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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Student Kills 3 Professors During Thesis Defense

SAN DIEGO -- A graduate engineering student defending his thesis before a faculty committee allegedly opened fire with a handgun Thursday, killing three professors.


The accused gunman was arrested immediately after the shooting on the San Diego State University campus.


Frederick Martin Davidson, 36, of east San Diego was arrested by campus police who raced to the building after a report that shots were fired, according to San Diego police Lieutenant Jim Collins.


Davidson, a tall and balding Army veteran, surrendered when approached by the officers, police said.


There were three eyewitnesses, all students. None was wounded, said Collins.


Davidson wrote his thesis on shape memory alloy, a metal that can be twisted and will hold its shape until heated, said Howard Brashers, a retired English professor who rented Davidson a room.


Davidson had already co-authored several journal articles, along with his faculty adviser, Chen Liang, and appeared to have a promising future.


"It looked to me like he had a good thing going with Dr. Liang,'' Brashers said. "He was building a resume.''


But a college employee who said she knew Davidson suggested he may have been frustrated by not being able to finish his work quickly at the school, where only one engineering student a month is allowed to defend a thesis.


Two people who were in the third-floor classroom lab at the time rushed into a basement room of the building and called police, said Frederic Cerfvol.


"We heard gunshots and two people came down and said 'we were in the classroom when three people got shot down,'" said Cerfvol. "The guy was defending his thesis and the jury probably faulted him and the guy shot the jurors. That's the guess of the two people who came down."