Apr 17, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

by Joanne Tang, News Editor
Gunfire shattered the sanctuary of learning at Virginia Tech as 33 people are dead and more than 15 are wounded in what many are calling the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Students were shot at two different locations on Virginia Tech’s campus Monday, April 16.

The first shooting happened around 7 a.m. as many students were getting ready for class. Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger confirmed in a press conference Monday afternoon that two students were killed in West Ambler Johnston Hall.

West A.J. Hall is a large dormitory, which houses 890 students, according to Lynchburg’s Fox 21/27.

The police reported earlier on Monday that the shooting happened on the fourth floor.

The second shooting happened approximately two hours later at Norris Hall, which houses the engineering department’s classrooms. Police at this time are not saying whether the two shootings are connected or if one gunman committed both shootings.

Police found the known gunman at Norris Hall, where 31 people were killed. It has been confirmed that the gunman took his own life.

While details are still trickling in and it will take time for police to unravel the entire series of events, police have confirmed that the shooter was a male of Asian descent in his 20’s and wore a protective vest.

They have also confirmed that the doors to Norris Hall were barricaded from the inside, and that this was not part of the lockdown procedure. The police have not  yet confirmed the type of guns the known gunman used in the attack.

He remains unidentified at press time, as he was not carrying identification when police found him.
On the Internet, people discussed the tragedy, and it was the number one search on Technorati.com, a blog tracking Web site. The Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, has been keeping a running update on its Web site.

On Facebook, a tribute group has more than 28,000 registered members. Though Virginia Tech moved many of its bandwidth to handle incoming traffic from people looking for updates on their home page, many students were able to use instant messaging and cell phones to contact family and friends.

Jamal Albarghouti, a Virginia Tech graduate student, took raw video of one of the halls where the shootings took place. Several gunshots could be heard distinctly in the footage.

“(It is) just quiet, very sad around here,” said a Virginia Tech student. “I’m just watching the news, (looking for information) on Norris Hall.”

Virginia Tech is roughly 91 miles from Liberty and has about 8,300 students living on campus. There are 26,000 students at Virginia Tech.

At Liberty, students gathered in the prayer room in the Campus Pastors’ Office Monday to pray for those at Tech. Chancellor Jerry Falwell encouraged students to pray for “the devastated families.”

There are plans to gather again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in the prayer room. A convocation service will be held for family and friends on the Virginia Tech campus at 2 p.m.

“Unfathomable,” said Chris Sullivan, whose son Christopher is a student at Virginia Tech and is a resident of West AJ.

Contact Joanne Tang at jtang@liberty.edu.
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