Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Frederick Martin DAVIDSON






The San Diego State University shooting
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: August 15, 1996
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Chen Liang, 32; D. Preston Lowery III, 44, and Constantinos Lyrintzis, 36
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on July 19, 1997

A former San Diego State University graduate student was sentenced to three consecutive life terms without parole for shooting to death three engineering professors at a meeting to defend his master's thesis. Fred, 37, opened fire in a classroom August 15, 1996, while meeting with a panel of professors.

The lethal graduate student told police he believed that his thesis adviser was bogging him down with work unrelated to his project.

The victims:

Chen Liang, Ph.D. (32)
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

D. Preston Lowery III, Ph.D. (44)
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Constantinos Lyrintzis, Ph.D. (36)
Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics


The San Diego State University shooting was a school shooting that occurred at San Diego State University (SDSU) engineering building on August 15, 1996 in San Diego, California, United States.

Perpetrator and motives

The perpetrator was 36-year-old SDSU mechanical engineering graduate student Frederick Martin Davidson. He was to defend his master's thesis in front of his graduate advisor, Assistant Professor Chen Liang, 32, and two other faculty members, Associate Professors Constantinos Lyrintzis, 36, and D. Preston Lowrey III, 44, at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 15, 1996.

San Diego Police investigations after the shooting determined that Davidson made advance plans for the shooting by slipping into the room where he was to defend his thesis at 10:00 a.m., and hiding a handgun and five extra cartridges of ammunition in a first aid kit. Each cartridge contained 15 rounds of ammunition.

Davidson's thesis had been rejected once already, and he may have believed that the faculty would reject his thesis again. Davidson also mentioned to his landlord of two years, Charles Brashear, that he was resentful towards Liang, his graduate advisor, for working long hours in the laboratory with little credit, and receiving busy work that had nothing to do with his thesis.

Davidson's lack of employment was also a motive, as he felt Lyrintzis was preventing him from finding work. Lowrey had seen Davidson with old notes that a student should not have, and Lowrey considered that cheating.


Davidson, the three faculty members, and three other engineering students assembled in the classroom shortly before 2:00 p.m. The three students were there to support Davidson, and to witness a Master's thesis defense. Liang stood, formally introduced Davidson, stated the purpose of the meeting, and sat back down.

Davidson then handed Liang a printout of an e-mail, from a prospective employer who was interested in hiring Davidson, that stated that his future employment with the company hinged on a successful Master's thesis defense.

Without time for comment from Liang, and without saying anything himself, Davidson turned to the first aid box on the wall, removed the 9mm semiautomatic handgun, and immediately started firing, hitting Liang first, and killing him while still seated at the faculty table. Lowrey and Lyrintzis were also hit. However, Lowrey tried to escape out the only main access door to the room. There were other doors in the room, but only one door led out to the hallway, and other parts of the 3rd floor of the Engineering building. Davidson was between the main door and the faculty table, and shot Lowrey several times, and he died on the floor in the main doorway. Lyrintzis fled away from the main door and Davidson, into an adjoining classroom, and hid under a table. After killing Lowrey, Davidson reloaded another clip into the handgun, and pursued Lyrintzis into the other room. Davidson shot and killed Lyrintzis while still under the desk.

Overall, Davidson fired 23 rounds, with 16 rounds hitting the professors.

The three students attending the thesis defense were not shot, and escaped without injury. One of the students did make it out the main doorway, and notified the 3rd floor students and faculty to evacuate. Davidson later commented that he was not angry at the students, and had no intention of killing them.

After the shooting, police arrived to find Davidson in the 3rd floor hallway still holding the handgun. He soon surrendered to police without further incident. Davidson had intended to kill himself after the shootings, but could not due to "pure cowardice". Davidson had left a murder suicide note in the hallway for the police to find, detailing the location of evidence and computer files in his house.


On July 19, 1997, Davidson was convicted and sentenced to life in prison at a grand jury trial.

"L3 Memorial Park", dedicated on August 25, 2003, is located on the San Diego State University campus, near the engineering building, as a memorial to the slain professors. Also, the "Preston Lowrey III memorial scholarship fund" was established at the university shortly after the shooting.


Man Gets 3 Life Terms For Killing 3 Professors

The New York Times

Saturday, July 19, 1997

A former San Diego State University graduate student was sentenced to three consecutive life terms without parole today for shooting to death three engineering professors last year at a meeting to defend his master's thesis.

The sentence for the former student, Frederick Martin Davidson, had been agreed upon in May when he pleaded guilty to murder in a deal that spared him the death penalty.

Mr. Davidson, 37, opened fire in a classroom on Aug. 15 while meeting with a panel of professors. He was arrested in the hall moments later. Chen Liang, D. Preston Lowrey 3d and Constantinos Lyrintzis were killed.

Mr. Davidson told the police he believed that his thesis adviser, Professor Liang, was bogging him down with work unrelated to his project and that Professor Lowrey had seen him cheating with old notes.


Graduate Student Shoots Three Professors

Excerpt from a story in the San Diego Union Tribune 8-17-96

By Joe Hughes and Maria Hunt

San Diego State engineering student, Frederick Martin Davidson hid a handgun in a classroom first-aid kit hours before he methodically killed three professors--chasing two of them down, police said yesterday. Davidson, 36, a loner, who spent most of his time toiling in a research lab, was apparently upset over the progress of his master's thesis.

The police chief said Davidson had made careful plans by hiding a .9mm Taurus handgun and five spare clips in the metal first-aid kit box on the wall of the third-floor classroom in the Engineering Building where he was to defend his thesis. Investigators have determined that he slipped into the room about 10 a.m. and hid the gun and ammunition. Whe he returned to the room about 2 p.m. the three professors were seated at a table and three student monitors were standing behind them. His faculty advisor rose, walked over and greeted Davidson and stated the purpose of the meeting. At that time, without saying a word, Davidson turned around, walked a few steps to the first-aid box, retrieved the gun and opened fire, killing his advisor. As the students and other faculty ran for cover, Davidson hunted them down, ignoring the students, firing 23 rounds during the four-minute frenzy. Campus police found Davidson pacing back and forth in the hall, holding a gun to his side. Twice he told officers to shoot him, dropping his gun, and was led away sobbing.

Charles Brashear, a retired professor of English who rented a room to Davidson for two years said he saw nothing that foreshadowed such an outburst, although Davidson had snapped at him for prying into his personal business a few months ago asking whether he would be graduating. He reported that Davidson had revealed his ambivalence toward his faculty advisor referring to him as a close colleague and friend, but at other times as an "enemy." He was both "grateful" and "resentful." They had collaborated on research, publishing two articles together. According to the landlord, Davidson was extremely neat, nervously straightening papers that were out of allignment on his desk. His room was Spartan, with only a framed undergraduate diploma and a nature calendar on the wall.

Davidson had few close friends and no romantic attachments. He sometimes went to Las Vegas for gambling and shows. Acquaintances said that his parents had divorced when he was young...



home last updates contact