Gerald Read, the 58-year-old who was killed in the Navy Yard shooting last month, dedicated his studies at GW to understanding why people become violent.
Read, an alumnus, wrote his graduate sociology thesis on D.C.-area violence – research that his former mentor called “a sad irony” in the aftermath of his death.
Read, who graduated from GW with a degree in sociology in 1990, was one of 12 people fatally shot at the U.S. Navy administrative center about five miles off campus. He worked as a civil contractor with the Naval Sea Systems Command’s information systems.
Sociology professor Steven Tuch said Read was a student who had a “seriousness of purpose and a strong commitment to his studies,” and was well-liked.
Tuch read the former student’s thesis, which found a link between student suspensions in Fairfax County public schools and violent crime. About one-third of suspensions were for violent acts, his research showed.
“It is a sad irony that Gerald’s M.A. thesis was a study of violence,” Tuch said. “The department is profoundly saddened by the news and circumstances of his death.”
When the shooter entered his office, Read pushed a female colleague beneath a desk and placed a cubicle partition in the gunman’s path. The woman survived the attack.
Read served in the army until 2006 and worked his way up to a lieutenant colonel, with a stint in the Republic of Korea. He also helped oversee the military’s supply chain in Iraq and Afghanistan from the Virginia base, Fort Belvoir.
Read lived in Alexandria, Va. with his wife, Cathy, of 35 years. Neighbors often saw the couple walking their four dogs.
Vishnu Pandit, the father of two GW alumni, also died that morning. He was brought to GW Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival from a gunshot wound to his left temple.