Campus Shooting Tragedy

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Wednesday, August 30, 2000, 4 p.m

News Conference Opening Statement

John A. White, Chancellor, University of Arkansas

Good afternoon, and thank you once again for joining us.

The focus of today's news conference will be the preliminary report on autopsies of Dr. John Locke and Mr. James Kelly.

We received the report via fax just this afternoon from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock. All of us at the University are grateful to the Crime Lab for expediting this process and allowing us to move a step closer to resolving the questions from Monday's terrible tragedy.

Although this report is termed a preliminary report, it is regarded as the final report on the disposition of this case. A larger, more detailed report will be completed in the weeks ahead, but the causes of death have been ascertained.

The Crime Lab concluded that the cause of death to Dr. Locke was homicide and the cause of death to Mr. Kelly was suicide.

We have copies of the report that we will pass out to you.

In a minute, I am going to ask Chief Slammons to elaborate on the report of the Crime Lab.

Before I do, however, I want to add a word about the tragedy that has beset the University community this week.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Locke, a professor at this University for 33 years. And we deeply regret the passing of Mr. Kelly.

This has been a trying time for all of us - for faculty, students, staff, the Fayetteville community and the larger University of Arkansas family across the state and around the world.

We will never forget the week of August 28, 2000. We have been tested as a community, but we have come together in the spirit of unity, compassion, and caring. And I believe we are growing stronger in the process.

I would like to commend the way in which the University community has conducted itself in this very sad week.

And I would also like to commend the news media for your sensitivity in covering this traumatic event.

This is likely to be our last news conference on this matter, but we will continue to be open and accessible to questions from the news media. If further information becomes available, we will make sure that you get it immediately.

Thank you, once again, for the work you have done this past week.


MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR RELEASE: IMMEDIATE, AUGUST 30, 2000 - 11:46 a.m.

CONTACT: Rebecca Wood or Roger Williams, University Relations, (479) 575-5555

News Conference Scheduled Today Concerning Autopsy Reports On Victims Of Monday's Murder-Suicide Incident On Campus

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A news conference concerning the University of Arkansas shooting incident will be conducted today at 4 p.m. at the University of Arkansas administrative services building (University of Arkansas Police Dept.) on Razorback Road, in the conference room located on the second floor. Information from the medical examiner’s report will be discussed.

Although we do not anticipate any changes, should extenuating circumstances delay the arrival of the report to UAPD, all media will be immediately notified by fax if the news conference is cancelled or rescheduled.

A mult-box will be provided for broadcast media. At this time, those who will speak at the news conference have not been finalized.


TUESDAY, AUG. 29, 1:25 p.m.

PICTURES NOW AVAILABLE
Follow this link for a photograph of James Easton Kelley .

This photo was taken February 3, 1997 by the University of Arkansas Campus ID office.

THIS PHOTO is from the 1988 Arkansas State University yearbook. (Courtesy Arkansas State University)


ALL-UNIVERSITY FORUM ON THE MURDER-SUICIDE TRAGEDY

TUESDAY, AUG. 29, 12:30 p.m.

ARKANSAS UNION

Chancellor White:

Let me begin by thanking each of you for your attendance at this forum. Yesterday’s tragic event has shocked and saddened the entire University community. It is one of those very unfortunate and difficult times that tests our individual resolve and community spirit.

Last night, at the end of a long day and after three news conferences, President B. Alan Sugg, speaking to our crisis management team, summed it up very well: "It is in times like this that we find out what we’re made of individually but also what we’re made of as a University community. I want all of you to know how proud I am of this institution—and the sensitivity and the civility that have been displayed--in the midst of one of its saddest moments." I want to thank President Sugg. His words mean a lot to this entire community. I should add that President Sugg was in Harrison yesterday when he heard the news. He left immediately and was in all of our discussions yesterday as we learned more and more about the circumstances of the situation and prepared for our news conferences. We are grateful for President Sugg’s involvement and support.

I’d like to relate to you what we know about yesterday’s tragedy.

At approximately 12:14 p.m., a 911 call was received by the Fayetteville Police Department. The caller alerted the police to an incident involving gunshots in Kimpel Hall. These calls are routinely monitored by the University Police Department as well, and our officers were able to be on the scene within a minute.

