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Times online viriginia

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  • 1. Times Online <br />April 17, 2007<br />Korean student named as Virginia Tech massacre gunman<br />Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech before turning the gun on himself<br />A South Korean student was today named as responsible for the deadliest shooting massacre in American history, in which 32 people were shot dead at a university in Virginia yesterday. <br />The body of Cho Seung-Hui, 23, was found among a group of his victims in a blood-spattered classroom at Virginia Tech university, said Superintendent Steve Flaherty of the Montgomery County Police today. <br />A Glock 9mm handgun and a .22-calibre handgun were found at the scene. Other bodies were strewn in at least three other second floor classrooms and in a stairwell in the Norris Hall classroom block. <br />Supt Flaherty confirmed that the same gun had been used in both the classroom shootings and another murderous incident two hours earlier, when two students were shot dead in their dormitory half a mile away on the other side of the university campus. <br />Top of Form<br />Bottom of Form<br />Top of Form<br />Bottom of Form<br />Top of Form<br />Bottom of Form<br />Top of Form<br />Bottom of Form<br />Before his killing rampage Cho, a resident alien who was studying English and lived on campus in Harper Hall, left a disturbing note in his dormitory in which he railed against " rich kids" , " debauchery" and " deceitful charlatans" on campus. <br />He died with the name " Ismail Ax" written on one of his arms in red ink. Police also found a note warning of a bomb threat against the university's engineering department close to his body. The university had received two bomb threats in the past fortnight. <br />Investigators believe Cho, born on January 18 1984 and the brother of a Princeton university graduate, had planned the attack for at least a month having bought his Glock pistol on March 13 and the other weapon last week. <br />Police sources said that in recent weeks Cho had been treated for depression, had begun to stalk women and had tried to start a fire in a campus dormitory. <br />Students on campus talked of him as a loner who hardly ever acknowledged passers-by while his course tutors revealed how his disturbed mindset had been glimpsed in his English creative writing. <br />According to Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university’s English department, her colleague Lucinda Roy, the department’s director of creative writing, had described Cho as " troubled" and referred him for counselling, though she did not know how the sessions had gone. <br />" There was some concern about him," Ms Rude said. <br />" Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it’s creative or if they’re describing things, if they’re imagining things or just how real it might be. But we’re all alert to not ignore things like this." <br />Those who knew Cho, whose parents run a dry cleaning business in Centreville, Virginia, said he had little to say to any of those around him. <br />" He was very quiet, always by himself," Abdul Shash, his dormitory neighbour said, adding that he spent a lot of his free time playing basketball and would not respond if someone greeted him. <br />It also emerged that Cho had been caught speeding on April 7 - he was issued a ticket for driving at 44mph in a 25mph zone, and was due in court on May 23 to face traffic violation charges. <br />At a press conference this morning on the Virginia Tech campus, Supt Flaherty described the crime scene that confronted officers in Norris Hall as " horrific" . He also confirmed that a number of " heroic events" had taken place inside Norris Hall, as individuals tried to protect others from the gunman. <br />In their panic to escape Cho, the victims had left their personal belongings scattered chaotically all over the second floor, hampering efforts to identify the dead. <br />Dr Marcella Fierro, the Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, warned that she would not be able to complete all the identifications for several days, and that no names would be issued until then. <br />Nonetheless, today the identities were starting to emerge of the victims. University professors - including a 75-year-old with Romanian and Israeli citizenship who was shot as he tried to protect his students - as well as a host of college freshmen were among the dead. <br />Meanwhile, anger was growing at the college authorities who were accused by one student of having " blood on their hands" for failing to close the campus or tell the thousands of staff and students to stay away after the first shooting incident, which took place two hours before the second. <br />The first shots were fired inside a dormitory at about 7.15am, killing two people. Students complained they got no warning from the university until an e-mail that arrived more than two hours after the shots were fired - by which time the second rampage had begun. <br />" I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action after the first incident," said Billy Bason, 18, who lives on the seventh floor of the dorm. <br />President Bush and his wife, Laura, were attending a memorial service at the university today. Mr Bush said last night: " Our nation is shocked and horrified." <br />The Queen said that she was " shocked and saddened " by the shooting, and Tony Blair said that he was " deeply shocked at the terrible loss of innocent lives" . <br />Cho