GAUTIER, Miss. — A university instructor told police he killed his girlfriend at a home they shared and investigators found a note there that said “I am so sorry I wish I could take it back” — but there was no hint he was headed a few hundred miles north to kill a colleague, police said Tuesday.
Shannon Lamb called 911 on Monday, telling a dispatcher he had killed 41-year-old Amy Prentiss at the home they shared in Gautier along the Gulf coast. In the call, Lamb refuses to give his name but says that family contact information can be found on Prentiss’ phone. He says that their dog is still in the house, and “he’s a sweet dog and he’s not going to bother anybody but I’m sure he’s upset.”
When officers responded, they found the note written in all capital letters on a white, lined notepad, signed by Lamb: “I loved Amy and she is the only person who ever loved me.”
Police say Lamb attacked again about 45 minutes after that Monday morning 911 call, this time shooting Delta State University professor Ethan Schmidt, 39, inside his office.
Schmidt, a history professor, was shot three times in his neck, cheek and near the right eye in the doorway of his office with a book bag on his shoulder, an indication that he was either entering or leaving, Bolivar County Deputy Coroner Murray Roark said.
Lamb killed himself hours later as police closed in on him during a manhunt. At some point after the shootings, he told family members he had no intention of going to jail. Relatives relayed that information to authorities.
Matt Hoggatt, a spokesman for Gautier police, said during a news conference Tuesday that Lamb had no criminal record, and there was no indication that he and Prentiss had a history of criminal domestic violence.
Police have not released a motive for either shooting. University President William LaForge said he didn’t know of any conflict between Lamb and Schmidt but “obviously there was something in Mr. Lamb’s mind.”
Lamb had earlier asked for a medical leave of absence, saying he had a health issue of some sort, but LaForge gave no further information about it.
The shooting led to an hours-long lockdown at the college during which frightened students and faculty hid in classrooms and closets as authorities scoured the campus looking for Lamb. The campus was eventually cleared by police and authorities later found Lamb when a license plate reader picked up his plate as he crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River from Arkansas back into Mississippi, Cleveland police Chief Charles “Buster” Bingham said.
Lamb started working at the university in 2009 and taught geography and education classes. He received a doctorate in education in the spring. He was teaching two online classes this semester, but an in-person class had been cancelled, LaForge said.
Schmidt, the slain professor, directed the first-year seminar program and specialized in Native American and colonial history, said Don Allan Mitchell, an English professor at the school.