Virginia Tech – How Come They Shut Down the Campus for Morva?

I have been getting mail telling me that Virginia Tech’s decision not to close off the engineering buildings…or shut down the campus.. was quite understandable and defensible, and that hindsight from journalists is easy.

Here is my response:

If hindsight is easy, why didn’t Virginia Tech benefit from it? Why is it that authorities were able to shut down the campus…and the whole town… when William Morva, a survivalist and alleged murderer, was on the loose in the neighborhood last year, but could do precious little this year?

“The shooting was the second in the past year that forced officials to lock down the campus. In August of 2006, an escaped jail inmate shot and killed a deputy sheriff and an unarmed security guard at a nearby hospital before the police caught him in the woods near the university. The capture ended a manhunt that led to the cancellation of the first day of classes at Virginia Tech and shut down most businesses and municipal buildings in Blacksburg. The accused gunman, William Morva, is facing capital murder charges.”

(N. Y. Times – “Virginia Tech Shooting Leaves 33 Dead,” April 16, 2007).


If they could lock down the campus for that, why not for this?

Was that because in the Morva incident, the victims were police and security?

I hate to put it that way, but I feel compelled to. I do understand that the killing of policemen tends to be regarded as more heinous for a variety of reasons, some of which might be defensible, but it goes to show that Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who will guard the guardians) is always a relevant question.

And to the Virginia Tech Administration groupies who wrote to me, let me point out that I did wait a couple of days and came down on the administration only when I saw the self-indulgent posturing going on.

In the old days, a university president would have stepped down immediately, regardless of who was to blame, simply for having had something like this happen on his watch. But university presidents today are like corporate CEOs – nary a word of self-reproach or self-recrimination. I think that was what angered me….and judging from the rest of my mail, a lot of people.
Still working on that summary…stay tuned.

A defense of guns from a different perspective

I got this link from Brad Spangler’s anarchist site and thought it was interesting. I am posting it here as a kind of mea culpa directed toward whichever anarchist wrote to me and accused me of “smearing” anarchists.

Well, I am an anarchist, and I don’t think I did anything of the sort. I merely said I thought there was room for a nuanced position on guns. But, I don’t mind genuflecting to fellow anarchists……since we are such a widely misunderstood and embattled lot in this culture.

Mea maxima culpa, fellows.

Meanwhile, I have to say that I think FOX news, which is what I watched on TV for the V Tech story, was very careful not to dwell on Cho’s race in an inflammatory way. So, I am not sure that I think there has been a conflation of anti-immigration and gun-control arguments. After all, Cho had been in the US since the age of 8, even though he had not become a citizen.

As an immigrant myself, I am quite aware of the dangers of fanning the flames of xenophobia on an issue like this, but I also do think that people should be able to discuss crime and immigration in a fair-minded way, without automatically being termed a racist – a term, which by misuse or overuse we ultimately dilute just when we might most need to use it.

Racism is also not a very well defined term in common debate. But that’s something for another post.

Meanwhile, here is the post, which taught me something new – always a good thing.

I will be posting a summary of information about the V Tech shooting later today. I think I feel strongly about it, because the debate about it brings together a number of things I have been concerned with…..and wrote about in the Abu Ghraib book... violence and imagery, “the daddy-state,” and the proliferation of police state laws. Besides which, I have a number of thoughts about the dehumanizing effects of modern education….

So, more later.

Virginia Tech – More gun laws or fewer idiots?

Dan Brown at the Huffington Post writes that there are only two ways to go on the Virginia Tech killings. (“Virginia Tech: Two Potential Paths, April 16) – either citizens will be encouraged to spy on each other and report suspicious behavior – the paranoid response, he calls it, or we tighten up gun laws that allow people to get as many guns as they want whenever they want it.

Talk about false alternatives. Would you really have to have been paranoid to have stopped some one like Cho Seung-Hui?

Some left anarchists (as well as adherents of the old right, like Pat Buchanan) argue that you would just need to have been armed. In 2002 the Appalachian Law School shooting, also in Virginia, resulted in only three deaths because it was stopped by armed students.

Hmm. That’s where ideology minus common sense gets you. Two camps of firearm fundamentalists, who refuse to look reality in the face, but are ready to fire from the hip.
However much we may support the second amendment, do we really want students packing heat in their book bags, as filled with alcohol, drugs and partying as most campuses are today? Why does the-right- to bear-arms-in-classrooms have to be part of a pro-gun position on this? I don’t think it does.

Nor do we have to end up on the other side, tying ourselves up with even more regulation on something that is already as heavily regulated as guns are. If the campus faculty and staff had been doing their jobs, Cho would have in psychiatric care of some kind. And if the campus police had been doing theirs, the campus would been closed after the first shooting, without any further delay. This has nothing to do with gun control. It has to do with ignorance about mental illness and about university officials and security not doing their job.

Look at this young man’s history. The 23 year old English major had written two plays that disturbed his classmates and teachers so much that he had been referred to counseling. What he wrote was described as “morbid and grotesque.”

His plays, Richard McBeef (replete with references to pedophilia, incest and chain saw murder) and Mr. Brownstone (scatological violence, and threats against teachers) – seem to reveal a disturbed sexual identity. Read them. I was a college English teacher once. I have read some pretty lurid stories from my students. But nothing that carried so much obvious personal freight. This is some one I would have definitely put on a watch list.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, one of his professors, had been worried enough to take him out of her class. Students had stopped coming to class because Cho was taking pictures of them on his cell phone camera; some students even speculated that he might commit a campus shooting.
By the way, the name Ismail Ax found marked on Cho’s arm, is probably not a reference to any jihadi association as people might assume – it is very likely a reference to Ishmael, the son of Abraham by his servant woman, Hagar (I used the term bastard erroneously). Ishmael is considered to be the progenitor of the Arabs (I originally wrote Muslims) and is a name often used as a symbol for the orphans, exiles and outcasts of a society (think, “Call me Ishmael” – the opening line of Moby Dick). In the Jewish and Christian tradition, the son whom Jahweh demands that Abraham sacrifice is Isaac; in the Muslim tradition, it is said to be Ishmael. I wonder – and here I am speculating – whether Cho’s references to Ismail and the plot line of Richard McBeef and Mr. Brownstone, indicate some very troubled feelings about his own father or some other authority figure in his life – whether grounded in reality or in his own disturbed imagination, remains to be seen. Not to color this with any homophobic sentiment – it is the case that Moby Dick also has distinctly homoerotic elements.

