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Taiwanese professor killed in UNLV shooting

Cha Jan 'Jerry' Chang spent over 20-year career 'teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students'

Cha Jan "Jerry" Chang. (UNLV website photo)

Cha Jan "Jerry" Chang. (UNLV website photo)

Update: 12/11/2023

The Clark County Coroner's Office identified the third victim as 69-year-old Takemaru Naoko, an Associate Professor of Japanese Studies in the Department of World Languages and Cultures of the College of Liberal Arts, reported 8 News Now.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese professor was among three victims who were killed in a mass shooting that took place at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on Wednesday (Dec. 6).

The 67-year-old gunman, later identified as Tony Polito, wandered into the Lee Business School shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, reported AP. The first shots were heard approximately 15 minutes later on the fourth floor, while students and faculty took cover in classrooms and offices as Polito roamed the top three floors of the building.

The shooting did not end until 11:55 a.m. when Polito exited the building and was "neutralized" by a UNLV police officer, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There was concern that the shooter could have claimed more lives as the student union was directly beside the business school.

Three UNLV professors were killed in the shooting and one professor suffered serious injuries. In addition, four people were taken to the hospital for panic attacks, while several police officers sustained minor injuries.

The newspaper identified the two deceased professors as 64-year-old Cha Jan "Jerry" Chang (張家禎) and 39-year-old Navarro Velez. Chang was a professor of management information systems and was originally from Taiwan and received his bachelor's degree from National Taiwan Ocean University in 1981.

Chang also earned degrees from Central Michigan University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Pittsburgh. In a statement issued Thursday (Dec. 7), UNLV President Keith Whitfield said "Dr. Chang was a longtime educator of management information systems, spending more than 20 years of his academic career teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students."

Chang had been employed at UNLV since 2001 and achieved his most recent professor title in 2014. He was a resident of neighboring Henderson, Nevada.

The Clark County coroner's office said Chang was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, while Velez died from multiple gunshot wounds. The identity of the third professor killed has yet to be announced as officials work to notify the legal next of kin.

Velez was an assistant professor of accounting and was the mother of four. The seriously injured individual was reported to be a 38-year-old male visiting professor, whose status has been "downgraded to life-threatening" from critical while undergoing hospital treatment, per CBS News.

Polito is a former professor who had been repeatedly rejected for positions at UNLV and other colleges and universities in the state, according to AP. He was armed with a 9 mm handgun and 150 rounds of ammunition.

He was also carrying a list of individuals he planned to target at the university, but "None of the individuals on the target list became a victim," said Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill.

Polito had previously worked as a professor at the business school at East Carolina University in North Carolina from 2001 to 2017. Faculty from East Carolina University were also reported to be on Polito's target list.