Saturday, May 17, 2003

Flowers last sign of Case rampage

Service recalls a slain student

By Joe Milicia
The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - There are no longer any signs of a gunman's shooting rampage at the Case Western Reserve University business school except for a heart-shaped flower arrangement remembering the only student slain.

More than 70 workers spent three days repairing the hundreds of bullet holes in the Peter B. Lewis Building.

Hossein Sadid, the university's chief financial officer, said the most difficult part of the repair work was the emotional toll.

"It was a very somber experience," Sadid said, adding that workers labored in silence without the usual blaring radio that you hear at most work sites.

"They respected the events that had unfolded," he said.

Nearly 100 people were trapped inside the building during the standoff, hiding inside offices, classrooms and closets until SWAT team members and FBI agents got them out.

"Many of the people here were trapped in the building for seven hours, and all have a sense of disgust for someone who threatened the values and openness the university has," President Edward Hundert said.

The building is a shiny, swirling structure filled with curved corridors that complicated Halder's capture. On Friday, yellow tape still was wrapped around the building, marking it as a crime scene.

About 300 people gathered Friday for a memorial service at a chapel on campus for graduate student Norman Wallace, 30, of Youngstown, who was killed in the shootings and seven-hour standoff.

A graduate of the business school, Biswanath Halder, 62, is charged with aggravated murder in the shootings and is being held without bond. Police said he entered the building shortly after 4 p.m. May 9 with two guns and shot Wallace, who was talking with friends on the first floor. Two others were injured.

Hundert welcomed Wallace's family and friends to the service, which included songs by the gospel choir from Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church in Youngstown, where Wallace's uncle is pastor.

"I'm pleased to introduce Norman's family to his educational family, representing 23 different countries and a remarkable breadth of experiences," Hundert said.

Moshen Anvari, director of Weatherhead School of Management, said Wallace "embraced the notion of cooperation and teamwork with his fellow students to help them too achieve their educational potential."

Wallace's friend Akousa Nkwantabisa, a student in the business school, paused to fight back tears as she told the audience Wallace taught her "to live for today, because you can never go back."

Sadid said that most of the work involved glass and wood repair and patchwork on the unique building's sweeping walls.

Early estimates on the repair costs were under $250,000.

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