Western Psych gunman had chemistry degree from Carleton
Pittsburgh Police have identified this man as John Shick; the shooter at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic on March 8, 2012
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John F. Shick, the man who police say shot and killed one person and wounded seven others at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic on Thursday before being killed by police, graduated from one of the nation's most prestigious liberal arts colleges with a degree in chemistry in 2004.
Yet, by the time he moved to North Oakland this fall, his neighbors said he was acting so strangely that they tried to avoid him.
Mr. Shick, 30, was a well-known student in Carleton College's chemistry department and professors there were shocked to hear of the shootings at Western Psych.
"It's pretty disturbing and quite shocking news," said chemistry professor Marion Cass. "I'm very sad about the situation,"
While at Carleton, Mr. Shick cared deeply about his studies, she said. "He was very interested in academic pursuits."
Ms. Cass and the rest of the Carleton chemistry faculty declined to comment further.
Carleton, a small liberal arts college of about 4,000 students in Northfield, Minn., is one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, ranking sixth among liberal arts colleges for 2012 by U.S. News & World Report.
The Oregonian newspaper reported on Friday that he lived in Portland from September 2008 until August 2011. In April 2009, he petitioned to change his name to either William Huhnpere Schols Kan or Willim Hahnpere Scolskan ---- it appears two different ways in court documents ---- and then changed it back again a year later, the paper reported.
In December 2009, Port of Portland police charged a Willim H. Scolskan with resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer after they received a call about a "male exhibiting strange behavior" in a roadway near Portland International Airport, according to a police report obtained by the Post-Gazette. It says Mr. Scolskan tried to strike an officer with a 13-inch flashlight that he was wearing around his neck and then kicked one officer in the head. Medics took him to the hospital for a mental evaluation.
When Mr. Shick moved to Pittsburgh this past fall, neighbors said they noticed him not for his academic interests but for his "strange" habits.
Scott Kunst, 43, said he lives three doors down from Mr. Shick's room on the fourth floor of the Royal York Apartments in North Oakland. He and his fiance, Tracey Hilton, said they never knew Mr. Shick by name but when they saw his photo they had no doubt it was the "strange" man who lived down the hall.
Mr. Shick sometimes left yellow Post-Its on his door that said, "Now cleaning up vomit from pancreatitis. Please do not disturb." The room, which few people ever entered, often smelled like cleaning products, the pair said.
The building, on the corner of Dithridge Street and Bigelow Boulevard, is home to many medical school students.
"We thought it was a med student joke," Mr. Kunst said of the notes.
That changed this week, they said, when Mr. Shick acted strangely one night before asking someone in the building to call ambulance and then vomited in the lobby.
When news crews pulled up outside the building Friday afternoon, shortly after police identified Mr. Shick as the shooter, Mr. Kunst said he suspected almost immediately that Mr. Shick was responsible for the bloodshed at Western Psychiatric.
"You think that there's mental illness in the world, but you just don't think someone's capable of that," Mr. Kunst said.
First Published March 10, 2012 12:07 am