Although campus police do not confirm it (and, remember they have every incentive at this point to downplay any prior record of suspicious behavior to minimize their responsibility), student and police sources say that Cho had stalked female students and set fire to a dorm room. These incidents – if they occurred – should have led to a police record. If Cho had had a police record, he never would have been able to purchase a gun, even under current laws. He even had time to post a warning on an online forum: “I’m going to kill people at vtech today”.

But campus police at universities are notorious for covering up or minimizing these sorts of incidents. Why? Because campus crime statistics are bad for enrollment and they reflect poorly on campus police.

Notice, however, that campus security did manage to give Cho 2 tickets for speeding. Doesn’t that figure! Ticketing students for minor traffic offenses, as anyone who’s been on a campus knows, is the favorite pastime of campus police. It makes them money. And keeps them so busy, they don’t have time to bother with the trivial matter of preventing deranged young men from arming themselves to the teeth and taking out the student body.

Now we learn that Cho also left a “disturbing” note in his dorm room which vented his rage at “rich kids,” “deceitful charlatans” and “debauchery,” adding “You caused me to do this.” He is also said to have made a suicide threat and school counselors, reportedly, treated him. Then how did they not know what he was thinking? He was in a creative writing class, churning out pages and pages of this sort of thing – the faculty should have been keeping tabs on him and following up on his counseling. Now the university excuses itself by saying that they could not follow up, because they were afraid of litigation. Oh, that makes sense – the laws prevented them from doing what they ought to have done – and now they want more laws?

As everyone knows, university administrations are big, hamstrung departments that spend most of their energy on bureaucratic nonsense and covering their behinds. And that’s all these excuses are. I will bet you, that right now university lawyers know that Virginia Tech is in big, big trouble and they are getting ready for the mother of all law suits, as Tech parents finally realize that the high price-tag of schooling today doesn’t come with any minimal safety guarantees of their kids’ lives.

A bomb threat note was reportedly found next to Cho’s body and the bodies of some victims, “directed at engineering school department buildings.” That ties Cho directly to the bomb threats that the school received in the three weeks preceding the massacre. With Cho’s history of stalking, arson and violent talk, why had there been no earlier investigation of whether he was connected to the bomb threats? Who did the university think was behind them – the IRA?

We also know that Cho was being treated for depression. Was he taking medication? How come he was still able to buy a gun?

The chairman of the English department who referred him to counseling, did not follow up and find out the result of the session. Why not? What was the sense of referring him to counseling and then not finding out what the counselor had to say about his mental condition?
The university said it misjudged the 7.15 killings, believing that one of the victims was the killer; that’s why they didn’t bother to warn students to keep off the campus. What business had the university to indulge in dangerous and unwarranted speculation about where or who the killer was? Common sense should have told them to quit playing Sherlock Holmes and just warn everyone off campus. What was the downside? Losing one day of classes? Look at what was in balance on the other side – dozens of lives. Shame on anyone who even suggests this was a valid excuse.

Yet, this is how Virginia Tech president Stegerd excuses himself: he says that he believed the shooting at the dorm was a “domestic dispute” and “mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.

Now, which is it? Did the university think the killer died …or that he fled? Why two contradictory explanations?

Did they first think one thing and then change their minds? Or haven’t they got their excuses straight in time for public consumption?

Steger told Fox’s Geraldo Rivera that “we closed that building immediately, surrounded it with security guards, cordoned off the street, notified all the students in the building.”
He added that police expressed the opinion that the incident was confined to that one building. “

Now, why in the world would the police leap to that conclusion, when they’d had two bomb threats a few weeks earlier, specifically targeting the engineering buildingsnot the residence hall, where the 7.15 killings took place. Wouldn’t the normal reaction be to assume that more was to follow at the threatened sites? Shouldn’t they at least have warned students off the engineering buildings?

Though no weapons were found in the dormitory, the police seems to have taken some time to figure out what that meant — that the killer had fled.

Steger claims he spent part of Monday morning trying to figure out what was going on.” and only learned from radio reports that “there were multiple fatalities, another shooting incident was underway.”

So there you have it – the university only got alarmed after dozens of people were massacred – a paltry two deaths weren’t enough to do it for them! Are these idiotic statements symptoms of complete confusion or are officials covering up here?

We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur,” said Steger. Oh yeah? Why not?

Murderers at large (William Morva, earlier in the school year), arson, stalking, bomb threats, two killings…..that wouldn’t be a reason to suspect any other incident, oh nooooo……..

The first two killings took place at 7.15 in the morning at Ambler Johnston dormitory, but the school’s first email to students went out more than 2 hours later, after the massacre at Norris Hall had taken place. What was the need for this frightful delay that delivered a death sentence to dozens of people?

We don’t need any more gun-control laws. What we need are fewer idiots.

The Noticeable Absence of Hip-Hop at Virginia Tech

Now that we know that the massacre at Virginia Tech (33 dead and 22 injured) was perpetrated – apparently – by a South Korean male Cho-Seung Hui, rather than a black one, people might at last let up on the hip-hop industry – as the chief and only architect of the pervasive violence of American culture.

Oh, sorry, someone already has. Maybe in deference to the upcoming April 20 anniversary of the Columbine high school shootings – which the popular press inaccurately pinned on the video game, “Doom,” Marilyn Manson and Goth culture – Florida attorney Jack Thompson has already concluded that the electronic game industry is to be blamed.

Now, a good argument can be made that video games – and indeed every piece of electronic entertainment – have an impact on the human psyche qualitatively different from that of the print media – but there is no evidence yet that, whatever role they played at Columbine, they had any part to play here. But God forbid, that the words, “we don’t know” – should ever come out of the mouths of popular pundits.

