Indian-American Chair of the University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Biological Sciences department Gopi K. Podila was among three persons killed in a shooting at the campus on Friday afternoon.
The shooting, that occurred at about 4 pm, also left three others seriously wounded.
The names of the victims were released late on Friday evening. The shooting took place in the Shelby Center on the campus where a faculty meeting of the biological sciences department was in progress.
Local media reported that biology Professor Amy Bishop, an instructor and researcher, was taken into custody by the police. Her husband was also taken into custody.
Huntsville television station WAFF48News reported that local authorities had said that Bishop “during a Biology faculty meeting, learned she would not receive tenure. She then pulled out a gun and started shooting.” The station also reported that Bishop, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist, had been charged with capital murder.
Since Podila, as the head of the department, was central to that decision, he was possibly one of the main targets of the attack. Others killed in the attack were identified as Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. The campus was closed on Friday evening and for next week.
There are approximately 500 Indians on the campus and that small community was in a state of shock after the incident and the later reports that Prof Podila was one of the victims.
Avinash Suryaprakash, a student of industrial engineering, said, “It was pretty shocking for all of us. Shelby is at the center of the University, we pass by there every day.”
Another student Thejaswi HR said, “This is a complete shocker. We never expected anything like this to happen on a calm, research-oriented campus.” He said they were rehearsing a play for an Indian Student Organisation function when they received the news.
Prof Podila was a resident of nearby Madison. According to his page on the University’s website, he had completed his M.Sc from Nagarjuna University in Andhra Pradesh. He studied at Louisiana State University and Indiana State University before, it appears, he secured his first teaching position at the Michigan Technological University.