The families of biologists Adriel Johnson and Maria Ragland Davis, two of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, faculty members fatally shot by their colleague Amy Bishop in the 2010 department meeting massacre, have alleged in a lawsuit that university administrators knew that Bishop posed a danger but failed in their legal responsibility to protect the victims, reports AL.com. In addition to Johnson and Davis, department chair Gopi Podila was killed. Another faculty member and a departmental assistant suffered serious injuries.

Briefs filed by the victims' lawyers assert that former university president David Williams and provost Vistasp Karbhari knew that Bishop was dangerous, "protected their administrative offices from Bishop with concealed police," and "fled from Bishop" while protected by police when she sought to speak with them about her failure to attain tenure, the article says.

The victims' brief asserts that "Williams arranged for police to be present 'in a concealed spot' " when the university informed Bishop in writing that she had no further appeals of her tenure denial, the article states. Later "Williams' executive assistant, Mary Beth Walker, called the police dispatch to let them know that the 'danger situation was over' and that they no longer needed police stationed near the offices."  In addition, the two administrators "did everything possible to prevent the truth from being uncovered," the brief continues, according to AL.com.

The university and Karbhari deny culpability. Their lawyers assert that Karbhari is "innocent" and that "no credible evidence" exists to support the plantiffs' claims of liability, AL.com, reports. "The party solely responsible is confessed murderer Amy Bishop," the defendants' lawyers say. Williams was added to the lawsuit on 11 July. The lawsuit also names Bishop as a defendant.

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.

10.1126/science.caredit.a1300144