At Virginia, the killer or one of the killers, seems to have been a young undergraduate. And the rumored motivation seems to have been a thwarted romance. But since there is no political constituency – at least, not yet – for outlawing youthful hormones, we can confidently expect that censors and gun-control advocates will be crawling out of the woodwork soon.

Of course, one wouldn’t object to a nuanced position on either issue. One could, for example, be in favor of gun ownership at large, while deploring the ease with which a student was apparently able to get two handguns and massive quantities of ammunition into a dorm room on a campus, especially, when bomb threats (April 3, and 13) had already been directed against some of the engineering buildings there. In hindsight, the threats might have been the gunman testing the campus security system.

But don’t hold your breath for nuance. Expect, instead, the usual thunderous denunciations on all sides and much righteous posturing from the pols and pundits.

Meanwhile, only half tongue in cheek, may I suggest that there is – so far – as little evidence that video culture caused this tragedy as there is that, say, academic culture did. Less, actually.

After all, with depressing regularity, university campuses do seem to throw up deranged, alienated specimens with mayhem on their minds.

There was Theodore Strelesky, who expressed his disgust with his advisor at Yale’s math department by taking a hammer to the man’s skull and then became an urban legend for his bald refusal to plead insanity in his defense or mouth the usual therapeutic platitudes to get paroled. He argued ,instead, that his advisor had it coming to him, a sentiment not unknown among some PhD candidates. It’s been suggested – again, not entirely facetiously – that a jury of his peers would never have convicted him.

Then there was the physics graduate student passed up for research funding at the University of Iowa who shot and killed three professors, his academic rival, and an administrator, before killing himself. And, most famously, there was the Unabomber, Ted Kasczyinski, a Harvard math PhD by the age of 25, who over 18 years mutilated and killed numbers of innocent people in a doomed protest against society. No hip-hop…or video games.. there – Ted once played the trombone and modeled his wilderness lifestyle on Thoreau. Maybe, we should ban Walden.

Still, although the perpetrator at Blacksburg seems to have been an English major, not an introverted science student, there truly are problems with the American university campus — and I don’t mean the alleged strangle-hold of the left, as cultural conservatives are prone to thinking (rather too facilely)….. only now is not the time for that discussion.

Especially, since we really don’t have enough information about this tragedy.

A more useful line of inquiry is the one probably uppermost in the minds of the families of the victims. Could this have been prevented?

I’ve already mentioned the bomb threats. Additionally, earlier this year, the Blacksburg campus was shut down when an eccentric survivalist, William Morva, wanted for alleged assault and murder, was rumored to have been sighted on the grounds. The rumor was false, but ought to have made university officials sensitive to the potential hazards contained on the 2,600 acre rural campus with more than 25,000 students.

One doesn’t want to rush to judgment about the university’s culpability, but the manner in which campus security responded does provoke thought. For some reason, I think gun control hard-liners are not going to want to pay attention to the surprisingly lackadaisical approach the university took to security.

Here are the emails as they were sent out:

‘A gunman is loose’: E-mails from Virginia Tech

The first 911 call on the Virginia Tech shooting came in at 7:15 a.m. The following are emails that Virginia Tech officials sent to students during the shooting rampage, which left 32 people plus the gunman dead. The misspellings are as they occurred in the messages:

Email sent at 9:26 a.m.:
Subject: Shooting on campus.
A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.

The university community is urged to be cautious and are asked to contact Virginia Tech Police if you observe anything suspicious or with information on the case. Contact Virginia Tech Police at 231-6411

Stay attuned to the We will post as soon as we have more information.


9:15 a.m.: Approximate time of second shooting at Norris Hall, in which 30 people were killed. Second email sent at 9:50 a.m.:
Subject: Please stay put
A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows

Third email sent at 10:17 a.m.:
Subject: All Classes Canceled; Stay where you are
Virginia Tech has canceled all classes. Those on campus are asked to remain where there are, lock their doors and stay away from windows. Persons off campus are asked not to come to campus.

Fourth email sent at 10:53 a.m.:
Subject: Second Shooting Reported; Police have one gunman in custody
In addition to an earlier shooting today in West Ambler Johnston, there has been a multiple shooting with multiple victims in Norris Hall.

Police and EMS are on the scene.

Police have one shooter in custody and as part of routine police procedure, they continue to search for a second shooter.

All people in university buildings are required to stay inside until further notice.

All entrances to campus are closed.


More than two hours to send out an email after two people are killed in a dorm? And no immediate cancellation of classes? This, on a state university campus, where the campus police are closely tied to the state police?

Before we get new laws restricting the liberties of ordinary citizens in what is already an incipient police state, maybe we should first make sure that our security forces know how to do their jobs with the laws already on the books.


Columbine in Virginia – 32 victims – early report of SWAT cop hiding behind stairs

Well – hip-hop strikes again. Virginia Tech seems to have been the scene of the worst ever shooting in the US. Only, Snoopp Doggy Dogg and his cohorts were noticeable by their absence.

One doesn’t want to score cheap points at the expense of what must be an overwhelming tragedy for the community at Virginia Tech, but maybe now, the chatterati can quit making their facile connections between vulgar language and actual violence. 32 people dead and counting. As many wounded. Violence arises in many places and for many reasons, some of which right now are only known to the killer who died in the midst of the bloody carnage he created.

Here are the victims’ names. Photos can be found on the net. I prefer not to post them.



Emily Hilscher, 19, from Woodville, Virginia, was studying animal and poultry sciences, and was known in her hometown as an animal lover.

Some reports have suggested Emily was Cho’s girlfriend, but police have denied this.

Family friend John W McCarthy said: “She worked at a veterinarian’s office and cared about them her whole life.”

She lived on the same floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall as fellow victim Ryan Clark, where she was killed.

One friend said of her on Facebook: “She was so filled with life and always had something wonderful to say or was always making me smile.”



Student counsellor Ryan Clark, 22, from Martinez, Georgia, was in his final year studying for a triple major in biology, English and psychology.

Known as “Stack” by his friends, Ryan was a member of the Marching Virginians campus band.

