George Mason Law School

33 dead in Tech massacre

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April 16, 2007

12:31 PM

__Dorm and classroom shooting at VT becomes the deadliest shooting in U.S. history__

__Gunman commits suicide after killing 32 victims__

p. A dorm and classroom shooting at Virginia Tech yesterday left at least 33 dead, some of them students, the Associated Press reported. The suspected gunman is among the fatalities according to police. It is the worst shooting incident in U.S. history.

p. “Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” Charles Steger, president of Virginia Tech, said. “The university is shocked and indeed horrified.”

p. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine has declared the city of Blacksburg in a state of emergency.

p. Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum told CNN that there were two fatalities and others wounded at multiple locations inside the West Ambler Johnston Hall at about 7:15 a.m.

p. According to CNN sources, several residents of Ambler Johnston Hall reported that the incident began in a single room in the residence hall and then spread about two hours later to Norris Hall across the campus where there were multiple fatalities.

p. Erin Sheehan, a freshman at the university, was one of only four survivors from her 9:05 a.m. German class in Norris Hall.

p. In an interview with the Collegiate Times, the student newspaper at Virginia Tech, Sheehan described the gunman.

p. “He was just a normal looking kid, Asian, but he had on a Boy Scout type outfit,” she said. “He wore a tan button-up vest, and this black vest, maybe it was for ammo or something.”

p. Sheehan said that the shooter was methodical.

p. “It seemed so strange, because he peeked in twice earlier in the lesson, like he was looking for someone, somebody, before he started shooting,” she said. “But then we all heard something like drilling in the walls, and someone thought they sounded like bullets. That’s when we blockaded the door to stop anyone from coming in.”

p. Sheehan survived by pretending to be dead after the gunman’s first attack, but witnessed her classmates’ suffering.

p. “People in the class were passed out, I don’t know maybe from shock from the pain. But I was one of only four that made it out of that classroom. The rest were dead or injured. My professor, Herr Bishop, I’m not sure if he’s alive.”

p. Chase Damiano, a freshman at the university, was in his French class in Holden Hall, which is connected to Norris Hall, as the scene unfolded.

p. “While I was in class I heard sirens, but with the bomb threats made recently, the sirens didn’t cause that much of a concern,” he said. “[T]wo women came into our classroom and said that a shooter was in Norris Hall. When we looked out the window we could see students running with their hands up, and we definitely could hear gunshots.”

p. Jamal Albarghouti, a graduate student at the university, recorded a graphic video on his cell phone while standing outside of Norris Hall. The video vividly captured at least 27 gunshots.

p. In an interview with CNN, Virginia Tech sophomore Matt Waldron said that he did not hear the gunshots, but did hear sirens and saw police officers with guns drawn shielding themselves behind trees.

p. When asked to describe the scene, Waldron’s account was understated, but also reflected the chaos and fear that enveloped the campus.

p. “It was kind of scary,” he said. “These two kids I guess had panicked and jumped out of the top-story window and the one kid broke his ankle and the other girl was not in good shape, just lying on the ground. It was just mayhem.”

p. NBC News reported that the gunman did not appear to be shooting at random, according to federal law enforcement officials. Instead, he seemed to have targeted both Ambler Johnston Hall and Norris Hall.

p. The gunman carried two weapons, a 9-mm pistol and a 22-caliber handgun, according to a law enforcement source that spoke with CNN.

p. According to the Collegiate Times, Flinchum said that police have made a preliminary identification of the shooter, but were not prepared to release that information. Flinchum confirmed that the gunman did take his own life while in Norris Hall, and that he had chained several doors of the building so that no one could enter or exit.

p. The police have not yet confirmed that the shooter was a student, nor have they ruled out the possibility that the shootings at Ambler Johnston Hall and Norris Hall may not be related.

p. Students on the Blacksburg campus have reacted with grief, disbelief and anger.

p. “This shit is insane,” Tech freshman Brendan Porter said. “It’s such a big number. We’re already saying this is just like a college Columbine. It’s just so sad.”

p. Yesterday’s incident came after another unrelated shooting near the Virginia Tech campus on the first day of classes last August.
CNN also cited reports that said the shootings followed two bomb threats last week.

p. According to WDBJ in Roanoke, a bomb threat three days ago led to the cancellation of classes in three of the university’s academic buildings.

p. The Roanoke Times reported that a written bomb threat April 2 forced the evacuation of Torgersen Hall.

p. College President Gene Nichol sent a message of condolence to President Steger and offered any assistance the College could provide, including the assistance of Campus Police and the College’s Counseling Center.

p. In an e-mail to students, Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler encouraged members of the College community to reach out to those affected by the day’s events, both in Williamsburg and at Virginia Tech.

p. “We can reach out to those whom we know at Tech so that they are aware of our concern and our care for them,” Sadler said. “On our campus, we can reach out to each other to provide solace and a listening ear.”

p. Sadler also said that counselors at the Counseling Center have started clearing their calendars in order to accommodate students affected by the tragedy.

p. All classes and events at Virginia Tech were canceled yesterday and today.

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