Alabama Shooting Suspect's Husband: 'I'm No Psychologist'

Alleged shooter described as odd, socially awkward; Jim Anderson supports wife.

February 12, 2010, 6:34 PM

Feb. 15, 2010 — -- James Anderson, whose wife Amy Bishop has been accused of the killing rampage at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, has a message for his wife: "I love her."

"She's barely holding up," he told ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston today. "Nobody understands what happened. Nobody knew. Sit down and talk to her about what went wrong."

Anderson said he didn't believe his wife -- a brilliant scientist who colleagues said had been upset about not receiving tenure -- was capable of finding out who her alleged victims were for retribution.

And when asked why she might have killed, if she did, he said, "I am not a psychologist.

Meanwhile, Anderson told The Associated Press that he and Bishop went to a shooting range just weeks before the killing, but said the family did not own a gun.

He said he is still baffled about where she may have gotten the gun she is accused of using.

"I feel for all these people," he told ABC. "I wish it had never came to this. She was loved and respected by everyone, students and assistants. All the nursing students liked and loved her."

Bishop, 42, has been arrested and charged in the shooting deaths of three professors and the wounding of three others Friday at a faculty meeting. She could face the death penalty.

Anderson told the Chronicle of Higher Education that his wife had called from jail and said, "I know you guys are obviously in shock," and asked if their four children had done their homework.

Before the shootings, he said, his wife had said nothing and he assumed their Friday "date night" was still on.

But a former colleague of Bishop's has described her as "an oddball."

Sylvia Fluckiger, a lab technician who worked with Bishop at Children's Hospital in Boston, said her colleague was "socially a little awkward," according to the Boston Globe.

Fluckiger and her husband Rudolph worked together at Children's Hospital in the early 1990s where he was a researcher. Bishop helped Rudolph Fluckiger write a research paper as a medical student.

More recently, some of Bishop's students had mostly praise for the biology professor at the University of Alabama. They gave her an overall 3.6 rating out of 5 on

She was "absolutely the bomb! Knows her stuff cold, and quick-witted, too."

One commenter said she was "surprised" the Harvard graduate was "not a snob."

"Dr. Bishop is brilliant," another said. "Her research is fascinating. She will surely get the Nobel Prize. She is the best teacher I have ever had."

But another said that, although she graduated from Harvard, "she has very little common sense."

The alleged violent past of the once respected University of Alabama professor accused of the fatal shooting rampage has stunned the families of her victims.

Sherry Foley, 63, who lives in the same Alabama neighborhood as Bishop, was still in shock over her arrest.

"You can't believe that someone you know that lives just down the street can do something like this," she said. "It's like with sex offenders. You never really know what people are and they might be living right next to you."

And news unearthed this weekend that Bishop had shot and killed her 18-year-old brother, Seth Bishop, in 1986, swirled.

Declared accidental at the time, Braintree, Mass., police say they were never comfortable with the ruling.

Investigators also revealed that seven years later, Bishop was the prime suspect in a 1993 mail bombing attempt on a Harvard Medical School professor.

"I just feel angry," LaTasha Davis, stepdaughter of shooting victim Maria Davis -- one of the dead -- told "Good Morning America" today. "How did she even get a job working at the school when she had that type of background?"

She was reportedly upset about being denied tenure at the school. Husband Anderson told the Chronicle of Higher Education that one of her bosses had sent her negative e-mail they called "nastygrams."

When she called him less than an hour after he dropped her off for the faculty meeting Friday, Anderson said, Bishop made no mention of the shootings and told him they were still on for their date night.

LaTasha Davis and her sister, Melissa Davis, told "Good Morning America" they believe Bishop was able to get a list of which professors did not vote in her favor for tenure and used it to plan the shooting.

Also killed, according to the Associated Press were, Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and faculty member Adriel Johnson.

Melissa Davis said she had taken a class with Bishop and found her to be disorganized and prone to rambling.

"I remember thinking, 'I'm glad I'm not sitting in calculus or anything like that,'" she said.

Melissa Davis said she hopes the shooting will lead to more thorough background checks for its faculty and staff.

"We both loved Maria and believe she never should have been killed like this," she said.

Alabama Shooting Suspect Eyed in 1993 Mail Bombing Attempt

The Davis sisters remembered their stepmother as a calming presence in the house. Maria Davis married their father after the girls' mother died when they were teenagers.

"Maria came in with this gentle kind heart," Melissa said, adding that she never left the house without telling her family that she loved them.

In contrast, Amy Bishop seemed to harbor anger and resentment. Though investigators say they will not re-open the investigation into the 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard Medical School professor, those who worked with her at the time say it was terrifying.

"We were completely rattled -- it was the time of the Unabomber," former co-worker Sylvia Fluckiger said of the two homemade pipe bombs that were sent to the professor's house. The bombs were later detonated by the bomb squad.

Once again, Bishop was never charged due to lack of evidence. And, authorities, say the motive seemed to be eerily similar to the potential motive in the Alabama rampage -- Bishop was reportedly upset about a negative evaluation she was expecting to get from the targeted professor.

Fluckiger, who worked with Bishop at a research lab, said she remembered Bishop and the professor having a disagreement.

"I just know there was an argument ... that the police questioned her," Fluckiger said. "She had told me they talked to her about those bombs. She had like a grin on her face."

Investigators said that during the investigation into the bombing, they found a novel on her computer that described a scientist who had shot her brother and then sought redemption.

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