- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2002

GRUNDY, Va. A student who had been suspended from law school went on a shooting spree yesterday, killing the school's dean, a professor and a student before other students overpowered him, officials said.
Three students were critically injured in the hail of gunfire.
L. Anthony Sutin, dean of the Appalachian School of Law, and professor Thomas Blackwell were gunned down in their offices, according to school officials. The third person slain was a student, Angela Dales, according to officials at Buchanan General Hospital.
"When I got there, there were bodies lying everywhere," said Dr. Jack Briggs, who has a private practice a half-mile from the school in this tiny western Virginia community.
Dr. Briggs said he had treated the suspect identified by state police as Peter Odighizuma in the past year. He described the suspected gunman as a Nigerian who had flunked out last year and had been allowed to return.
Mr. Odighizuma, who was taken to the Buchanan County Jail, had been suspended from school earlier yesterday, according to Ellen Qualls, spokeswoman for Gov. Mark R. Warner. She said Mr. Odighizuma, 43, had a history of mental instability that officials were aware of.
Mr. Sutin and the professor were "executed" in their offices, Dr. Briggs said.
He said the gunman then went downstairs into a common area and opened fire on a crowd of students, killing Miss Dales and wounding three others. As he left the building, he was tackled and held down by several male students, including Todd Ross, 30, of Johnson City, Tenn.
"He came out and walked down on the sidewalk, had his hands up in the air with the gun. At some point, I yelled his name and told him to drop the gun and to get on the ground," Mr. Ross said.
Mr. Odighizuma dropped the gun, and another student then confronted and distracted him.
"And then I ran across and tackled him," Mr. Ross said.
About three other students then helped him subdue Mr. Odighizuma.
Mr. Odighizuma "struggled after we got him on the ground, but then just laid there," Mr. Ross said. He said Mr. Odighizuma kept shouting, "I have nowhere to go! I have nowhere to go!"
Miss Qualls said the weapon used was a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Hospital officials identified the three wounded students as Rebecca Brown, Martha Madeline Short and Stacy Beans. Amy Stevens, a spokeswoman for Wellmont Health Systems, said Miss Short was in fair condition, and Miss Beans and Miss Brown were in surgery last evening. Their ages and hometowns were not released.
Justin Marlowe, a first-year student from Richwood, W.Va., said the suspect had been in all of his classes.
"He was a real quiet guy who kept to himself. He didn't talk to anybody, but he gave no indication that he was capable of something like this," Mr. Marlowe said.
Mr. Marlowe said Mr. Odighizuma had flunked out of school a year ago and "the dean bent over backwards to get him enrolled again."
"We knew before we heard there was a shooting that something was wrong," said Tiffany Street, who works at a nearby motel. "There were firetrucks, ambulances, state police and cops all heading toward the school.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Miss Street, 20. "Grundy's a very small town, and I've been here all my life."
The private law school has an enrollment of about 170 students. It will be closed the remainder of the week.
Mr. Sutin, a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School, was also an associate professor at the school. He left the Justice Department to found the school after working for the Democratic National Committee and Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992, according to the Web site of Jurist, the Legal Education Network.
Mr. Sutin was formerly acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Affairs at the Department of Justice. He left the department to help found the Appalachian School of Law, department officials said.
The law school opened five years ago in a renovated junior high school in Grundy, a town of about 1,100 just a few miles south of the Kentucky and West Virginia state lines.
School founders hope to ease a shortage of lawyers in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, help change the region's image and foster renewal in Appalachia. The American Bar Association rejected the school's first application for accreditation in 1999.
The school graduated its first class of 34 in 2000.

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