Sunday, May 11, 2003

Man held in shooting, 62, is Case graduate

By Tom Withers
The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Biswanath Halder graduated from a prestigious university with a master's degree in business, had military training with the Indian army and claimed success in computer programming, real estate and engineering.

But after his lawsuit against an employee at Case Western Reserve University was thrown out recently, authorities said the 62-year-old Halder armed himself with high-powered weapons and went on a shooting spree in which one person was killed, two others were injured and police were held at bay for seven hours.

Halder wore a bulletproof vest and a wig glued on "a kind of World War II Army helmet" as he walked the halls of the university's Peter B. Lewis Building and fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition Friday, police Chief Edward Lohn said.

"There's a trail of blood throughout," Lohn said. "It was a cat-and-mouse game."

Authorities said 93 people were trapped inside the building for hours, hiding in offices, classrooms and closets.

The Case Western employee Halder had sued was in the building but escaped during the standoff, university president Edward Hundert said.

He said the lawsuit, which accused an employee in the computer lab of having "added and deleted things from a personal Web site" belonging to Halder, was dismissed. An appeal was rejected about a month ago.

Court records show Halder sued university employee Shawn Miller in June 2001, claiming defamation of character.

Hundert said Halder, who received a master's degree in business administration in 1999 from Case Western, did not have a grudge against the school.

"It was really between him and an employee of the university," Hundert said. "A thorough investigation revealed there was no merit to the claim."

Halder, who suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder, was released into police custody Saturday, a spokeswoman at Huron Hospital said.

The two people who were injured - a man shot in the buttocks and a woman shot in her collar bone - were released from Huron Hospital on Saturday, authorities said.

The distinctive structure of the Frank Gehry-designed Case Western business school building, with hallways that dip and swerve, complicated the job for police.

"As the SWAT team entered the building, they were constantly under fire," Lohn said. "They couldn't return fire because of the design of the building. They didn't have a clear shot."

Lohn said a SWAT team engaged in "firefights" with Halder throughout the five-story building, which has no right angles, and finally cornered him in a room. Police weren't sure when Halder was shot, but said he was apprehended without incident. He had a Cobray pistol, a Ruger pistol and 11 ammunition clips.

Mayor Jane Campbell described the slain man - Norman Wallace, a 30-year-old graduate student from Youngstown who had an internship at a Cleveland consulting firm - as a "young man with hope and promise."

Cuyahoga County Deputy Coroner Joseph Felo said the preliminary cause of death was a gunshot wound.

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