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Robert Stewart FLORES Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Shooting at the University of Arizona
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: October 24, 2002
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: Robin Rogers, 50, Barbara Monroe, 45. and Cheryl McGaffic, 44 (three of his professors)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

A student flunking out of the University of Arizona nursing school shot three of his professors to death, then killed himself in front of dozens of terrified students.

Tucson police said Robert Flores Jr., 41, specifically targeted the instructors, killing one in her office on the second floor and shooting the others in a fourth-floor classroom as students dove for cover.

Flores walked to the front of the classroom and shot the first victim several times, then went to the back of the room and killed the second victim. University Vice Provost Elizabeth Irvin said Flores -- not the best student -- had failed a pediatric nursing class and was struggling in a critical care class.

The victims -- Robin Rogers, 50, Barbara Monroe, 45. and Cheryl McGaffic, 44 -- all were Flores' instructors, Police Chief Richard Miranda said.

Flores, a Gulf War veteran, worked at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System as a licensed practical nurse, and was studying to become a registered nurse, officials said.

 
 

2 slain profs feared Flores

By Nate Buchik - Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wednesday October 30, 2002

At least two of the three professors murdered Monday expressed concern about Robert Stewart Flores Jr.'s "anger," one as recently as Saturday night, according to several sources.

Assistant professor Robin Rogers, Flores' first victim, told friends and family she had fears about Flores when he failed her class last semester.

Rogers reportedly voiced her concerns at a church service at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church last Saturday night, according to nursing professor Joann Glittenberg.

Rogers asked that church members pray for her to be protected from Flores, Glittenberg said.

Roger's husband, Phillip, recalled that she had anxiety about Flores during the term.

"She had him last semester and she expressed concerns then," Phillip Rogers said. "And this year, when he failed the critical care course, she had concerns She was concerned that he might act out in some way; but she didn't have any fear or premonition that he would do something this drastic."

Another victim, clinical associate professor Cheryl McGaffic, also feared Flores and was concerned about his well being and her own.

A family spokeswoman for the McGaffics said she had told her husband that she was scared of Flores.

"(McGaffic) had expressed fear to her husband within the

last six months. She said he was arrogant and intimidating and often made rude

interruptions during class. And how angry he was is what made her afraid," said Linda Maerz, who was speaking on behalf of Walter McGaffic, husband of Cheryl McGaffic and a public health master's student at UA.

Although many of McGaffic's acquaintances were aware of her concern, it is not clear whether or not she took any action.

"(McGaffic) was particularly concerned about Robert. (All three victims) were, and had tried to help him at some point How public they made their concerns, I don't know," Glittenberg said.

However, two professors from the College of Nursing filed a report to the University of Arizona Police Department concerning Flores in April 2001.

Melissa Goldsmith, a clinical instructor in nursing, and Pamela Reed, an associate dean of academic affairs in the college, filed the report.

The report stated that Flores had thought about "ending it all" and may try to "put something under the college."

UAPD attempted to call Flores about the report at the time, but could not reach him. Police did not follow up on the report because Reed said she would monitor Flores and report further incidents, the report stated.

"We review all reports. Some people don't want to do anything. They just document it," said UAPD Cmdr. Brian Seastone. The professors just wanted the case on record and said they would continue monitoring Flores, he said.

UAPD also consulted with the dean of students after the report was filed.

While some neighbors described Flores as pleasant, some students felt he was "strange" and recalled that he bragged about having a concealed weapons permit.

New information may reveal that Monday's murders and suicide were premeditated far in advance.

Flores mailed the Arizona Daily Star a 22-page suicide letter, which was received yesterday, KVOA Channel 4 reported last night. The beginning of the letter read "Greetings from the dead."

The family of Barbara Monroe, the third victim, could not be reached for comment.

 
 

Eerie Letter From University Killer

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 30, 2002

(CBS) A day after a nursing student shot three professors to death and killed himself, a newspaper received a 22-page list of grievances from the gunman that began, "Greetings from the dead."

"You have received this letter after a rather horrendous event," Robert S. Flores Jr. wrote, apparently weeks before the slayings. A student who was flunking out of school, he insisted the shootings were not about revenge.

"I guess what it is about is that it is a reckoning," Flores wrote. "A settling of accounts. The university is filled with too many people who are filled with hubris. They feel untouchable."

