Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings - At Least 20 Fatalities

See continued coverage here.
Note: Several bloggers have reported me to be an on campus blogger. I am actually an alumni who is now living in Fairfax, VA.

This is just awful:

One person was killed and several were wounded in two shootings on the Virginia Tech university campus in Blacksburg on Monday, The Associated Press and the university reported.

A hospital spokeswoman told AP that 17 Virginia Tech students were being treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries.

The AP reported that one person was killed and one wounded in a shooting at a dormitory. Another shooting at Norris Hall, an engineering building, resulted in multiple casualties, the university reported.
I lived in Pritchard Hall for two years, not far from Ambler Johnston Hall where one of the shootings took place. Most of my mechanical engineering classes were in Randolph Hall next to Norris Hall where the other shootings took place. This is very real to me.

I am listening to CNN as I am writing this and they just announced at least 20 students were killed in a second shooting in Norris Hall. There was at least one shooter who in now deceased. Details are still coming in.

Please pray for the safety of the students, faculty, and law enforcement officials and for all the families and loved ones affected by this.

Virginia Tech has set-up a page with campus alerts and updates.

Update: Norris Hall is the Civil Engineering building and is across a large section of campus on the opposite side of the Drillfield. If the same shooter is responsible for both incidents, this is particularly bad as the Norris Hall shooting with the greatest casualties took place ~ 2 hours after the Ambler Johnston Hall shootings. If I understand the information coming in, classes had not been cancelled at this point, despite at least one fatality in Ambler Johnston Hall and a shooter on the loose. Students would have traversed a large part of campus with a killer still on the loose and no action taken to cancel classes or warn the students. I haven't seen these connections put together by the media yet, but this is the best sense I can make of what happened.

Update: Apparently the gunman was looking for his girlfriend, couldn't find her in the dorm and 2 hours later went to Norris Hall to look for her. She wasn't there so he started killing students execution-style.

Here is a map of campus. The first shooting took place is Ambler Johnston Hall (32). The second shooting took place in Norris Hall (132) ~ 2 hours later. Note how large a distance had to be traversed by the shooter.

I lived in Prichard (31) and took classes in Randolph (133).

This is officially the deadliest campus shooting in US history.

Fox News is now reporting at least 32 fatalaties have been confirmed. See photos from campus here.

Update: The news is now reporting the gunman chained the doors to Norris Hall so students could not escape. Hot Air reports:
According to WaPo, this is now the deadliest shooting spree of any kind, on campus or off, in American history. And if Wikipedia is right, it’s already the third worst in modern world history.
Pajamas Media, Michelle Malkin, and Instapundit have more coverage. I still can't believe this happened. Virginia Tech was my home for four years. I used to walk under the archway at Norris Hall almost on a daily basis.

President Bush just issued a statement. He seemed a bit distracted and didn’t say much of relevance. He offered his condolences, prayers and support in the investigation of what happened. Somehow I was expecting a bit more... Virginia Tech is supposed to have another press conference at 4:30.

How sadly ironic. Fairfax County Schools closed early today due to wind. Virginia Tech doesn't close when a known killer is on the loose.

University President Charles Steger is currently speaking at a press conference on campus. Here are some highlights of what he and the police chief said:
  • There are a total of 31 deaths in Norris Hall including the gunman.
  • Another 15 students from Norris are being treated at hospitals.
  • There are two confirmed deaths in the Ambler Johnson shooting.
  • They are in the process of identifying victims and no names will be released until verified. A list should be released sometime tomorrow.
  • The investigation continues if there is a connection between the first and second shootings. Strangely, no other suspects are being pursued.
  • Recommmending parents not come to campus.
  • No reasonable explanation for why classes weren't cancelled. Lots of questions essentially were dodged.
  • They did not cancel classes because they thought the shooter left the campus and perhaps the state. (No explanation of why they thought this.)
  • The gunman took his own life.
  • Victims were shot at different locations around Norris Hall. (Not just one classroom.)
Nothing said during the press conference in any way explains why they didn't close the campus or at a minimum inform students about the danger. Virginia Tech touts itself as one of the most wired schools in the country and should have been able to at least try to e-mail the students. (E-mails were sent sometime between 8:50 and 9:26. I've heard conflicting reports on this.) There was nothing said that in any way gives me confidence in the decisions that were made earlier in the day.

