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Thu., Oct. 27, 2011, 10:53 a.m.

Bustamante records show he talked of shooting students

Records released by the University of Idaho yesterday include student evaluations from the fall of 2010 in which a student complained that then-Professor Ernesto Bustamante talked about shooting students, the Associated Press reports. "He talked about shooting students, which was disturbing, and implied that he was (and we should be) drunk and high every other day," wrote the student, who is not identified in the teaching evaluations. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner. You can read Spokesman-Review reporter Kevin Graman's story here from today's paper on how the UI is strengthening its ban on faculty-student relationships after the slaying of 22-year-old graduate student Katy Benoit by her professor, Bustamante, who then killed himself.


APNewsBreak: Idaho prof spoke of shooting students
By JESSIE L. BONNER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A University of Idaho professor who killed a graduate student he had dated and then committed suicide in August had talked about shooting students in his classroom during the fall of 2010 when he started a relationship with 22-year-old Katy Benoit.

The Associated Press and other media outlets received personnel records, emails and thousands of other documents related to Ernesto Bustamante on Thursday. The records included evaluations from students who were Bustamante's classes.

Bustamante, 31, was found dead in his hotel room Aug. 23 with guns and medications for bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. Police a day earlier found the body of Benoit, who was shot 11 times outside her Moscow home.

Bustamante had disclosed he took medication for bipolar disorder shortly after he was hired in 2007. As early as the fall of his first semester, three or four students went to psychology department chair Ken Locke to express concerns about Bustamante's behavior, saying he was "flirtatious" and showed favoritism to students.

Benoit had met Bustamante last fall when she took a psychology course he was teaching, and by the end of the semester they were dating.

During student evaluations of Bustamante that fall, a student complained about the professor's behavior.

"He talked about shooting students, which was disturbing, and implied that he was (and we should be) drunk and high every other day," said the student, who is not identified in the teaching evaluations.

A university spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls from the AP on Thursday.

Benoit's relationship with Bustamante ended this May, after he put a gun to her head and told her how he would use it to kill her. She told others he had threatened her with a gun twice before.

That month, he informed the chair of his department that was experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to a change in his medication. Bustamante had been known to alternately refer to himself as a "psychopathic killer" and "the beast," according to police.

After the couple split, Benoit alerted school officials that she was becoming increasingly concerned for her safety and filed a sexual harassment complaint with the university on June 12. Bustamante denied the allegations and filed his own complaint against her on July 8, claiming defamation of character.

Bustamante resigned his position as assistant professor Aug. 19, and police said he was in the process of moving to New Jersey for another job. Three days later, school officials met with Benoit to inform her that Bustamante's contract with the university had ended the week before.

Benoit's roommates told police they had been baking cookies that night when she stepped outside for a cigarette and about two minutes later, they heard gunfire. During the 911 call, the roommates told the dispatcher they fled the home after finding Benoit's body covered in blood.

The roommates told the 911 operator that they could think of only one person who could have fired the fatal shots — Bustamante.

Bustamante committed suicide in a hotel room shortly after shooting Benoit, police said.

A judge ordered Bustamante's personnel records released on Oct. 3 after the university, Idaho newspapers, the Idaho Press Club and the AP petitioned the court to rule they were a matter of public record.


Associated Press writers Rebecca Boone and John Miller contributed to this story.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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