Students, neighbors speak out on campus shooting

By Jeanie Powell - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Dr. Amy Bishop-Anderson was denied tenure months ago and we're told she might have been recently denied an appeal, but university officials say the faculty meeting she was attending had nothing to do with her status at UA-Huntsville.

We know 12 people were inside that room when the gunshots rang out and we found the shooting happened as the 3:00 faculty meeting was coming to an end.

We also learned that in the fall semester of 2008, 40 to 50 students signed letters of complaint claiming she was biased in grading and teaching.

University spokesman Ray Garner said he was not aware of any prior complaints, criminal record, or disciplinary action taken against the educator before.

He said she became employed with UA-Huntsville in the fall of 2003.

Now, the Harvard-educated teacher is behind bars on capital murder charges.

Faye Chassey doesn't know her neighbor very well at all, but recalls a visit she said was a treat three years ago after she said Bishop-Anderson's son knocked over her garbage.

"I met Amy," Chassey said.  "We walked back down to my house.  We visited maybe 45 minutes, an hour, hour and a half. I really didn't want to let her go.  I was enthralled with the work she was doing and the courses she was teaching."

She told WAFF 48 News she was in awe of the Harvard educated woman's intelligence and accomplishments.

She described the educator as very soft spoken, not grandiose, and said she seemed to be quite humble.

"I really enjoyed the conversation," Chassey said.  "I was thinking the part of the time, I kept thinking, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have her and her husband to a party because what interesting conversation there would be at the party.'"

She didn't encounter her after that meeting and is now faced with a completely different array of emotions.

"You know the reaction you have when you've just about had a big accident and your blood just seems like it just drains from you?  That's the reaction I had."

The first thing that comes to mind when she thinks about the horrendous act her neighbor is accused of is, "what an unbelievable waste of intelligence between hers and those who were killed and injured," Chassey said.

"I just continue to pray for him and his family and the community at UAH," junior nursing student Meredith Johnston told WAFF 48 News.

Johnston is referring Dr. Joseph Leahy, who taught her this time last year.

"He was just the best teacher we've ever had at UAH," Johnston said.  "Several of my student friends have talked time and time again about how great he was, what a great lecture he gave, and how he really helped us learn."

Leahy's a faculty member allegedly shot by another one of Johnston's former teachers, Dr. Amy Bishop-Anderson.

She plans to attend a prayer service at UAHuntsville Sunday.

"He really cared about his students and his work; it just really showed.  He pulled me through a very difficult semester and I feel like I want to help him pull trough this," Johnston said.

She's optimistic in his recovery.

"I can't wait to have him back on campus."

Both women grapple with the news of the woman's arrest, as police try to piece together why it happened.

They're not discussing a motive.

Overnight, they searched the suspect's home for any evidence indicating the shooting was planned.

Officers revealed the assistant professor didn't have a permit for the nine millimeter handgun they discovered in a second story bathroom and she didn't resist arrest as she was detained by law enforcement attempting to escape.

Friday, the suspect's husband was considered a person of interest, but police tell us Jim Anderson has been interviewed and is not facing charges at this point.

"The only thing we had was the fact that she called him to come pick him up," Huntsville Police Chief Henry Reyes told WAFF 48 News.

His wife is in jail without bond, charged with capital murder and police say more charges, including attempted murder, are pending.

Meanwhile, campus will be open next week, but classes have been canceled.

WAFF 48 News is told the suspect's children are staying with other family.

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