WASHINGTON - An Indian-American professor was among three people killed when a woman teacher allegedly opened fire during a faculty meeting at a university in Alabama after learning that she had been denied tenure.
The incident, which also left three people injured, occurred at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) last evening. Huntsville police chief Mr Henry Reyes identified the Indian-American professor as Gopi Podilla, who was the chairman of the biological sciences department. The other two killed, Maria Davis and Adriel Johnson, were associate professors of biology.
According to media reports, Ms Amy Bishop, also a professor and one of the star researchers of the university, had opened fire during a biology faculty meeting held to decide her tenure.
Police did not comment on the reasons behind the incident, but local television WAFF, citing authorities, said the woman resorted to shooting at the biology faculty meeting after learning that she would not be granted tenure.
Ms Bishop, 42, was charged with murder, which means she could face the death penalty if convicted, the media said.
College spokesman Mr Ray Garner told reporters that two of the three people injured remained in critical condition while a third was in stable condition at a Huntsville Hospital. Of the wounded, two were faculty members and the third was a staff member. None of the students were harmed in the incident.
Mr Reyes, who did not identify the accused, said a woman shooting suspect was in custody and a second person was detained, but not arrested. "We have a suspect and (a) possible person of interest," he told reporters last night. "Until we go through everything, we're not going to say exactly how many or who we have."
The incident is reported to have occurred shortly before 4 p.m. in Shelby Hall on the university campus last evening. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ms Bishop, the key suspect, was being held along with her husband, Mr Jim Anderson.
Ms Bishop, a Harvard University educated neurobiologist who joined the faculty in 2003, and her husband are credited with inventing a mobile cell incubation system touted as a replacement for the old-fashioned petri dish.
University president Mr David Williams had predicted in November 2008 that the couple's InQ device would "change the way biological and medical research is conducted," according to a blog posting on Huntsville Times.
Fox News said Ms Bishop was handcuffed and taken by police to the county jail. She could be heard saying, "It didn't happen. There's no way ... they are still alive."
The University of Alabama in Huntsville is known for its scientific and engineering programmes and often works closely with Nasa. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had visited the university last year.
The incident was the latest in a string of school shootings across the USA, most of which have been carried out by students.