Tracy K. Bridges

Monday, April 1st, 2002

Tracy K. Bridges of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA has been named the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award for April.
 “Tracy, who throughout his adult life has been a firearms enthusiast and defender of the right to keep and bear arms, recently demonstrated the heroic use to which firearms may be put during a harrowing incident as his law school,” said John Michael Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director. “He most certainly deserves this Award.”
 The incident occurred in January when student Peter Odighizuwa, a 43-year-old naturalized US citizen from Nigeria, allegedly shot and killed his dean, L. Anthony Sutin, Prof. Thomas Blackwell, and another student, Angela Dales, 33. Odighizuwa reportedly had been dismissed because of failing grades.
 When the shots rang out, Bridges was in a classroom waiting for class to start. A fellow student, Mikael Gross, was outside and just returning from lunch. Utter chaos erupted.
 Bridges and Gross immediately ran to their cars and got their guns. Along with Ted Besen, who was unarmed, they approached the gunman from different sides. 
  “I aimed my gun at him, and Peter tossed his gun down. Ted approached Peter, and Peter hit Ted in the jaw. Ted pushed him back and we all rushed on,” Bridges said.
 The incident received wide media coverage, but not surprisingly, very few reports noted that an armed student was crucial to ending the shooting. CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Awardee John R. Lott, Jr. wrote in the New York Post “that out of 280 separate news stories (from a computerized Nexis-Lexis search) in the week after the event, just four stories mentioned that the students who stopped the attack had guns. Only two local newspapers (the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Charlotte Observer) mentioned that the students actually pointed their guns at the attacker. Much more typical was the scenario described by The Washington Post where the heroes had simply ‘helped subdue’ the killer. The New York Times noted only that the attacker was ‘tackled’ by fellow students…
 “In all, 72 stories described how the attacker was stopped without mentioning that the student heroes had guns.”
 Bridges, though, made the record clear during an interview on NBC’s Today show that he, “saw the shooter, stopped at my vehicle and got out my handgun and started to approach Peter. At that time, Peter threw up his hands and threw his weapon down.”
 The Appalachian School of Law is a private law school with an enrollment of about 170 students. It opened five years ago in a renovated junior high school to help ease a shortage of lawyers in the region and foster renewal in Appalachia.
 Bridges hails from Marshall, NC, a small town outside of Ashville. While he was only 16 years old, he started working for the Madison County Sheriffs Department as a communications officer staying until he graduated in 1988 from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC with a B.S. in Criminal Justice.  He then transferred to a larger department in Buncombe County.
 He holds several law enforcement certifications and maintains an active status. He expects to receive his Juris Doctor degree from Appalachian this spring.
 “I have been an active gun lover since my early years,” Bridges told Point Blank. “I have always collected guns, handguns in particular. I feel that every law-abiding citizen should have the right to own guns. I also believe that most gun laws only affect law-abiding citizens and not criminals. I will continue my support for gun rights once I enter the legal career.”