31 years earlier, another shooting at the University of South Carolina campus

31 years earlier, another shooting at the University of South Carolina campus

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As sad as Thursday's events on the University of South Carolina campus might be, it is not the first time there's been a fatal shooting at the school.

In 1984, a USC assistant professor upset over losing his tenured position took over the president's office and held hostages before he committed suicide.

The teacher's name was Phillip Zeltner. He was a 37-year-old assistant professor of philosophy who'd been named six years earlier as Teacher of the Year.

But in April 1984, Zeltner had lost his job and he responded by storming into the office of then-President Jim Holderman who was not there at the time.

Zeltner had armed himself with two handguns and he took hostages including an aide to Holderman named Pat Bowman.

Police and SLED agents swarmed the building and the SLED SWAT team was called in as negotiations began.

Also brought in was Zeltner's attorney, his ex-wife, and his doctor.

The professor spoke with the police and even with our Joe Pinner. But when the talks were over and the SWAT team made its move, Zeltner shot himself to death as he sat in the president's chair.

But even in the wake of the Arnold School shootings and his own ordeal, Bowman said he thinks the campus remains safe.

"What do I know other than these are two isolated incidents but to me they're incredibly isolated incidents with people, like in my instance there was a guy with one issue who was denied tenure and somebody who had a problem," Bowman said. "From the little I know about the other, the same. You know I sent a son here and he graduated. My daughter is very much interested in going here. I will tell you I think the campus is a safe place and I love South Carolina."

Bowman said he doesn't think Thursday's shootings or his experience will influence his daughter's decision.

Over that roughly two-hour period all of the hostages were released unharmed.

Five years earlier, in an unrelated incident, another even more serious shooting incident happened at a fraternity party on the USC campus. Two were killed and five were wounded.

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