UAPD secured the area around Room 231 Kimpel Hall and began the evacuation of the building immediately. 231 Kimpel is the office of Dr. John R. Locke, associate professor of English and head of the comparative literature program.

What actually took place in Dr. Locke’s office is still under investigation, but the result was the tragic deaths of Dr. Locke and Mr. James Easton Kelly.

Dr. Locke joined the University of Arkansas in 1967 as an instructor of English and comparative literature. In 1973 he was promoted to assistant professor and was promoted again in 1981 to associate professor. Dr. Locke was held in high esteem by all who knew him and had planned to retire at the end of this academic year.

The second victim, Mr. Kelly, of Marianna, Arkansas, came to the University in the fall of 1990, having earned his M.A. degree that same year at Arkansas State University and his B.A. at Grinnell College in Iowa in 1984.

Mr. Kelly started in the Ph.D. program in English at the University and in 1996 moved to the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. Dr. John Locke was his faculty adviser.

By the late 1990s, Mr. Kelly had enrolled for several consecutive semesters, and in each case he subsequently withdrew. Based on his record, he was ultimately dismissed from the program in August of this year but was allowed to continue taking courses as a non-degree student.

Whatever the circumstances that led up to this, the sad result was an apparent murder-suicide. Police have recovered the .38 caliber handgun that apparently resulted in these two deaths and the evidence uncovered thus far indicates that the weapon belonged to Mr. Kelly.

For us, the next step is to await the report of the state medical examiner’s office in Little Rock, which will conduct autopsies and tests in order to establish the sequence of events. As soon as we have that report in hand, we will make those details available to the public through the news media.

In a moment, I will ask Chief Larry Slamons of the University of Arkansas Police Department to comment about campus safety in general and anything he wishes to add about the investigation that is currently under way.

But let me tell you what our first and foremost concern was in this event. That concern was, and continues to be, the safety and well being of our University community. I am deeply grateful to the UAPD, the Division of Student Affairs, the Dean’s Office in the Fulbright College, and the faculty and students in Kimpel Hall who kept the safety and well being of our community paramount throughout yesterday’s events. All of these people acted in a professional, competent, and compassionate way to help ensure that the situation was controlled and contained to the extent possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was an isolated event on our campus. Nothing of this sort has occurred at the University for almost 20 years. And while it is extremely tragic, it must be viewed in perspective: This is not a violent or unsafe campus. To the contrary, it is a campus of safety, security, respect and civility. That is why this event is so incredibly shocking to all of us. I do not mean to minimize in any way what happened yesterday: it is profoundly distressing. But I want you to know that everyone involved handled it in the most professional and compassionate way possible.

In addition to safety, we felt duty bound to provide the University community and the larger public with information relating to this event as soon as we could ascertain it. As I mentioned earlier, we held three news conferences yesterday, at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to communicate what we knew as soon as we knew it. We also set up a hot line for parents and other concerned individuals. As you can imagine, media attention from all over the world has been extraordinary. I want to compliment our University Relations office for the exemplary way in which they guided our communications process.

We are even more concerned about the emotional state of our community--our students, faculty and staff. As you may know, counseling services have been provided since yesterday afternoon to whoever has been traumatized by this event, and I know that includes faculty and staff as well as students. But often, in situations of this magnitude, the real pain does not necessarily manifest itself immediately. We want you to know that we will continue to provide counseling support for however long the healing process requires. We want all of you to be vigilant in caring for yourselves and each other, and to express concern and support for those around you.

The full services of the University are available to each of you in this time of need.

There are lessons to be learned from this tragedy in the days and months ahead. Let me talk about one of those lessons. Several faculty and staff members have been telling me today that, on occasion, they have been fearful of meetings with other members of our community. If any of you—whether faculty, staff, or students—are ever fearful for your safety in any meeting with any individual on this campus, I want you to know that we can help. If such a situation should ever arise, we can make appropriate precautions to ensure your safety. If necessary, for example, we can arrange to have a plain-clothes officer nearby. We want no one on this campus to ever feel they have to walk or meet in fear.

Finally, I would ask that all of us reach down deep and make the extra effort to go the extra mile and pull together as a community of scholars, students, teachers and learners in the finest traditions of the academy. The University of Arkansas is a wonderful place - a magnificent institution - and I know all of us who make up this community will be stronger for having pulled together in unity, sympathy, and support for each other.

