Cleveland Shooter Had Military Training

S.W.A.T. officers move in on a Case Western Reserve University building where a lone gunman was holed up Friday, May 9, 2003, in Cleveland. AP

The 62-year-old man accused of a shooting spree at a prestigious Cleveland university had military training with the Indian army and a grudge against an employee, authorities said Saturday.

Biswanath Halder, armed with two handguns, allegedly killed one person, wounded two others and held police at bay for seven hours Friday in a shiny, swirling building filled with twisting corridors that complicated his capture.

Halder wore a bulletproof vest and a wig glued on "a kind of World War II Army helmet" as he walked the halls of Case Western Reserve University's Peter B. Lewis Building and fired hundreds of rounds, police Chief Edward Lohn said.

"There's a trail of blood throughout," Lohn said. "It was a cat-and-mouse game."

Authorities said 93 people were trapped inside the building for hours, hiding in offices, classrooms and closets.

Norman Wallace, a 30-year-old graduate student who had a summer internship at a consulting firm, was killed. Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell described him as a "young man with hope and promise."

The two injured people — a 32-year-old man shot in the buttocks and a 46-year-old woman shot in her collarbone — were released from the hospital Saturday, authorities said.

Halder, who suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder, was released into police custody Saturday, a hospital spokeswoman said. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney, and Campbell said prosecutors were determining what charges to file.

Halder lived in the heart of Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood about a half mile from campus. Some neighbors described him as an unfriendly man who would walk down the middle of the road apparently to avoid talking with them.

"He never walked on the sidewalks, always down the middle of the street. To me, it seemed like he was afraid of people," said Jay DiRenzo.

DiRenzo said Halder has rented the third floor of the three-unit house two doors down from her for about 6 or 7 years. There was no answer Saturday night at the house where letters and magazines were overflowing from his mailbox.

Halder, who graduated from Case Western in 1999 with a master's degree in business administration, had sued a university computer lab employee who was in the building but escaped during the standoff, university president Edward Hundert said.

Hundert said the lawsuit, which accused the employee of having "added and deleted things from a personal Web site" belonging to Halder, was dismissed and Halder had lost an appeal about a month ago.

Hundert said Halder did not have a grudge against the school.

Students and faculty members scrambled to get out of the new, Frank Gehry-designed business school building when gunshots first rang out about 4 p.m. Friday.

The distinctive design of the five-story building, which has no right angles and hallways that dip and swerve, complicated the job for police.

"As the SWAT team entered the building, they were constantly under fire," Lohn said. "They couldn't return fire because of the design of the building. They didn't have a clear shot."

Lohn said a SWAT team engaged in firefights with Halder throughout the building before finally cornering him in a room. Police weren't sure when Halder was shot, but said he was apprehended without incident. He had a Cobray pistol, a Ruger pistol and 11 ammunition clips.

The resume Halder posts on his Web site includes service in the Indian army, as well as experience in computer programming, designing electrical measuring equipment in Germany, real estate and financial planning.


  • Brian Bernbaum

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