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It is with great sadness that we report Marie Colas, sister of Pierre, died this morning from her gunshot wound at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Marie, a postgraduate student from Switzerland, was visiting Pierre at the time of the attack.

Four persons believed responsible for the Aug. 26 shootings of Pierre and Marie during a robbery at Pierre Colas’ East Nashville home have been charged with criminal homicide. The attempted murder charges in connection with Marie’s shooting will be amended to criminal homicide, police said.

The Vanderbilt community offers its deepest sympathy to Pierre and Marie’s loved ones on their tragic loss.

Video from Channel 5 of the Aug. 30 candlelight vigil the Greenwood Neighborhood Association held for Pierre and Marie is available here. The vigil was also covered by Channel 2 and Fox 17.

Pierre’s colleague and friend Francisco Estrada-Belli has shared the photos below.

Pierre reads inscriptions at Caracol in 2007

Pierre reads inscriptions at Caracol in 2007

Pierre and I with Michael Taucher for ZDTV documentary at Civalin

Pierre and I with Michael Taucher for ZDTV documentary at Civalin

Pierre with the VU students at Caracol, Belize

Pierre with the VU students at Caracol, Belize

Explaining Maya text at Caracol, summer 2007

Explaining Maya text at Caracol, summer 2007

Me and Pierre at Civalin in 2005

Me and Pierre at Civalin in 2005

Pierre’s friend Jan Seedorf shared the photos below:

Four suspects have been arrested for Pierre’s murder and the shooting of his sister, Marie, The Tennessean reports this morning. Police are still pursuing a possible fifth suspect. The full story is here and on News Channel 5 here.

From The Tennessean’s Web site this morning:

Police are interviewing three “persons of interest” this morning in the slaying of Vanderbilt University professor Pierre Colas, Metro Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said.

The three are in police custody but have not been charged. It does not appear that they knew the professor, Mumford said. They were found in a home on West Sharpe Avenue, about 2.5 blocks from Colas’ home.

Further details were not available this morning.

The full article is available here.

Michael Tauchert, a filmmaker who made a film for German television about Pierre and his work, has created a Web site with photos of Pierre. View the site here.

Mr. Tauchert said he would post some of the video online shortly. We will post a link to it when it is available.

From Robert Woodhall, Vanderbilt employee and resident of Pierre’s neighborhood:

I live in the neighborhood where Professor Pierre Colas lived.  The neighborhood is very saddened and outraged at the senseless killing of Pierre.  The Greenwood Neighborhood Association is organizing a candle light vigil for Pierre to be held on Saturday August 30th at 6:00 PM.  The vigil will be held in front of his house, 921 McFerrin Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206.  We would like to extend an invitation to anyone at Vanderbilt that would like to share and speak about Pierre’s life to join us that evening.  If you have any questions you can contact me at robert.woodhall@vanderbilt.edu.

The Tennessean: Clues sought in shooting death of popular VU professor

WKRN, Channel 2; WSMV, Channel 4; WTVF, Channel 5; WZTV, Channel 17; WATE (ABC) Knoxville; and WMC (NBC), Memphis, included multiple reports on the death of Pierre Colas.

If anyone has photographs of Pierre that you would like to share, please send them to news@vanderbilt.edu and we will post them here.

*To comment on this or any other post on this blog, click the ‘Comments’ link to the left of the post. Click on any of the photos below to view higher resolution versions of them. If you wish to save them to your desktop, right click on them with your mouse.


Pierre with fellow anthropology prof John Janusek at a gathering at Pierre's house last semester

From Kathryn DeTore: Pierre with fellow anthropology prof John Janusek at a gathering at Pierre's house last summer

Robby in the field in Caracol, Belize (see comments for more details)

From Geoffrey Braswell: Robby in the field in Caracol, Belize (see comments for more details)

From Mary Wilhoit: Pierre at Teotihuacan as a child (see comments for more details)

"Pierre on the left doing fieldwork in Chen Pi'x cave in Belize during a filming."

From Jason Polk: Pierre on the left doing fieldwork in Chen Pi'x cave in Belize during a filming.

Clint the 'Cabbage King'

From Jason Polk: Clint the Cabbage King

From Josalyn Ferguson (see comments for details)

From Josalyn Ferguson (see comments for details)

Thanksgiving at Lauren's house. Pierre is at the far right.

From Lauren Kohut: Thanksgiving at Lauren's house. Pierre is on the far right corner.

this is a photo of Pierre with graduate student Katie Caljean at his first-ever hammock part. Fall, 2007.

From John Janusek: One more for the blog: this is a photo of Pierre with graduate student Katie Caljean at his first-ever hammock party. Fall, 2007.

Pierre with fellow Mayan linguists Miguel Tahay and Sergio Romero, taken on the Vanderbilt campus last winter.

From Sarah Birdwell: Pierre with fellow Mayan linguists Manuel Tahay and Sergio Romero, taken on the Vanderbilt campus last winter.

I took this picture during a filming project for the German TV in Tecoh Yucatan.

From Memo de Anda: I took this picture during a filming project for the German TV in Tecoh Yucatan.

Pierre Colas

Pierre Colas

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, https://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.

*To comment on this or any other post on this blog, click the ‘Comments’ link to the left of the post.