Instapundit shares this touching image of the Virginia Tech flag at half mast:

Update: I just got home from GMU's campus a few minutes ago. I was wearing Virginia Tech campus today and one of the students invited me to join a prayer meeting one of the campus ministries was having. It was very touching and several of the students know some of the wounded. I sincerely appreciated their including me and their concern for those in Blacksbrug. In related news, Desiring God's blog has some Christian perspectives on the Virginia Tech tragedy. (HT Every Square Inch) Please join the students I met tonight in keeping the students, faculty, and families affected by the shootings today. Many people still don't know if their loved ones are safe and there are still many students in the hospital with no news on the severity of their condition.

Update: Here is an official timeline of events released by Virginia Tech.

Wikipedia has a page on the Virginia Tech massacre which should continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

The Chicago Sun-Times has some leads on the identity of the shooter:
Authorities were investigating whether the gunman who killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history was a Chinese man who arrived in the United States last year on a student visa.

The 24-year-old man arrived in San Francisco on United Airlines on Aug. 7 on a visa issued in Shanghai, the source said. Investigators have not linked him to any terrorist groups, the source said.

Police believe three bomb threats on the campus last week may have been attempts by the man to test the campus’ security response, the source said.

Update: The killer has been identified as an undergraduate student from South Korea:
The individual has been identified as Cho Seung-Hui, 23. Cho was enrolled as an undergraduate student in his senior year as an English major at Virginia Tech. Cho, a South Korean native, was in the U.S. as a resident alien with a residence established in Centerville, Va. Cho was living on campus in Harper Residence Hall.

A 9-milimeter handgun and 22-caliber handgun were recovered from Norris Hall. Ballistic tests on the evidence seized from the Norris Hall and the West Ambler Johnston Residence Hall scenes were conducted at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lab in Maryland. Lab results confirmed that one of the two weapons seized in Norris Hall was used in both shootings.

The names of the 32 deceased students and faculty will be released once all victims are positively identified and next-of-kin notified.

Classes are cancelled for the rest of the week and Norris Hall will be closed for the rest of the semester.

There will be a convocation ceremony in Cassell Coliseum at 2 PM today. President Bush and Laura Bush will be in attendance.

Update: Wikipedia has a page about the shooter.

President Bush has ordered all US flags to be flown at half-mast, both domestic and overseas, in honor of those killed.

Parents are demanding the firing of Virginia Tech's President and Police Chief.

Here is a photo of the shooter, Cho Seung-hui:

Update: Apparently Cho Seung-hui lived in the US since 1992. He and his family lived in Centreville, just a few miles from Fairfax. I can't imagine the horror his parents are experiencing right now.

Update: Engineering Science and Mechanics Professor Liviu Librescu was one of the heroes from yesterday:

A 76-year-old Romanian lecturer was hailed a hero after blocking his classroom door long enough for many of his students to escape the Virginia Tech gunman, before being shot dead.

Liviu Librescu pressed himself against the door of the classroom while shots were fired in the corridor and surrounding rooms. He stood firm, attempting to barricade the door, while his students clambered out of the windows.

Dr. Librescu was a Holocaust survivor.

I never took a class with Dr. Librescu, but took several in the ESM department and he would have been teaching while I was at Tech. See Dr. Librescu's webpage here.

Update: A live video stream of today's Convocation at 2 p.m. will be available at


Tyler said...

I went to school at JMU, so this is hitting home for me, knowing several people who went to Tech. I can't imagine how much more upset I'd be had this happened at my university, or if I had attended Tech.

Remembering Columbine's aftermath, I can't help but think that this is going to completely change the way university's control and release information. It's bizarre to me that this happened on a college campus and it escalated in this way.

retire05 said...

One big question: why did the administration not lock down this campus after the first shooting? And why didn't they use the loudspeakers to tell students to go into lock down?

Anonymous said...

When guys like Glenn Reynjold spost that had students carried guns this might not have happened--how silly in light of what the shooter armed himself with and planned--it is unconsicnoable in oight of the tragedy to suggest that it is the fault of a legislature that did not allows students to go armed all over campus...fair enough to be pro-gun, but to jump on this incident to suggest the problem is because the students not armed is just plain out of place. Let alone silly

C.C. said...

No, actually it makes a ton of sense. This illustrates what happens when the populace is unarmed. The rules preventing concealed carry did not stop this individual from obtaining and using a weapon.

Would this scenario have been different if a student or faculty member had been able to shoot back?

We'll never know...but we for sure know what the outcome is WITH gun control laws on the books.

The legislature of VA is not responsible for this carnage...but they are responsible for not letting students and faculty from having the OPTION to defend themselves.

If I were a student in one of those classrooms, I'd know which way I wished they had voted...

Jack Russell said...

