A Loaded Gun


Credit: The New Yorker

In 2010, a University of Alabama neurobiologist shot and killed three people and wounded three others. The neurobiologist, named Amy Bishop, was, on the surface, a successful academic — and a woman.

All the high-profile mass shooters who get the most media attention in recent history — Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine in 1999, Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech in 2007, James Holmes at Aurora, Color. in 2012, Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook last year — have in some way fit the profile of a troubled male.

And for some reason, those names are all ingrained in my mind, but I had never even heard Amy Bishop’s before reading this New Yorker article on her this week. It’s an incredibly interesting, in-depth exploration of who she is and how that have led her to murdering three of her colleagues and wounding three others in 2010.

Bishop was originally pegged as a competitive, high-stress academic who was spurned by her colleagues when her request for tenure was denied. But this article delves deeper into Bishop’s past, all the way to a tragic, supposedly accidental shooting of Bishop’s younger brother, Seth. Bishop, 21-years-old, apparently accidentally shot her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun in the family’s kitchen. She had various other violent episodes throughout her life.

Bishop was apprehended as soon as she left the building she committed the mass shooting in. She is now in jail and agreed to speak to the author, Patrick Radden Keefe, for the article. Keefe also interviewed people from her hometown, old and new friends, co-workers, etc.

The article is a long one, but it’s worth your time. Maybe I’ve just been under a rock and am the only one who didn’t know the story of Amy Bishop, but maybe you were under that rock too. If so, give it a read online or do yourself a solid and pick up a real copy of the New Yorker. A Loaded Gun: A mass shooter’s tragic past

Also, on the New Yorker blog, a slideshow of Bishop family photos, from their own photo albums: Picturing the Bishops

For more details, a timeline, extensive background, videos, photos and recent news on the story, see this Boston Globe page.

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