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February 06, 2013

A Mass Shooter’s Tragic Past

Patrick Radden Keefe: A Mass Shooter’s Tragic Past : The New Yorker
A biochemist named Debra Moriarity watched Bishop from across the table. Moriarity knew all about Bishop’s tenure woes; they had developed a friendship since Bishop had arrived on campus as an assistant professor, in 2003. They often talked about their families: Bishop had four children (her oldest, Lily, was a student at Huntsville); Moriarity had recently become a grandmother. Moriarity had voted against Bishop’s receiving tenure, and Bishop knew it, but they had remained cordial, and Bishop had confided in Moriarity about her professional despair. “My life is over,” she had said at one point. Moriarity reassured her that she would find another position. “It’s just a matter of the fit,” Moriarity said. During the meeting, she made a mental note to ask Bishop how her search for a new job was going. For fifty minutes, Bishop said nothing. Then, just as the meeting was concluding, she stood up, pulled out the gun, a 9-mm. Ruger semiautomatic, and shot Podila in the head. The blast was deafening. She fired again, hitting a department assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. Next, Bishop turned and shot Adriel Johnson, a cell biologist. People screamed and ducked for cover, but Bishop was blocking the only door. Moriarity did not fully register what was happening until she saw Bishop—her jaw set, her brow furrowed—train the gun on a fourth colleague, Maria Ragland Davis, and shoot her. Moriarity dived under the table. With gunshots ringing out above her, she flung her arms around Bishop’s legs, looked up, and screamed, “Amy, don’t do this! Think of my daughter! Think of my grandson!” Bishop looked down—then turned the gun on Moriarity. Click. Moriarity, in terror, stared at the gun. Click. The weapon had jammed. Moriarity crawled past Bishop and into the hallway; Bishop followed her, repeatedly squeezing the trigger. As Bishop tried to fix the gun, Moriarity scrambled back into the conference room and another colleague barricaded the door. The room, a prosecutor later said, looked “like a bomb went off. Like a war zone.” Six people had been shot, three of them fatally. The entire episode had lasted less than a minute. . . . The morning after Bishop was taken into custody, the sheriff’s department in Huntsville received a phone call from a man named Paul Frazier, who said that he was the chief of police in Braintree, Massachusetts—the Boston suburb where Bishop had grown up. Frazier said, “The woman you have in custody, I thought you’d want to know: she shot and killed her brother back in 1986.” . . .

February 04, 2013

For seven days a survivalist nutjob has been holding a little boy hostage in his Alabama bunker

The nutjob in question, Jimmy Lee Dykes, stormed on to a school bus and tried to kidnap two boys. The bus driver fought back and was murdered by Mr. Dykes. Dykes succeeded in taking one five-year-old boy hostage and has been holed up in his bunker ever since, communicating with police through a tube. No change as Midland City hostage situation enters seventh day | al.com
MIDLAND CITY, Alabama – Negotiations continue in Midland City, Ala., Monday, where hostage negotiators are attempting to talk 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes out of the underground bunker where he has been holding a 5-year-old boy hostage since Tuesday afternoon. Federal law enforcement agencies are conducting the negotiations through a PVC ventilation pipe that leads into the bunker. According to an Associated Press report, authorities are also using the pipe to deliver medicine and comfort items, such as a coloring book, a Hot Wheels toy car, and Cheez-Its crackers to the boy, Ethan, who Dykes abducted from a Dale County school bus Tuesday after allegedly shooting the driver to death. On Sunday, residents of the area laid the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, to rest in nearby Ozark, Ala. Poland was remembered as a hero who tried to stop Dykes from taking a child hostage. . . . Details of Dykes' life that emerged Sunday painted a picture of a troubled man. According to the AP, Dykes is a Vietnam veteran, but it is not clear if he served in combat. He lived in Florida for some time before moving back to Midland City, where Dykes grew up. While in Florida, Dykes was arrested for improper exhibition of a weapon, a misdemeanor charge that was dropped. He has also been arrested for marijuana possession. Dykes is estranged from his family, according to AP. In recent months, neighbors said Dykes beat a dog nearly to death with a pipe, and menaced a neighbor with a gun. . . .