Gunman Was Known as 'Gentle, Even,' 'Best in Class'
NIU sociology profs, students are stunned
By Michael O'Connor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 15, 2008 5:54 PM CST
Flowers, candles, and small notes sit in the snow Friday, Feb. 15, 2008, on the campus of Northern Illinois University near Cole Hall, the scene where a lone gunman shot and killed six Thursday on the...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Northern Illinois University profs and students who knew Stephen Kazmierczak said today they were stunned by his transformation into a killer: “I knew him as a warm, sensitive, very bright student,” one professor said in disbelief. "I have had him in my home." A mentor told the Chicago Tribune, "He was the most gentle, even guy." A fellow student  said he was  "probably the best student in the class."

The Tribune adds detail to the profile of the former sociology grad student who killed 5 and wounded another 15 in a shooting spree yesterday: Kazmierczak told one prof he served with the military before being discharged for psychological reasons. Last spring, he failed several classes at NIU before transferring to the University of Illinois. And he worked briefly as a prison guard, before abruptly quitting without offering a reason.