He was the second victim in West Ambler Johnston Hall.

His friend, Gregory Walton, said: “He was just one of the greatest people you could possibly know.”



Professor Kevin Granata, from the Engineering Science and Mechanics department, carried out orthopaedic research in hospitals before joining the university.

He was regarded as one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the US for his work on cerebral palsy.

Fellow professor Demetri P Telionis said: “With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family, and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities.”



Professor GV Loganathan, 51, lectured in civil and environmental engineering and had won several awards for his teaching.

He had served on the faculty senate and was an adviser to about 75 undergraduate students.

Professor Loganathan moved to the US from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu in 1977 to teach. He had worked at Virginia Tech since 1982.

His brother, GV Palanivel, said: “For us it was like an electric shock.”

Indian killed in US gun rampage



Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, was a Romanian-born Israeli academic in the Engineering Science & Mechanics Department. He was also a Holocaust survivor and moved to Virginia in 1985.

Internationally renowned for his research work, he has been hailed a hero for blocking a doorway to protect his students.

His son Joe said he had received e-mails from several students who said he had saved their lives.



Jamie Bishop, 35, was an instructor in foreign languages and literatures teaching German and he helped organise the Virginia Tech exchange programme with a German university.

He was formerly a Fulbright scholar at Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel and colleagues there said they were “deeply, deeply shocked by his death”.

On his own website, Jamie said he had lived in Germany for four years and “spent most of his time learning the language, teaching English, drinking large quantities of wheat beer, and wooing a certain Fraulein”.

That “Fraulein” was his wife Stephanie Hofer, who also teaches at Virginia Tech.



Canadian Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was a French instructor. Her husband, Jerzy Nowak, is the head of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech.

She was the mother of two girls.

Jocelyne, who had previously lectured in child development, was described by one Virginia Tech student as “an excellent teacher” who was “extremely nice and understanding”.

In the 1990s, she lived in Truro, Nova Scotia, and was instrumental in creating the town’s first French-speaking school.



Minal Panchal, 26, who was from Mumbai (Bombay) in India, was in her first year of a masters degree in building science.

She had a degree in architecture from Rizvi College in Mumbai, and was passionate about it because her father was himself an architect.

A friend in Mumbai described her as “a brilliant student and very hard-working”.

Second Indian dies in US shooting



Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, was from Peru.

He was studying international relations and was killed in a French class.



Reema Samaha, 18, from Centreville, Virginia, was a freshman (first year) and a talented dancer.

Her brother, Omar, watched her perform at a street fair the day before she died, but said: “I never got to say goodbye.”

Her sister, Randa, said Reema’s family had tried repeatedly to contact her but without success: “So we drove down here praying for the best and just preparing ourselves for the worst and that’s what we got, we got the worst.”

Reema was a pupil at Westfield High School, where the gunman, Cho, also studied.



Matthew La Porte, 20, from Dumont, New Jersey, was a freshman in university studies.

He graduated from Carson Long Military Institute in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, in 2005.



Jarrett Lane, from Narrows, Virginia, was a senior (final year) in civil engineering and a valedictorian of Narrows High School.

There he played the trombone, competed in athletics and played football and basketball.

The school has erected a memorial in his honour bearing photographs, musical instruments and his athletic jerseys.

Jarrett’s brother-in-law, Daniel Farrell, said he was “full of spirit” and added: “He had a caring heart and was a friend to everyone he met.”



Ross Alameddine, 20, from Saugus, Massachusetts, was a sophomore (second year) English major. He was shot during a French class.

Friends described him as “an intelligent, funny, easy-going guy” in a memorial posted on internet networking website Facebook.

His mother, Lynnette, was angry at how long it took to inform parents about the shootings: “It happened in the morning and I did not hear until a quarter to 11 at night.”



Caitlin Hammaren, 19, from Westtown, New York, was a sophomore reading international studies and French.

John P Latini, principal of Minisink Valley High School, where she graduated in 2005, said: “She was just one of the most outstanding young individuals that I’ve had the privilege of working with in my 31 years as an educator.”



Mary Karen Read, 19, from Annandale, Virginia, was born in South Korea into an Air Force family and had lived in Texas and California.

Her uncle, Ted Kuppinger, said: “She was a beautiful girl, very caring and loving.”

Her aunt, Karen, said she had struggled to adjust to Virginia Tech’s sprawling 2,600-acre campus, but said she had recently begun making friends and was looking into joining a sorority.

She was killed in French class. She had yet to declare her main subject of study.



Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26, was a graduate student in civil engineering.

He was married to Liselle Vega Cortes and came from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

His father, also called Juan Ramon, said: “He was an extraordinary son, what any father would have wanted.”



Daniel O’Neil, 22, of Rhode Island, was a graduate student in engineering who also played guitar and wrote his own songs, which he posted on a website,

Friend Steve Craveiro said: “He would come home from school over the summer and talk about projects, about building bridges and stuff like that.

“He was pretty much destined to be extremely successful.”

Daniel also worked as a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech.



Maxine Turner, 22, from Vienna, Virginia, was a senior studying chemical engineering and was expecting to graduate in May.

She had taken German as an elective – she was shot in the German class.

Maxine had recently helped to found a chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in engineering. She had also accepted a chemical engineering job in Maryland.

She was described in a web tribute as “an absolutely amazing, intelligent woman”.

Her father, Paul Turner, said: “It’s a terrible loss. I cannot understand the legislators in this country, not putting in laws that protect people.”



Henry Lee was from Roanoke, Virginia. He was a freshman, studying computer engineering.



Leslie Sherman was a sophomore at Virginia Tech, studying history and international studies.

Her grandmother Gerry Adams described her as an avid traveller, who was planning a trip to Russia this summer.

“She was so happy. Life was going so well for her,” said Ms Adams, who described the family as “just besides themselves” with grief.



Erin Peterson, 18, was a freshman.

Her father Grafton said: “My baby didn’t make it.”



Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, was from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

He was a graduate student in civil engineering.


Julia Pryde was a graduate student from Middletown, New Jersey.

