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Tragedy in Bursley

BY KELLY FRASER

Published January 17, 2007

April 17, 1981 marked one of the darkest days in University history.

Jessica Boullion
Douglas Hall of Bursley Hall, where Leo Kelly murdered two fellow students on the sixth floor in 1981. (DEREK BLUMKE/Daily)

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By the end of the day, two students were shot dead and another was in police custody.

Leo Kelly, a 22-year-old psychology major, threw several Molotov cocktail fire bombs down the sixth floor of Bursley Residence Hall's Douglas wing around dawn that morning.

The bombs ignited numerous fires and triggered the building's fire alarm.

Kelly then returned to his room and retrieved a shotgun, which he fired at fleeing students.

Witnesses said Kelly fired between two and five shots from the sawed-off shotgun, killing two students.

Freshman Edward Siwik was shot in the upper right chest. He died later at the University Hospital. Another student, resident adviser Douglas McGreaham, was shot in the back. He died after emergency surgery at St. Joseph Hospital.

Police described Kelly as "calm" and "coherent" when they found him sitting on his bed.

Kelly was a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which was implicated in another, non-fatal shooting in Bursley the previous month.

Many students said they felt "numb" after the shooting, and were hesitant to return to their dorm rooms.

Then-University President Harold Shapiro described the shooting as a "horrible tragedy."

Kelly was arraigned the next day in Washtenaw County's 14th District Court and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of temporary insanity on the two murder counts.

Later, in a re-arraignment with a different lawyer, Kelly did not enter a plea.

His lawyer requested more time to familiarize himself with the case.

Kelly's motive was unclear. His lawyer told a judge that Kelly was taking pills for an infection at the time of the shooting.

A jury found Kelly guilty in a week-long trail. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Kelly Fraser

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