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Suspect in 2 Mississippi killings dies

Posted: 4:46 AM, Sep 15, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-15 05:46:21-04

After an intense manhunt, authorities in Mississippi said a college instructor wanted in the deaths of a woman he lived with and a university professor he worked with died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound as police closed in on him.

News of Shannon Lamb's death late Monday night brought to a close a chaotic, frightening day during which students and faculty at Delta State University hid in their rooms as authorities scoured the campus looking for Lamb.

Cleveland Police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham said Lamb was returning from Arkansas when a license plate reader picked up his plate as he crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River late Monday.

Police on the other side in Greenville followed Lamb but did not try to apprehend him, Bingham said. Lamb then pulled over and took off on foot. Bingham said the police were waiting for backup when they heard a single gunshot. When backup arrived, they searched and found Lamb with a gunshot wound to the head.

"We didn't want it to happen this way. It wasn't our intention for it to happen this way. But unfortunately he made that decision," Bingham said.

Investigators said Lamb, 45, was a suspect in the slayings of 41-year-old Amy Prentiss, who was found dead in the home she shared with Lamb in Gautier; and 39-year-old Ethan Schmidt, a history professor who was killed in his office on campus in Cleveland.

The campus was put on lockdown as armed officers methodically went through buildings, checking in closets, behind doors and under tables and desks.

University President William LaForge said late Monday that the lockdown had been lifted. He said there would be no classes Tuesday but students, faculty and staff were invited to campus to attend a vigil in the evening.

Officers in the two cities said they had not uncovered a motive for either slaying. Bingham said it was still early in the investigation. LaForge said Lamb had earlier asked for a medical leave of absence, saying he had a medical issue of some sort.

Lamb received a doctorate in education from Delta State University in the spring of 2015, according to his resume posted on the university's website. He had started working there in 2009 and taught geography and education classes, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

In the southern Mississippi Gulf coast town of Gautier, authorities went to a house where Prentiss and Lamb lived after receiving a phone call about 10 a.m. notifying them of the shooting. They went into the house and found Prentiss's body.

Her former husband said she was a "good person" and that their daughter is devastated by her death.

At Delta State, the slain professor, Schmidt, directed the first-year seminar program and specialized in Native American and colonial history, said Don Allan Mitchell, an English professor at the school.