Fugitive Professor's Students Saw a Friendly, Disorganized Tough Guy

A professor accused of dealing methamphetamine as the head of a biker gang

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A Los Angeles-area college professor is on the run from police who say he's a motorcycle gang leader who dealt methamphetamine. The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday Stephen Kinzey, who taught kinesiology at Cal State San Bernadino for 10 years, was a fugitive after police found "a pound of methamphetamine as well as a number of rifles, handguns and biker paraphernalia" in his house. On Friday, Kinzey's father told the Times he was shocked and "sick to my stomach" at the allegations against his son. Kinzey, 43, is still at large and considered armed and dangerous.

That Kinzey was an alleged chapter leader of the Devil's Diciples (who spell their name that way on purpose) and allegedly dealt large amounts of methamphetamine probably came as a surprise to his students. But it does seem some of them might have guessed something was up with their professor, based on his Twitter feed and their own online comments about him, even if they might not have guessed the depth of the situation.

Kinzey's Twitter, which only shows activity from August to September of 2010, and one tweet in May 2011, includes six different announcements he would be late to class, for reasons ranging from a broken garage door to a "banking issue" to an "unexpected phone call" to his father's health.

On Ratemyprofessors.com, students generally liked Kinzey, but assigned his class a reputation as a guaranteed pass. "If you want an easy A, this is the professor to take. Just show up, and you'll get at least get a C, gauranteed," one wrote. Another said he was "a little off task most of time." But most liked him a lot. "He might seem like a very tough guy but that is just the outside. You show him respect and you have a friend for life," read one of many that said he supported his students. But a few dissented, saying he wasn't focused. One comment, from May, seemed to indicate fraying in his life:

He's a really good guy and would give you the shirt off his back. But something serious must have happened to him because he shows up late, and rambles on about random and controversial topics. He lost his focus & passion for teaching. His behavior lately makes it seem like he wants to get fired. Sad because I really enjoyed all of his classes.

On Friday, after the news broke that police were searching for Kinzey, a few students took to the board to register their support, though not without a measure of sarcasm: "Steve was 'crystal' clear both in and outside of class. Very cool guy. A bit intimidating but when you get to know him he's alright," read one comment from Friday. Another said he would be missed. "One of the few profs who would go out of their way to help a student and tell it like it is."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.