Academics / Isabella County / Metro / Police/Courts / University

CMU professor arrested, released on bond after shooting at traveling vacuum salesmen

Professor Robert Dale Lee's was arrested on felonious assault charges after shooting at three door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman

Professor Robert Dale Lee, 61, of Mount Pleasant, was arrested on felonious assault and carrying a firearm with unlawful intent charges after shooting at two door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen on June 5. A letter was posted outside of his classroom notifying his students that his summer classes have been canceled.     (Courtesy Photo | Anne Russ)

A Central Michigan University professor was arrested after allegedly firing a shotgun at two door-to-door salesmen on June 5, according to an arrest record filed by the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department.

Robert Dale Lee, 61, of Mount Pleasant, was arraigned on June 6 and has been charged with one count of felonious assault and one count of carrying a firearm with unlawful intent.

Lee was released after posting 10 percent of his $10,000 bond.

The incident occurred at 6:05 p.m. on Thursday after two vacuum cleaner salesmen approached Lee’s home. The professor came to the door and gestured “one minute” to the salesmen and then disappeared behind his garage, according to an affidavit issued to the Isabella County Trial Court. The two salesmen reportedly became suspicious and decided to leave.

Lee appeared from behind a pole barn near the home and proceeded to fire two shots at the men as they sped away in a van. One of the victims reported hearing the pellets “whiz” by his open driver’s side window, read the affidavit.

No injuries or damage to the salesmen’s van were reported. A 20 gauge shotgun was recovered at Lee’s home. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the incident.

Lee teaches in CMU’s Human Environmental Studies department.  A note was attached to the door of his FNS 370 classroom notifying his students that the class has been cancelled and that the final exam will be waived.

Meanwhile, Lee’s future with the university remains unclear.

“The nature of the allegations raise serious concerns for the university, and a process for addressing the matter is currently under review,” said Steve Smith, director of public relations for University Communications.

Check back with for more on this story.


  1. I had this professor my first semester on campus. I hated every minute of his class, because he came off as borderline insane.

    • Anonymous says:

      This professor also belittled a few students by telling them they were worthless and that they needed to just drop out of college.

    • He is actually an awesome person and really cares about his students, most people just don’t bother actually getting to know him.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know him personally. He is not a nice person. He’s a borderline mental patient who should be locked up!

  2. Concerned Alum says:

    CMU needs to do a better job at hiring responsible adults to educate their students.

    It’s absolutely embarrassing that they allow a band teacher with 4 DUI’s to remain at his post. It’s absolutely embarrassing that CMU hired a professor that stored and enjoyed child pornography to be in charge of students.

    It’s unfortunate that these stories pop up and cloud the image of the university for the remaining wonderful, dedicated, and talented professors that the university has to offer.

  3. Alum and Out-of-State Professor says:

    CMU and the State Legislator get what they pay for.

    If Michigan doesn’t want to fund higher education, teachers get paid less and tuition goes up. The side effect of teachers getting paid less is that you can’t attract your top choices, so you sometimes get stuck with whoever.

  4. Florence Schneider says:

    Concerned Alum –

    Your points are well taken. However, CMU isn’t the only public institution with a few nutcases in faculty positions.

    Look down the road at Michigan State. They had to deal with a math professor who disrobed and went on a naked rant in front of his entire class. Then there is the fool who ranted viciously (threatening violence) against all Republicans. The class didn’t even have anything to do with politics.

    There is a thing called background checks and there are things called termination papers. Colleges and Universities need to use them.

  5. Not Impressed says:

    I hope he is convicted and receives a felony. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. He isn’t the kind of person who should have a firearm.

  6. CMU needs to stop spending money on bullshit and start hiring quality professors. A 50 million dollar building with grass on the roof is useless without competent professors, it just makes the school look nicer. With tuition rates as high as they are, CMU should have well educated and well paid quality professors, not this trash.

  7. Dr. Lee is actually a very good educator who has been teaching for a long time. This is very shocking.

  8. Alumni Jessica says:

    Dr. Lee is a great professor and person. He is NOT borderline insane, he simply has a zany personality that always made class fun and interesting. I went through the dietetics program at Central Michigan University and had Medical Nutrition Therapy I & II with him. I would not be where I am today without him. He must have had reasoning behind what happened. Keep in mind stories are often one-sided.

  9. “Meanwhile, Lee’s future with the university remains unclear.” Really? I’m sure after the trial is over the university will make the right decision. Many good teachers out there waiting to take his place

  10. He is a good man but no one ever gives him a chance. He has done many things to help me (as well as many other students) in my education at CMU, and I know he would never hurt anyone intentionally unless he felt extremely threatened. I had never felt in danger when I was in his presence.

    I want to question why the salesmen were at his home at 6:00 PM? That is the time of day that most people would rather not be disturbed, it is also understandable that he may have been drinking since he probably assumed he wouldn’t be disturbed at such a late hour.

    We need to hear Dr. Lee’s side of the story before judging.

    • Are you kidding me? Oh since they came at 6 pm and he was drinking cause he wasn’t expecting company we should handle it with kid gloves? You and the other NUT who claimed he’s not insane should be in a cell with him. What if this nut hit someone innocent? Oh well, lol, it was 6 and he wasnt expecting people to drive by as he was shooting at salesmen? Fuqn nuts

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a feeling he thought they were scammers who were going to rob him, he obviously should’ve had better judgment, but he was simply protecting his property and family. There is also a possibility that he was not pointing the gun at them but merely giving a warning shot in the air, hence why they need to do more investigating as they will determine what really happened and why. It is so easy to judge the situation when you don’t actually know the guy (which I do).

        And yes, I would gladly share a cell with him.

  11. People keep saying, “CMU needs to hire better professors. DO YOU THINK THAT THEY PLANNED FOR THEM TO LOOK AT CHILD PORN AND SHOOT AT SALESMAN!?! No. Shit happens.

  12. I hope he rots in prison. And never “teaches” another student again! You’re no doctor. You’re a crazy, mean, miserable excuse of a man!!!

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