The letter ends with, "As the curtain closes I will exit the stage for a well deserved rest."

The Arizona Daily Star said it received the letter Tuesday night. Police said Wednesday they had no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Flores, 41, shot three of his instructors at the University of Arizona nursing school to death Monday, then killed himself. The divorced Gulf War veteran killed two of the professors in the same room, telling one "he was going to give her a lesson in spirituality" and asking the other "if she was ready to meet her maker."

The letter gives a chronology of Flores' troubled life his failed marriage, poor health and slights from a nursing school he claimed treated male students as "tokens" and tries to explain the shootings.

"I am rational," he writes. "I understand that I have committed homicide and that I have broken the laws of our society. I will save the taxpayers money and take care of the problem. I realize that I am depressed but even with treatment it will not change my future. People will want to know why I did this? Why the innocent lives?

"To the sociologist, it wasn't the Maryland sniper. I have been thinking about this for a while. To the psychiatrist, it's not about unresolved childhood issues. It is not about anger because I don't feel anything right now," the letter said.

The newspaper said the letter was postmarked Monday and was accompanied by college transcripts, military evaluations, recommendations from employers and two birthday cards.

Psychiatrist Jose Santiago, chief medical officer of the Carondelet Health Network in Tucson, said the letter "is a massive attempt to justify what he did."

It's typical of "somebody who is very self-centered and feels imperfections are found in the rest of the world and not in him," he said.

It appears Flores wrote the letter in two stages separated by several weeks, with all but the first two pages written on the eve of the killings. The letter describes him as increasingly hopeless as he faces a bleak future with financial and health problems looming.

"I am tired, tired and weary," the letter says. "Rather than spend the next month or two selling what little I have I am going to end it now."

Students who knew him say Flores was doing poorly in school.

"I know he was very stressed in a lot of different things and had a difficult time adjusting," Kimberly Ammons told CBS News.

"He came across as very aggressive and mean and seemed to have a lot of issues with being angry," said Lori Schenkel, a fellow nursing student.

Sharon Ewing, a clinical professor at the College of Nursing, said it was common knowledge among the faculty that Flores was depressed. She said all three victims had tried to help him.

"Mr. Flores ... conveyed to staff that he was depressed, that he was thinking of ending it all, and that he might take some actions against the College of Medicine," said university police chief Anthony Daykin.

 
 

Student kills 3 profs, self

By Ryan Gabrielson - Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tuesday October 29, 2002

A nursing student, allegedly distraught over failing grades, methodically killed three of his professors and then himself yesterday morning, marking one of the bloodiest days in UA history.

At about 8:30 a.m., while most students in the College of Nursing were taking midterms, Robert Stewart Flores Jr., a third-semester nursing student, entered the second-floor office of Robin Rogers, an assistant professor of nursing, and shot her multiple times, killing her, Tucson Police Assistant Chief Robert Lehner said. She was 50.

Flores, 41, then moved up to the fourth floor, where a class was 40 minutes into an exam. Gena Johnson, a fourth-semester nursing student, said that he looked calm and "clean-shaven," with his backpack slung over his shoulder and the gun in his hand aimed at the second victim, Cheryl McGaffic, another assistant professor of nursing.

Some of the professors and students in the College of Nursing were wearing Halloween costumes. "When I saw him at first I thought it was some kind of joke. But then the shooting started and I realized that the gun wasn't fake," said Julie Raymond, a fourth-semester nursing student.

The professor, who had been sitting in a desk near the front of the classroom, stood up and began to panic, Johnson said. Flores then called out, "Cheryl McGaffic, I'm going to give you a lesson in spirituality."

He shot her twice in the chest from about five feet away. After she fell, he straddled her body and fired another round in her chest. McGaffic was 44.

All of the nearly 50 students dropped to the floor, as did Barbara Monroe, an assistant professor of nursing and another instructor of the course, who was at the podium when Flores entered. Monroe attempted to crawl out of the way and curled beneath a desk, Johnson said.

Flores moved over Monroe, said Laura Kelley, a fourth-semester nursing student, and asked her if she remembered the last thing she said to him. She replied, "No." He then asked Monroe, "Are you ready to meet your maker?"

He shot her three times. She was 45.

