Suspected Mississippi school shooter left ‘sorry’ note

 At some point during the intense daylong manhunt to apprehend him, Shannon Lamb spoke with police and told them he wasn’t going to go to jail.

When officers finally caught up to him late Monday, he made good on his threat, police said: He pulled out a gun and killed himself.

Lamb was the suspect in two killings: that of Ethan Schmidt, who was shot in the head in his office on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, and of Amy Prentiss, who was found shot to death at a home in Gautier, a coastal city about 300 miles away from the university.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled Tuesday evening at Delta State to remember Schmidt.

The hunt for Lamb brought together campus police and city police, as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

At some point, Lamb spoke with police and told them “he wasn’t going to jail,” Gautier Police Chief Dante Elben said.

Late Monday, officers spotted Lamb pull over his car near Greenville and run into the woods. Soon afterward, they heard a single gunshot and found Lamb’s body.

Lamb taught at Delta State with Schmidt. He lived with Prentiss, 41.

But beyond that connection, authorities have not disclosed a motive.

“We’re not going to speculate on a motive until we have facts in hand,” Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham said.

Authorities have said Lamb left a handwritten note.

CNN affiliate WLOX posted a copy of the letter that read: “I am so very sorry. I wish I could take it back. I loved Amy and she is the only person who ever loved me.”

At a midnight news conference, Delta State University President William LaForge said that Lamb had taught at the school for a while and had been teaching online geography courses.

He recently asked to take a reduced load of classes for medical reasons, said LaForge, who did not elaborate about Lamb’s supposed medical issues.

A surreal day

Lamb’s arrest ended a surreal day for students and staffers at Delta State, about 115 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.

The school was locked down throughout the day, its buildings cleared. Only 250 of the 1,150 students remained on campus, confined to their dormitories. Classes are canceled for Tuesday but counselors are on hand to meet with anyone who needs help, said LaForge.

“It was probably the scariest thing I have been through in a while,” said Dean Arnold, a student who had Schmidt as a professor.

Schmidt and Lamb taught together at Delta State.

A photo on the school’s website shows them standing side by side, smiling at a 2013 holiday party. That same year, Schmidt thanked Lamb in the acknowledgments of his book.

A biography of Lamb posted on the school’s website says he received his Ph.D. from Delta State in 2014, and has taught geography and social sciences education courses there.

“He was a cool dude,” student Noah York told CNN affiliate WMC.

Lamb, he said, was a talented musician who played guitar and harmonica.

“You know, you would have never have thought that something like this would happen. You’d want to be like him and play guitar,” he said.

‘Beloved’ professor

Schmidt’s Delta State biography says that he taught undergraduate courses in American history, and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Kansas in 2007. Schmidt had written several books and scholarly papers and had expertise in Native American history.

“It’s going to be shocking because I have Mr. Schmidt three out of five days,” Arnold said. “It’s going to be a lot different without him.”

Before working at Delta State, Schmidt taught for six years at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011.

“We lost one of our beloved professors today,” Michelle Roberts, vice president of university relations at Delta State, told reporters. “We are grieving on this campus.”

She was a loving mother who had a long-standing relationship with the man who ended her life.

They were victims, authorities say, of Shannon Lamb, a fellow professor at Delta State University in Mississippi, who fatally shot himself late Monday.

Ethan Schmidt was found dead early Monday morning in his office on the Cleveland, Mississippi, campus. He had been shot in the head. The 39-year-old was praised by university President William LaForge for his dedication to higher learning.

When LaForge met the professor a few years ago, he mistook Schmidt for a student. “He is youthful in his appearance,” LaForge recalled after a very long and agonizing day that brought terror to the small college campus as police spent hours hunting Schmidt’s killer, locking down buildings and advising everyone to avoid windows just in case.

At a midnight news conference, a weary LaForge assured that the campus was safe. By then, Lamb had shot himself in the woods near Greenville, Mississippi.

LaForge remembered Schmidt as someone who “advised a ton of students.”

He recently took over a first-year seminar program that helped students acclimate to college life.

“He was a star on our faculty,” LaForge said.

A mother who lived with Lamb

Before killing Schmidt, authorities say, Lamb killed his own girlfriend, Amy Prentiss, in Gautier, Mississippi, about 300 miles from Cleveland.

Prentiss lived on the state’s coast on and off for years, according to the Sun-Herald newspaper.

“She always wanted to help other people,” close friend Lindsay Knowles told the newspaper.

Prentiss and Lamb lived together and had been dating for about three years, Knowles said, telling the newspaper that her friend had told her about fights the couple had. Knowles said that Prentiss did not say those arguments were violent.

Lamb was a singer and Knowles said Prentiss’ teenage daughter sang backup for the alleged killer during a recent performance at a club in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Prentiss’ LinkedIn page says she was a manager for her daughter Abigail Osteen.

A lot of Prentiss’ life revolved around her daughter and the girl’s singing career, Knowles told the newspaper.

Prentiss worked at home doing an online job, Knowles said, with her hound dog Lightning keeping her company.

She was also very involved with Oasis Church, her friend told the paper.

Pastor Eric Camp urged on Facebook for everyone to pray for Prentiss’ family and for her daughter.

“Please pray for everyone affected by this tragedy and pray justice for the one responsible,” he wrote.

Student body president in college

Schmidt’s college career started at Emporia State. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s in history at the Kansas school in 1998 and 2001, but he wasn’t just tucked away in the history department.

He served as student body president and was named a distinguished senior by the university. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and two honor societies.

A former professor gushed.

“He was a remarkable student,” said Karen Manners Smith, a professor of history. “He was one of the best students I ever had and I was thrilled he went on to a career in teaching history.”

“He was on his road to being one of the great scholars of American history,” she said.

An outstanding teacher

Word of his death hit hard at Texas Tech, where Schmidt moved after earning his doctorate in U.S. history at the University of Kansas in 2007.

“He was an outstanding teacher, scholar and friend. Even more importantly, he was an incredible husband and father,” Tech history chair Sean Cunningham said on the school’s Facebook page. “We are simply crushed.”

Schmidt taught graduate and undergrad courses, focusing on American history and especially the history of Native Americans in the United States.

He won an Innovative Teaching Award in 2010 and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching a year later.

Schmidt’s career reached a new level when he arrived at Delta State in 2013 as an assistant professor of American history.

Early America continued to fascinate him, especially the interaction between the European colonists and the indigenous people of North America.

His research won him praise from his colleagues. He published two books and contributed articles to other publications.

“He did a tremendous job as a history professor,” said LaForge. “I thought the world of him. He was a star on our faculty at Delta State.”

Student outpouring

Perhaps Schmidt can be best judged by the students he taught and the impressions he made.

Former students filled Facebook and Twitter with their memories of the man who made history come alive for them.

“What a tragedy! I took Dr. Schmidt’s American history course as a freshman in 2008. It was one of my favorite college classes during my time at Texas Tech (I was a molecular bio major),” said Joe Herbert. “He had an amazing way of telling the story of history in a way that was at once engaging and informative.”

“One of my favorite graduate history classes was with Dr. Schmidt,” said Kylie Schaefer. “So saddened by his news.”

And from Amanda Wolfe: “He was the best history teacher, ever! My prayers go out to his family and children whom he spoke highly of, always. We will miss you Schmidt!”

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