Amy Bishop

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Amy Bishop
Full Name: Amy Bishop
Origin: Massachusetts
Occupation: Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (formerly)
Hobby: Reminding people that she went to Harvard.
Goals: Get revenge on her co-workers for denying her tenure (partially successful)
Crimes: Murder
Type of Villain: Egotistical Mass Shooter

Do you know who I am?! I'm Professor Amy Bishop! I went to Harvard!
~ Professor Bishop to everyone.

Amy Bishop (born April 24, 1965) is a former professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville who committed a mass shooting on campus during a biology department faculty meeting. Three people were killed and three others were wounded.


Early life

Amy Bishop (born April 24, 1965; age 44 at the time of the shooting) is married to James Anderson and is the mother of four children. She grew up in Massachusetts, attended Braintree High School, and completed her undergraduate degree at Northeastern University in Boston. Her father Samuel Bishop was a professor there in the Art Department. She earned her Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard University.

Bishop's 1993 dissertation at Harvard was titled The role of methoxatin (PQQ) in the respiratory burst of phagocytes, and was 137 pages in length. Her research interests include induction of adaptive resistance to nitric oxide in the central nervous system, and utilization of motor neurons for the development of neural circuits grown on biological computer chips. An anonymous source at Harvard stated that Bishop's work was of poor quality and undeserving of a doctorate degree, calling it "local scandal No. 1".

At the University of Alabama

Bishop joined the faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama in Huntsville as an assistant professor in 2003; she was teaching five courses prior to the shooting. Previously, she was an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Bishop and her husband competed in a technology competition and developed a "portable cell incubator", coming in third and winning $25,000. Prodigy Biosystems, where Anderson is employed, raised $1.25 million to develop the automated cell incubator. The university's president stated that the incubator would "change the way biological and medical research is conducted", but some scientists consulted by the press declared it unnecessary and too expensive.

According to a friend and fellow member of a writing group in Massachusetts, Bishop had written three unpublished novels. One featured a woman scientist working to defeat a potential pandemic virus, and struggling with suicidal thoughts at the threat of not earning tenure. The novels reportedly "reveal a deep preoccupation with the concept of deliverance from sin". Bishop is the second cousin of the novelist John Irving. She was a member of the Hamilton Writer's Group while living in Ipswich, Massachusetts in the late 1990s and was said to believe that writing would be "her ticket out of academia." She had a literary agent although she had not published any books. Members of the club said she "would frequently cite her Harvard degree and family ties to Irving to boost her credential as a serious writer." Another member described Bishop as smart but abrasive in her interactions with the other members and as feeling "entitled to praise."

Several colleagues of Bishop had expressed concern over her behavior. She was described as interrupting meetings with "bizarre tangents ... left field kind of stuff," being "strange", and, notably, "crazy". One of these colleagues was a member of Bishop's tenure-review committee. After Bishop's tenure was denied and she learned that this colleague referred to her as "crazy," she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging sex discrimination. She cited the professor's remark to be used as possible evidence in that case.

Bishop was reportedly a poor instructor and unpopular among her students. She dismissed several graduate students from her lab, and others sought transfers out. In 2009, several students said they complained to administrators about Bishop on at least three occasions, saying she was "ineffective in the classroom and had odd, unsettling ways." A petition signed by "dozens of students" was sent to the department head. The complaints, however, did not result in any classroom changes. Also in 2009, Bishop published an article in a vanity-press medical journal listing her husband and three minor children as co-authors. The article was later removed from the journal website.

Bishop was suspended without pay retroactively on the day of the attack. In a one-paragraph letter dated February 26, 2010, she was fired. Bishop received a letter of termination from Jack Fix, Dean of the College of Sciences, which did not state a reason for her dismissal. Her termination was effective February 12, the day of the shooting.

As explained by University president Williams, after Bishop was denied tenure in March 2009, she did not expect to have her teaching contract renewed after March 2010. She appealed the decision to the University's administration. Without reviewing the content of the tenure application, they determined that the process was carried out according to policy and denied the appeal. The routine faculty meeting at which Bishop opened fire was unrelated to her tenure.

James Anderson, Bishop's husband, said that the denial of her tenure had been "an issue" in recent months and he described the tenure process as "a long, basically hard fight." He said that it was his understanding that she "exceeded the qualifications for tenure," and that she was distressed at the likelihood of losing her position barring a successful appeal. Bishop approached members of the University of Alabama System's board of trustees, and hired a lawyer who was "finding one problem after another with the process." One point of dispute was whether two of her papers had been published in time to count toward tenure; Bishop, who gave more emphasis to obtaining patents rather than publishing papers, reportedly received several warnings that she needed to publish more to receive tenure.

Past incidents

At the age of 21, Bishop fatally shot her 18-year-old brother, Seth Bishop, on December 6, 1986, at their home in Braintree, Massachusetts. Bishop fired two shots from a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun (one into her bedroom wall, then one into her brother's chest while they were in the kitchen with their mother). Later she pointed the weapon at a moving vehicle on the adjacent road and tried to get into the vehicle. The death of her brother was classified as an accident by Braintree police.

In statements to Braintree police that day, both Amy Bishop and her mother, Judy Bishop, described the shooting as accidental. Police found that the shotgun had a live round in the chamber. This would have required Bishop to rack the slide of the weapon after shooting her brother to simultaneously eject the spent shell and reload the chamber.

After a brief inquiry into the incident by the state police in 1986 (reported in 1987), they repeated the Braintree police department's initial assessment that the shooting was accidental. The district attorney Bill Delahunt, later elected as a U.S. Congressman, did not file charges. Detailed records of the shooting had disappeared by 1988. Braintree police chief Paul Frazier said on February 13, 2010, "The report's gone, removed from the files."

