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College shooting worst in US history

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Written by Adam A. Donaldson

Students, faculty and staff of Virginia Tech remain in shock today as the reverberations of yesterday’s mass shooting on their quiet college campus continue to be felt. In what has become the single worst school shooting in the history of the United States, 33 people, including the gunman, were killed in Monday’s rampage, which left another 29 people injured, 12 of whom were still in hospital with their injuries at the time of this posting.

The shooting itself was actually comprised of two incidents. The first took place at 7:15am in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a co-ed dormitory that’s home to nearly 900 students. Reports came in to campus police that a shooting took place in the building and when first responders arrived they found two victims: the female freshman, in whose dorm the shooting took place, and a male RA. Police assumed that the gunman left campus, believing the shooting had been a domestic dispute. No campus-wide lockdown was initiated.

Later at approximately 9:30am, a second shooting was reported in a classroom in Norris Hall, an engineering and science building. The target was a German class where the gunman shot 19 people, including the professor. Only four students emerged completely unharmed from the classroom. Erin Sheehan, one of those fortunate four, saw the gunman before the shooting saying he "peeked in twice, earlier in the lesson, like he was looking for someone, somebody, before he started shooting."

At a press conference in the early evening on Monday night the finally tally of casualties was announced and the dead gunman was given a name and a face: Cho Seung-hui, a Va. Tech senior and South Korean national who immigrated to the US as a child. According to reports he was armed with a 9 mm and .22 calibre handguns, at least one of which was purchased legally. The reasons for Cho’s spree killing is not yet none, although law enforcement did acknowledge that they had found a “disturbing note” on his person.

Classes at Va. Tech for the remainder of the week have been cancelled and Norris Hall will be closed for the remainder of the school year. Today’s convocation ceremony is proceeding, but instead will be a memorial service for the victims. US President George W. Bush and his wife Laura will be in attendance as well as Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and his wife. All members of the campus community have been invited to this event as a way to begin the healing process; further it will be broadcast on the campus’ cable station and online and be followed by a candlelight vigil tonight at 7pm.

The tragedy in Virginia has been felt far and wide as sympathies go out to the Va. Tech campus from universities and colleges across North America, including the U of G. “We are deeply saddened by the news of this tragedy,” said president Alastair Summerlee Tuesday in a press release. "Our thoughts are with the families of the students, and with the faculty, staff and alumni from Virginia Tech who have been affected by this senseless act of violence."

In response, the flags outside the University Centre have been lowered to half-mast.

The Central Student Association has also responded to the tragedy on Tuesday by announcing a campus wide moment of silence on Wednesday at 11am in Branion Plaza at the Cannon. U of G’s ecumenical minister Lucy Reid will lead the service.

“Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to the students, faculty, friends, and family of Virginia Tech,” said Finance and HR commissioner Chris Killer on behalf of the CSA. “By coming together in a moment of silence the students at U of G are demonstrating our support for everyone involved and our strength to stand together as a community through these tragic moments.”

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