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Killer Tenure Disputes Alleged Basis for Alabama University Shootings

February 13, 2010

The tenure track is killer these days, and I mean it.  An Harvard-trained professor, Amy Bishop,  reportedly killed three biology faculty members over a tenure dispute.

Authorities say Amy Bishop, an instructor and researcher at the university, opened fire during an afternoon faculty meeting, killing the three and injuring three other school employees. Bishop has been charged with one count of capital murder, which means she could face the death penalty if convicted.

Why did she have a gun at a faculty meeting?  And what’s this about killing her brother in the 1980’s?  Some people use the word cover-up, and others are calling the scenario in which Amy Bishop shot and killed her older brother an accident:

Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier confirmed today at a news conference that Amy Bishop had fatally shot her brother in 1986. But Frazier offered a different account of the shooting, saying Bishop had shot her brother during an argument and was being booked by police when the police chief at the time ordered the booking process stopped and Bishop released to her mother.

Frazier said he was basing his statements on the memories of one of his officers who was on the department at the time and had arrested Bishop. He said the records from the case have been missing since at least 1988.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘coverup’ … but this does not look good,” he said.

Other officers said Bishop had just been handling the gun and assumed the shooting was accidental:

Then-Police Chief John Polio told the Globe in 1986 that Bishop had asked her mother, Judith, in the presence of her brother how to unload a round from the chamber of a 12-gauge shotgun.

Polio told the Globe that while Amy Bishop was handling the weapon, it fired, wounding Seth Bishop in the abdomen. He was pronounced dead at a hospital 46 minutes after the Dec. 6, 1986 shooting.

“Every indication at this point in time leads us to believe it was an accidental shooting,” Polio said at the time.

In an interview at his home this afternoon, Polio, 87, said, “There was no coverup.” He said he followed all department procedures and then-District Attorney William Delahunt’s office conducted an inquiry and the decision was made not to file charges.

Polio at times fumbled over names and did not remember some details of the case. He was not aware until told by reporters that Bishop was accused of shooting six people in Alabama.

Why did they decide not to file charges at all?  Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue, except Bishop allegedly shot 6 people at a faculty meeting over the supposed denial of her tenure.  A police officer who had been working at the time insists that Bishop’s killing of her brother was intentional, and that the press had been fed a story to cover up Bishop’s intent to harm her brother, stating Bishop shot and killed her brother during an argument.  The officer insists Amy Bishop fired three shots at her brother and then raced from the scene of the crime, at 12 years old:

But Frazier said the media had been fed an incorrect story. He said that there was an argument at the home on Hollis Avenue and Amy Bishop had fired three shots, then fled the house and pointed the shotgun at a motorist in an attempted carjack. She was then arrested at gunpoint by officers.

If she was arrested at 12 years old by gunpoint, after killing her brother and attempting a carjack, then Ms. Bishop’s behavior at the faculty meeting details a lifetime of mental disturbance that ended in tragedy for 6 faculty members, perhaps that could have been prevented had the police not covered up her former history of killing.  What is the likelihood that this woman committed all of these acts of killing and shooting by accident?

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