She was described as an “exceptional student academically and personally” by the head of the biological systems and engineering department where she was seeking her master’s degree.

Last summer she travelled to Ecuador to research water quality issues and planned to return this year.



Michael Pohle, 23, from Flemington, New Jersey, was expected to graduate in a few weeks with a degree in biological sciences.

Vice principal at his former high school, Craig Blanton, said: “He had a bunch of job interviews and was all set to start his post-college life.”

He was described by a former sports coach as “a good kid who did everything that good kids do”.



Partahi Lumbantoruan, 34, from Indonesia, was a civil engineering doctoral student and had been studying at Virginia Tech for three years, said his father, Tohom Lumbantoruan, a retired army officer.

“We tried everything to completely finance his studies in the United States,” he said.

“We only wanted him to succeed in his studies, but… he met a tragic fate.”



Lauren McCain, was 20, from Hampton, Virginia.

She was doing international studies.



Brian Bluhm, 25, formerly from Detroit, was a graduate student in civil engineering and was doing a masters in water resources.



Austin Cloyd, from Blacksburg, Virginia, was a first year in international studies and French, and wanted to be a US ambassador.

Her former pastor, Rev Terry Harter, said Austin was a “very delightful, intelligent, warm young lady” and an athlete who played basketball and volleyball in high school.

Her family had moved from Illinois to Blacksburg, when her father took a job in the accounting department at Virginia Tech.


Rachael Hill, 18, was from Glen Allen, Virginia.


Matthew Gwaltney, 24, from Chester, Virginia, was a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering.



Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, 32, of Zagazig, Egypt, was a doctoral student in civil engineering.

He is said to have called home a day before the shooting to say he was returning to Egypt next month to take his wife and one-year-old son to the US.

He is said to have been shot while trying to save another student.

“He was the simplest and nicest guy I ever knew. We would be studying for our exams and he would go buy a cake and make tea for us,” Waleed’s flatmate, Fahad Pasha said.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was planning to fly his body to Egypt.


Nicole White, 20, came from Smithfield, Virginia, and was a junior doing international studies and German.

A personal account of the shooting and aftermath:


Another account:

A Follow Up on a Most Emotional Day

Apr. 17., 2007 | 01:37 pm

This entry is meant for those truly concerned about the events of today, and of course of the people involved (mainly Kate). This is not a post that can be used for any reason by reporters or journalists simply trying to get a story out of what transpired today. There are way too many emotions flying around at this point that any duplication of this entry used for anything other than true and pure concern, such as trying to use it to find out who is to blame or as a slander towards VT is in my opinion inhumane.

Now that that is out of the way…

Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern for Kate and all of us here at VT. It has been a very emotional day for all of us where not a single student has been able to sit calmly for more than a half hour without shaking their head in pure disbelief. Kate is for all intents and purposes fine. She came out of surgery with flying colors and with a sense of humor still. She now has a giant cast around her hand which is constantly attended to with bags of ice and a supportive family and friends by her side willing to help her in any way possible. When she came out of surgery, she was not aware of exactly HOW large the magnitude of this tragedy really was, and made us all in the room cry a bit from the story she told us being in the same room with the lunatic who changed our lives forever. It really hit me hard how much of a heroine Kate really was today, and how glad I am that she is alright, breathing and living. As she held my hand today I couldn’t help but be overwhelemed with the feeling that I could get through all of this relatively unscathed now that I knew that my other half was going to be alright. Rest assured, I will be at the hospital for the remainder of all of this. My mom asked if she needed me to have her come down. My response was that it didn’t matter what I needed, but what Kate needs, and right now I think she needs me by her side.

I came home after visiting hours with the notion that it would be impossible to sleep tonight, so I simply sat listening to the concerns of others for a while and the other stories of the other people on campus. It was at this time that I came into contact with an extremely nice representative of ABC’s Good Morning America, who not only was concerned for Kate, but was genuinely concerened about all the students at Tech and wanted to know if there was any way she could help us with anything. With the help of this representative, I went through my phone book and was calling up as many people as possible from Tech to see if everyone they knew on campus were accounted for, and we made a list of people that we still needed to get word on. She has helped me through the night getting back to me on the condition of these students, as I let the parties concerened know of the news (good or bad). I think that perhaps one of the things overlooked by many journalists today, was that we were not interested in giving interviews because we were the same as our parents in that we needed to know that everyone was ok and breathing and living. Kate was really a truly fortunate person from the events of today, and I wish I could say that everyone I know is fine and made it through ok, but even that isn’t the rubric for concern. What happened today will hit us all regardless if we knew someone personally hurt or not. And for all of us, we need to be there for each other to help us get over the insane amount of trauma we no doubt have gained from this experience.

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Madness on Campus

Apr. 16., 2007 | 11:47 am

I woke up this morning in Kate’s bed to the sound of not one, but two alarms waking us up for classes and whatnot. I remember telling Kate the night before that I was going to come onto campus with her at 9am so that I could go to the library to get some work done. The alarm blares and I realize I have absolutely no motivation to leave the bed. Kate tells me it’s ok, she keeps telling me that she’ll be back in an hour anyways, so it will be ok if she came back and saw my lying right where she left me. I agree with a firm roll over and immediately go back to sleep.

I wake up again to the blare of my own alarm telling me that it’s time to get up for my own class. I hit the snooze button, and simply lie there. I overhear a lot of commotion in the main room, Kali and Steph are awake and talking about something. Kali then enters the kitchen and calls someone which I overhear, and heard the magical words that class is canceled for today. Lying in bed, this is the greatest news I could have ever heard, I get out of bed, put on clothes real quick and come out, and greet the roomates. They simply point to the tv where I find out that there has been yet another shooting on campus. First in AJ which is where Kate lived for two years, and then in Norris hall. I try calling kate but she isnt answering her phone. I am assuming she is in Mcbride because I have had a few german classes in that building but im not sure. We check her schedule to find out that she in fact had her german class in Norris Hall. Now I’m freaked out, and franticly try to call her, but she isn’t picking up.

fast foward a couple minutes, i get a call from montgomery hostpital. A very kind nurse, wanted to give me a message from Katelyn Carney. I obviously oblige and ask what the message is. She says, ok, the message is “I’ve got red on me” Of course I instantly think, what a hilarious thing to say in a situation like this, but at the same time, I’m now MORE worried than i was before, and ask the nurse if she is able to patch me through to kate.

