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Join Date: Dec 2009
Crazy professor Valery Fabrikant kills 4 in Concordia University rampage
When professor Valery Fabrikant walked onto the campus of Concordia University in Montreal on Aug. 24, 1992, teaching an engineering class was the last thing on his mind.
The lesson plan for that day was murder.
Bullets flew for only a few minutes and within an hour and a half, the shooter was under arrest. But in that brief time, four men, also professors, lost their lives, victims of a long-simmering resentment that had boiled over into rage.
Shocking as the events of the day were, they were not entirely surprising, not coming from a man who had once told a colleague, “I know how people get what they want. They shoot a lot of people.”
From the moment he popped up at Concordia in December 1979, Fabrikant had been trouble. He appeared in the office of T.S. Sankar, the chairman of the university’s mechanical engineering department, and demanded a job. The chairman refused to see him; it was not university policy to grant interviews to cold callers.
Fabrikant went away, but not for long. Day after day, the aspiring engineering professor came back, asking for work. Finally, Sankar gave in and agreed to talk to him.
Whatever it was — his tale of life as a Jewish dissident from the Soviet Union, an impressive list of scientific papers or his assertion that he had studied with some of the best minds in the field — Fabrikant walked out of Sankar’s office with a job, research assistant, at a salary of $7,000 a year.
Sankar did not bother to call references or check any of Fabrikant’s credentials, and that’s a pity because it might have raised some red flags. The new hire was no dissident, and had in fact been fired from a succession of teaching jobs in the old country because of his behavior.
Although strange, Fabrikant was a good teacher and also a prolific writer, a very desirable quality in the publish-or-perish world of university academics. Within five years, he churned out two dozen papers for scientific journals, more than twice the output of an average researcher.
Maybe the jew ability to write is a reason for the academic success.
Sankar, listed as co-author on many of these papers, pushed through promotions for Fabrikant, and staunchly supported his protégé, even though the word on campus was that this was one nutty professor. Rude, overbearing, and arrogant, Fabrikant was universally disliked and constantly in conflict. “Fraught with sharp edges,” was how Concordia administrators characterized their dealings with him.
Colleagues avoided him; many students feared him. In 1982, a student said he had raped her, dislocating her shoulder. She filed a police report, but the matter went no further.
Fabrikant remained at Concordia, growing angrier every day. Most infuriating to him was the common practice among scientists of sharing credit on research publications. “Scientific prostitution,” he called it, and decided to go solo with his work.
Fabrikant used hidden tape recorders to try to catch former collaborators admitting that they had contributed nothing to earlier papers. He produced screeds in which he called co-authors “parasites,” filed lawsuits against other researchers, and sent email rants to professors all over North America, insisting that his colleagues had stolen his ideas.
By the late 1980s, the university had started to gather ammunition to dismiss him.
At the same time, Fabrikant decided he was ready to hop on the tenure track.
Tenure, not surprisingly, proved elusive, so the professor’s war on Concordia escalated. He raged about using bullets to get his way, and then applied for a permit to carry a pistol to his classes. University officials said no.
On Aug. 24, 1992, Fabrikant calmly walked onto the campus, wearing sunglasses and a dark suit and carrying three handguns and a briefcase full of bullets. Witnesses said he walked through the halls like a robot, cool and with little expression.
Michael Hogben, president of the Concordia faculty association, was first to die, shot three times. Two other scientists, Jaan Saber and Phoivos Ziogas, were each shot twice, and would die later in the hospital. Civil engineering professor Matthew Douglass received four bullets in the head and died on the spot. A secretary, Elizabeth Horwood, was shot in the thigh as she fled, and survived.
With two hostages in tow, Fabrikant locked himself into an office, called police and talked for an hour. The drama ended when he put his gun down to adjust the phone, giving one hostage the chance to kick the weapon away as the other overpowered him.
Seventeen days after the rampage, the university finally got around to firing Fabrikant, saying, “you are no longer accomplishing your duties as a faculty member.”
Fabrikant went on trial in January 1993, displaying the same kind behavior — such as firing 10 attorneys — that had characterized his years at Concordia. Convicted and sent to prison for life, he will become eligible for parole in 2017.
In the aftermath, Concordia conducted two investigations, one probing the events leading up to the shootings and the other exploring some of Fabrikant’s accusations about ethical breaches among his fellow professors. The investigators discovered that he was right about a lot of it, and tightened up the oversight of everything from conflict-of-interest guidelines to rules for how university money was spent.
Behind bars, Fabrikant filed so many lawsuits that Canadian courts declared him a “vexatious litigant” and the prison limited his computer access. None of it stopped him from spewing out thousands of words on the web — and he has continued to produce research papers for scientific publications.
"I die in the faith of my people. May the German people be aware of its enemies!"
Paul Blobel, SS Officer, 1951, last words prior to being executed
Last edited by Tintin; March 14th, 2014 at 05:34 AM.