Silence ensued, Johnson said, as students lay on the floor watching their professors die.

After the pause, Flores called out for two of his friends who he called "Jules" and "Lisa" to stand up and leave.

"I could tell it was planned. He had a very precise tone and was extremely calm and at this point he was holding the gun at his waist and looking around the room, and then he excused the two girls from the room," Johnson said.

Flores told the remaining students to "get the hell out."

Once the classroom cleared, Flores killed himself with one of his five guns, said Tucson Police Chief Richard Miranda.

"Today, (Flores') focus was on the College of Nursing and his victims were premeditated," Miranda said.

At 8:37 a.m., someone in an adjacent classroom called 911, he said. By 8:46 a.m., 33 Tucson Police Department officers who had been training at Himmel Park were arriving at the scene along with university police.

Just before 9 a.m., police found Flores' body and confirmed the shooter was no longer a threat, Miranda said.

In a press conference last night, Miranda said Flores may have been planning to shoot more people but changed his mind at the last minute.

Flores was carrying five handguns and between 200 and 250 rounds of ammunition at the time of the shooting.

Flores is believed to have had many possible motives for killing his professors.

Some students said he had failed the classes taught by McGaffic, Monroe and Rogers last semester and was seeking a type of revenge. Miranda said that Flores had also been having financial problems stemming from child support payments. He was divorced with two children.

Flores had no grudge against his fellow nursing students, Miranda added.

"He did not target the students; he let some of them go," he said. "I can't even say what's key (to the investigation) right now. It seems there were many issues in his life."

Miranda said Flores did not leave a suicide note.

TPD's bomb-sniffing dogs picked up a scent in Flores' silver Jeep Grand Cherokee that could have been explosives, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, a Tucson police spokesman. After blowing out the Jeep's rear window, police searched the Jeep, but found nothing.

Initially, there was concern that Flores' backpack contained explosives, but it was only found to contain a handgun and ammunition.

No explosives were discovered anywhere in the College of Nursing or Flores' home, Miranda said.

During the day, much of the UA Health Sciences Center was evacuated, but the University Medical Center remained open and accepted patients, Borboa said.

Many of the nursing students left belongings including house and car keys behind in the classrooms and were unable to go back in for them until late yesterday when police began letting people in to collect belongings.

All of the buildings closed yesterday will reopen today, except for the College of Nursing building, which will likely remain under police control until Wednesday, said University of Arizona Police Department Chief Anthony Daykin.

Students wishing to inquire about the status of buildings can call the Dean of Students Office at 621-7060.

For some of those students who could not get to or get into their homes due to lack of keys, rooms were being made available at the UA-operated Palm Shadows apartments, said Raymond Woosley, vice president of health sciences.

Several of the students who witnessed the second two murders were taken to the "Swede" Johnson building for counseling and so they could contact family and friends.

By 5 p.m., 15 of the student witnesses remained at the "Swede" Johnson building, Woosley said.

President Pete Likins said the psychological wounds torn by yesterday's shooting will not heal soon.

"I think people are still in shock. The entire campus community is going to be traumatized for some time," Likins said.

 
 

Arizona Gunman Had Threatened School

CBS News

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 29, 2002

(CBS) The University of Arizona nursing school was closed Tuesday, one day after a failing student shot and killed three professors.

Robert Stewart Flores, a divorced father of two and Gulf War veteran, then used one of his five handguns to kill himself, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

"We were all just in complete in shock," student Gena Johnson told CBS News Early Show anchor Harry Smith. "We were under our desks and we didn't know what to do. There wasn't a peep in the room.

"He excused two students by name and then we figured, OK, well, he's excused them so the rest of us are not going to make it."

About 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil at the university Monday night.

Students who knew him say Flores was doing poorly in school.

"I know he was very stressed in a lot of different things and had a difficult time adjusting," Kimberly Ammons told CBS News.

"He came across as very aggressive and mean and seemed to have a lot of issues with being angry," said Lori Schenkel, a fellow nursing student.

In fact, an instructor told police the student had thought about "ending it all" and "might put something under the college." a year-and-a-half ago.

Instructor Melissa M. Goldsmith told police that Flores said he was having problems with a paper but also had a lot of problems other than school, according to the university police department report filed on April 24, 2001.

