Police arrest four for shooting death of Vanderbilt anthropologist Pierre Colas

Update: On Aug. 28, Metropolitan Nashville Police arrested four suspects for the murder of Pierre Colas and the shooting of his sister, Marie. Read more in The Tennessean.

Metropolitan Nashville Police are investigating the shooting death on the evening of Aug. 26 of Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor of Anthropology Pierre Robert Colas and the wounding of his sister who was visiting from Switzerland. Marie Colas, 27, was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center, where she is in critical but stable condition.

Police responded to a call of shots being fired at Colas’ East Nashville home at 9:20 p.m. Aug. 26. The motive for the shooting has not been established, but there were no signs of forced entry into the home, Nashville police said in a news release.

"We are profoundly shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague, Pierre," Provost Richard McCarty said in an e-mail message to the campus. "Pierre was a talented young scholar who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2006. In his relatively brief time at Vanderbilt, he earned the respect of his colleagues and students, and his absence will be profoundly felt. He was a kind and gentle person and a devoted colleague, mentor and friend."

Colas, 32, a German citizen, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Bonn and the University of Cologne in Germany. He studied Classic Maya culture, the ethnography of the Yucatec Maya of Belize, and was also involved in cave archaeology projects. While a student, he received two grants of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, a prestigious award that has been compared to the Fulbright Scholarship. He was the co-author of three books on the Maya and numerous articles.

University officials and members of the Vanderbilt Psychological and Counseling Center and the Office of Religious Life met with members of the Anthropology Department on the morning of Aug. 27. Any member of the Vanderbilt community seeking counseling is encouraged to contact the Vanderbilt Psychological and Counseling Center at (615) 322-2571.

Updates about memorial services will be posted on a university blog, http://rememberingpierre.wordpress.com/. Friends, colleagues and students are invited to post their remembrances and thoughts to the blog.

Police are asking anyone with information about the attack to contact East Precinct Investigations at (615) 862-7525 or Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.

Media contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS

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