Tech details emerge
April 20, 2007
p. New details about the perpetrator of the worst shooting in U.S. history are emerging as the Virginia Tech community begins the long process of healing from the massacre that claimed the lives of 33 Virginia Tech students and faculty Monday.
p. Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior English major at Tech, shot and killed two people in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory, around 7:15 a.m. About two hours later, Cho killed 30 more across campus in Norris Hall, an academic building, before taking his own life.
p. Nearly two-and-a-half days later, NBC News in New York received a package with a return address in Blacksburg, Va. from a sender identified as “A. Ishmael.” The package was postmarked at 9:01 a.m., about 15 minutes before the second attack in Norris Hall.
p. The contents were described by NBC as a “multimedia manifesto,” and included 43 photographs (most of which showed Cho brandishing weapons), one PDF file featuring a vague, 1,800-word rant, two Word document drafts and 28 video clips.
NBC forwarded the package to police, but broadcasted select files on the news Wednesday night amidst criticism that disseminating the material was insensitive.
p. **Cho encouraged to seek counseling**
p. According to CNN, classmates and teachers described Cho as a “loner” who seemed troubled and depressed.
p. Lucinda Roy, the former chairwoman of the English department, said that one of Cho’s creative writing professors was concerned about the dark nature of Cho’s writings.
p. Roy was so disturbed by the content of the writings that she felt compelled to remove Cho from the class and bring the writings to the attention of the police and school counselors. “The threats seemed to be underneath the surface,” she said. “They were not explicit and that was the difficulty the police had [in forcing him to seek help].”
p. Ian MacFarlane, a former classmate of Cho’s and current AOL employee, posted two short plays written by Cho to a blog on AOL.com. One of the plays, titled “Richard McBeef,” features several expletive-ridden rants and references to sexual abuse.
p. Another of the plays, “Mr. Brownstone,” features three teenage students ranting about their math teacher, Mr. Brownstone. At one point, a character says, “I wanna watch him bleed the way he made us kids bleed,” and the play includes more references to sexual abuse.
p. Roy stressed, however, that while she encouraged Cho to seek counseling every time she met with him, there was nothing she could do under the law to force him to go. Moreover, because Cho made no overt threats in his work, the school and police had no outlet, either.
p. **A methodical attack**
p. Erin Sheehan, a freshman at Virginia Tech, was in her 9:05 German class in Norris Hall at the time of Cho’s attack. 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 Cho’s first attack, escaping his gaze as he walked down each row of desks. She did, however, witness 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. Professor Jamie Bishop was among the vast majority of her 25-person class who did not survive.
p. **Cho’s ‘multimedia manifesto’**
p. Details from the “multimedia manifesto” led investigators to believe that Cho’s attacks were premeditated. NBC News was able to retrieve time stamps on several pieces of media included in the package.
p. The two Word drafts were early versions of the two sections of the Cho’s manifesto in the PDF file. One of the files was last modified April 13 at 3:45 p.m. The other document was last modified April 15 at 8:22 a.m. Both achieved their final form prior to the massacre.
p. Among the 28 videos, there was one AVI file that depicted Cho reading his manifesto. The AVI video was recorded April 10 at 9:40 a.m., six days prior to the shootings.
p. The PDF file was the last file to be modified in the package at 7:24 a.m. April 16, approximately nine minutes after shooting his first two victims.
p. Cho’s words seemed to represent those of a man who felt victimized by society. He was vague regarding the targets of his diatribe, but he seemed to implicate Virginia Tech students, although there is no direct mention of the school.
p. The entire manifesto is replete with vague religious insinuations and makes several allusions to Jesus Christ. He seems to paint himself as a martyr, and refers to the Columbine High School shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as martyrs as well.
p. As vague as Cho’s words were, though, the lack of remorse was prominent.
p. **The campus turns to healing**
p. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine declared today a day of mourning, focusing the mood on campus toward the healing process.
p. It will not be easy.
p. “I’m terrified,” Tech sophomore Laura Lisbeth told CNN. “It’s going to be so hard to walk back in to class and trust that nothing bad will happen.”
p. Virginia Tech announced that it will award posthumous degrees to every student killed Monday at commencement this May to recognize their achievements.