Survivor of Alabama Campus Slaughter Heard Gun Go 'Click'

Debra Moriarity pleaded for her life saying, "Think about my daughter."

ByLee Ferran and Sarah Netter via via logo
February 12, 2010, 6:34 PM

Feb. 17, 2010 — -- Debra Moriarity was looking into the muzzle of a gun as she pleaded with her friend Amy Bishop to spare her life.

"I know I yelled at her, 'Amy, think about my grandson, think about my daughter," the Alabama professor told "Good Morning America" today.

Bishop had allegedly already shot six people, five in the head and one in the chest, during what officials say was a vengeful shooting spree after being denied tenure at the college last Friday. Moriarity, who was Bishop's lab neighbor and reportedly her best friend on campus, had tried to stop the shooting.

When Bishop allegedly kept firing, Moriarity attempted to crawl out of the room. Moriarity's friend then turned on her, unmoved by her pleas.

"She stepped out in the hall and pointed the gun at me and pulled the trigger. And it clicked and clicked again," Moriarity said. "I'm here talking to you today because the gun didn't fire."

When Bishop paused to reload, Moriarity jumped up and led the rush that shoved Bishop out of the room and they then barricaded the door. While three died and three were seriously wounded in the rampage at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, five others survived.

The 55-year-old professor is being hailed as a hero who prevented more carnage. In reliving the terror of that morning, Moriarity said she heard a shot and looked up to see Bishop holding a gun and firing.

"She looked like she was intent on doing this and she was angry," Moriarity recalled.

Moriarity said she witnessed Bishop methodically shoot people closest to her as they sat at the round table where the biology department had been meeting. Some died instantly. Moriarity said she dove to the ground and scrambled towards Bishop, grabbing at her legs under the table. Nothing stopped Bishop until she ran out of bullets.

Moriarity talked about the bloody day as more evidence emerged that Bishop had a history of violence that had been ignored.

The Associated Press reported today that Bishop had admitted in court in 2002 to punching a mother in the head after the woman was given the last booster seat in a House of Pancakes restaurant in Peabody, Mass.

Amy Bishop Punched a Woman Over a Restaurant Booster Seat

Bishop apparently wanted a booster seat for her own young child and yelled at the woman, "I am Dr. Amy Bishop," according to the police report.

Peabody police Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto said Bishop admitted to the assault in court, and the case was adjudicated, meaning the charges were eventually dismissed.

In addition, the Boston Globe reported today that after fatally shooting her brother in 1986, Bishop tried to steal a car from a dealership and ended up in an armed standoff with police.

The report by the Braintree, Mass., police said that Bishop was crouched behind a car and refused to put down the loaded pump action shotgun.

"Miss Bishop seemed frightened, disoriented, and confused, but she kept both her hands on the shotgun at all times,'' the officer wrote in a police report. "She wouldn't drop the gun.''

The confrontation ended when an officer snuck up behind Bishop and handcuffed her, the report said.

Nevertheless, Bishop's shooting of her brother was deemed to be accidental and she was not charged for any of her actions after the shooting.

The lead prosecutor who would've handled the case at the time, now U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, told the AP today he does not remember the case well.

John Polio, the now-retired police chief who ruled the death an accident in 1986, denied Monday there was ever a cover up. But he told the Boston Globe in an interview published Tuesday that he now has questions about the quality of the investigation in 1986, partly because he's since seen a report that may have changed his initial ruling that the shooting was an accident.

Polio told the Globe that state police did not interview Bishop or her mother until 11 days after the fatal shooting and that investigators found discrepancies in their stories.

"When I hear everything and I see this report for the first time, if this information was at my hands then, yes, I would have to do a lot of thinking before I made a decision then,'' Polio said.

Bishop was also questioned, and again never charged, in a 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard professor.

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