of a plea agreement before the trial
began on Sept. 24, she said.
‘So I'm not totally surprised by it, but I am
surprised it happened this soon,’’ she said.
After Bishop was indicted, prosecutors said
Braintree police in 1986 failed to share important evidence,
including the fact that Bishop, after she shot her brother in the
chest, tried to commandeer a getaway car at gunpoint at a local
car dealership, then refused to drop her gun until police officers
ordered her to do so repeatedly. Those events were described in
Braintree police reports but not in a report written by a state
police detective assigned to the district attorney’s office.
Larry Tipton, Bishop’s lawyer in the
Massachusetts case, said it will be up to Norfolk District
Attorney Michael Morrissey to decide whether to put Bishop on
trial for murder in her brother’s killing, now that she has
pleaded guilty in Alabama. David Traub, a spokesman for Morrissey,
said prosecutors will wait until after sentencing to decide what
to do in the Massachusetts case.
U.S. Rep. William Keating is the former Norfolk
County prosecutor who started the inquest and obtained the
indictment against Amy Bishop.
He said of the plea deal, that ‘‘you can’t ask
for a better outcome than that’’ and that the families would be
spared the appeals process.
‘‘Anytime there’s an appeal, they’re endless,’’
he said. ‘‘I've worked with victims’ families, and I know the
trauma they go through every time there’s an appeal. Nothing is
going to make those families the same.’’
Moriarity said she was OK with the death
penalty being off the table and was relieved that victims wouldn’t
have to sit through a trial to see whether jurors convict Bishop.
‘‘I'm glad it’s a recognition of the crimes she
committed and not trying to get out of something through claiming
a mental defect,’’ she said.
Personally, Moriarity said she was relieved
that the case is nearly over.
‘‘I had a horrible dream about the trial last
night,’’ said Moriarity. Bishop pointed the gun at her and pulled
the trigger but it failed to fire.
Moriarity said Leahy, who was shot in the head,
returned to teaching a full load of classes and conducting
research this fall at the school. The only lingering effects he
suffers are reduced eyesight, she said.
‘Mentally he is on top of things,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s an absolute miracle. He’s a miracle."
Bishop indicted in brother’s
New look at 1986 case results in a charge of
By Donovan Slack and Shelley Murphy -
June 17, 2010
CANTON — Nearly 24 years after Amy Bishop fired
a 12-gauge shotgun into the chest of her 18-year-old brother, a
grand jury indicted her yesterday on a charge of first-degree
The indictment in the 1986 slaying, which
authorities had originally declared an accident, was handed up
four months after the 45-year-old college professor was charged
with a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama Huntsville,
killing three colleagues and injuring three others.
Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating,
announcing the indictment during a press conference, said law
enforcement authorities in Massachusetts failed decades ago.
“Jobs weren’t done, responsibilities weren’t
met, justice wasn’t served,’’ Keating said.
He added that while Seth Bishop may not have
received justice immediately, the once promising youth with an
affinity for the violin now has an advocate. “The job of a
district attorney is to speak for those who can’t speak, to seek
justice for those who aren’t here to demand it,’’ Keating said.
A conviction in 1986 might have changed Amy
Bishop’s life, potentially averting the Alabama tragedy, the
district attorney said.
“My heart goes out to them,’’ he said of the
Keating’s office lodged a warrant with Alabama
authorities yesterday, requesting Bishop’s extradition to
Massachusetts to face the murder charge after her triple-murder
case in Huntsville is adjudicated.
Keating acknowledged that Bishop, who could
face the death penalty if convicted in Alabama, may never stand
trial for her brother’s killing, but he did not rule it out.
“You never know,’’ he said.
Huntsville attorney Roy W. Miller, who
represents Bishop in the Alabama shootings, declined to comment on
the new indictment.
In some of their first public comments since
the Huntsville shootings, Bishop’s parents, Judith and Sam Bishop,
released a scalding four-page statement that proclaimed their
daughter’s innocence and accused the news media of sensationalism
and law enforcement of finger-pointing.
“This prejudicial, biased review of the 1986
facts is an enormous waste of public resources that does not in
any way provide a benefit to the public and proceeds only for the
purposes of assessing blame where no blame was involved,’’ the
Bishops said in the statement, released by their lawyer, Bryan J.
