From 1978 to 2009.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: The earliest known case of a student killing a professor on campus in the United States was recorded more than 175 years ago, on Nov. 12, 1840: John Anthony Gardner Davis, a law professor at the University of Virginia was shot by Joseph Semmes, and succumbed from the wound three days later.
Details continue to unravel in the shocking double homicide and suicide case of Mainak Sarkar, 38, a former doctoral student at UCLA, and an aeronautical engineering alum of IIT Kharagpur, who shot dead professor William Klug, and likely another woman in Minnesota, before committing suicide on campus, on Wednesday. Sarkar had a ‘kill list’ with three names on it. Police suspect he’s behind the murder of a woman in Minnesota too, who was named in that ‘list’. Another professor at UCLA named in the ‘list’ is safe.
There have been a total of 186 shootings on school campuses in the U.S. since Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. However, there have been at least five other incidents apart from the Sarkar one, of a student murdering a professor(s) on college campus, over three decades.
Here are the five infamous incidents, with the earliest one from August 18, 1978, at Stanford University.
Theodore Landon ‘Ted’ Streleski, 42, a former graduate student in mathematics at Stanford University, murdered his former faculty advisor, Professor Karel de Leeuw, with a ball-peen hammer on August 18, 1978.
Streleski turned himself in to the authorities, claiming he felt the murder was justifiable homicide because de Leeuw had withheld departmental awards from him, demeaned Streleski in front of his peers, and refused his requests for financial support, according to Wikipedia.
Streleski was in his 19th year pursuing his doctorate in the mathematics department, alternating with low-paying jobs to support himself.
During his trial, Streleski told the court he felt the murder was “logically and morally correct” and “a political statement” about the department’s treatment of its graduate students, and he forced his court-appointed lawyer to enter a plea of “not guilty” rather than “not guilty by reason of insanity” as the lawyer had urged.
Streleski was convicted of second degree murder and he served seven years in prison for his actions.
Gang Lu, 28, a former graduate student of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, killed four members of the university faculty and one student, and seriously wounded another student, before taking his own life, on Nov. 1, 1991.
Lu had received his doctoral degree from the university in May 1991. As a graduate student Gang Lu was primarily a loner who was perceived by at least one other graduate student to have a psychological problem if challenged and was reported to have had abusive tantrums, according to Wikipedia.
In the months prior to the shooting, Lu wrote five letters explaining the reasons for his planned actions. According to university officials, four of the letters were in English and were intended to be mailed to news organizations. One letter was written in Chinese. The letters have never been released to the public.
Lu was infuriated because his dissertation did not receive the prestigious D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize. This prize included a monetary award of $2,500. Gang Lu believed that winning the prize would have made it easier for him to get hired as a professor.
The faculty victims: Christoph K. Goertz, professor of physics and astronomy, was Lu’s dissertation chairperson and one of America’s leading space plasma physicists; Robert A. Smith, associate professor of physics and astronomy, was also on Lu’s dissertation committee; Linhua Shan, research investigator in physics and astronomy, was the winner of the Spriestersbach prize; Dwight R. Nicholson, chairman of the physics and astronomy department, was one of Lu’s dissertation committee members.
James Easton Kelly, 36, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, shot dead Prof. John Locke, 67, on Aug. 28, 2000, before taking his own life.
Police found Locke dead in his English department office. Kelly was a graduate student in the comparative literature program, which Locke taught, reported ABC News.
Kelly had been taking courses in a doctoral program for 10 years and had a pattern of enrolling in comparative literature courses and then dropping them. On Aug. 21, a committee of six professors voted to dismiss Kelly from the degree program but to allow him to continue to take classes as a non-degree student. Locke was on the committee but abstained from the vote.
Robert Flores Jr., 41, a student flunking out of the University of Arizona nursing school, shot three of his professors to death, then killed himself, on Oct. 2, 2002. Flores had failed a pediatric nursing class and was struggling in a critical care class.
Flores specifically targeted the instructors, killing one in her office on the second floor and shooting the others in a fourth-floor classroom as students dove for cover, reported ABC News.
Flores walked to the front of the classroom and shot the first victim several times, then went to the back of the room and killed the second victim. Flores told students in the room to leave. He was later found dead by officers searching the school.
The victims — Robin Rogers, 50, Barbara Monroe, 45, and Cheryl McGaffic, 44 — all were Flores’ instructors.
Flores, a Gulf War veteran, worked at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System as a licensed practical nurse, and was studying to become a registered nurse.
Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, a graduate student from Saudi Arabia, at Binghamton University, stabbed to death Professor Emeritus Richard ‘Dick’ T. Antoun, 77, on December 4, 2009. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Antoun, a Jew by religion, specialized in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. His work centered on religion and the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics, among other things, according to Wikipedia.
Antoun was also a professor with the anthropology department where al-Zahrani was working on a dissertation about early Arabic culture.