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.”
. . .