I am a retired prof and we had the same dumb-sxxx rules at our U. I said to hell with it and was armed just about every day. Just didn't let anyone know until the day I retired. CCW permitees know that the element of surprise is our greatest asset when we have to use our weapon.

I figued if I had to use it, it would be better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Also as a Prof., my observation is that there are more loose nuts per capita at a U. than in the general population.

DagneyT said...

Fred, et al who question the efficacy of a gun carrying population, take notes. As a licensed concealed gun-totin' grandma in Texas, I need to educate you on the reason for the concealed carry law here: it is due/thanks to a whack-job who entered a Luby's restaurant and opened fire, killing 11 people. If someone in that room had been armed, there would have been less victims. Guns do not kill people, people kill people.

Here's a logic question for you, Fred. If guns kill people, do pencils misspell words?

retire05 said...

This whole thing stinks. It seems that last year it was ruled that Va Tech would be a "gun free" zone although Virginia allows conceal gun permits.
To put it simply, no professor would have been allowed to carry.

Did anyone hear the moron that is the president of this campus? He states that you cannot get into the dorms without a key (credit card type). So how did the first shooter make it into the dorm? Then he says that the lock down system works. Well, how the hell many kids would be dead if it didn't work?
And the police chief, Barney Fife, said that they don't know if the shooting (1st and 2nd) were related but then said the shooter is dead.
There is a lot of asscovering going on here. They still have not removed some of the dead students.
So what does this school do if there is a tornado headed their way; hope the electricity holds out so they can text message everyone?

Bro Robin said...

I'm sure the anti-gun crowd will be crowing for more regulations after this incident. However, if we're completely honest about this the fact remains that if anyone in the building would have been armed the likelihood of this tragedy's magnitude being so high would have been severely diminished.

Paul-Richmond said...

I'm a VT alum and am sickened by today's murders. Sick-o's bent on mass murder don't give a rat's ass about gun control laws. If I'm not mistaken, there's also a law or two on the books prohibiting killing other people. That hasn't exactly stopped the practice. The "Gun Free Zone" assured that no student or professor would be able to defend himself. The killer knew it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. What a horrible way to die for those kids. Completely defenseless. God help them.

Matthew said...

I wonder how many more tragedies like this there would be if students WERE able to carry concealed weapons to class and on campus. College student tend to be in situations where drugs, alcohol and emotionally unstable situations exist - granted probably not while going to class or in class. But the fact remains that allowing students to carry guns on campus is just as likely to prevent a tragedy such as this as it is to lead to more.

And while I think Va.Tech has some explaining to do regarding their handling of the situation -- to say that the students were "defenseless" is not true. The school, police and state are responsible for their protection - they just failed. Their failure doesn't indicate a need for each citizen to arm themselves. That would undoubtedly lead to more killings, not less.

Paul-Richmond said...

If you want to rely on the "school, the police, and the state" to protect you, be my guest. Their collective record has been less-than-comforting to me. Like they did today, all they can do is show up with enough body bags to clean up the mess. How many police do you think it would take to secure a campus of 2,600 acres and 25,000 students? It sends shivers up my spine when I read admittedly well-intentioned people asking the rest of us to trust the government to protect us. God help us all.

Matthew said...

My point at the end was merely that they were not "completely defenseless." And it is the responsibility of the school, campus police and local police to protect its students/citizens from such attacks. I'm not a gun control nut who thinks people shouldn't have the right to bear arms and protect themselves. I do. However, in a school setting such as a college campus, maintaining a safe learning environment is better achieved by a robust campus police (carrying guns) and not by allowing students to carry their own. Yes, a student with a gun might have been able to use it to help prevent this tragedy - maybe not - we'll never know. But the main point I was making was that allowing students to carry guns is just as likely to lead to more incidents like the one today.

Paul-Richmond said...

I am not trying to pick a fight here. I really am not. However, please take a moment and just try to picture yourself in the situation those kids found themselves this morning. The exit doors are chained shut. Someone is walking down the hall gunning down everyone in his path. You are trapped in your classroom with what to defend yourself? Your HP calculator? Your backpack? A really thick thermodynamics text book? As reports confirm, the police broke through the chains and before they reached the area of the shooting, the shots had stopped. If that does not fit your description of "completely defenseless", I cannot imagine what would.

Our cemeteries are filled with souls who called 911 and then waited for the police to show up to save them. Make room for 32 more.

Andrew Graff said...

"And it is the responsibility of the school, campus police and local police to protect its students/citizens from such attacks."

