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Mass. Inquest Into Shooting By Ala. Prof Continues

This article is more than 9 years old.

Two men who told police they were threatened at gunpoint by Alabama professor Amy Bishop after she shot her teenage brother dead in 1986 testified Wednesday at a closed-door judicial inquest into the suburban Boston killing.

Bishop's mother, Judith Bishop, the only eyewitness to Seth Bishop's shooting, also testified for a second day. She told police in 1986 that her daughter accidentally shot Seth.

Tom Pettigrew and Jeff Doyle were working in a Braintree car dealership's auto body shop the day Amy Bishop shot her brother at her family's nearby home.

Police originally ruled the brother's shooting accidental, but the case has come under new scrutiny since Bishop was charged with fatally shooting three colleagues and wounding three others at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in February.

After Bishop was arrested in the Alabama shootings, prosecutors said they weren't told by Braintree police in 1986 that she had fled the family's home after shooting her brother and tried to commandeer a getaway car from a local dealership.

WBUR Topics: The Amy Bishop Case

Pettigrew, who spoke outside court on the second day of the inquest, said that inside the inquest hearing room he was asked to describe what happened that day. He told reporters afterward he repeated what he told investigators in 1986: Amy Bishop came into the shop with a shotgun and demanded car keys.

"She pointed the gun at us," Pettigrew said.

He and Doyle fled, then saw Bishop checking car locks in the parking lot, he said. A short time later, he said, they saw police surrounding Bishop.

Pettigrew said that when he saw news reports — 24 years later — about Bishop being arrested in the fatal shootings in Alabama, he thought, "she's crazy."

He said he hopes the inquest determines the truth.

Doyle would not discuss his testimony, saying he had been told not to talk publicly.

"I just hope maybe there's a few more answers to some questions," he said.

Doyle previously told police about encountering the armed Bishop at the auto body shop, and his account was described in police reports.

Judith Bishop was called back to testify Wednesday after she and her husband, Samuel Bishop, testified Tuesday.

She told police in 1986 that her daughter accidentally shot Seth while trying to unload their dad's shotgun. She did not comment to reporters after her testimony.

On Tuesday, Kenneth Brady, a retired Braintree police officer, said he drove Judith Bishop to the police station where Amy Bishop was taken after being arrested. Brady said Judith Bishop asked to see the police chief, John Polio. A short time later, officers were told not to book Bishop and to release her to her parents, Brady said.

Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, who called for the inquest after Amy Bishop was charged in the Alabama shootings, has said she should have been charged with weapons violations for her actions following her brother's shooting.

Polio and his wife, who also worked for Braintree police at the time, also testified Wednesday. Polio would not comment on his testimony.

"We were told not to discuss it by the judge, and I abide by the law," he said. "Otherwise, I would have plenty to say."

Also testifying Wednesday was retired state trooper Brian Howe, who oversaw the investigation of Seth Bishop's death for the district attorney's office in 1986 and declared the shooting an accident.

Howe told The Boston Globe in a March interview that the Braintree police withheld their reports from him.

The reports included descriptions of Amy Bishop, then 21, trying to get a getaway car at gunpoint and her refusal to drop the shotgun until she was repeatedly ordered to do so by police.

Testimony is expected to end Thursday.

Judge Mark Coven, who is presiding over the inquest, is expected to issue within about 30 days a report and recommendations. Prosecutors could use the report to ask a grand jury to indict Bishop for murder or to say there is not enough evidence to prosecute her.

The only charge Bishop could face is murder, which has no statute of limitations in Massachusetts. The statute of limitations has already run on any weapons charges.

Bishop has said the Alabama faculty shootings "didn't happen."


This program aired on April 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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