Finally, let me express our profound sadness over this terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and friends. Will you please join me in bowing your heads in a moment of silence and respect for all of those who are feeling such tremendous loss.


STATEMENT BY CHANCELLOR JOHN A. WHITE

8:30 PM Monday, August 28, 2000

Thank you for joining us for this third news conference today on the tragedy in Kimpel Hall.

Earlier today, we informed you that one of the victims was Dr. John R. Locke, associate professor of English and head of the comparative literature program.

We are now able to identify the second victim, having been successful in our efforts to locate next of kin. His parents are deceased.

The second victim is James Easton Kelly of Marianna, Arkansas; he was born in 1963. Mr. Kelly came to the U of A in the fall of 1990, having earned his M.A. at Arkansas State University in 1990 and his B.A. at Grinnell (Iowa) College in 1984.

James Kelly started the Ph.D. program in English at the University of Arkansas in 1990. In 1996 he moved to the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. Dr. John Locke was his faculty adviser.

By the late 1990s, he had enrolled for several consecutive semesters and in each case he subsequently withdrew. Based on his record, he was ultimately dismissed from the program on August 21, 2000, but was allowed to continue taking courses as a non-degree student.

As I stated earlier, the University of Arkansas will hold a forum from 12:30 till 2 p.m. tomorrow for the entire University community - students, faculty, and staff. Classes will be cancelled during that time. The forum will take place in the ballroom of the Arkansas Union. Our purpose is to address the facts as we know them and address any and all concerns of our University community.

Other than the period between 12:30 and 2, classes will be held as scheduled.

There will be a press conference immediately following the forum, tomorrow.

Again, on behalf of the entire University community, I want to express our profound sadness over this very unfortunate occurrence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and friends.

I would now like to turn things over to Chief Slammons.


STATEMENT BY CHANCELLOR JOHN WHITE

5 p.m. Monday, August 28, 2000

"Thank you for joining us for our update of the tragedy our campus experienced today. We can tell you that one of the victims was Dr. John R. Locke, associate professor of English and head of the comparative literature program. At this point, the identity of the other individual cannot be released pending notification of next of kin. The apparent murder-suicide took place in Professor Locke’s office, room 231 Kimpel Hall. Dr. Locke joined the U of A in 1967.

Tomorrow (August 29), from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., the University of Arkansas will hold a campus-wide forum for all students, faculty and staff in the ballroom of the Arkansas Union. Classes will be cancelled during that time. Our purpose is to present the facts as we know them and to address any and all concerns of our University community regarding this sad chapter in the University’s history.

I have asked that all deans arrange to meet with their department chairs as soon as possible so that the chairs can, in turn, meet with their faculty and staff.

I want to say that all of us at the University of Arkansas are deeply upset by this terrible tragedy. We are working with UAPD and other relevant investigative agencies to determine as much as we can as soon as we can, and will provide information to you as it becomes available to us.

We have set up counseling services for anyone who has been traumatized by today’s events. These counseling services are available on the first floor of Brough Commons or by calling 575-2277. We have established a telephone hot line which is 479-575-7922, directed to parents of our students. We have also asked our students to call home and inform their families of their well-being.

In addition, we will have another briefing for news media at 8:30 this evening."


3:30 PM Monday, August 28, 2000

PHOTO NOW AVAILABLE - follow this link for a print-quality image of Dr. John Locke.

Dr. John Locke


2:30 PM Monday, August 28, 2000

The following statement was made by UA Chancellor John A. White during a news conference held on the University of Arkansas campus Monday, Aug. 28, 2000.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — We are deeply distressed to have learned about a terrible tragedy today involving two individuals who died today as victims of an apparent murder-suicide. At this point we are still trying to confirm details and the identities of the two victims. As soon as these identities are confirmed and the next-of-kin identified, we will inform the public immediately. At this point, we believe the two persons killed are a faculty member and a graduate student, but that remains to be confirmed.

Before that, however, I want to assure the University community and the public that this terrible incident is over. We have set up counseling services for anyone who has been traumatized by this tragedy. These counseling services are available at the first floor of Brough Commons or by calling (479) 575-2277.

We have established a telephone hotline, which is (479) 575-7922 directed to parents of our students.

We have also asked our students to call home and inform their families of their well-being.

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