Stevens of Quincy.
“We know that what happened 24 years ago to our
son, Seth, was an accident,’’ the statement said. “Despite all the
finger-pointing among local police, State Police, and the district
attorney’s office, there is no evidence that Seth’s death was not
At the time of her brother’s death, on Dec. 6,
1986, Amy Bishop told police she took her father’s shotgun, loaded
it, fired a shot into her bedroom wall, then went downstairs to
the kitchen and shot her brother in the chest. She said she
accidentally fired the gun while trying to figure out how to
Bishop then fled the home, tried to commandeer
a car at gunpoint from a Braintree auto dealership, and trained
the gun on police, who eventually persuaded her to drop the
weapon, according to police reports from 1986. Bishop was released
within hours and did not face charges.
Keating said today that Amy Bishop had
threatened two civilians and a police officer with the shotgun.
However, he said, the statute of limitations on possible charges
related to those incidents expired in 1992.
He said he does not expect any more charges
from the grand jury in the 1986 case.
“With what we know right now, we do not have
enough to sustain that,’’ Keating said, pointing out that a number
of witnesses are dead, including the Braintree police captain who
oversaw the investigation.
US Representative William D. Delahunt, who was
Norfolk district attorney at the time of Seth Bishop’s death, and
his former top assistant, John Kivlan, released a statement
yesterday saying that they would have prosecuted Bishop at the
time, but that Braintree police did not provide them with critical
reports and crime scene photos.
One photo of Bishop’s bedroom, where she had
loaded the gun, showed a National Enquirer article chronicling
actions similar to hers that day.
The article reported that a teenager wielding a
12-gauge shotgun had killed the parents of actor Patrick Duffy,
who played Bobby Ewing on the television show “Dallas,’’ then
commandeered a getaway car at gunpoint from an auto dealership.
“Had this and other evidence been reported to
the district attorney’s office at the time, it obviously would
have been presented to a grand jury, and an indictment for
intentional homicide or murder could have resulted at that time,’’
the statement said.
Former Braintree police chief John V. Polio,
who ran the department in 1986 and has been criticized by former
law enforcement colleagues for not having Bishop arrested at the
time, defended his handling of the investigation yesterday, saying
he learned only recently that police reports were not shared with
the district attorney’s office and that there was evidence that
suggested Seth Bishop’s slaying was not an accident.
“I don’t question myself one bit,’’ Polio said.
“I did absolutely the right thing, because I took it for granted
that [reports] were sent over to the DA’s office, when in fact
there was a lack of communication that I was unaware of. I did
nothing that I would change.’’
Polio said the murder indictment against Bishop
“does not convince me in any way that she’s absolutely guilty.’’
The indictment follows a closed-door judicial
inquest in April, during which Keating’s office presented evidence
to Quincy District Court Judge Mark S. Coven over
three days. Last month Coven filed a report on
the proceedings in Norfolk Superior Court. That report and a
transcript of the inquest were sealed, pending grand jury action.
Keating said yesterday that he expected the
inquest records to remain sealed until Bishop is tried in her
brother’s death. He said he expects Bishop’s family will fight
Seth Bishop graduated from Braintree High
School in 1986 and was a freshman at Northeastern University
studying electrical engineering.
Amy Bishop graduated from Northeastern
University, earned a doctorate at Harvard University, then worked
in labs at Boston hospitals. In 2003 she moved to Alabama with her
husband, Jim Anderson Jr., and their four children.
In a telephone interview yesterday from his
home in a suburb of Montgomery, Ala, Anderson’s father, Jim
Anderson Sr., said that he wished justice had been served back in
“We lost a talented young man, a violinist,’’
Anderson said, referring to Seth Bishop. “If justice had prevailed
when he was shot and law enforcement had handled it correctly, Amy
would have been able to either get criminally charged or get help,
one or the other."
Ala. prof's story begins with
brother's 1986 death
By Jay Reeves and Gregg Bluestein
February 16, 2010
HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—When a young woman in
Massachusetts killed her brother with a shotgun blast in 1986,
authorities waited more than a week to question family members and
the death was ultimately ruled an accident.
