Students attending a lecture at Tarrant County College were so frightened by their professor's behavior during a recent class that they had to leave the room.
When TCC Adjunct Professor Daniel Mashburn walked into his Astronomy class Tuesday night, several students were alarmed by his behavior. Some thought it was a joke while others called police.
Student April McLeod says her teacher got to class about 20 minutes late and turned off the lights and was wearing a ball cap, a toboggan, a scarf over his face and gloves. She says Mashburn never took any of it off even when police questioned him after responding to calls from students.
"The kid next to me had said he was acting very strange, looked over at the girl next to me seemed very scared," McLeod said.
Students say the professor talked about the Koran and the moon and the dark night and seemed incoherent and never discussed anything astronomy-related.
"Mostly he was talking about different things of the Muslim faith," McLeod said. "I was in class for about five minutes. He kept messing with his pocket and you could tell there was an object in the right-hand pocket. And whenever he went to pull out his hand, I started having this really bad feeling and jumped up and ran out of the classroom."
McLeod took a video of her astronomy professor being searched by campus police outside her classroom. Police found nothing on the professor.
Mashburn agreed to speak with FOX 4 Reporter Brandon Todd, but he refused to come down from his apartment balcony for the interview.
Todd: Are you aware that you scared some of those students?
Mashburn: Why should they be afraid?
Todd: Well you wouldn't show your face.
Mashburn: Many people do not show their faces. And in many countries, they do not show their faces.
Todd: Well here in America, we tend to usually show our face when we are a professor at a college. That's typically the standard.
Mashburn: Oh, yes. But I do not answer to your standard. I am not a Christian. I am not a Jew. I'm a Muslim.
Mashburn repeatedly deflected questions and several times said his teaching of astronomy goes hand in hand with Islam.
Todd: When you interviewed with Tarrant County College to get this job, did you explain to them your teaching philosophy?
Mashburn: I keep it secret. I keep it safe. I do my best, but I am tired of hiding in the shadows. I am tired of fearing their law. I fear Allah.
Todd: What do you have to say to those students who were frightened enough last night they had to call 911?
Mashburn: I do not know why they fear me. Why are they afraid? I'm a man who covers his face in his hand. I offer you nothing but the Koran a book and the universe. The universe is in my hand right here. You can look at it.
Campus police and TCC administration say they are doing an investigation, but the professor was not arrested.
McLeod says only two of about 25 students stayed behind for the class. But while she was in there, everything that happened made her feel uneasy.
"At one point he stood face to face with the board of the classroom and was just talking to the board," McLeod said.
Students say they received an apology from their professor, but it also seemed incoherent and he still talked about religion. Students have heard from TCC that they will get a new professor for their next class.
Mashburn said he was suspended indefinitely by the college.