FSU law professor was 'intended victim' of fatal shooting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Police quashed some speculation about Florida State law professor Dan Markel's shooting death, providing enough information to calm Betton Hills neighbors who thought they may be endangered.

Tallahassee Police said Markel, 41, was the "intended victim" of a murder when he was fatally shot at his Trescott Drive home about 11 a.m. Friday morning.

A neighbor reported a "loud bang" in the 2100 block of Trescott Drive about the same time. Police arrived and rushed the wounded Markel to the hospital, where he died early Saturday. Investigators were scoping out the FSU College of Law professor's two-story brick house Friday and continued the investigation there until at least Saturday morning, neighbors said.

"The investigation has provided no indication that this case is connected to a burglary or robbery," a TPD press release said. "There is no evidence this is a random act."

Officer David Northway, TPD spokesman, asked community members Monday to put themselves in the position of Markel's family.

"You would want us to take every step that we need to to make sure that we bring this case to justice and not rush and make rash decisions," he said. "We want to make sure that all of the evidence that we collect and all the people that we interview are thorough and to the very end. That's what we would ask our neighborhood residents to understand."

Investigators seek information on the case, particularly from witnesses in the 2100 block of Trescott Drive between 10 a.m. and noon on Friday. Northway says they want to hear from everyone, including delivery drivers, visitors to the neighborhood and pedestrians.

TPD asks that people call in to a tip line created specifically for the Markel case. Callers can leave a voicemail with their information.

Markel, the father of two young boys, ages 3 and 5, was recently divorced from fellow FSU law professor Wendi Adelson. Her attorney, Jimmy Judkins, says Adelson is cooperating with police.

The news of her ex-husband's murder has left her "distraught, devastated, scared to death," he said.

Adelson, 35, is the director of FSU's Public Interest Law Center.

Throughout the weekend, neighbors expressed concern Markel, a Harvard-educated author and respected legal scholar, was the victim of a home burglary gone wrong and wondered if they should worry or act.

"That's frightening on a whole different level," said Betton Hills resident Reggie Garcia. "But I guess it's somewhat partially reassuring to the community, who has a lot of seniors, a lot of kids, a lot of stay-at-home moms, a lot of business owners, that it is safe to be out and about."

Lee Avirett has lived in Betton Hills his entire 67 years and says Markel's death is the most disturbing event to ever happen in the neighborhood.

"It just was very unsettling," he said. "This has been a quiet place."

Northway provided no more information about whether police have a suspect. On Saturday, TPD officials said they had no suspects. Northway also could not say whether a weapon was found at the scene or if there were any indications Markel knew his assailant.

Northway said information about a weapon, Markel's activities on Friday and how many times he may have been shot — a schedule for an autopsy or when it might be completed were also unavailable — constituted intimate details of the crime that couldn't be released without undermining the investigation.

On Monday morning, a bouquet of flowers lay in front of Markel's front door while Tallahassee Police officers canvassed the area to talk to residents in hopes they'll discover any clues helpful to the ongoing investigation.

"While (neighbors) should continue to be vigilant, the investigators do not have any indication that this is anything other than a homicide," Northway said.

TPD had been mum most of the weekend, only confirming Markel's death after local media reported it and Dean Don Weidner of the FSU College of Law alerted students and faculty. The weekend of wondering left many frustrated in the quaint northeast Tallahassee neighborhood.

Representatives of the FSU College of Law met with Tallahassee Police Department officers Monday morning "to give a briefing on safety and security" as it relates to Markel's death, said FSU spokeswoman Jeanette Dediemar

Anytime there's a tragedy, Dediemar said, the administration sees an opportunity to review safety and security measures. FSU is offering counseling to students and staff.

"Our concern has really been about the impact of the tragedy on the faculty," FSU interim President Garnett Stokes said during a Monday meeting with the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board. "We're bringing resources to bear to deal with this issue. We worry about the family, the children."


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