Governor criticizes Va. Tech response to shootings
August 31, 2007
Virginia Gov. Tim Kane criticized Virginia Tech’s response to the April shootings following the release of a report that said better communication could have saved lives, according to the report issued by an independent committee formed by Kaine and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
p. The report, issued yesterday, faulted the police for not warning students and teachers about the two homicides at West Ambler Johnston hall that preceded the Norris Hall shooting two hours later that resulted in the deaths of 30 more students. He also criticized administrators for using ineffective methods of communication.
In addition, the report sharply criticized the school for not providing the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, with adequate mental health services prior to the incident.
p. “During Cho’s junior year at Virginia Tech, numerous incidents occurred that were clear warnings of mental instability,” the report concluded. “Although various individuals and departments within the university knew about each of these incidents, the university did not intervene effectively. No one knew all the information and no one connected all the dots.”
p. The report said that Virginia’s mental health services are “flawed.”
p. It also placed part of the blame on Tech’s lack of knowledge about federal and state policies about medical records.
p. “Dots were not connected and signals were missed,” Gov. Kaine said yesterday during a press conference where he accepted the findings of the report.
p. Despite its criticisms, the report had some positive findings. The committee found that Tech and Blacksburg police did a good job of initially responding to distress calls and praised emergency care on-site and at hospitals.
p. However, the report found that many efforts made to assist families and students after the shooting failed because of a “lack of leadership and a lack of coordination among service providers.”
The panel made more than 70 recommendations for universities in the report, calling for reforms within universities and amongst law enforcement and public officials.
p. Kaine called the report “extremely thorough and fair” and stressed its importance.
p. “We must now challenge ourselves to study this report carefully and make changes that will reduce the risk of future violence on our campus,” he said. “If we act in that way, we will honor the lives and sacrifices of all who suffered on that terrible day and advance the notion of service that is Virginia Tech’s fundamental mission.”