Virginia Tech: Records Of Gunman Missing, Report Says
USA, Richmond, Va.: A report released Thursday morning, but
handed over to the "New York Times" before , says Virgina Tech
university officials could have saved lives by notifying students and
faculty members earlier that there had been killings on campus. This
report - repeatedly delayed - also tells records of an pre-appointment
interview Seung-Hui Cho at the campus counseling center for making
suicidal statements missing.
The massacre was executed on April 16. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Cho killed first two students just after 7 a.m. The report says: no
clear explanation for that. No alarm was given, no lockdown imposed.
More than two hours later at 9:26 a.m., only minutes before Cho began
shooting in Norris Hall and killed 30 young people and wounded 25
others more, responsible Virginia Tech officials sent an e-mail to
students and faculty. But even after they had learned the full scope of
the massacre, their messages to students played down the unfolding
emergency as a "routine police procedure."
Report says: "There does not seem to be a plausible scenario of a
university response to the double homicide that could have prevented
the tragedy of considerable magnitude on April 16".
The campus police knew of Mr. Cho´s repeated instances of inappropriate
behavior and his stay at a mental health facility. But no campus
workers who dealed with troubled students ever spoke to Cho or took
action in any way.
Report: university officials "believed" federal privacy laws forbade
them to give information about Mr. Cho´s mental health problems to
campus security officials, what was wrong.
In a paper in a middle-school English class Mr. Cho indicated that he
"wanted to repeat Columbine." He was sent to a psychiatrist, who gave
him a diagnosis of "selective mutism," or an anxiety-related refusal to
speak, and major depression. He was given a prescription for the
anti-depressant Paroxetine, which he took from June 1999 to July 2000.
Cho was even excused from making oral presentations and answering
teachers` questions in high school.
But despite Mr. Cho`s diagnosis of mutism and his educational
accommodations in high school, when he applied to Virginia Tech, the
university was allegedly never informed nor did it ask about Mr. Cho`s
And though a judge ordered Seung-Hui Cho to receive outpatient mental
health care for making suicidal statements at Virginia Tech, Mr. Cho
scheduled an appointment at the campus counseling center but only had
to give a pre-appointment interview. No follow-up appointment occurred.
The records of that interview are missing. Mr. Cho`s parents were never
informed by campus or local officials of his statements. The report,
written by an eight-member panel that was led by W. Gerald Massengill,
a former state police superintendent, and included former Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge, gave no explanation for that.
The panel was convened by Gov. Tim Kaine.
"Can you explain how 32 people were killed and no one has been fired,
no one has been held accountable at that university?" one family member
asked on a conference call on Wednesday where they were informed about
Panel members: it´s not our job to make personnel recommendations.
There were earlier reports that said the second shooting began about 9
a.m. Also witnesses spoke about a different order of events that day:
"I saw people standing still looking across the drill field. That was
very unusual. I could tell something was wrong. But it didn't really
register with me with the earlier e-mail. Then I heard a gunshot. I saw
students rushing out of Norris Hall, being directed by police officers
where to go," Michael O'Brien, a sophomore studying industrial
engineering, said in a statement.
O´Brien: "I saw police officers surround the building and rush into it,
like they were going to sweep the building and check for the shooter."
That´s strange because that would mean police must have been prepared
for a bigger event and were at the scene of the second shooting right
from the start.
"I saw police cars from all different levels, state, local, county,
rush by. Ambulances, SWAT vans. I could see police officers carrying
what looked to be bodies out of the back of the hall and into
ambulances", witness Michael O'Brien told the press.
An amateur video taken by a student from a cellphone showed several
officers first hesitating outside the Norris science and engineering
building, then positioning themselves behind a tree, and finally
rushing inside the building -- all the while as repeated shots could be
heard from inside.
"I was walking on campus and I saw police shooting," the student, Jamal Azim Albarghouti, told "The Times".
"I saw many police, many, many. In the few yards there were more than
20 police around there and they were trying to get in. They were the
police. I assumed they knew what they were doing."
He added: "They dropped a gas bomb, a tear gas bomb or something at the building, and I think they were shooting at him too."
But Campus police chief at Virginia Tech, Wendell Flinchum, later said
the gunman took his own life. He also said on the evening of April 16
police had a preliminary identification of the suspected gunman but
they were not yet ready to release it. At that day Flinchum said the
gunman was not a student, according to the "New York Times".
The mass-murder on Virgina Tech left the US reeling the days after the
attack. Even the testimony of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
before a congressional committee was delayed.