Duke witnesses tell of fear that gripped them in confrontation — (The News & Observer)

To view original article click here

The News & Observer

October 12, 2001

Author: VICKI CHENG; STAFF WRITER DURHAM — Duke police officer Gary Smith got the call shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sept. 6, 2000. Someone had set off a silent alarm in Duke President Nan Keohane’s office.

There had been plenty of false alarms before, so he didn’t know what to expect as he walked up the stairs of the Allen Building to the second floor. The lobby was mostly empty. Officer Mark Faust, backing him up from behind, broke off to the left; Smith took the right. Along the way, Smith asked Deborah Copeland, an administrative manager in the president’s office, why someone had set off the alarm. She didn’t know.

The door to Keohane’s outer office was closed. Copeland knocked.

Behind the door, David Patrick Malone, a disgruntled former Duke employee, was holding three of Keohane’s employees at gunpoint, according to testimony earlier this week in Malone’s trial on three counts of first-degree kidnapping and possession of a weapon on school grounds.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday, after Keohane’s assistants and Duke police officers testified about the day Malone, who tried unsuccessfully in 1997 to sue Duke for wrongful discharge, demanded to see Keohane while brandishing a gun. Staff assistant Joni W. Harris, administrative assistant Jamie L. Dupre and executive assistant Lisa Jordan recounted the way he ushered them near Jordan’s desk. They described how they felt as they stared down the barrel of a silver revolver, loaded with five bullets.

“I was completely terrified,” Jordan said. “I was scared to death, because I thought he was going to shoot us. I was terrified throughout the whole time he was there.”

But during cross-examination, defense attorney Shannon Tucker’s questions made it clear that Malone never said he was going to hurt anyone and that he never did anything to hurt anyone.

“He specifically told y’all, ‘Don’t worry. No one’s going to get hurt but me,’ ” Tucker said. “He didn’t say anything about wanting to hurt you.”

Tucker also showed that there were several times when the gun wasn’t pointed at the victims. At one point, Malone brought chairs for them to sit in. Later, he opened his backpack, unzipped a day planner, found a phone number and left a message with a local TV station.

Dupre and Jordan were able to push a panic button on Jordan’s phone three times, and Jordan said she once whispered to a courier to call the police. In the end, after police arrived, the three women slipped out, and Malone did nothing to stop them, Tucker said.

Still, despite Malone’s assurances that no one would be injured except himself, Keohane’s assistants believed that his .32-caliber gun meant business.

“No matter what he might have said … I believed my life was in danger, yes,” Jordan said.

Some of the evidence presented Thursday provided a glimpse of Malone’s personality. In his day planner were two index cards, one quoting lines from “Macbeth” and another that said, “For evil to prevail, good men have only to do nothing.” In the black backpack he carried, which contained a box of 32 bullets, he also had a paperback copy of “The Odyssey,” a manila envelope, some toiletries and a bottle of Paxil, a prescription antidepressant.

All that Gary Smith knew for sure that day was that here was a man with a gun.

When Copeland knocked, Malone motioned for Jordan to open the door. As Smith entered, Jordan exited. Malone was sitting with a gun in his lap, his finger near the trigger. Dupre and Harris were sitting nearby.

“I asked him to put the gun down,” Smith said. “He told me, ‘I’m going to shoot myself. You might as well do it for me.’ ”

Smith asked Malone to let the women leave. Malone demanded that Smith put his gun away, and Smith refused. The officer then stepped between Malone and the women and motioned for them to leave.

Faust said there was an eerie silence in the room when he entered with his gun drawn and shouted for Malone to put his revolver down. That’s when Smith sprayed Malone with pepper spray, then wrestled him to the ground.

“Why did you draw your weapon?” Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Garrell asked Smith.

“Because he had a revolver in his hand, across his lap,” Smith said. “That presented a threat to me and anyone that was in that office.”

The trial continues in Durham Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. today.

David Patrick Malone

Record Number:  gl3lmd89