Something seems to have gone badly wrong in the life of 38-year-old Kansas State research associate Mark Harrison. On Friday of last week, Harrison barricaded himself into his home and ended up shooting Riley County Police Sgt. Pat Tiede who was responding to a domestic disturbance call. Harrison eventually surrendered to the police after a brief standoff.
On Monday, Riley County prosecutor Barry Wilkerson charged Harrison with three counts of attempted capital murder. Harrison made a brief appearance and is being held on $6 million bond. Tiede, an 18-year veteran, was released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
What is surprising about the case is how little attention it has gotten, even in Manhattan. It is not every day that a Ph.D. shoots a cop, especially a Ph.D. in a field like mechanical and nuclear engineering.
On the surface, there is little about Harrison’s background that would land him in such a jam. He recently rejoined the SMART Laboratory staff at KSU where he worked with Prof. Jeremy Roberts and Prof. Douglas McGregor.
Harrison, who received his Ph.D. from K-State, served as an assistant professor in nuclear engineering at the University of Florida for two years. Subsequently, he was awarded a Weinberg fellowship and proceeded to do research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for nearly five years. Harrison then moved on to Argonne National Laboratory where he served as the Director of the Radiation Detection Group. This kind of movement is not unusual for research oriented scientists, especially in the nuclear field.
What is unusual is the lack of detail coming out of Riley County. The story would seem eminently newsworthy. On Monday, the New York Times reported on the shooting and the subsequent charges brought against Harrison. The Topeka Capital-Journal did as well but offered no more detail than did the New York Times.
Keep your eye on this one.