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Why Didn't Anyone Stop Amy Bishop Years Ago?

(CBS)
(AP/Bob Gathany, Huntsville Times)
(AP/Unv. of Alabama-Huntsville)
(AP/Huntsville Police Dept)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (CBS/AP) In retrospect, it seems hard to explain.

Photo: Yearbook photos of Seth Bishop and Amy Bishop.

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Twenty-four years before Amy Bishop allegedly murdered three of her peers and injured three more on the campus of the University of Alabama, she shot and killed her brother, but was never charged - not even with illegally carrying a shotgun in the street.

When police finally tracked down Amy Bishop on the day she shot and killed her teenage brother in 1986, she was crouching behind a parked car, carrying a shotgun at waist level with one round in the chamber and a second in her pocket.

Photo: Police arrest Amy Bishop on University of Alabama campus Feb. 12, 2010.

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The details come from police reports released Tuesday, as law enforcement officials said there was probable cause to file weapons and assault charges against her at the time of the shooting at the family's home in Braintree, Mass.

Photo: From left, Gopi Podila, Adriel Johnson and Maria Ragland Davis.

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The families of last week's university shooting have a simple question: would their loved ones be alive if the 1986 shooting was handled differently?

Bishop's past encounters with the law have also included 2002 charges for a fight over a child's booster seat at an International House of Pancakes and her questioning in an attempted pipe bombing in 1993.

None of these items ever showed up during a routine background check to admit her to the university.

Photo: Amy Bishop's mug shot.

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For killing her brother in 1986 – which was ruled an accident - Norfolk, Mass., District Attorney William Keating said Bishop could have been arrested on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition.

It's not clear why she was neither charged nor arrested. She was detained by police but left the station hours later. Police said at the time that she was emotionally distraught and her mother backed up most of her story, which was that she accidentally shot her brother while learning to load the family's shotgun.

But the documents released Tuesday shed light on new details of how Bishop was finally detained that day.

Bishop had fled with the gun, the documents say, and two officers tracked her down outside a car dealership near her home. As one officer asked Bishop to put the gun down, a second officer, using a truck as cover, moved within about 5 feet of Bishop.

"I drew my service revolver and yelled three times drop the rifle," Officer Timothy Murphy wrote. "After the third time she did."

Police examined the shotgun and found it loaded with a 12-gauge round. A second round was discovered in her pocket.

Flash forward more than two decades and police would take Amy Bishop into custody once again, this time accused of methodically gunning down six University of Alabama staff members.

Luis Cruz-Vera, Joseph Leahy, and Stephanie Monticciolo have so far survived, although two are hospitalized. Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and professors Adriel Johnson and Maria Ragland Davis, have died.

Bishop, a 44-year-old, Harvard-educated neurobiologist, has been charged with capital murder and attempted murder. It's not yet clear if she will face the death penalty.

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MORE ON CRIMESIDER
February 16, 2010 - Amy Bishop Went to Target Practice Before Alabama Campus Murders, Says Husband
February 15, 2010 - Did Amy Bishop, Accused University of Alabama Shooter, Murder Her Own Brother?

  • Neil Katz

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