A struggling law school student who had just been suspended went on a shooting spree at the school Wednesday, killing the dean, a professor and a student before he was wrestled to the ground.
Three students also were critically injured in the hail of gunfire at the Appalachian School of Law.
Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell were gunned down in their offices, according to school officials. The third person slain was a student, said Ellen Qualls, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mark Warner.
The suspect was identified by state police as 43-year-old Peter Odighizuma. He was a Nigerian who had flunked out last year and been allowed to return.
Odighizuma had been suspended from school earlier Wednesday. He had a history of mental instability that school officials were aware of.
The suspect was at the Buchanan County Jail. No charges were immediately announced.
The gunman was tackled by four male students as he left the building.
The wounded students were hospitalized in critical condition, the governor said. Qualls said the weapon used was a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
The private law school, with an enrollment of about 170 students, was closed for the rest of the week.
The school opened five years ago in a renovated junior high school in Grundy, a town of about 1,100 just a few miles south of the Kentucky and West Virginia state lines.
School founders hope to ease a shortage of lawyers in the coalfields of southwest Virginia, help change the region's image and foster renewal in Appalachia. The American Bar Association rejected the school's first application for accreditation in 1999.
The school graduated its first class of 34 in 2000. There are about 15 faculty members, including alumni of law schools at the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia, Harvard and Howard universities.