Two dead in apparent murder-suicide at U. of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A longtime professor and a graduate student who had been taking classes for 10 years were shot to death Monday at the University of Arkansas in an apparent murder-suicide on the first day of the fall semester, authorities said.

Associate professor John Locke, 67, died in his English department office on the second floor of Kimpel Hall, a classroom and office building near the heart of the campus.

''I heard one gunshot followed by a young man's voice saying, 'No, I didn't do anything,''' said Bethany Edstrom, a graduate student who was in a nearby office. ''Then I heard a second shot.''

Officers responding to several 911 calls from the building said they spoke briefly with a man behind the locked office door, Capt. Brad Bruns said. Less than five minutes later, another shot rang out. Officers found the two men dead inside.

Bruns identified the other victim as a graduate student in the comparative literature program, the classes Locke taught. He said police didn't know of a motive for the shootings or who pulled the trigger.

President Clinton said Monday that he was saddened to learn of the killings at the school where both he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton taught law in the mid-1970s.

''Today's shooting strikes a particularly sad chord for Hillary and me, who both had the privilege of teaching at this wonderful institution,'' Clinton said in a statement.

Dick Bennett, who had worked across the hall from Locke for 20 years, described him as a ''very mild-tempered man'' who had reputation for helping his graduate students through the program.

''Nothing could astonish me more,'' he said. ''I'm without words, without any kind of guess.''

Randall Woods, dean of the arts and science department, said he had known Locke for 30 years and that he expected Locke to retire in January. He also said there had never been any complaints about Locke, who had been a liaison to students for years.

Students and faculty were evacuated from the building after the shooting, and several classes there and in an adjacent building were canceled.

''We're trying to deal with a situation that seems horrific and trying to control everything we can and bring this to resolution as quickly as possible,'' university spokesman Roger Williams said.

Kimpel Hall houses faculty in a number of departments - communication, drama, English, foreign languages and journalism, Williams said. Journalism department chairwoman Patsy Watkins many of the 50- to 60-student classrooms on the floor would have been filled at the time.

Chancellor John White said there a forum would be held Tuesday for students to discuss the shooting. The 15,000-student campus is in the northwest part of the state.

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