Peter Odighizuwa is behind bars for the Appalachian School of Law shooting in Grundy, Virginia, that left three people dead and three injured.
Odighizuwa, a then-43-year-old Nigerian immigrant, came to the United States in 1980. He worked as a bus driver and a factory worker for several years until he developed an interest in law, specifically public interest law.
He was interested in helping people with disabilities as well as immigrants, according to The Baltimore Sun.
After studying math at Central State University, Odighizuwa began applying to law schools.
When he was accepted at the Appalachian School of Law, he moved to the small-populated town with his wife and four children, not realizing the challenges he would face as a student.
His first year of law school was supposedly hard on him. He failed his classes and had a difficult time fitting in with his peers.
Odighizuwa said he was being ridiculed by other law students, and on some occasions, he said, they would often leave when he entered the room.
There have been numerous reports indicating that Odighizuwa flunked out of school or had been suspended.
Jeremy Davis, a former dean and a professor of law at the school, stated that he voluntarily withdrew from the Appalachian School of Law because of his poor academic performance.
On Jan. 16, 2002, Odighizuwa went to see professor Dale Rubin to discuss his academic issues. Afterward, he asked Rubin to “pray for him.”
At around 1 p.m. that same day, Odighizuwa returned to the Appalachian School of Law armed with a .380 ACP semi-automatic handgun.
He walked to the offices of Dean Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell and opened fire.
He shot Suttin and Blackwell at point-blank range, killing them, according to Dr. Jack Briggs with the Buchanan County medical examiner’s office.
“The dean of the law school had been executed in his office and a professor had been executed in his office,” said Briggs. “The man then came down the stairs—before we got there—and shot four students.”
Briggs stated that he had no idea Odighizuwa’s academic hardships would lead to a campus shooting, which would claim the lives of three people: Anthony Suttin, Blackwell, and a 33-year-old student, Angela Denise Dales.
As Odighizuwa exited the building, he was seemingly tackled to the ground by three students with law enforcement backgrounds. They subdued the suspect until Buchanan County police arrived at the scene.
Three others were injured during the Appalachian School of Law shooting.
The Buchanan County police said, “One student was shot in the abdomen and arm. A second student was shot in the throat and the third student suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.”
Emergency first responders transported the victims to Buchanan General Hospital, and later, they were transferred to other hospitals for treatment.
Odighizuwa was arrested and booked into the Buchanan County Jail. He was charged with three counts of capital murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
He was deemed incompetent to stand trial after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He underwent psychiatric treatment until 2005 when he was found “mentally competent,” according to the NY Post.
Odighizuwa was facing the death penalty for the Appalachian School of Law shooting before Buchanan County officials said he pleaded guilty to the murders.
In Buchanan County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Moore told Odighizuwa is “going to be in prison for the rest of your life.”
Moore then sentenced Odighizuwa to three life sentences and an additional 28 years without the chance of parole.