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Professor killed at Mississippi university, fellow instructor sought

Reuters logo Reuters 9/14/2015

JACKSON, Miss., Sept 14 (Reuters) - A Mississippi college professor was shot and killed in his campus office on Monday, and police said a fellow Delta State University teacher was "a person of interest" in the shooting.

Authorities said they were searching for geography and social science instructor Shannon Lamb in connection with the killing of Ethan Schmidt, an assistant professor of American history.

Lamb was also a suspect in the death of a woman in Mississippi earlier on Monday, according to news reports.

The shooting left students and staff at the Cleveland, Mississippi, school on edge for several hours as police locked down the campus and searched buildings following reports of active gunfire.

Ethan Schmidt. © Courtesy of The History Program at Delta State via Facebook Ethan Schmidt. Cleveland Police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham told an afternoon news conference that authorities did not believe Lamb was still on the campus, which is near the Arkansas-Mississippi state line.

"We're not taking anything lightly," he added.

The killing was the latest in a series of shootings on U.S. college campuses in recent weeks, including deadly incidents at Sacramento City College in California, Texas Southern University and Georgia's Savannah State University.

Bingham would not comment on Lamb's possible connection to Schmidt. The chief said investigators were looking into the possibility that Lamb was involved in an earlier homicide in Gautier, a town 300 miles (480 km) south of Delta State on the Mississippi Gulf coast.

Shannon Lamb. © Courtesy of Delta State University Shannon Lamb. The Biloxi Sun Herald reported that police in Gautier said Lamb, 45, was the person they were looking for in connection with the shooting of a woman with whom he shared a home.

The newspaper quoted Gautier police as saying Lamb called police to report the killing there. Police said he was driving a green SUV that was later located at Delta State.

According to his Facebook page, Lamb was dating a woman he called his "Sweet Baby Angel," in one photo post.

After receiving his doctorate in July, Lamb wrote he had "tried to maintain a relationship with the best girl in the whole wide world."

Delta State officials said no students were injured in the campus shooting, which occurred in Jobe Hall, which houses the Division of Social Sciences and History.


"My colleagues and I are devastated by all of the news," said Garry Jennings, a Delta University political science professor who was about to leave home when the campus lockdown notice crossed his e-mail.

Schmidt, 39, was an excellent scholar and gifted teacher who went "beyond the call of duty" in his teaching, Jennings said in an email to Reuters. He was working with Schmidt on a program on Native Americans in November.

"Along with the tragic effects on his family, his absence will be sorely felt by all of us at DSU," Jennings said.

All classes at Delta State were canceled on Monday, as well as Tuesday, when events had been planned to commemorate the university's 90th anniversary.

The slain professor earned a doctorate in early American history and Native American history from the University of Kansas and taught for six years at Texas Tech University before joining the faculty at Delta State, according to his school biography.

Reports of shots fired prompted the lockdown, with students receiving a text alert at 10:40 a.m., the sheriff's office said.

More than 4,000 students are enrolled in the public university, 120 miles (195 km) northwest of Jackson, Mississippi. Nearby public schools were also locked down as a safety precaution. (Reporting by Therese Apel; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and David Adams in Miami; Writing by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney)

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