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Ten years after tragic shooting, UAH biology department continues to thrive, keep victims' memories alive

Debra Moriarity, a survivor of the shooting, said down with WAAY 31 and told us how hard they've worked to honor the victims' memories and keep the biology department thriving.

Posted: Feb 12, 2020 8:48 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2020 7:28 AM

Wednesday marked 10 years since a University of Alabama in Huntsville professor shot and killed three of her colleagues.

Amy Bishop opened fire during a staff meeting - killing Gopi Padilla, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. She injured 3 others. Now, she's serving a life sentence.

Some UAH professors who were in that meeting still work at the university. One sat down with WAAY 31 and told us how hard they've worked to honor the victims' memories.

"Probably always, I don't think I ever walk in here that it isn't somewhere in my brain," Debra Moriarity, a retired UAH professor who still works at the university, said.

The moments in the Shelby Center for Science and Technology on Friday February 12, 2010 are forever engraved in Moriarity's mind. She's been at UAH since 1983, and said this department has always been more to her than just a job.

"Our department had always felt more like a family, we knew each other we were all friends," she said.

She was in the room when Amy Bishop shot and killed three of her friends and colleagues. Her life spared because the gun bishop used didn't fire. A moment with a lasting impact on her and the other survivors

"Everybody had a lot of grief to deal with," she said.

But, Moriarity knew she couldn't let the grief take over. She said she knew her friends who had lost their lives would've wanted the survivors to keep going. So, that's what she did.

"I really wanted to be part of the re-building effort," she said.

She said the department worked to honor the victims by making student mentoring a top priority

"It was something that Gopi, Adriel and Maria were very active in, and very eager to mentor students and that is still going on with all the faculty that we have," she said.

She said she's proud of how the department continued to thrive, and the family feeling still remains. She said her friends legacies are forever living on.

"You don't want to forget the people, but you don't want to memorialize the act that took them from you," she said.

And said their memory is still lingers around.

"I walk by labs that belonged to people that are now gone I look at things here in my office and some of them remind me of some of the people that we lost," she said.

The university held a memorial in the victims honor Wednesday afternoon in front of the benches dedicated to Padilla, Johnson and Ragland- Davis.

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