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Suspected killer was Delta State professor who asked for reduced class load due to medical issues

Delta State University professor Ethan Schmidt was shot in the head

CNN —  

At some point during the intense daylong manhunt to apprehend him, Shannon Lamb spoke with police and told them he wasn’t going to go to jail.

When officers finally caught up to him late Monday, he made good on his threat, police said: He pulled out a gun and killed himself.

Delta State shooting: Who is Shannon Lamb?

Lamb was the suspect in two killings: that of Ethan Schmidt, who was shot in the head in his office on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, and of Amy Prentiss, who was found shot to death at a home in Gautier, a coastal city about 300 miles away from the university.

Police say Shannon Lamb is a suspect in two homicides.
Delta State University
Police say Shannon Lamb is a suspect in two homicides.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled Tuesday evening at Delta State to remember Schmidt.

The hunt for Lamb brought together campus police and city police, as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

At some point, Lamb spoke with police and told them “he wasn’t going to jail,” Gautier Police Chief Dante Elben said.

Late Monday, officers spotted Lamb pull over his car near Greenville and run into the woods. Soon afterward, they heard a single gunshot and found Lamb’s body.

Who was Ethan Schmidt?

Lamb taught at Delta State with Schmidt. He lived with Prentiss, 41.

But beyond that connection, authorities have not disclosed a motive.

“We’re not going to speculate on a motive until we have facts in hand,” Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham said.

Authorities have said Lamb left a handwritten note.

CNN affiliate WLOX posted a copy of the letter that read: “I am so very sorry. I wish I could take it back. I loved Amy and she is the only person who ever loved me.”

At a midnight news conference, Delta State University President William LaForge said that Lamb had taught at the school for a while and had been teaching online geography courses.

He recently asked to take a reduced load of classes for medical reasons, said LaForge, who did not elaborate about Lamb’s supposed medical issues.

A surreal day

Lamb’s death ended a surreal day for students and staffers at Delta State, about 115 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.

The school was locked down throughout the day, its buildings cleared. Only 250 of the 1,150 students remained on campus, confined to their dormitories. Classes are canceled for Tuesday but counselors are on hand to meet with anyone who needs help, said LaForge.

“It was probably the scariest thing I have been through in a while,” said Dean Arnold, a student who had Schmidt as a professor.

A photo on the Delta State University website shows Ethan Schmidt, left, and Shannon Lamb at a holiday party.
A photo on the Delta State University website shows Ethan Schmidt, left, and Shannon Lamb at a holiday party.

Schmidt and Lamb taught together at Delta State.

A photo on the school’s website shows them standing side by side, smiling at a 2013 holiday party. That same year, Schmidt thanked Lamb in the acknowledgments of his book.

A biography of Lamb posted on the school’s website says he received his Ph.D. from Delta State in 2014, and has taught geography and social sciences education courses there.

“He was a cool dude,” student Noah York told CNN affiliate WMC.

Lamb, he said, was a talented musician who played guitar and harmonica.