Right as she picks up the phone she tells me “I got red on me” I laugh, and immediately try to find out if shes hurt or what to expect, and she lets me know that shes fine, stable, good, not hurt…only slightly.

The story goes that she was in class and they heard a banging, her teacher opened the door to find out what was going on, and after not seeing anything, closed the door. Not more than two seconds later, a gunman entered her room, to which the class responded by getting underneath the desks and basicly hiding as well as possible from this guy. He then shot at the class somewhere between 8 to 12 times and then left. Kate was hit in the hand by a stray bullet, after speaking with her on the phone while she was/is at the hospital,I found out that she still has a peice of a bullet lodged into her hand, and has fractions on her index and pinkey finger. She is about to go into surgery to get that cleaned up and will be there for the next three days. Again she was not specific on exactly what transpired there, but it must have been very stressful for her. She said that the gunman, who looked asian, left and She and another classmate barricated the door while others attended to the wounded and injured. The gunman came back and tried to get in, but because of the barracade couldnt and proceeded to shoot at the door at hip level, while kate was and the other classmates were at ground level.

He wondered off after that, I dont know what happened to him after that, except the police say he’s dead. Anyways, the class was then escorted by police to the drillfield where they got into cop cars and then abulances, which is how kate is now at montgomery hostpital. She is truley my hero for not only going through such an experience but also by being able to take action and make sure that this gunman was unable to return to the classroom.

the police now say that 22 are dead. I remember kate crying on the phone saying that she didnt think the teacher Herr Bishop made it out of the whole thing. I’m not sure on that one either.

Because of whats transpiring, my phone cannot connect to the network, its constantly busy. For everyone who has been calling me wondering whats going on, im sorry, ill try to get back to everyone as soon as possible.



April 16th, 2007

This live journal post claims to be a journal entry of Cho’s.

I can’t confirm its authenticity, but decided to save the link.

Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor at The American Prospect magazine and author of the blog theGarance, suggests that the university’s response to the initial shooting – which school officials said they thought they had contained because it was thought to have been related to a domestic dispute – overlooks a more fundamental issue: domestic violence. From her post:

“Because the first victim was a woman, and possible had a romantic connection to the killer, the police did not see her murder as a threat to the community. Now the police are pretty plainly telling the public that they failed to warn the campus there was a killer on the loose because they failed to understand that men who kill their partners are also threats to society.”

“I was sitting in class when we heard loud popping noises a couple rooms down… The teacher and a student went into the hallway and rushed back in and told everybody to get down. We put a table against the door and had a few students holding down the door. The gunman tried to shoulder his way in and when he saw that he couldn’t, he put two shots through the door it was the scariest moment of my life…” (Wash Po blog

pr 16 2007 4:52 PM EDT

Gunshots ‘Sounded Like A Hammer’: Virginia Tech Students Speak About Shootings

‘The hardest part for us is not knowing the names of the people who were hurt,’ Virginia Tech senior Lauren Petty says.

Just two doors down from Norris Hall, where the majority of the victims were killed in Monday’s shooting rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech university, Junior Tanner McKibben was huddled on the floor.

McKibben was crouched alongside other students in a classroom in Pamplin Hall behind closed blinds, staring at a television and trying to get more information on the shootings. “I was in the middle of class and I’d gotten word from people by text message that the early shooting happened. I thought only one person had been shot, so I continued on to class,” said McKibben, 21. “But more people started coming in and saying there had been big shootings, and then officials told us not to leave the room and to get away from the windows and close the blinds” (see “Cho Seung-Hui, Virginia Tech Gunman, Described As ‘Loner’ “).

(See also “Students From Across U.S. Respond To Shootings: ‘It Is Beyond Unsettling’ “, “On Virginia Tech Campus: ‘I Can’t Believe This Happened Here’ “ and ” ‘People Are Missing’: VT Student Reflects On Loss Of Friend” for more student reactions and accounts.)

McKibben said he was locked in the classroom for nearly three hours, unable to check his voicemail or e-mail due to overloaded systems. When he got back to his apartment at around noon, he spoke to a friend who was in Norris during the rampage who said he’d seen people crying and running around in the building as word spread of the incident.

“The shooter didn’t come in his room, but [my friend] said there were 10 people who came in the room crying and they said they saw a guy jump out of a third story window and break his leg, which made them think twice about jumping out the windows themselves,” McKibben said.

“My friend said he could hear the shots and they sounded like a hammer. He saw a guy who was shot in the arm run by and then he shut the doors to the room they were in and there were people in there crying hysterically. They said the shooter came into one classroom and shot everyone, including the teacher, and then he lined people up in the hallway and shot them.”

A good friend of senior Lauren Petty was also in Norris during the shootings, and told her that he saw the shooter reloading his gun and preparing to open fire again. “He [my friend] quickly closed the door and hid in a classroom and he luckily got away,” said Petty, 22, a communications major from Pittsburgh. “The hardest part for us is not knowing the names of the people who were hurt. Everyone I know is glued to their TVs, and most of my friends are leaving town to get away for a while.”

Brent Dillie, a senior from the Pittsburgh area, was in his off-campus apartment when the second round of shootings began. The engineering major was supposed to be at a class in the building next door to Norris Hall, but had begged off after his girlfriend called him at 8:30 a.m. to tell him about the shots fired at West Ambler Johnston residence hall.

“My younger brother was in the area around the second shooting when that was going on. He saw 10 or 15 cop cars and 10 or 15 ambulances rushing up and he was removed from the area,” Dillie said. “The cops were outside their cars with their guns out and using their car doors like shields, like you see in the movies.”

Dillie said despite last week’s bomb scares and an incident last semester with an escaped convict, he’s always felt safe on campus and predicted he’d feel safe again on Wednesday when classes resume. “It’s a couple of freak things, but this isn’t a dangerous place at all,” he said. “Most of my friends don’t even lock their doors.”

