The shocking murder of a Nova Southeastern professor early Tuesday morning during a robbery in his Plantation home has neighbors on edge and colleagues stunned.
"You hate to be afraid in your neighborhood and it strikes fear in the hearts of people who have children and families," said neighbor Phil Beasley.
Beasley and others in the quiet Plantation neighborhood were stunned when fire rescue crews responded to the home of Dr. Joseph Morrissey early Tuesday and found the professor shot to death, his lifeless body laying on his back porch and his house set ablaze.
Police said it was a home invasion robbery, and now they're looking for the gunman who killed the 46-year-old professor.
"Shocking news, terrible," said neighbor Art Lieblich. "It's been so quiet here for 15 years."
The deadly incident happened at 12:30 a.m. on the 600 block of NW 75th Terrace when a man broke into the home as the Morrissey family slept.
The robber tied up Morrissey and his wife, Linda, while their 5-year-old child was sleeping in a nearby room, Plantation Police said.
Even though Morrissey let the robber have whatever he wanted, the thief shot him anyway then set the house on fire before fleeing.
The robber may have even taken Morrissey and his wife to an ATM where he forced them to withdraw cash, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Police said Morrissey's wife was able to free herself and escaped the burning home with her child. Neighbors said she frantically knocked on doors for help before calling 911.
She and the couple's young child weren't seriously injured.
Morrissey received his PHD from Stanford and did his postdoctoral training at the University of Miami. A senior scientist at Motorola for over 12 years, Morrissey joined Nova in May of 2009.
He'd recently been working on projects exploring radio waves and how they might help fight cancer.
"You say 'see you, have a nice weekend' to someone and find out that you won't see that person again," said Andres Malave, dean of NSU's College of Pharmacy. "It's very difficult."