A man who was working at the newspaper distribution center where police apprehended a fleeing Amy Bishop after she killed her brother in 1986 tells TPMmuckraker that investigators never followed up with him, even though Bishop had threatened him with a shotgun, demanding to know if he had a car.
The revelation is at least the second — and possibly the third — known instance of Bishop pointing her gun at people she encountered after fleeing her home. And it provides more evidence of possible police missteps in the investigation of the shooting of Seth Bishop — which was ruled an accident, mainly on the word of Seth and Amy’s mother.
Bishop was abruptly released on the day of the shooting, purportedly because she was “too emotional” to be questioned. Investigators didn’t speak to her until 11 days after the incident. A state police report concluding the incident was an accident has been criticized as deficient and does not mention the fact that Bishop threatened passersby after fleeing the scene.
The Norfolk County District Attorney said yesterday there was probable cause to charge Bishop with crimes including assault with a dangerous weapon in 1986, but charges were not pursued for reasons that are still unclear.
The witness who spoke to TPMmuckraker was 16 at the time, working at a Boston Globe distribution center called Village News. It was on Washington Street in Braintree, Mass, just a few blocks from Bishop’s home. He requested anonymity to avoid the spotlight on his family.
He says he saw Bishop, 21, that day walking across Parkingway St. from the newspaper center, with a gun. Standing in the door, he yelled out to his coworkers over the sound of a newspaper bundling machine, that there was a girl with a gun outside.
Bishop came over and, “from 15 or 20 feet away, she pointed the gun right at me, and she said, ‘Do you have a car?’” He put his hands up.
“And I said, ‘I don’t have a car.’”
“She was so close, I’ll never forget her face,” he says. “She was obviously upset, nervously looking around.”
After he yelled for a coworker to hand over the keys to his car, the sound of a police siren filled the air and Bishop dashed away around the building.
A short time later, Bishop appeared right at the entrance of the newspaper center, and that’s where officers apprehended her. “Drop your fucking gun,” the witness remembers one officer shouting repeatedly.
A local police report from the time, released Monday after we spoke to the witness, corroborates his claim that Bishop was arrested outside the newspaper office, and that an officer yelled at Bishop to drop the gun. The other details of the witness’ story could not be independently verified.
The witness says the police simply never showed interest in talking him or the other employees of the newspaper office who saw Bishop threaten him with the gun. “If there was an investigation, it didn’t extend to the people who were in the newspaper building,” he says.
A spokesman for the Braintree Police Department declined to comment.
The witness’ account of Bishop’s threat is in line with the picture painted in the local police report and recent news accounts of her frantically fleeing the scene of the shooting, looking for a car. A man who worked at the auto body shop adjacent to Village News told the Boston Herald that Bishop pointed her gun at him as she was looking through the shop to find a car.
And, according to the current Braintree police chief, one of the police officers who was on the scene remembered Bishop pointing the gun at a motorist “in an attempt to get the driver to stop.” That incident is not mentioned in the contemporaneous police report, nor is the interaction between Bishop and the Village News employee.
Thomas Pettigrew, the man who says he was held up at the auto body shop, says police talked to him after the incident, “but he never heard from them again,” according to the the Herald.