Now, a quarter-century later, Amy Bishop is
accused in another shooting -- an attack that killed three fellow
biology professors at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
In the days since Friday's shooting,
revelations about Amy Bishop's past have raised questions about
whether much of the violence could have been prevented. In the
latest twist, police said Tuesday that Bishop had also been
charged with assaulting a woman in 2002 during a tirade over a
child's booster seat at a restaurant.
The story started more than two decades ago
when police were called to the Braintree, Mass., home Bishop
shared with her parents. Authorities found her 18-year-old
brother, Seth, dead of a shotgun wound to the chest.
Bishop's father later told police he and his
daughter had a disagreement and she went to her room. She said she
had wanted to learn to load a shotgun her parents had bought after
a recent break-in.
Bishop said she accidentally fired the gun in
her bedroom as she tried to unload it, then went downstairs to ask
her brother to help, according to a police report.
She said the gun went off again as Seth, a
Northeastern University freshman and a virtuoso violinist, walked
across the kitchen.
She told police she thought she had ruined the
kitchen, but did not realize she had hit her brother. She said she
ran away and thought she dropped the gun, which went off a third
time. She did not remember anything else until she was taken to a
But police and witnesses say she fled with the
gun to a car dealership, where she pointed it at employees and
demanded a getaway car. She told them her husband was going to
come after her and she needed to flee.
She was caught but never charged. Police said
it took 11 days before they could interview family members because
they were so distraught. When they finally did, authorities
decided to let her go, declaring the whole thing an accident.
John Polio, who headed the Braintree police
force at the time, at first defended the handling of the case. The
87-year-old said Tuesday that he recently read a 1987 report on
the investigation written by a state trooper. At the time, he had
not seen the document. But now, he says, "I would have wanted a
lot more questions answered."
The Norfolk County district attorney at the
time was William Delahunt, now a Democratic congressman from
Massachusetts. He was traveling in the Middle East and did not
reply to repeated requests for comment.
The current district attorney,
William Keating, said Tuesday that newly found police reports show
there was probable cause to arrest Bishop in 1986 on charges of
assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and
unlawful possession of ammunition.
But, Keating said, the reports do not
contradict accounts that the shooting was an accident.
Bishop and her husband, James Anderson,
graduated from Northeastern in 1988 with biology degrees. In 1993,
Bishop earned a doctorate in genetics from Harvard.
That same year, she and her husband were
questioned in another unsettling episode: Two mail bombs were sent
to a Harvard professor she worked with at Children's Hospital
Boston. The explosives did not go off.
Anderson told The Associated Press he and his
wife were among a number of innocent people questioned by
investigators who cast a wide net. He said the case "had a dozen
people swept up in this, and everybody was a subject, not a
"There was never any indictment, arrest,
nothing, and then everyone was cleared after five years," he said.
Anderson also said his wife had been writing a
novel at the time that was reviewed by law enforcement. The Boston
Globe, citing a law enforcement source it did not identify,
reported that it was about a woman who had killed her brother and
was hoping to make amends by becoming a great scientist.
But Anderson said the novel was not
"It was just a novel. A medical thriller is the
best way to describe it," he said.
Then in 2002, Bishop was charged with assault,
battery and disorderly conduct after a 2002 tirade at the
International House of Pancakes in Peabody, Mass. Peabody police
Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto said that Bishop became incensed when she
found out another woman had received the restaurant's last booster
seat. Bishop hit the woman while shouting, "I am Dr. Amy Bishop,"
according to the police report.
Bonaiuto said Bishop admitted to the assault in
court, and the case was adjudicated -- meaning the charges were
Bishop and Anderson moved to Huntsville in
2003, where they were raising their four children. Bishop appeared
to be a rising star at the university -- she developed a new type
of portable cell incubator and won $25,000 in a statewide business
competition in 2007. She appeared, smiling, on the cover of a
local tech magazine that touted her advances.
But she was denied tenure by the university,
and she was vocal among colleagues about her displeasure over
being forced to look for work elsewhere after this semester.
Bishop also filed a complaint last year
alleging gender discrimination by the university. The university
denied the allegations, which are in a complaint pending before
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint itself,
filed Sept. 15, was not immediately available.
Joseph Ng, an associate professor who worked
with Bishop in the biology department, was in the cramped faculty
conference room when gunfire erupted Friday afternoon during a
About a dozen teachers and staff members were
sitting elbow-to-elbow at a long table when Ng heard the
"pop-pop-pop" of a 9 mm handgun.