McKibben agreed with Dillie, saying this kind of incident could happen at any open campus where people are free to come and go as they please, whether they are students or not. If anything, McKibben said he was angry that the communication on campus about the incident was not better.

“The worst part is that the first shooting happened between 7:15 and 7:30 and I was walking to class at 7:45 for a test at 8 and I had that class and then almost all of my 9 a.m. class before I heard anything,” he said. “I heard local elementary schools were canceled before then and I was walking to class at 7:45 — and who knows if that guy could have been around me?”

Now this report is interesing because, it suggests that police enetered the building around 10:32 and also that initially for some some reason they thought there were two shooters at the scene.

:48 AM Dave: did you get the email?
9:51 AM me: Yeah crazy. I have two students who have emailed me bc they live in that dorm and may not be allowed to leave to go to class.
Dave: yikes
9:52 AM they are talking like the cops are looking down in the steam tunnels
me: Wow.
That’s scary

9:53 AM me: You think this is hte bomb threat person?
Dave: that was the first thing that came to my mind, but i have no reason to think that
me: who knows
Dave: i just mean if they can’t find the shooter they might shut down like they did ont he first day of classes
9:54 AM me: Well, that’s true. I had assumed that they knew who it was and had them there in the dorm, but if they are searching for them they might shut down.
Do you know if anyone was hurt?
9:55 AM Dave: nope, no details at all
all the guys on the outside are watching out the window. there are cops around burruss??
9:59 AM me: Oh did you just get the email. A gunman is loose on campus, don’t leave the building and stay away from the windows?
10:04 AM We are in total lock down here. No one in our out of the building. In the office they were saying that two people were hit and one died, but it was just a rumor. And that there is a second possibly unrelated gunman over here on this side of campus.

14 minutes

10:27 AM Dave: bill has a police scanner
10:28 AM something about “multiple victims” 🙁
me: oh yeah, finding out anything. All classes are cancled now
Yeah I had heard multiple victims and one fatality.
10:31 AM me: I”m in my office with the door locked
10:32 AM Dave: “people are running out of norris”
me: what does that mean?
Dave: “cops are running into norris”
10:33 AM me: oh, like maybe there is a shooter in there?
Dave: that’s one of the buildings, between burruss and torgersen? i dunno yeah

15 minutes

10:50 AM Dave: it sounds like there’s more than just one wounded. i’ve overheard the following rumors:
a faculty member has been shot
me: I heard that. Shot in the arm.
Dave: someone picked up a bloody girl multiple people have been carried out of a building on stretchers
me: yikes
10:53 AM Dave: Two kids jumped out a a window somewhere says CNN?
10:58 AM Dave: they are acting like things are calming down on the drillfield
me: that’s good
10:59 AM So have they caught someone then?
Dave: they haven’t seen anyone that looks caught but they just say it looks like it’s calming down
11:00 AM Dave: there is a new rumor that the hospital is already overloaded with shooting victims
me: surely not
Dave: right that’s what everyone’s reaction is
In addition to an earlier shooting today in West Ambler Johnston, there has been a multiple shooting with multiple victims in Norris Hall. Police and EMS are on the scene. Police have one shooter in custody and as part of routine police procedure, they continue to search for a second shooter.
on the
11:01 AM me: So it is just the shooter from the dorm shooting that is on the loose?
Dave: impossible to tell

Dave and I spent the next hour talking about how things were hitting the national news and each of us reporting back on getting in touch with our families to let them know we were ok. Around noon the we were told to leave our buildings and go home immeadiately. Since Norris was in between our buildings, I got a ride home with one of the other grad students and met Dave at home. Both of us went out the back of our buildings and didn’t see the magnitude of the scene on the drillfield. The other grad student and I wondered about the number of ambulances lined up on the street behind our buildings but shrugged it off as a precaution. On the way home I got a call from my dad. I told him what I understood to have happened. There was a domestic relationship related shooting and then another unrelated shooting. Multiple people were injured, but there was only one fatality. The university president gave the first press conference while we were on our way home. When I got home Dave informed me that 20 people had been killed. I was stunned. I still can’t believe that I had no idea at the time of what was happening just two buildings away from me.


This was supposed to be the emails sent by the university but its been pulled:

This is also interesting because it’s contradicted at the time and later. Now, the police say there was no evidence of any second shooter, that there’s no suicide note – the report sounds quite confident. But then things completely change and there if the confused account of a suicide note being found. They had just executed the search for the dorm. Also interesting is that students were saying that Ambler Johnston where the first shooting took place at 7:15 was not locked down until 10 AM and that students were going in and out.

Tuesday, April 17th 2007 7:58PM
Students state lockdown occurred late morning
T. Rees Shapiro, CT Staff Writer

Students have stated that Ambler-Johnston Hall was not on lockdown until as late as 10 a.m. yesterday morning.

Meredith Hawkins, a sixth floor West Ambler-Johnston resident described how the halls weren’t under firm security measures until after the second shooting had occurred.

“My roommate left for class at 7:45,” Hawkins said, “and she left the dorm as if nothing had happened.”

“Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all.” Hawkins said.

“The first word of any lockdown didn’t happen until around 9:45 or so,” Hawkins said. “But they were allowing people to leave, but if you did leave you weren’t allowed back in.”

“It was around 10 or so, maybe even later, that they stopped letting people leaving entirely, but before then, you could just go as you please.” Hawkins said.

Joann Cassano, a sophomore 4th floor West Ambler-Johnston resident, confirmed the same description of the supposed lockdown of the building.

“Us 4th floor people were allowed to leave around 9:10,” Cassano said.

Tuesday, April 17th 2007 6:54PM
Press Conference confirms warrant
Kevin Anderson, Saira Haider, and Tim Tutt, CT Staff

At a press conference this evening at The Inn at Virginia Tech, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent for the State Police confirmed that a search warrant has been executed for Cho Seung-Hui’s dorm room located in Harper Hall. The police are currently evaluating evidence retrieved from the scene.

