The Other McCain

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What Happened at Delta State?

Posted on | September 14, 2015 | 24 Comments

Shannon Lamb, 45, had recently completed his doctorate degree at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississppi, where he also taught online courses. Monday, according to police, Lamb murdered his live-in girlfriend, Amy Prentiss, 41, at the home they shared in Gautier, Mississippi, then drove 300 miles to the Delta State campus, where he murdered history professor Ethan Schmidt.

Police have not publicly said what the motive was, but a friend of Prentiss shared a private Facebook message she had sent, saying that Lamb had “issues.” What issues did he have? I don’t know, but you have to wonder why a guy in his mid-40s would be pursuing a doctorate.

Lamb has worked at the university for seven years, according to his online profile at the school. He is a 2003 graduate of Delta State University, and earned a Masters of Education in 2007 and a Doctor of Education degree at DSU in 2014.
His listed areas of expertise include geography of crime, economic geography, social science education and testing.
Before teaching in college, Lamb was a high school math teacher at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi and Greenville-Weston High School in Greenville, Mississippi,

Wait a minute: He was 45 but only got his bachelors degree in 2003? His doctorate was in education, but he was teaching geography? He is a former high-school math teacher? This is not your typical academic resumé. Whatever the story behind Lamb’s motive, I’m gonna guess it will turn out to be pretty weird.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports:

A professor at Delta State University who was suspected of fatally shooting his companion and then another professor at the school was found dead Monday night, apparently with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The suspect, Shannon S. Lamb, who taught geography and social science education at the university, was pulled over around 10:30 p.m. by the local police in Greenville, Miss., about 35 miles to the west of the campus in Cleveland, Miss., the university’s police chief, Lynn Buford, said in a phone interview early Tuesday.
According to Chief Buford, Dr. Lamb ran into a wooded area. The local police followed him and, while waiting for backup, heard a gunshot. They found Dr. Lamb, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

This was perhaps predictable, and Lamb’s suicide means we may never know the full story behind his crimes.



24 Responses to “What Happened at Delta State?”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    September 15th, 2015 @ 12:02 am

    At least the weirdness (at least it seems) was limited…

  2. Grumley
    September 15th, 2015 @ 12:12 am

    “I don’t know, but you have to wonder why a guy in his mid-40s would be pursuing a doctorate.”

    I hope you’re not implying what it appears you’re implying. I am a 51 year old male studying for my bachelors degree. My wife is 48 and studying for her second masters; she received her first just last year and her bachelors in 2013. She wants get a doctorate. I can assure you that neither one of us is nuts. Lots of folks in their older years get college degrees. Nothing wrong with that.

    This loony, however, sounds like his mainspring was wound too tight and it had nothing to do with education.

  3. DeadMessenger
    September 15th, 2015 @ 1:05 am

    You know how “educators” are forced to “educate” these days, and the dude had both a Masters and a Doctorate in “Education”. Maybe the cognitive dissonance flipped him out, and I’m not even kidding about that.

  4. DeadMessenger
    September 15th, 2015 @ 1:07 am

    Thank goodness there were no innocent bovine victims, and, as you say, at least the human victims were limited.

  5. Durasim
    September 15th, 2015 @ 1:14 am

    I am guessing that somebody’s plan of midlife reinvention was not going as expected.

  6. Prime Director
    September 15th, 2015 @ 1:37 am

    He was 45 but only got his bachelors degree in 2003?

    I’m smart and I want respect

  7. DeadMessenger
    September 15th, 2015 @ 2:24 am

    Absolutely not.

  8. Quartermaster
    September 15th, 2015 @ 6:39 am

    Pursuing a Doctorate at 45 is no big deal these days. The rest of the narrative does not add up, however. What was his bachelor’s in? The standards for teaching math on a high school level tend to be low, but one wonders why he had been employed at two different schools in such a short time period? Given what has happened, his issues are probably of long time standing and two employers of the type he worked for in such a short time is a red flag.

  9. robertstacymccain
    September 15th, 2015 @ 7:03 am

    “Lots of folks in their older years get college degrees. Nothing wrong with that.”

    I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. I said this was “not your typical academic resumé,” and it’s not. Most people pursuing college degrees in “their older years” are studying management, nursing or some other clearly vocational degree. This guy’s resumé was … unusual, heterodox, erratic and, given his deeds, might be related to his motive and whatever “issues” his girlfriend referred to in her message.

    We have to think about the fact that careers in higher education are not what they used to be. Nowadays, tenure-track positions are hard to come by, so that more and more teaching (especially in the liberal arts and social sciences) is done by part-time adjunct faculty. This guy was hired by Delta State after he got his Master’s degree, and had recently gotten his Doctorate. Given what we know about the job market in academia, however, it is unlikely that the additional degree would have automatically enhanced his employment status. I don’t know if this is in fact relevant, but I think it could be.

  10. Dana
    September 15th, 2015 @ 7:06 am

    Well, maybe he had to work for a living for a while before he got his BA.

  11. Dana
    September 15th, 2015 @ 7:15 am

    The initial stories are of a possible “love triangle.” When you start looking for rationality in a love triangle killing, you are just plain wasting your time.

    One of my cousins lives in Gautier, but I haven’t seen anything on Facebook from him about this.

  12. texlovera
    September 15th, 2015 @ 7:47 am

    I give this douche an F, for getting the sequence of events wrong: He should have shot himself first.

    Yeah, I’m a jerk that way…

  13. Mm
    September 15th, 2015 @ 10:21 am

    It could be that he finally snapped after living for so many years with the burden of a girl’s name. Sort of like a Boy Named Sue.

  14. Bob Belvedere
    September 15th, 2015 @ 10:43 am

    There is still an ammunition shortage.

  15. Chriscom
    September 15th, 2015 @ 11:51 am

    My Dad got his Ed. D. in his late forties, if that. He was a teacher and, later, an administrator, and in both cases the more degrees you had, the better your chances for better pay and higher-ranking positions within whatever system he was in, and better prospects in job interviews–that much may be obvious, but it can boost your career even if you’re well along in it. Granted, this was a few years ago, but I suspect many educators even to this day pursue higher degrees over a period of years, many years in some cases, because they are holding down jobs and raising families at the same time. It took Dad years and it definitely paid off, even though he finally received it well past the midway point in his career. Not odd in that biz, I expect.

  16. Lulu
    September 15th, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

    Love triangle?

  17. Steve Skubinna
    September 15th, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

    If only the campus had been designated a gun-free zone, this would never have happened!

  18. broken_quanta
    September 15th, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

    Perhaps he intended to go back to teaching high school. In Mississippi a public K-12 teacher would get a hefty automatic raise for earning a master’s, and another for a doctorate. As a result graduate schools of education are chock-a-block with “non-traditional students”, ie, adults who are working or have worked as teachers. Sure, he’d be out of place in grad school in the biology department or whatever, but in the school of education I’d imagine he was pretty typical.

  19. Dana
    September 15th, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

    Some of us manage to tough those things out.

  20. Art Deco
    September 15th, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

    Wagers he’d been coked to the gills on psychotropics.

  21. Renaissance
    September 16th, 2015 @ 1:14 am

    I must take issue with you here. Getting a PhD in your 40s is not necessarily a sign of having a problematic life. Nor is getting a bachelor’s in your late 30s.

    Often, people do not have the money or the time to complete degrees in their 20s. Some people are serving their country and go for a degree after leaving the service. Some people are adjunct teaching at several places with Master’s degrees and realize that their community college or small liberal arts institution will not hire them full time because they don’t have the PhD. Sometimes, people don’t have the money to complete a degree and end up going to work. They come back to the degree later. Sometimes a woman will resume graduate study after raising her children as a stay-at-home mom.

    There are many reasons why someone might do a degree later in life, even a PhD. Very few of them shoot anyone.

  22. KevinKillion
    September 16th, 2015 @ 8:24 am

    Ed school degrees are highly suspect. All it proves is that someone spent a modest amount of time being marinated in the latest wacky trends in how to prevent kids from learning very much. See the roundup about these silly degrees here …

  23. Loren
    September 16th, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

    Same in MT. Steps and ladders contracts. If you have more education, you can step up another rung of the ladder. My father got his Bachelor’s when I was in 9th grade. He got his Masters of Education four or five years after I graduated from college. He had all but the dissertation done on his doctorate when he retired.

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    […] What Happened at Delta State? […]