Craig Green is still trying to comprehend what he’s seen in the local news the past few weeks.
Shazim Uppal, 27, and a recent graduate of Temple’s Beasley School of Law, was found dead in his car Aug. 24 in Hockessin, Delaware.
Green, who specializes in teaching Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Federal Courts at the law school, said he taught Uppal during the summer and was helping him prepare for the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bar exams.
“I was shocked and saddened about his death,” he said. “And for me, it was sadder personally because I had seen Shaz so recently, so it was really only a matter of weeks since we stopped working together. It’s very hard to accept and understand.”
New Castle County Police announced Wednesday following a three-week investigation, 25-year-old Benjamin Rauf had been arrested and charged with the murder of Uppal. Rauf was leaving his house in Westerlo, New York, last Monday evening when he was apprehended by New York State Police.
Craig taught both Uppal and Rauf in the spring when the two were classmates.
Police said the homicide was not a random act: “a substantial amount of marijuana” was recovered inside Uppal’s car when he was found on the 100 block of St. Claire Drive near his home in Hockessin. Officers said Uppal was discovered with several gunshot wounds to the upper torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Green said the fact that another one of his former students was arrested for Uppal’s death was surprising.
“I think no one would see this coming,” he said. “Of course I don’t know anything about the investigation, or the facts. I’ve been seeing the same reports as anyone else … As for Ben’s arrest, that’s a legal process and it’ll go through that investigation, but it’s a shocking development, I would not have forseen that.”
Both Uppal and Rauf seemed to have bright futures ahead of them, Green added.
“They were both very young men, and had a lot of opportunities ahead of them,” he said. “They both worked very hard in preparation for the bar exam. It’s not an easy thing to do after you graduate, to have the next thing you do be the bar exam. … This obviously is a complete disruption of any sort of future life plans that they had in mind.”
Their stories differ from what the typical law graduate experiences after finishing school, Green added.
“After graduation, it’s a really warm time for a lot of law students as they comptemplate what the next move is in their careers, and how they put their law degree to use, and what it’s going to mean to them,” he said. “Shaz will never have that opportunity, and I think Ben’s arrest is a very serious event.”
Dean of the Beasley School of Law, JoAnne Epps, emailed a statement to The Temple News about Uppal’s death and Rauf’s arrest.
“The loss of Shazim Uppal, a 2015 law school graduate, was obviously devastating,” Epps wrote. “It was made all the more sad and difficult by the arrest of another recent graduate of the Temple Law School.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.