A biology professor went on a bloody rampage after being denied tenure Friday, gunning down three colleagues and wounding three others during a faculty meeting, police said.
"I heard three shots and screaming," said Melanie Gates, an engineering student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
A Harvard University-trained neuroscientist, Amy Bishop, was charged with one count of capital murder, which means she could face the death penalty if convicted.
As she was taken in handcuffs from a police precinct to the county jail she screamed, "It didn't happen. There's no way ... they are still alive."
Bishop returned to the faculty meeting shortly after being denied tenure around 4 p.m. and opened fire in a third-floor meeting room at the Shelby Center for Science and Technology, university officials and witnesses told WAFF-TV.
The three killed were Gopi K. Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and faculty members Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson, said university spokesman Ray Garner.
Two others were in critical condition, and a third who was wounded was upgraded to fair condition, Garner said.
Davis' husband, Sammie Lee Davis, told the Associated Press his wife, a researcher at the university, was at a meeting to discuss the tenure status of a faculty member who got angry and started shouting.
He said his wife had mentioned the shooter before, describing the woman as "not being able to deal with reality" and "not as good as she thought she was."
Andrea Bennett, a sophomore majoring in nursing, was in one of Bishop's classes Friday morning.
Bennett said nothing seemed unusual, but she described Bishop as being "very weird" and "a really big nerd."
"She's well-known on campus, but I wouldn't say she's a good teacher. I've heard a lot of complaints," Bennett said. "She's a genius, but she really just can't explain things."
Bennett, an athlete at UAH, said her coach told her team that Bishop, who joined the faculty in 2003, had been denied tenure and that may have led to the shooting.
"She went to Harvard, so she is very smart. I can see that her getting denied tenure at UAH would be pretty upsetting," said Bennett.
There was still a heavy police presence on the campus of 7,500 students Friday night, with police tape cordoning off the main entrance to the university.
"You never thought it would happen here," a student told The Huntsville Times. "It's like Virginia Tech deja vu. But it's not like a guy running through the hall. This was another professor."