Monday, May 12, 2003

College shooting suspect called loner



By Joe Milicia
The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - A man accused of a shooting rampage at a university has been described as a loner who was obsessed with revenge against a man he blamed with ruining his Web site.

Police said 62-year-old Biswanath Halder, armed with high-powered handguns, killed a man and wounded two as he walked the halls of Case Western Reserve University's business school Friday.

Halder lived near campus in the city's Little Italy neighborhood, made up of families who have lived there for generations and students who find affordable rental housing.

"I talked to him, but he'd walk right by and not say anything," said Peter Gatto, 81. "After a couple of times, I said, 'to hell with him.'"

Next-door neighbor Tom Thomas, 42, said Halder would walk down the middle of the street rather than use the sidewalk. When cars approached on the one-way street, Halder would slowly step out of the way.

"I always saw him alone," Thomas said. "He was not very approachable. You'd try to say hello to him and he'd ignore you."

Police Sgt. Donna Bell said Sunday that charges won't be filed against Halder until police finish gathering evidence in the business school building, which will remain closed until then. Bell said that could happen as early as today.

Halder was being held in the city jail, and he had not hired an attorney or had any visitors, Bell said.

He recently lost an appeal of a lawsuit he filed against a university computer lab employee, accusing him of deleting information from his Web site that bills itself as a network devoted to resources for natives of India living outside of the country. Court records show Halder sued Shawn Miller, a computer lab assistant at the university, in June 2001. Miller has denied doing anything to Halder's computer files.

Halder complained to everyone from the police to the FBI that Miller was an "evil man" and a criminal.

Authorities said Miller was at the business school Friday when Halder entered wearing a bulletproof vest and a wig glued on "a kind of World War II Army helmet."

The standoff with police lasted seven hours in the Peter B. Lewis Building.

Authorities said 93 people were trapped inside, hiding in offices, classrooms and closets.

Norman Wallace, a 30-year-old graduate student, was killed.

Wallace's uncle, Rick Watkins, was at Case Western on Saturday, sharing stories about the respected student with his nephew's friends.

He said Wallace's father, who lives in Youngstown, and mother, who lives in Atlanta, are grieving.

"They sent a good kid to a good school and we're sending him back with a bullet hole in his chest," Watkins said.

Rahim N. Rahim, who owns a consulting firm where Wallace worked part time, said he was a "wonderful person" and impressed his co-workers and clients with his ability and personality.

"When I woke up this morning, I felt like a horse had kicked me in my chest," Rahim said. "That is the feeling of each and every person whose life he'd ever touched."

Rahim said his company will start a scholarship fund. A candlelight vigil was to be held Sunday night at a campus library.

The distinctive design of Case Western's five-story business school, which has no right angles and 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 building before finally cornering 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.




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