Too Close to Home

Well, that which I ranted about has happened again, this time closer to home.  Not our home, mind you, but that of people we dearly love.

Professor Sought in Killings

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Athens —- A lone gunman turned a flawless spring day in this normally peaceful college town into a scene of chaos and horror Saturday, killing three people and wounding two at a community theater luncheon.

Police issued a nationwide alert for University of Georgia marketing professor George M. Zinkhan III after they said he gunned down his wife and two men at the Athens Community Theatre near downtown at 12:30 p.m. and then vanished.

The university notified 25,000 students through a text alert that a killer was on the loose, and a UGA Web site identified 57-year-old Zinkhan as the suspect in the slayings, which took place less than a mile from campus.

“We watched it happen,” said Beth Kozinsky, the theater’s membership director. “We were all in shock.”

Kozinsky said the theater company was hosting a homecoming lunch Saturday for current and former members when shots rang out.

Police say Zinkhan had been at the luncheon and argued with a man before leaving the building. Witnesses told police they saw Zinkhan, holding two handguns, re-enter the building from a parking lot and shoot the first victim at close range. [continued]

The only upside to this story is that it seems to be a simple rage or revenge killing, not s true mass shooting. Still, it is bad enough. I’d rather it happen around me instead of my friends. I’m not raising a kid or contributing to society in any meaningful way, so at least I’d have a shot (pun intended) at public service by removing a tumor from our collective corpus.

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2 Responses to “Too Close to Home”

  1. Ted says:

    Well, E. and I were out of town at the time of this incident–but we are OK. I’m considering a letter to the editor or blog post in the near future regarding the use of the campus emergency phone system after the shooting. I think the system was misused. The emergency phone system calls students and faculty in the event of a campus-wide emergency, and in this case was used as part of the police manhunt. Three things potentially wrong here:
    1- I would hope, but am not sure, that they removed Dr. Zinkhan from the call list before sending out the automated message.
    2- The university included his name in the message; now, he may be guilty but I’ll let a court of law decide that. Of course, good luck finding an impartial jury now.
    3- The web site for the emergency notification system clearly says that the system will NOT be used for crime updates, but only for campus-wide emergencies such as a tornado warning or Active Shooter. Clearly this was not an Active Shooter case, was off-campus, and took place on a weekend when classes were not in session. No need to use the emergency system.
    Of course (inner cynic mode on) although individual police officers who I have known would never want a shooter, Campus Security as an organization benefits from alarming the public as much as possible, since their budget is a matter of public concern (inner cynic mode off).

  2. xspectre8admin says:

    We are happy that all is well with your mob. The points you make are all valid in my opinion. Not being local, all of them eluded me, so I appreciate you bringing them into the discussion. I have questioned the real world utility of an automatic dialer or SMS based alert system for dynamic and fluid situations.

    Weather alerts like the system in place at the National Weather Service work well for the people who are aware of it and know how to use it. [requires a special radio to receive emergency broadcasts and must be programmed for your location] The “but” attached to that system, at least for me, is that I tend to rely on it instead of taking care to pay attention to the weather on other media or with my eyeball, Mk 1.

    Hopefully, students & staff won’t become as reliant on the alert technology which can be both over and under utilized. It sounds like UGA needs a good shake up of their system and policy.

    I can sympathize with campus security and their need to justify their existence. Having worked in the field for a number of years, my budget being cut each fiscal year, I can see -but not justify or approve- why they might create drama. When a security director submits a budget request the response is invariably “Well, nothing ever happens around here, so why do we need to spend so much on security?” You see where I’m going, I’m sure.

    Nothing ever happens because we are doing our jobs with all the staff, tools, training and facilities that we can manage within our budget! -very frustrating.

    I would like to read your letter if that is the route you take. The ones I write are never published but if I cross-post them to my blog or the comments section of the blogs of others, they often get good exposure and start dialogs. Best of luck with it either way.