<<Associated Press report
TUCSON, Ariz. (Oct. 28) - A student flunking out of the University of Arizona nursing school
shot three of his professors to death Monday, then killed himself as dozens of terrified students rushed to get away.
Police said Robert Flores Jr., 41, specifically targeted the instructors, killing one in her office on the second floor and shooting the others in a fourth-floor classroom as students dove for cover.
Flores walked to the front of the classroom and shot the first victim several times, then went to the back of the room and killed the second victim, police said.
Senior Julie Raymond said she was taking an exam when the gunman came in.
''We just thought that he was late for the test,'' Raymond said. ''Then he started talking to instructors and fired shots. All of us ducked under the tables and then ran out of the room. At first, I thought it was a joke and realized it wasn't when I heard the shots.''
Flores told students in the room to leave. He was later found dead by officers searching the school.
University Vice Provost Elizabeth Irvin said Flores had failed a pediatric nursing class and was struggling in a critical care class.
Bomb squad members were called in after a backpack or package was found underneath the gunman's body. The suspect had threatened to blow up the building, though it was unclear when the threat was made, police said. The college and nearby buildings were evacuated.
More than six hours later, authorities were still checking for explosives.
The victims - Robin Rogers, 50, Barbara Monroe, 45. and Cheryl McGaffic, 44 - all were Flores' instructors, Police Chief Richard Miranda said.
''It's too soon to say why he committed this terrible deed,'' Miranda said. ''We have determined that there are many issues in Mr. Flores' life, all of which are a factor.''
Flores, a Gulf War veteran, worked at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System as a licensed practical nurse, and was studying to become a registered nurse, officials said. It wasn't clear in which branch of the military he served.
Anu Nigam, a 29-year-old graduate student, said she and her husband were outside waiting for a shuttle bus when a woman came out of the building with a cell phone, trying to dial and screaming that there was a man with a gun in the building. Police were at the scene within seconds.
''A group of people were crying and running desperately to get out of the building,'' Nigam said. ''They were crying, tripping over one another, falling down.''
Student Lori Schenkel said she had several classes with Flores and he told classmates about a year ago that he had gotten a concealed weapon permit.
''He was just a very aggravated student, a rude, obnoxious type of person,'' she said. ''He came across as very aggressive and mean, and seemed to have a lot of issues with being angry.''
Nurse William Gordon, who worked with Flores at the VA hospital and knew him for three years, said he saw nothing that would foreshadow violence. He said Flores dropped out of a nursing ethics class last semester and seemed upset, but it wasn't an unusual reaction.
''I didn't pick up anything majorly confrontational with him regarding the instructor,'' Gordon said. ''Nothing that would alarm you.''
Students were grieving the loss of their professors.
Rogers, who taught pediatrics, was a ''really great teacher,'' Ilda Rosano said. ''She always has her door open. If you need to see her, you just walk right in.''
McGaffic taught classes on health care ethics, critical care and death and dying. She was also a volunteer chaplain at University Medical Center, where she helped comfort seriously ill patients and their families.
Jessica Odom, a 21-year-old student, recalled the one-on-one interactions McGaffic had with students in the death and dying course.
''We had a memorial for all our loved ones that died, and she sat and cried with us all as we talked about our loved ones,'' Odom said.
University President Peter Likins said there were no immediate plans to change security procedures at the 34,000-student university, which includes the 380-student nursing school.
Flores lived in an apartment complex a few miles from campus where many other students live. Complex manager Joe Brink said Flores had been there for more than a year and was ''a model tenant.''
Brink said Flores had two children who visited during the summer. Classmates said Flores talked of an ex-wife and two children.
Oct 30, '02
One more good reason to stop watching and reading the "news." It tends to poison one's mind about what other people are like. The Wall Street Journal and Business Week don't glorify and wallow in the gore and violence, and I recommend reading them instead of television and local newspapers.
Oh, and by the way, regarding your stereotypes: I am a gun owner, military veteran, and I used to work in the post office. When the post office shootings began a few years after I left, I was not at all surprised.
Nor am I surprised at the nursing or any other school shootings, except that it is not more frequent. Think back to the widespread abuse of power on the part of some of your nursing instructors, not to mention those in high school. This guy just had enough--on top of his other stresses and problems. (If he hadn't gotten hold of firearms, he'd probably have used a bomb, or run his car into a crowd of them, causing even more destruction.)
A couple thoughts:
Maybe "stress and anger management" could be one of the first courses in nursing school, rather than one of the last ones. Maybe it would make no difference.
Maybe nursing schools would be wise to be aware that the students are their customers, the ones paying the bucks, the ones to whom they have agreed to provide a service, rather than being interchangeable and disposable bits of raw material to be beaten into shape.
Last edit by sjoe on Oct 30, '02
Oct 30, '02
Sadly, I've been in the situation of flunking out of nursing school. If this man got as little understanding and support as I did when it happened to me, I can understand how the wrong person could snap. Nursing school is tough, (now there's a news flash) and I don't think the public has a clue of how tough, nor do I think many instructor are wonderful to everyone. I was told in my senior year of a BSN program, by an instructor, that I didn't have what it takes to be a nurse, and recieved no supprot from faculity from that point on. The year before I had voluntarily repeated a class and up to that time had not failed any classes. It was a devestating time in my life, and I know my situation was not unique. I have seen similiar senerios at numerous nursing schools in my 25 year career (no I did not graduate from that BSN program). Obviously I don't mean excuse this man in anyway merely empathize with him a little.
We all recognize that nurses eat their young, but I think many of us are pretty chewed up before we ever reach the job market
Last edit by rosy on Oct 30, '02