:He spoke out against the U.S. war with Iraq, calling it immoral and illegal. He used his personal Web site to plead for peace and equality in the Middle East and in his native India.
But apparently when it came to his own personal war, 62-year-old Biswanath Halder of Cleveland donned a bullet-proof vest, armed himself with two semiautomatic weapons and hundreds of bullets and headed toward Case Western Reserve University late Friday afternoon to settle a score with a university employee, authorities said.
Despite showering the Peter B. Lewis Building hallways with bullets, Halder never found his enemy, a man he labeled as “evil” in a lawsuit, police said.
His nemesis, Shawn Miller, a computer lab worker who Halder claimed in a lawsuit had libeled him and tampered with his Web site three years ago, escaped unharmed.
Instead, one of Halder’s random shots killed someone else – 30-year-old graduate student Norman Wallace of Youngstown, who was fatally wounded in the chest, Cleveland police Chief Edward Lohn said in a news conference Saturday.
Wallace, who was pronounced dead at 8:20 p.m. Friday, was a “young man with hope and promise” trying to earn his Master of Business Administration, Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell said.
Another bullet hit organizational behavior student Argun Saatcioglu, 32, of Cleveland. Economics professor Susan Helper, 46, of Cleveland, was shot, police said. Both were released from Huron Hospital on Saturday.
Halder, a former CWRU graduate student who frequented the Cleveland campus, suffered a gunshot wound to the left shoulder and had bruises on his abdomen, evidence that bullets had struck his bulletproof vest, Lohn said.
He was released from Huron Hospital by Saturday afternoon and remains in police custody. Campbell said prosecutors were determining what charges to file against Halder.
The shooting victims were among 93 students and workers who hid in offices, classrooms and closets in the building during the seven-hour standoff that began shortly after 4 p.m. and ended around 11 p.m, Lohn said.
Lohn didn’t release details about where victims were in the building when they were shot. He did say that bullets, bullet casings, glass and trails of blood were throughout.
“It’s obviously an incredibly sad day for this campus,” said university President Edward Hundert. “People come to a place like this to learn and to grow and to make discoveries and not for this kind of tragedy and violence.”
Halder was a student at Case Reserve from 1997 to 1999 and received a Master of Business Administration in 1999, Hundert said.
According to Halder’s resume, he has worked as a stockbroker, salesman and computer engineer. He also says that he formerly served in the Indian Army as an officer cadet in the early 1960s.
He took science, computer and math courses while attending the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, New York University and Northeastern University, according to his online resume. Halder’s own Internet home page, http://junior.apk.net/halder, makes reference to the Worldwide Indian Network, which “promotes social, cultural, economic, political and educational causes pertaining to the Indian community’s needs and goals.”
It was apparently an attack on his home page three years ago and Halder’s dissatisfaction with a lawsuit stemming from the incident that prompted the shooting spree and his hunt for Miller, authorities said.
“It was really between him and an employee of the university,” Hundert said.
In the lawsuit, which he filed in June 2001, Halder accused Miller of having “added and deleted things from a personal Web site,” Hundert said. The suit also alleges Miller defamed Halder by placing a disparaging posting about Halder on the site.
The case was dismissed by Cuyahoga County Judge John Sutula in September. Police told reporters the 8th District Court of Appeals denied Halder’s appeal April 21.
However, Keith Hurley, chief deputy of the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, said the suit is still pending. The appellate court returned the case, held in a 12-inch file, to the lower court for further action, he said.
University police were the first to arrive on the scene after a student witnessed a man dressed in camouflage breaking through a rear entrance to the Lewis Building.
Lohn said Halder was wearing dark clothes, a flak jacket, a wig, a military-style hat and carrying two 9 mm pistols. Halder also had 10 clips of ammunition, police said.
More than 70 SWAT officers from four departments arrived on the scene soon after and began to enter the building, Lohn said.
Officers slowly canvassed the building, covering all five floors, said Lohn.
The building, which has no right angles, made it difficult to maneuver, he said. It became a “cat and mouse game,” Lohn said, with firefights throughout the building.
By communicating via land line, cell phone and e-mail with people inside the building, police were able to locate Halder. He was cornered in Room 501 on the fifth floor and told to surrender.
“We told him to give up and he gave up,” Lohn said.
Investigators were on the scene until 6:30 Saturday morning, said Cleveland police Sgt. Donna Bell.