Delahunt was the DA who ordered release of Amy Bishop in her brother’s 1986 killing

The connection between the U. of Alabama murders by Amy Bishop and Rep. William Delahunt’s statement that he is considering not running for re-election is speculative at this point. But it is very suggestive that (as best I can recall at this moment) he made the announcement shortly after the murders.

The story, which comes from the ABC affiliate, WCVBTV, in Boston, underscores the fact that Braintree, Mass. police officers were “very upset” when the then district attorney Delahunt ordered Bishop to be released without charges.

Alabama Shooting Suspect Had Killed Brother In Braintree
D.A. Delahunt Cleared Amy Bishop In 1986 Braintree Slaying
POSTED: 3:28 pm EST February 13, 2010
UPDATED: 9:01 am EST February 14, 2010

BRAINTREE, Mass.—The biology professor accused of gunning down five colleagues and a staff member at the University of Alabama at Huntsville on Friday was released from police custody 23 years ago after she shot and killed her brother in Braintree, police announced Saturday.

Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier said Amy Bishop was detained following the death of her brother on Dec. 6, 1986, then released without being charged because the death was ruled an accidental shooting.

Frazier said Amy Bishop shot her 18-year-old brother, Seth Bishop, in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun at the family’s home in Braintree, then ran into the street and aimed the gun at a passing vehicle before fleeing from the scene. Amy Bishop, who was 20 at the time, was arrested at gunpoint by Braintree officers.

Bishop was never booked, however, and all local police records of the case have gone missing, with the exception of an entry in the police log noting an accidental shooting, Frazier said.

Braintree Police Department

“The report’s gone, removed from the files,” he said. “Somebody has it. We don’t.”

The police chief said Saturday that he planned to meet with the local district attorney over the possibility of launching a criminal investigation into how the Bishop case was handled.

The Massachusetts State Police also filed a six-page report about the shooting, dated March 30, 1987, which was released by the Norfolk District Attorney’s office on Saturday.

A story on the shooting in the Quincy Patriot Ledger newspaper quoted Bishop’s mother, Judith Bishop, saying the gun accidentally went off into a bedroom wall when her daughter was trying to teach herself to use it in case the home was burglarized. Amy Bishop then asked her brother to help her unload the gun when it went off again, killing him in front of her, Judith Bishop told the newspaper.

[Read the State Police report on the 1986 shooting]

Norfolk District Attorney’s Office

Read the State Police report on the 1986 shooting More

Amy Bishop, now 44, faces a capital murder charge in Friday’s campus shooting, which left three biology professors dead and another two critically wounded. A university staff member was also hurt.

Braintree officers who remember the 1986 shooting said that former police Chief John Polio dismissed detectives from the case and ordered the department to release Amy Bishop after a telephone conversation with former district attorney William Delahunt, who is currently a U.S. congressman from Massachusetts.

“The police officers here were very upset about that,” said Frazier, who was a patrolman at the time and spoke to officers who remembered the incident that day, including one who filed a report on it.

When contacted Saturday, Polio, now 86, said that there was no cover up in Seth Bishop’s death, though there were questions about whether the shooting was an accident.

“I remember Judy Bishop and that she had two children and I know that they got into an argument one day and somehow a shot got involved, or a weapon of some kind, and it went off, according to them by accident. According to the mother and to the daughter, by the daughter,” Polio said in a telephone interview with The Patriot Ledger.

Audio: Polio’s Interview With The Patriot Ledger

Polio told NewsCenter 5 he has no memory of telling officers to go home. He said there was an inquest by Delahunt’s office and that the district attorney found that the shooting did not warrant charges. Polio said he doesn’t know how the records would have gone missing.

“Whatever we had we gave to the DA. An inquiry was conducted and no complaint was issued. So as far as I was concerned, that was the end of it,” Polio said in the phone interview. “As far I’m concerned, everything that was done that should have been was done correctly. All reports went to the DA, they called it. When people start making innuendos of a cover up or this or that, it upsets me.”

Before she was hired as an assistant professor by the University of Alabama in 2003, Bishop studied at Harvard University in the Division of Medical Sciences, according to Harvard spokesman David Cameron. Bishop received her PhD in June 1993.

A University of Alabama at Huntsville spokesman told The Associated Press that Bishop had been denied tenure before she was held Friday in the campus shooting.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

February 16

Laura Wood writes:

According to the Boston Herald, Bishop’s mother was a member of the police personnel board at the time of the shooting. (It’s mentioned near the bottom of the story.) Bishop demanded a getaway car and threatened another man with a gun after the shooting of her brother.

LA replies:

So the question is, given her criminal behavior after the killing of her brother, how was the killing dismissed so quickly as an accident? (There’s a story on this at today giving Delahunt’s side of it.)

N. writes:

I’ve been waiting for you to bring this up, there are several issues from the interpersonal level on up. In no particular order:

  • Bishop clearly was protected from prosecution for shooting her brother by political connections (her mother for a start) and may be mentally unstable. Loyalty to people vs. loyalty to the law is at work. It is alleged that Bishop made some statements after being taken into custody that indicate sanity issues, but perhaps she’s just saying stuff to try an insanity defense later on, I can’t even guess.

  • It appears that she shot two black and one Indian faculty members, however one alleged first-person report indicates that Bishop just stood up after 30 min of faculty meeting and commenced firing at the closest individuals, then the next, and so forth. So I doubt that race was an issue here. But some are trying to make it an issue, as is so predictable now.

  • Note that other faculty seized her and pushed her out of the room, then locked the door, but did not disarm her. Thus they did not really solve their problem, as she could have fired blindly through the door and injured more. Plus, they essentially foisted the problem off on others. Fortunately Bishop disposed of her handgun in a bathroom. This suggests a panic reaction, rather than a planned response.

I’m sure that we’ll find her politics are firmly left, as with most other people in Braintree, Mass. in the late 20th century. So far, there have not been the usual screams for “gun control,” surprisingly enough.

N. continues:

I forgot this last point. While I do not generally make comments based on physical appearance, Bishop’s haircut is striking, because it’s a girl’s haircut, complete with bangs, and while I’ve seen it on a few undergraduate women over the years, it is not what I’d expect a professor to look like. At the risk of going overboard in this way, it suggests someone emotionally still a child in some ways.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 15, 2010 05:12 PM | Send

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