Law student left NYU, cause unknown

The Daily Pennsylvanian

By Emily Babay

Joseph Cho, the second-year Law student who allegedly tried to kill his downstairs neighbors, had enrolled at the New York University School of Law for several weeks in 2000 but left for reasons that the school would not disclose.

Penn Law officials knew about the previous enrollment prior to Cho’s acceptance at Penn, but they remain unaware of his cause for leave, Penn Law School Dean for Student Affairs Gary Clinton said yesterday.

NYU officials would not confirm exactly how many weeks Cho had attended their school but said that he did not finish the semester.

Cho has been declared incompetent to stand trial after he was arrested and charged with attempted murder and other related offenses.

On Jan. 31, Cho allegedly fired nearly 15 shots at the door of his neighbors’ apartment at 4339 Pine St. because he thought his neighbors, two male Drexel University students, were spies.

He is currently being transported to an in-patient medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.

In the wake of the shooting and determination of incompetence, some Penn Law students have said that Cho had unaddressed mental-health issues.

One Law student, who requested anonymity due to the issue’s sensitivity, said he was “unstable” upon arriving at Penn, and that Cho mentioned that he was asked to leave NYU by the school’s officials.

The student, who knew Cho socially, said he was “very well-intentioned but very sick,” and that Cho experienced hallucinations and claimed to have “super-human powers” that allowed him to feel people’s souls.

Cho enlisted in the military after Sept. 11 and served for three years, his lawyer Peter Bowers said Thursday. Bowers added that the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder may be explored during his treatment.

A second Law student, who also requested anonymity, said that Cho was “antisocial” and “took the law very personally,” arguing with professors in a manner that some considered inappropriate.

And some students have expressed regret that they did not try to do more to help Cho before the attack.

“We’re a small community and generally pride ourselves on being congenial and friendly,” said second-year Law student B.B. Liu, who knows Cho. “Now we feel bad that we didn’t reach out to him more.”

But other students said they had no indication that Cho had been suffering from mental health problems.

Meredith Brooks, a second-year Law student who worked with Cho at the Penn Law Christian Legal Aid clinic, said Cho was quiet and religious and did not display any symptoms of mental-health issues. Brooks added that Cho took his work at the clinic seriously.

“He was intense, always asking me how he could fulfill more pro=bono hours,” she said. “He was always willing to serve.”

Jae Ahn, a third-year Law student who met Cho through the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association but who did not know him well, said he had “no idea” that Cho had any mental-health issues.

David Baron, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Temple University School of Medicine, said that Cho’s belief that his neighbors were spies is “consistent with some sort of paranoid disorder,” adding that sufferers of true paranoia genuinely believe that someone is out to get them and may commit violent acts thinking they are defending themselves.

Read more: crime, Daily Pennsylvanian, enterprise, writing | Comments Off on Law student left NYU, cause unknown

Comments are closed.

Back to top