ANKARA, Turkey – A research assistant shot and killed four staff members at a university in central Turkey, the university’s president said Thursday.
Prof. Hasan Gonen of Osmangazi University, in the city of Eskisehir, some 250 kilometres west of Ankara, told reporters that the gunman shot and killed a deputy dean, a secretary and two teaching staff at the university’s school of education.
The attacker, identified as Volkan Bayar, was apprehended by police as he left the scene, Gonen said.
Gonen said the motive of the attack appeared to be a personal dispute. The main target was the education school’s dean, who was not in his office when the gunman arrived, the university president added.
He said the suspect, who was studying for a doctoral degree, had been under investigation at the university for accusing a number of staff members of being followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.
Turkey has arrested tens of thousands of people for alleged links to the coup and dismissed more than 110,000 others from government jobs, including universities.
Turkey’s Hurriyet daily newspaper quoted Cemil Yucel, the dean who escaped the attack, as saying that Bayar was “mentally unstable” and constantly lodged complaints against staff members.
“He was a frightening person,” Yucel told the newspaper.
Ayse Aypay, an education professor at the university, described the attacker as an alleged Gulen supporter who made false accusations against colleagues.
She told journalists at the campus that her husband was dismissed from his teaching position at Osmangazi and jailed for more than five months over Bayar’s false accusations that he was a Gulen follower.
Aypay went on to accuse the university of “protecting” Bayar and not taking any action against him for more than a year.
Regional governor Ozdemir Cakacak said three prosecutors had been assigned to investigate the case.
Earlier, unconfirmed reports said three people were injured in the attack.
Relatives of the victims rushed to the university as soon as news of the attack broke.