Northern Illinois U. Shooter Was Graduate Student at U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

February 15, 2008

The authorities have identified the gunman in the massacre at Northern Illinois University on Thursday as Steven P. Kazmierczak. Mr. Kazmierczak, who committed suicide after shooting dead six students in a lecture hall, was 27 years old and an alumnus of the university. He was enrolled as a graduate student in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s School of Social Work.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the police have been unable to determine a motive, and are seeking to interview Mr. Kazmierczak’s father, who lives in Florida. John G. Peters, Northern Illinois’s president, said “the shooter had a very good academic record, no record of trouble.”

The Tribune also reported that Mr. Kazmierczak had recently stopped taking an unspecified medication and, according to the campus police, had become “somewhat erratic” as a result.

Mr. Kazmierczak was a former vice president of the Academic Criminal Justice Association at Northern Illinois. The university honored him two years ago with a dean’s award for his scholarship in sociology, the Tribune reported.

As an undergraduate, Mr. Kazmierczak was apparently a co-author of a paper, “Self-Injury in Correctional Settings: ‘Pathology’ of Prisons or of Prisoners?,” that was published in the scholarly journal Criminology & Public Policy. According to the article’s abstract, he had an interest in “corrections, political violence, and peace and social justice,” and was “co-authoring a manuscript on the role of religion in the formation of early prisons in the United States with Jim Thomas and Josh Stone.” —Paul Fain