Nick Contopoulos, OCC Professor, Had Ali Syed Point Shotgun at Him and Lived to Tell About It
Syed is the Ladera Ranch man accused of killing three people and terrorizing Orange County freeway drivers on Tuesday, Feb. 19, before using his shotgun to take his own life. Contopoulos is an Orange Coast College astronomy professor who came off a 5 freeway ramp to find Syed pointing his shotgun at him.
At first, driving to work and seeing the figure of a man with a gun outside a white truck along the freeway, Contopoulos figured the driver had hit a coyote that was about to be put out of its misery, he reportedly tells today's Coast Report student newspaper.
Then OCC's 2009-10 Faculty Member of the Year realized the shotgun was pointed at him.
As his car got about 7 feet from Syed, Contopoulos says he felt a calm. And when the professor could only make out the shotgun and not the barrel of the shotgun, he jerked the steering wheel to the right, ducked and "floored it."
Syed, who would take three lives besides his own that morning, never fired during a face-off that Contopoulos estimates lasted about 30 seconds. "He had a choice to fire, and he didn't," the academic said. "I will never know the answer as to why Syed didn't shoot."
According to the piece, the experience left Contopoulos with nightmares and anxiety, but he realizes things could have ended much worse, telling the student journalists, "I certainly think about appreciating things more."
4 Dead in A.M. Shooting Spree
Courtney Aoki, a.k.a Kitty Kitanna, Danced at a Weekly Best of 2012 Spot and was Engaged and Pregnant--But Was the Slain Woman an Escort?
[PHOTOS:] Sarwat Syed, Mother of Murder-Suicide-Freeway-Rampage Gunman Ali Syed, Goes to Court to Fight Hit-and-Run
Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!