He watched several of his colleagues go down,
starting with the ones close to Bishop. He and the rest of the
survivors dived under the table desperate for cover. Three people
Within seconds, the shooting stopped. During
the lull, Debra Moriarity, a biochemistry professor, scrambled
toward Bishop and urged her to stop, he said.
Bishop aimed at Moriarity and attempted to
fire, but the gun did not go off. Moriarity then led the charge
that forced Bishop out the door into a hallway. Her colleagues
barricaded themselves in the room, and Bishop was arrested moments
later outside the building.
"Moriarity was probably the one that saved our
lives. She was the one that initiated the rush," Ng said. "It took
a lot of guts to just go up to her."
On Tuesday, the 44-year-old Bishop was under
extra guard at an Alabama jail. Students and victims' relatives
want to know how someone with such a tortured past could ever have
been hired at a state university.
"Do they not do background checks on teachers?
How did all this slip through the cracks?" nursing student Caitlin
University President David B. Williams defended
the decision to hire Bishop. He said a review of her personnel
file and her hiring file raised no red flags.
Police ran a criminal background check Monday,
after she was charged with one count of capital murder and three
counts of attempted murder.
"Even now, nothing came up," Williams said.
Professor held after 3 are
killed at Ala. university
Report: Alleged suspect studied
By Sarah Wheaton - The New York Times
February 13, 2010
NEW YORK - Three faculty members at the
University of Alabama’s Huntsville campus were shot to death, and
three other people were seriously wounded, at a biology faculty
meeting yesterday, university officials said.
The Huntsville Times, quoting university
officials, reported that a biology professor was being held in the
shooting, the police said. WAFF, the NBC affiliate in Huntsville,
quoted school officials as saying the professor began shooting
after learning at the faculty meeting that she was being denied
The newspaper identified the professor as Amy
Bishop, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist. According to a 2006
profile in the newspaper, Bishop invented a portable cell growth
incubator with her husband, Jim Anderson. Police officials said
that Anderson was being detained, but they did not call him a
Photographs of a suspect being led from the
scene by the police appear to match images of Bishop on academic
The shooting occurred in the Shelby Center at
the university around 4 p.m. Central time, officials said. Few
students were in the building, and none were involved in the
shooting, said Ray Garner, a university spokesman. Three faculty
members were killed, and three other people - two faculty members
and one staff member - were taken to Huntsville Hospital, with
injuries ranging from serious to critical.
Officials said the suspected shooter was
detained outside of the building “without incident.’’
Justin Wright, a senior, was working in the
building’s math lab on the second floor when the police burst in
with guns drawn. Wright told the Huntsville Times that his first
thoughts were, “I need to get down, I need to get down.’’ He
added: “I’ve never seen a gun or heavy artillery like that. I was
The shooting came a week after a middle school
student in Huntsville shot and killed a classmate, leaving the
town in shock.
“This is a very safe campus,’’ Garner said.
“It’s not unlike what we experienced a week ago. This town is not
accustomed to shootings and having multiple dead.’’
The gray lawns of the campus were lit up by the
flashing lights of police cars and ambulances with blue and yellow
stripes as the police and Swat teams descended on campus. The
university police were the first to respond, but the Huntsville
Police Department is now handling the investigation, officials
said. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department is assisting.
The university was put on lockdown “almost
instantaneously,’’ said Trent Willis, chief of staff to Mayor
Tommy Battle. However, some students complained on Twitter and to
reporters that they did not receive the university’s alert until
hours after the shooting.
“The U-Alert was triggered late because the
people involved in activating that system were involved in
responding to the shooting,’’ said Charles Gailes, chief of the
university police, at a news conference.
“We’re going to stop, we’re going to sit down,
we’re going to review what happened,’’ Gailes said. “All of these
actions are going to be learning points, and we’re going to be
better for this.’’
Erin Johnson, a sophomore, told the Huntsville
Times that a biology faculty meeting was underway when she heard
screams coming from the room.
According to the 2006 profile, Bishop and her
husband tired of using old-fashioned petri dishes for cell
incubation and designed a sealed, self-contained mobile cell
incubation system. The system was described as reducing many of
the problems with cultivating tissues in the fragile environment
of the petri dish.