Police confirmed a .22 caliber handgun and a .9 millimeter handgun.

Gov. Tim Kaine was also present at the press conference.

The weapons found on the scene in Norris Hall have been found to have been legally purchased by Cho according to Virginia gun laws.

Flaherty stated that Cho did not leave behind a suicide note.

Currently the major “thrust” on the investigation is to positively identify the victims. The staff at the medical centers have been working 12-hour shifts to ensure the quality of these investigations.

Kaine mentioned appointing several independent law enforcement members to do a thorough “After-Action Review.” These reviews will evaluate how procedures were executed during the shootings.

The governor deemed the shootings a horrible tragedy. Once he had heard word of the incidents Kaine immediately left Japan, where he had been for a two-week trade tour through Asia. He arrived back in the United States at Dulles International Airport at 11:00 a.m.

The governor stated that this conference was not for political purpose, but to help comfort the families.

Flaherty continued to say that there has been no comment on the person of interest from the first shooting in West Ambler-Johnston Hall. There has also been no proof or evidence of an accomplice.

A rumor stating that Cho’s parents had committed suicide in their home has been proven to be false.


“27 videos.

Forty-three photos showed Cho with guns (sometimes pointed at the camera), a knife, a hammer, bullets and in a state of rage. ”

Accourding to MSNBC there are 23 QuickTime video files of Cho talking to the camera about his “hatred of the wealthy.” The package did not contain any images of the shooting on Monday.

The Superintendent also noted that the vehicle portrayed in the video was known about since the first day, but would not release any more information on it.

The FBI in NY handled the recovering of the package.

The main goal of authorities is to try to determine what happened and why this tragedy occurred.

From this point, the authorities believe they will have very little to tell the public on a daily basis as this investigation continues.

The parcel that Cho delivered to NBC was mailed at the 118 N. Main St. US Post Office

This report goes to show that English dept was aware of problems.

Thursday, April 19th 2007 3:34PM
Exclusive: Classmate comments on Cho’s personality[Full Report]
Taylor Shapiro, CT Staff Writer

Alison Mitchell, a senior environmental policy and planning student at Virginia Tech, was in Bob Hicok’s Intro to Short Fiction class in the Spring of 2006. So was Cho Seung-Hui.

In that spring a year ago she recalls there were about 20 kids in her class. The class setting was a very similiar format to other English classes at Tech, they all sat in a circle, with Hicok toward the front, closest to the chalk board, and the other students completing the ring so every person could see each other. Except for Cho, Mitchell explained.

“Cho would sit as far away as possible from the rest of us,” Mitchell said. “He would sit toward the back, away from Hicok.”

He apparently, Mitchell described, preferred his own personal space.

“Cho avoided being near people,” Mitchell said. “He isolated himself from everyone.”

Most English classes involve levels of discussion, which was the same for Hicok’s class, but Cho chose not to speak.

“He just sat,” Mitchell said. “And looked angry all the time, a grumpy look. I could tell he was depressed.”

“He never spoke in front of the class, which was something that bothered Hicok,” Mitchell said.

Because the class sat in a large circle, Mitchell mentioned how he looked during class.

“He always looked down, but there was something about his face, his expression, it’s hard to explain,” Mitchell said.

“His eyes, they looked angry, and he almost always frowned,” Mitchell said. “He sometimes had an intensity,a fierceness, like he was thinking about a lot, but it was totally inward.”

“It didn’t look like he paid attention, he was not engaged,” Mitchell said. “He moved very slowly.”

“I definitely thought it was creepy,” Mitchell described. “I would not approach him, ever, he seemed creepy.”

“But he always looked unhappy,” Mitchell said. “And it wasn’t like a single instance, it was everyday.”

“It honestly seemed like he hated everything, everyone,” Mitchell described. “He would sometimes glare at people while they talked.”

“I can remember one time he asked (Cho) a direct question in class,” Mitchell said, “And he just glared at Hicok and then grunted a gutteral sound, like an ‘MMM.’ It was like Cho was angry at Hicok for asking, for speaking to him.”

However, Mitchell noted a peculiarity about the way Hicok was running the class, like Hicok was up to something.

“The way class was run was everyone had to participate,” Mitchell said. “I definitely made an effort, he made it clear that our grade heavily depended on our class participation.”

“In the first few classes, Hicok made such an effort about speaking in class,” Mitchell described. “He was adament about it, that participation was really important, and it seemed to me like Hicok was aiming his speeches about class participation at Cho.”

“It seemed like Hicok was aware of how Cho acted in other classes,”Mitchell said. “Like the English department people had warned him.”

Mitchell then described how Cho would never answer questions directed to him in class by other students, which Hicok obviously observed.

“After the first few classes,” Mitchell said. “Hicok asked Cho to come speak to him after the period was over.”

“But from what I saw it looked like Hicok just talking to Cho,” Mitchell said. “Cho didn’t talk much, and seemed annoyed with Hicok whenever he did try to speak to him.”

“Hicok would regularly speak to Cho, at least once a week,” Mitchell said.

Occasionally, Mitchell described, Hicok would ask Cho his oppinion on something, to get him to speak.

“Sometimes Hicok would say, ‘Cho, do you have anything to add?’ and Cho would just say ‘No,’ in a very deep voice,” Mitchell said.

However, despite his the battle with depression Mitchell said she observed, she was still surprised to learn he was the shooter.

“I wouldn’t have expected him to go and kill people,” Mitchell said, “I was shocked, I didn’t think he was violent.”

“I could tell he was struggling with some emotions though,” Mitchell said.

Not only did Mitchell know Cho, but she also knew Julia Pryde, one of his fatal victims.

“I worked with Julia on a sustainable development economics project on global obesity,” Mitchell said.

“Julia was a pretty smart girl, who always had interesting things to say in our discussions.”

“It’s shocking that he killed all these people,” Mitchell said. “But I wasn’t concerned about him beforehand.”

“Some people might have asked Hicok about his strange behavior,” Mitchell said. “But I didn’t, It didn’t seem like he needed it then.”

Cell phone video shots: