|Loner's Rage Burned After Ruin of Web Site|
Loner's Rage Burned After Ruin of Web Site
By Scott Hiaasen and John Mangels
Biswanath Halder's Web site was his life. Working at least eight hours a day year-round in the Case Western Reserve University computer lab, he painstakingly compiled the digital equivalent of a bulging file cabinet and hope chest, stuffed with business plans and pleas for social justice.
Then, three years ago, a prankster hacked into his computer and erased it all. "Everything I had was destroyed," he said. Halder's outrage turned into a blizzard of complaints, from the courts to the FBI and Capitol Hill. He blamed the university and a computer lab assistant named Shawn Miller - "the evil man," as Halder called him.
Police believe Halder's grievance with the school inspired the shooting.
Miller, 38, who was in the Lewis Building on Friday, never got a good look at the shooter, but said yesterday that "about the third or fourth hour, I started to wonder, 'Oh, wow, gee, what if it was him?' "
Court records, interviews and Halder's writings show that the bachelor led a life of awkward isolation while creating an Internet persona of a budding millionaire and social activist, even a savior of the world. There were plenty of contradictions.
He bragged in a deposition from his lawsuit against Miller that his Web-based business plan would "have an impact of billions of dollars a year on mankind," though Halder himself was borrowing from one credit card to pay off another.
He posted an Internet resume seeking jobs as an engineer, yet had sued many potential employers for not hiring him. He has not held a job since at least 1990, instead devoting himself "365 days a year" to establishing a vague "electronic network" of enterprising Indians - a venture he blamed Miller for destroying.
"In a few seconds, the evil man wiped out everything that it took my lifetime to create," Halder said in an e-mail sent to the entire Weatherhead School of Management in August 2000. "Now, the evil man is on his evil path to destroy Weatherhead."
According to his resume, Halder served in the Indian army and received a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Calcutta. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1969 and became a U.S. citizen 11 years later. He lived in New York, Boston and Maryland before moving to Cleveland about 1996.
During the 1970s, he filed numerous unsuccessful discrimination and civil rights cases against big companies like NCR and Sperry Rand, who he said refused to hire him. He said the companies paid off the judges to defeat him.
In his resume, Halder claims he worked as a stockbroker and a real-estate salesman, though in a July 2002 deposition Halder said his last job was as a contract employee for IBM in the late 1980s. At about the same time, he said he began collecting Social Security for various disabilities, including an injured hip and wrist, elbow problems and glaucoma. He underwent psychological tests, but when pressed by Miller's lawyer, he said that had nothing to do with his $600-a-month government check.
Halder received a master's in business administration from CWRU in 1999, but continued to take classes sporadically, apparently to maintain his privileges in the computer lab.
Neighbors within sight of his third-floor housetop apartment in Little Italy, with its front windows covered with aluminum foil, describe a classic loner who rarely spoke and walked down the middle of Coltman Road pulling a grocery cart filled with books.
Halder himself said he tried "to avoid everybody. I do not talk to anybody unless I have to."
"I never really had a lengthy conversation with him," said Jared Oakes, a CWRU law school student who lived in the apartment downstairs. "He'd say, 'Do you have clothes in the dryer?' "
Halder's problems at CWRU began in June 2000, when a visitor to his Web site left a mocking message: "Bizzy Halder is a moron. This guy makes a living out of creeping people out. From his fake hair, to his fake teeth, his whitey tighty shorts and pants. . . . this guy is LOON."
A month later, someone Halder described as a hacker deleted his Web site files. Halder was convinced the culprit was Shawn Miller. He first complained to CWRU's administration, then to the University Circle police.
When they didn't respond, he went to the Cleveland police, the FBI, and even named Miller in letters to the Senate and House judiciary committees.
Miller has denied doing anything to Halder's computer files. Miller's lawyer argued that Halder focused on Miller because the lab assistant told Halder his computer privileges were suspended.
In fact, Halder's computer access was taken away more than once. In 1999, the university shut down his computer account for upsetting a female lab worker, records show. And in November 2001, an associate dean said Halder "harassed and disrupted other users" in the computer lab.
Halder aspired to use his Web site to promote social good as well as to make money. "I try to solve mankind's problems through the Internet," he said in his deposition.
"He's a very vocal social activist," said Durga Choudhury, a New Hampshire engineer who designed a portion of Halder's Web site when both men lived in Boston in the 1990s. "He speaks up for depressed people all over. He was opposing the war in Iraq, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India."
The loss of the Web site, and his intensifying anger toward CWRU, derailed whatever plans Halder had.
He spent the rest of that year rebuilding his computer files, finding a lawyer and obsessing about Miller.
"If the unholy trio of an incompetent police department, a perfect idiot mayor, and a felon clerk of the council continue to rule Cleveland, very dark days are ahead for Clevelanders," Halder wrote to then-Mayor Michael White in 2001 after the police wouldn't respond to his complaints about Miller.
As more time passed, his warnings became more dire. In a July 2002 letter to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Sutula, who was overseeing the Miller lawsuit, Halder wrote:
"The end result of all of these outright evil actions will be that society will end up paying a severe price."Quote this article on your site