"He was depressed and thought about 'ending it all.' Flores then stated he 'might put something under the college,"' according to the report, which was provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday by university police.

The report said an officer called Flores and left a message. "I will follow up at a later date and contact Flores," the report said. It was not clear whether police followed up.

Sharon Ewing, a clinical professor at the College of Nursing, said it was common knowledge among the faculty that Flores was depressed. She said all three victims had tried to help him.

"Mr. Flores ... conveyed to staff that he was depressed, that he was thinking of ending it all, and that he might take some actions against the College of Medicine," said university police chief Anthony Daykin.

Besides the handguns, the 41-year-old Flores had at least 200 rounds of ammunition with him.

"Mr. Flores went in there to create a holy hell for our community," Tucson police Chief Richard Miranda said. "I can't imagine what the building would look like if he didn't have a sudden change of mind."

Bomb squad members were called in after a backpack or package was found underneath the gunman's body. The suspect had threatened to blow up the building, though it was unclear when the threat was made, police said. The college and nearby buildings were evacuated but no explosives were found.

Police said Flores first killed professor Robin Rogers, 50, in her office on the second floor of the nursing school building. He then went to the fourth floor, where he entered a classroom full of students taking a test being given by two teachers.

There he confronted Cheryl McGaffic, a 44-year-old ethics teacher who studied the relationship between health and spiritually in seriously ill patients.

He told McGaffic "he was going to give her a lesson in spirituality," said student Laura Kelley. Witnesses said Flores fired two shots into McGaffic's chest and stood directly over her as he shot her in the head.

Barbara Monroe, 45, was allegedly Flores' last target. The instructor was cowering behind a desk as Flores approached, witnesses said. "He asked her if she was ready to meet her maker. She said 'Yes,' and then he shot her once and then twice more," said Johnson.

After shooting her, he told the other students to leave. He was later found dead by officers searching the school.

Flores worked at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tucson as a licensed practical nurse and was studying to become a registered nurse. He was employed by a nursing agency, said Spencer Ralston, associate director for the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System.

Flores failed a pediatric nursing class and was struggling in a critical care class this term, said University Vice Provost Elizabeth Irvin. A critical care exam was being administered when the gunman burst into McGaffic and Monroe's classroom.

Fellow student Lori Schenkel said Flores bragged to pediatrics classmates last year that he had received a concealed weapons permit. She said he seemed to enjoy calling attention to himself by asking inappropriate questions and challenging instructors. He failed that class and had to take it again, Schenkel said.

"Most of the people in class didn't like him," Schenkel said. "He was very obnoxious and rude."

William Gordon, a registered nurse who said he worked with Flores at the veterans hospital and knew him for three years, said he saw nothing that would foreshadow violence by Flores.

"He was very nice, very intelligent, very well-spoken," Gordon said. "I never heard anything violent period from this guy."

"He was really, truly a nice guy," said Ammons. "I've never seen him be not gentle.

"Having some stranger come in and do it is one thing, but somebody you went to school with for three semesters ... it's shock. You just can't believe it," she added.

School officials said there was no follow-up, but that this was an "isolated incident" that campus security couldn't have prevented. However, they say they will conduct an assessment of campus security.

 
 

Timeline of Events

  • About 8:30 a.m. Robert Stewart Flores Jr. enters the College of Nursing with five guns, proceeds to the second-floor office of Assistant Nursing Professor Robin Rogers and kills her.

  • 8:35 a.m. Flores arrives at a fourth-floor classroom and kills Barbara Monroe and Cheryl McGaffic, both assistant professors of nursing. He releases the students and commits suicide shortly thereafter.

  • 8:37 a.m. A student in an adjacent classroom calls 911.

  • 8:40 a.m. UA police officers arrive at the College of Nursing.

  • 8:46 a.m. 33 TPD officers training at Himmel Park respond.

  • 8:54 a.m. Flores is confirmed dead on the fourth floor.

 
 


Robert Stewart Flores Jr.

 

The victims

 

Barbara Monroe

 

Robin Rodgers

 

Cheryl McGaffic

 

Students and faculty gather near the scene of a shooting that left four people dead yesterday morning in the College of Nursing. The gunman, a struggling nursing student, shot and killed three professors before turning the gun on himself.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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