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Was Armed Intruder a Law Prof?

When a man was arrested Friday after carrying weapons into the University of Louisville Law School library, the school's announcement identified the man, Thomas H. Irwin, as a former university student and contract employee. But the announcement neglected to say what appears to be the case -- that Irwin is a lawyer who formerly taught at the law school.

Irwin_mug Irwin, 56, is reported to have entered the law library at 8:30 a.m. Friday carrying two handguns and 53 rounds of ammunition. A law library employee recognized him as someone who was barred from campus and called university police, who escorted him off the premises. He was charged with two misdemeanors -- carrying a concealed deadly weapon and criminal trespass. Irwin had a permit for the weapons and told police he had them with him because he planned to go to a shooting range later.

The Louisville Courier-Journal says that Irwin had worked as an adjunct faculty member at the law school and in the College of Business and had taken undergraduate and graduate courses at the university. He had worked at the university until December 2008 when, according to the university announcement, he was "declared persona non grata." Another news report said that the university's decision to ban Irwin from campus was made after he allegedly harassed another employee.

The Kentucky Bar Association's lawyer locator shows that a Thomas H. Irwin is an active member of the bar and lives in Louisville. A cached page of course offerings for the Spring 2009 semester of the University Honors Program shows that a Prof. Thomas Irwin was scheduled to lead an international travel seminar that would study international commercial law through visits to Belgium, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. Another cached page on the university's site from 2003 shows an undergraduate named Thomas Irwin as having earned recognition from the College of Arts and Sciences as a Dean's Scholar.

There is also a page for a University of Louisville professor named Thomas Irwin at Only two students left comments about him, both in 2008. One described him as "really easy" and urged, "take him!" The other said, "You're in for a ride if you take him. Be prepared for lots of group projects, random assignments, and ambiguous online tests."

So it appears that Irwin has been something more than a simple "contract employee" at the law school. But exactly what his role was remains unclear based on published reports. If any reader can shed any further light on this, please feel free to add your comment below.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 26, 2009 at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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