Shooting suspect's passport is missing

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Federal authorities have charged a University of Georgia professor accused in a weekend shooting spree with trying to flee, learning Monday that he had a plane ticket to travel to Europe and his passport is missing.

The FBI charged George Zinkhan III, 57, with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, fearing he might try to flee the country, if he hasn't already.

"We mainly got the (federal warrant) so Interpol can take him into custody in case he's in Amsterdam," said Capt. Clarence Holeman, the assistant commander of the Athens-Clarke police Criminal Investigations Division.

Mr. Zinkhan, who speaks fluent Dutch, often travels to the Netherlands, where he owns a house in Amsterdam and teaches part-time at a university, officials said. A colleague of Mr. Zinkhan's told authorities the professor recently had purchased a phone that could be used internationally, according to The Associated Press.

On Sunday, the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam posted on its Web site condolences to victims and their survivors. Mr. Zinkhan has taught part-time there since April 2007, visiting for about six weeks each year, according to the school.

Mr. Zinkhan is accused of opening fire at a reunion of the Town & Gown Players theater troupe Saturday, killing his wife, Marie Bruce, 47, and two men, Tom Tanner, 40, and Ben Teague, 63.

His car, a red 2005 Jeep Liberty with Georgia tag number AIX 1376, hasn't been seen again.

Investigators now think Mr. Zinkhan might have planned the killings and his escape, and local police have charged him with three counts of murder.

Officials searched his home in Bogart and found a passport wallet, but it was empty, according to Greg Jones, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Atlanta Division.

Mr. Zinkhan has a ticket for a Delta Air Lines flight that is scheduled to depart Atlanta for Amsterdam this Saturday, Agent Jones said, but investigators determined that no one using Mr. Zinkhan's name or passport had left the country from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International or any other U.S. airport.

Authorities have alerted all airlines and the U.S. Department of Transportation Security Administration in case Mr. Zinkhan tries to reschedule his flight under his real identity, according to Agent Jones.

Mr. Zinkhan, who wrote a poem posted on his Web site about hiking the Appalachian Trial in North Georgia, has a brother in North Carolina who directs an investment firm that oversees 2.1 million acres of timberland from North Carolina to Maine.

Investigators are considering the possibility that Mr. Zinkhan, an avid outdoorsman and hiker, might try hiding out in the woods, police said.

His brother, Chris Zinkhan, told investigators Monday that he has not seen or heard from George Zinkhan, Capt. Holeman said.

"We are doing all we can to prevent any additional violence," Chris Zinkhan said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

As stunned locals and reporters ask the same questions -- Where is Mr. Zinkhan, and why did he shoot three people? -- Capt. Holeman would say only that he had a "domestic argument" with his wife at the picnic.

Several people who were acquainted with Mr. Zinkhan said Monday that no one truly knew the Terry College of Business professor.

"I just knew that he taught in Amsterdam, but that's all I really know," said Sally Vandiver, a Terry College program coordinator. "He was real private. He totally kept his business and private lives separate."

Mr. Zinkhan "might have mentioned" he spoke Dutch, said one of his marketing students, Josh Gurley, who said he didn't know his professor also taught in Amsterdam until he learned it in news reports after the shootings.

"He never talked about his personal life, ever," Mr. Gurley said. "I was never able to get a vibe from him."

Ed Brumby lived in Mr. Zinkhan's neighborhood for eight years. Although friends with Marie Bruce, a fellow attorney, he first met her husband less than two months ago at a fundraising event.

"I found him to be aloof and arrogant, but that's based on 20 minutes talking him at a party," Mr. Brumby said.

ONLINE EXTRA

See photos of accused killer George Zinkhan III's wife, Marie Bruce, taken by the Augusta Chronicle in 1979 and 1980.

Read a copy of the police report filed after the shooting.

Listen to the police scanner traffic immediately following the shooting

ASU ALERT SYSTEM

More people are expected to sign up for Augusta State University's emergency alert system in the wake of Saturday's triple slaying in Athens, Ga.


ASU Director of Public Safety Jasper Cooke said a spike in sign- ups for the Jaguar Alert Emergency Notification System is typical after a prominent school-related crime.


Anyone with an ASU e-mail address may sign up for the Jaguar Alert Emergency Notification System by clicking on the icon when logging into their university e-mail or the icon at www.aug.edu.


The system is part of ASU's emergency preparedness master plan and is designed to send phone calls, text messages and e-mails to multiple locations for each person who signs up. It has been in place for more than a year, but it hasn't been used yet, Mr. Cooke said.


-- Greg Gelpi

Family describes cooperation in Ga. shooting probe

ATHENS, Ga. - Relatives of a Georgia college professor suspected of killing his wife and two other men outside a local theater say they're doing all they can to prevent any additional violence.

Authorities have been searching for 57-year-old George Zinkhan since Saturday's shootings in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta. Killed were Zinkhan's wife, Marie Bruce; Clemson University economist Tom Tanner; and Ben Teague.

All three were longtime members of a local theater group in Athens.

In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Chris Zinkhan says the family has been in contact with Athens police detectives and the FBI.

He says the family's "thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their friends."

The following is the text of an e-mail sent to The Associated Press by Chris Zinkhan, brother of University of Georgia professor George Zinkhan:

"I and certain other members of my family have been in contact with detectives of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department since learning of this tragic event on Saturday. In fact, I contacted them to offer my assistance. Subsequently, we have communicated with the FBI. We are doing all we can to prevent any additional violence.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and their friends."

Associated Press

RELATED STORIES

- Shooting suspect's passport is missing

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PREVIOUS STORIES

- Professor's behavior didn't hint of trouble

- Family in Augusta 'crushed' by news

- Shooting suspect leaves no trail

- Professor sought in killings

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hurlyburly11
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hurlyburly11 04/28/09 - 06:11 am
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This case is

This case is interesting.......the ticket to the Netherlands means nothing because he was schelduled to go there anyway,,,,,this guy 's appearence would be so easy to alter..by now he is most likley clean shaven and a blonde or redhead or bald.....I think he planed this for a long time and has a safe haven already built and stocked...somewhere in the Mountains...................

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/28/09 - 01:58 pm
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I don't know about the

I don't know about the mountains and the planning, but it is possible. It is obvious he would change his appearance. Knowledge of the domestic situation with the marriage would tell lots. Who had custody of the children? Him or her?

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