Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, a graduate student in anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, has been charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Richard T. Antoun, an emeritus professor of anthropology, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. Al-Zahrani, 46, is a Saudi national and he is being held without bail. Antoun was stabbed Friday in a campus building, stunning the campus. Several students at Binghamton -- including students from the Middle East -- told reporters this weekend that they had had unnerving confrontations with Al-Zahrani. The New York Times reported that Antoun served on Al-Zahrani's dissertation committee, and that at least one student at the university was so concerned about Al-Zahrani's behavior prior to the alleged attack that he told a professor and the university's counseling center about it. Gannett News Services reported that about 30 minutes before the alleged attack, Al-Zahrani approached another professor to complain about financial problems and to ask about switching doctoral programs.
While physical attacks by students on professors are rare, they are not unheard of. Experts say that there is a common pattern in such tragedies: The attacker is male, the attacks happen on campus, and the source of the students' anger goes well beyond a grade (although that may be a spark).