After speaking with officers involved with the case in 1986, Frazier called the "accident" description inaccurate. He and others said that then-chief John Polio had ordered Bishop released to her mother—allegedly a political supporter of the chief as a member of the Braintree town meeting. They said that Amy Bishop had demanded to meet with Polio personally after the arrest—instead of being charged for the shooting. Frazier was not on duty during the incident but recalled "how frustrated the members of the department were over the release" of Amy Bishop.

Other officers, he said, believed that Polio had "fix[ed] a murder", resulting in what Frazier described as "a miscarriage of justice. Just because it was a friend of his." The now-retired Polio denied that there had been a cover-up. Frazier's 2010 account and the 1987 Massachusetts State Police report differ in several key details, including whether Bishop had been arguing with her brother or with her father before the shooting.

According to investigators, Bishop and her husband James Anderson were suspects in a 1993 letter-bomb case. Paul Rosenberg, a Harvard Medical School professor and physician at Children's Hospital Boston, received a package containing two pipe bombs, which failed to explode.

Rosenberg was Bishop's supervisor at a Children's Hospital neurobiology lab. Bishop had allegedly been concerned about receiving a negative evaluation from Rosenberg, and reportedly "had been in a dispute" with Rosenberg. Bishop resigned from her position at the hospital because Rosenberg felt she "could not meet the standards required for the work." According to documents based upon witness interviews, Bishop was "reportedly upset" and "on the verge of a nervous breakdown" as a result.

Anderson reportedly told a witness that he wanted to "shoot," "stab" or "strangle" Rosenberg prior to the attempted bombing. Anderson denied he had ever threatened Rosenberg, saying, "I wouldn't know the guy if he walked into a bar. And allegedly this tip came into a tip line, and the validity of the witness was never ascertained." Per investigators, the USPIS-ATF investigation "focused" on Bishop and Anderson, but closed without charges filed due to lack of evidence. At one point during the investigation, the couple refused to cooperate with investigators. They refused to open their door, to allow searches of their home, or to take polygraph tests.

The chief federal prosecutor in Boston, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, reviewed the case following the shooting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She ultimately decided Bishop would not be charged in the bombing attempt. She determined that the initial investigation in 1993 was "appropriate and thorough"; the case remains unsolved.

n 2002, Bishop was charged with punching a woman who had received the last booster seat at an International House of Pancakes in Peabody, Massachusetts. According to the police report, Bishop strode over to the other woman, demanded the seat, and launched into a profanity-laced rant. When the woman would not give the seat up, Bishop punched her in the head, all the while yelling "I am Dr. Amy Bishop!" Bishop's victim was identified as Michelle Gjika. Bishop pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault plus disorderly conduct for the assault, and received probation. In the aftermath of the 2010 Alabama shooting, Gjika declined to comment on the restaurant incident; she said, "It's not something I want to relive."

In addition to recommending probation, prosecutors recommended that Bishop attend anger management classes. It is unclear whether the judge in the case ordered her to do so. Her husband said she had never attended anger management classes.

The Shooting

The day of the shooting, Bishop taught her anatomy and neurosciences class. A student in Bishop's class claimed she "seemed perfectly normal" during the lecture.

She attended a biology department faculty meeting in Room 369 on the third floor of the Shelby Center for Science and Technology, which houses the UAH Biology and Mathematics departments. According to witnesses, 12 or 13 people attended the meeting, which was described as "an ordinary faculty meeting." Bishop's behavior was also described as "normal" just prior to the shooting.

She sat quietly at the meeting for 30 or 40 minutes, before pulling out a Ruger P95 9mm handgun "just before" 4:00 p.m. CST, according to a faculty member. Joseph Ng, an associate professor who witnessed the attack, said: "[She] got up suddenly, took out a gun and started shooting at each one of us. She started with the one closest to her, and went down the row shooting her targets in the head." According to another survivor, Debra Moriarity, dean of the university's graduate program and a professor of biochemistry, "This wasn't random shooting around the room; this was execution style." Those who were shot were on one side of the oval table used during the meeting, and the five on the other side, including Ng, dropped to the floor.

After Bishop had fired several rounds, Moriarity said that Bishop pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger, but heard only a "click", as her gun "either jammed or ran out of ammunition." She described Bishop as initially appearing "angry", and then following the apparent weapon malfunction, "perplexed". Ng said Moriarity attempted to stop Bishop by approaching her and asking her to stop, and helped the other survivors push Bishop from the room and block the door. Ng said "Moriarity was probably the one that saved our lives. She was the one that initiated the rush."


The suspected murder weapon, a 9-mm Ruger P95 handgun, was found in a bathroom on the second floor of the building. Bishop did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. She was arrested a few minutes later outside the building. Shortly after her arrest, Bishop was quoted as saying, "It didn't happen. There's no way." When asked about the deaths of her colleagues, Bishop replied, "There's no way. They're still alive."

Police interviewed Bishop's husband, James Anderson, after it was determined that she had called him to pick her up after the shooting; they did not charge him with a crime. In addition, a neighbor revealed, in later interviews, that he saw the couple leaving their home with duffle bags on Friday afternoon, (revealed to be martial arts bags) prior to the shooting. Anderson revealed that his wife had borrowed the gun used in the shooting, and that he had escorted her to an indoor shooting range in the weeks prior to the incident.

On September 24, 2012, Bishop was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Norfolk County declined to seek Bishop's extradition because, as Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, her Alabama sentence was sufficient punishment. Bishop stated through her Massachusetts lawyer that she wanted to be tried for her brother's death in order to vindicate herself. Bishop is serving her sentence at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.