The victims included the dean of the Appalachian School of Law, L. Anthony Sutin, who was a former acting assistant attorney general, and an unidentified professor, both of whom were "executed" at point-blank range,according to Dr. Jack Briggs, a Buchanon County coroner who raced to the scene from his family practice a half-mile away. Briggs said a female student was also shot dead after the gunman opened fire on students outside the dean's office.
Briggs identified the gunman as Peter Odighizuwa, 43, a native of Nigeria who was estranged from his wife and four children, who also live in this town of 2400 nestled in the hilly coal fields of Virginia near the borders of Kentucky and West Virginia. The suspect, who had been suspended from the law school last year for failing grades, was about to be dismissed again, Briggs said.
"There were four bodies on the floor and bodily fluids seeping out on the floor," said Briggs, who arrived on the scene within minutes of the shootings. Briggs said the student shot the dean and the professor, then "executed" them as they lay on the floor. "He put the gun barrel to their backs and shot," said Briggs, who observed "powder burns" on the victims' shirts indicating they had been shot at close range.
"Then he went down to a common area and started shooting at random," Briggs said. One female student was killed and three others were critically wounded before the gunman apparently ran out of bullets. Briggs told TIME that he supervised the evacuation of the victims to the emergency room at Buchanon General Hospital in Grundy.
Briggs said four students wrestled the gunman to the ground as he ran from the building and held him until the police could arrive. Odighizuwa had come to see Briggs about a year ago, the doctor said, to discuss "emotional problems." Briggs said the suspect was a "time bomb waiting to go off."
Sutin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, had worked for the National Democratic Committee and Clinton's campaign in 1992. He then became an acting assistant attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department, before he was appointed to head the law school in 2000, as the school was about to enter its fourth year of operations. The school was founded in a rennovated junior high school in 1997 in an effort to produce a crop of homegrown lawyers to serve in the impoverished, coal-mining area. The first class, of 34 students, graduated in 2000.