No, it is not. Not legally, and not morally. Not legally, because the police force will not be held culpable for the failure to protect the students, and not morally because ultimately, from these such attacks, they simply can't do it. No one can, and its utterly unreasonable to have that expectation. You are dealing with a lone gunman with no desire for self-preservation shooting people at random. Magistrates however numerous and compotent can't defend against that. Even full blown police states aren't perfectly immune to such acts of terrorism, and noone sane wants the sort of 'robust police presence' that might possibly be able to prevent this sort of thing. Your attack on the authorities is utterly misplaced, because it is wholly unreasonable to expect anyone to be able to protect us from this sort of thing. Ultimately, nothing can protect from this sort of thing completely, but if anyone can it is the person under attack, because they are there at the point of the attack. And ultimately, primary responcibility for protecting yourself falls to yourself. Self-defense is a natural right, and if you don't have the right of self-preservation you don't have any rights at all.

Andrew Graff said...

"I wonder how many more tragedies like this there would be if students WERE able to carry concealed weapons to class and on campus."

Now, this at least is a fair question. In my opinion, situations like this one at VT argue against gun control because there is strong ancedotal evidence that the presence of armed resistance shortens these incidents. What argues for gun control isn't these big splashy incidents, but the larger number of small domestic incidents and escalated bar brawls that don't make the news and even more so the ones that never happen. I'm strongly opposed to almost every form of gun control, but I'll at least entertain intellectually honest arguments for it. Events like the VT massacres and the Columbines are not in fact good arguments for gun control.

Daniel DiRito said...

A Symptom of our "Chain Letter Society"?

Read an analysis of the influences in our "Chain Letter Society" that may be precipitating events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech and how our focus on winning and being number one may be fostering a generation of children with fully inadequate coping skills who have a misguided sense of

Paul-Richmond said...

"Read an analysis of the influences in our "Chain Letter Society" that may be precipitating events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech and how our focus on winning and being number one may be fostering a generation of children with fully inadequate coping skills who have a misguided sense of self-worth"

"BLACKSBURG, Va. — The gunman responsible for at least the second of the two Virginia Tech attacks that claimed 33 lives to become the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history has been identified Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a student and native of South Korea, Virginia Tech police said Tuesday."

Uh, nevermind...

Michael said...


I don't know how you are processing this, but I am praying for you!

M.B. said...

Just like after Columbine, gun-grabbers are going ape.
What are some similarities between the attacks at Columbine and the attacks at Va. Tech besides students being shot by a student?

1. There were warning signs and nothing was done.

Columbine: Were There Warning Signs?

The gunman in the Va Tech massacre was a sullen loner who alarmed professors and classmates with his twisted, violence-drenched creative writing

2. Anti Social and on Anti-Depressants

Columbine's Eric Harris was anti social and on a powerful antidepressant called Luvox.

Investigators believe that Cho at some point had been taking medication for depression.

3. Police did not react right away.

Columbine Police slow to react

Va. Tech

4. Columbine was supposed to be the wakeup call for police but what happened at Va. Tech?

Columbine tragedy was 'wakeup call' for nation's SWAT teams

April 16, 2007 — There have been two separate bomb threats in the past two weeks at Virginia Tech that targeted engineering buildings.

5. Both incidents resulted in cries for gun control.

Difference between Columbine incident and Va. Tech?

In Va. Tech, 1 wacko student was shooting at other students.
In Columbine, not only were 2 wacko students shooting other students but police were shooting students too.

Family: Columbine Student Killed By Cop

Who Were the Cops Shooting At?
Cover Fire at Columbine (scroll half way down),ridgeway,33225,6.html

Unreleased Columbine Maps

Also..Stories of Columbine never mentioned..
Other Shooters besides Harris and Klebold..
At least 101 eye- and ear- witnesses remembered it differently:

Columbine had a 3rd shooter? Who?

Looking at the above parallels, it's safe to say that it's all just a big coincidence and there will never be an attempt to disarm the American people.

Andrea Yattaw said...

I wrote a long comment and then it got deleted, so I guess that was my hint to keep it simple. Loosen gun laws? I don't want to live in a society where everyone is constantly worrying about pulling their gun faster then the "wackos." I think we need to look toward the society we live in and seriously consider why we have thousands more gun deaths then most countries combined every year, certainly many more then countries who are as "civilized" as we are. I don't think gun laws are going to do it, whether we tighten or loosen. I think the society and the pervasive violence need to be exmained instead. Other countries have severly mentally ill as well, but they aren't getting shot up every few years like we are. Some countries operate without cops being armed. I don't know what we need, but it definitely isn't more people with deadly weapons. If guns don't kill people what does?? the loud bang they make?? That line is beyond ridiculous. . .THINK PEOPLE!!