Byung-Jae, a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman, said: " The Government expresses indescribable surprise and shock over this shooting incident." <br />The massacre began when a lone gunman opened fire inside a fourth floor dormitory in West Ambler Johnston Hall, one of the biggest halls of residence with sleeping quarters for 895 students. There was " mass chaos" , one undergraduate said — " lots of students running around, going crazy" . <br />Two people died. One has been named as Ryan Clark from Augusta, Georgia, who was an officer in the university’s marching band and a senior student due to graduate this year. The second was a freshman in veterinary science called Emily Hilscher, according to Collegiate Times, the college newspaper. <br />A British student escaped the shooting by hiding in his room. George Barnwell, 20, was in his dormitory with his girlfriend when the gunman opened fire in the building next door. <br />At 7.15am the first emergency call was made, bringing a massive response. Armed teams ringed the hall, on the southwest side of the 2,600-acre campus, trying to find the gunman amid swirling snow. <br />Mr Steger met Virginia Tech's police chief, Wendell Flinchum, and it was decided not to shut down the campus. <br />Instead a brief e-mail was sent out, which read: " A shooting incident occurred at West Ambler Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating." The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious. <br />It was believed that the incident was " domestic" and was contained, and that there was reason to believe that the gunman had fled, said Mr Steger. <br />" We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," he said. " We concluded that once (the students) got to the classroom, that was the best place to lock them down... <br />" Whenever you have got something like this you have 9,000 students on campus, 16,000 in transit, 7,000 employees and 3,000 visitors, and if you don't get it right with information you get chaos." <br />But at 9.40am, as police were interviewing a suspect they believed was connected to the first shooting, gunfire broke out again, with a 40-second volley of shots emerging from Norris Hall. <br />Police found the doors of the classroom block locked and chained from the inside, presumably by the gunman. <br />Witnesses inside described how a gunman walked up and down the corridors, entering classrooms and firing. <br />The highest death toll happened in a German class, where as many as 20 people were killed or injured, according to a student's account in Collegiate Times. <br />Erin Sheehan said that the gunman twice put his head into Professor Jamie Bishop's 9:05am German class in room 207 Norris Hall, as if he was looking for someone. When he came back for a third time he opened fire, she said. <br />" 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. <br />" I saw bullets hit people's body.There was blood everywhere. 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." <br />Meanwhile Mr Librescu, a Romanian/Israeli engineering lecturer who was named by his family as amongst the dead, saved the lives of several students by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot, his son said today. Students of Professor Librescu, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer in at Virginia Tech for 20 years, sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman’s way and saved their lives, said the son, Joe. <br />" My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home near Tel Aviv. " Students started opening windows and jumping out." <br />Nick, a student in another class, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme of his and his classmates' narrow escape after they heard gunfire outside. " Immediately one of the girls in the class went and peeked down the hall and saw the guy, and we barricaded ourselves in the room. The gunman heard the door close and within five or 10 seconds he was was trying to get in. <br />" We had the door fairly well barricaded and he fired into the door two or three times. A couple of bullets came through the door. It was fairly scary. It was clear to me that it was a semi-automatic handgun." <br />Ishwar K Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department, told the AP news agency that Prof Kevin Granata was another victim of the shootings. <br />Matt Maroney, a student, told Sky News that 43 people had been shot, adding that students had thrown desks at a door and a teacher had been shot in the arm. The gunman, he said, " had an ungodly amount of ammo on him. He was just dressed in a vest filled with clips and started firing away at classrooms" . <br />Some students broke limbs leaping from second-floor windows to escape. Others barricaded themselves in and prayed to be left alone. <br />The university has 26,000 students, many from Asia. <br />John Marshall, the Virginia state security secretary, today backed the beleaguered college authorities, saying that Mr Steger and Mr Flinchum had made the best decision they could at the time, and that now was the time to focus on helping the victims rather than on recriminations. <br />Fourteen people have been identified by the college's newspaper as 'confirmed dead', although the names have yet not been formally issued by the police. They include Christopher Jamie Bishop, a German teacher, GV Loganathan, 51, a lecturer in civil engineering, originally from India, and Caitlin Hammaren, a second year student in International Studies and French.<br />

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