An American history professor shot dead in his office was a “wonderful fellow” and a “star” of the faculty, the university’s president said early Tuesday after police revealed that the suspected gunman had killed himself.
Murder victim Ethan Schmidt “did a tremendous job — advised a ton of students,” according to William LaForge, the president of Delta State University.
Police said Shannon Lamb, who also taught at the university in Cleveland, Mississippi, fatally shot the 39-year-old Schmidt. Lamb had also been wanted for killing a woman he lived with.
Officers following Lamb after a license-plate reader picked up his vehicle said they saw him pull his car over and get out before running into a nearby wooded area. They then heard a single gunshot and found the 45-year-old’s body.
LaForge said Lamb, who is listed on the school’s website as a geography instructor, and Schmidt were colleagues in the same division and knew each other.
The shooting was a “random act between two individuals,” he added.
“Today is the first time I ever heard anything about him,” LaForge said, adding that Lamb had recently asked for medical leave and a “reduced load.”
Lamb received a doctorate in education from Delta State University in the spring of 2015, according to his resume posted on the university’s website. He started working there in 2009 and taught geography and education classes, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. LaForge said Lamb was teaching two online classes this semester.
Police have said they did not have any information on the shooting’s motive.
“We don’t know. We aren’t going to speculate,” Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham told reporters. “We’re going to deal with facts and facts only.”
Charlie King was in a history class down the hall from where the shooting occurred. “A few minutes into the class, we heard these popping noises and we all went completely silent,” he said.
Lamb had also been sought in connection with another deadly shooting that happened earlier Monday in the town of Gautier, which is about 300 miles south of Delta State.
Gautier police that they discovered the body of Amy Prentiss, 41, inside the home Lamb shared with her after 10 a.m.
Prestiss’ ex-husband said she was a “good person” and that their daughter is devastated by her death.
Shawn O’Steen told The Associated Press Monday that he was married to Amy Prentiss for about seven years. They divorced 15 years ago, but remained friends and had a daughter who is now 19.
“She was completely devastated. She and her mother were absolutely best friends,” O’Steen said of his daughter.