Archive for January, 2009

The 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Originally published at Confessions of a Jersey Goddess, April 2007.

April 18 Update: I’ve noticed people keep hitting this blog
because they’re looking for the
VT shooter’s confession. Google’s sending you to
my blog because I have the word “confession” in
my blog’s name, same name since 2004.
Here’s a link at NBC, the network that received
the gunman’s package/manifesto,
and to the video and story: LINK.
This post is a chronicle of the shootings
on Monday, April 16.

Update 11:59 p.m., April 16: Laurie at BloghHer has added a new post about how the Internet is responding to the shootings. ABC Nightline also discusses the online coverage regarding the shootings, particularly students sharing grief at FaceBook. and report similar findings.

Reported at 6:35 p.m., April 16: The death toll at Virginia Tech is now 32, reports ABC News. In its 5:30 news, Channel 7 ABC New York reported 33 dead. Either way the shooting is considered the “worst mass murder” in U.S. History. Witnesses, according to ABC News, describe the shooter as a six-foot-tall Asian man; however, the shooter did not carry ID. Consequently, officials faced difficulty identifying the shooter’s body.

Charles Gibson ended the ABC news tonight, 6:58 p.m., saying, “I wish I could say this has been a good day. It hasn’t.”

You may find more in-depth information at Channel 13 News, WSET, Virginia, another ABC station. Another local station for the Virginia Tech area is WDBJ, Roanoke. Virginia Tech’s college newspaper, The Collegiate Times, currently experiences problem with its servers. Virginia Tech is located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Kim Pearson, the blogger who first notified me of this tragedy has a poignant post about the Virginia Tech shooting at this link (Link added 10:18 p.m., April 16).

Currently people are questioning how the shooter was able to stay at large for two hours before he committed more murders and why the campus police didn’t alert the students and staff sooner. ABC reports that the shooter killed two people at dorm two hours before he began his rampage at the Norris Hall engineering building. Others want to know how did the young man get two nine millimeter guns so easily in Virginia (link added at 11:59 p.m., April 16).

Over at BlogHer, a commenter on the story, Morra Aarons, says online support communities are popping up on on the Net. She specifically mentions one at Facebook. Another commenter from BlogHer pointed out this blog by a Virginia Tech Student at LiveJournal. The BlogHer post itself by Laurie has multiple resources.

Update at 2:20 p.m., April 16:
MSNBC reports that the shooter was a young male in his 20s of Asian descent. The death toll is now, as of 2:25 p.m., up to 31, which MSNBC says makes it the “deadliest” mass shooting spree/mass murder in the nation’s history.

This story is already prompting discussions on MSNBC’s live video about whether those from Asian cultures feel alienated in European-centered cultures. In addition, they’re examining violence among alienated young males in general, understanding and recognizing the signs of rage and calls for help, and whether we have a culture that makes it easier to shoot your way out of turmoil rather than talk your way out. They’re discussing narcissistic personality disorder and other personality disorders.

Much of the commentary about causes on MSNBC comes from former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt. Here’s a piece at North Carolina Wesleyan University on the history of profiling.

Experts say this gunman was very methodical and planned the shooting well-ahead of time. They ask and do not answer, “How do you know the difference between someone who is just a little angry and depressed and someone who’s going to go out and take nearly three dozen lives?” As happens in such cases, people want to make sense of the tragedy.

There was also some confusion earlier about whether another shooting may have occurred on the Virginia Tech campus separate from this shooting two hours before the massacre started. However, later reports say it is the same gunman who shot someone (two women) in a dorm prior to going to one of the engineering buildings (Norris Hall). Again, the source on this is MSNBC live video.

One student, Trey Perkins, who was in Norris Hall when the shooting started, told MSNBC that the first thing he thought of was his mom, how devastated she would be if anything happened to him. He said when the gunman came in to his classroom, he shot the instructor first. Other reports say the gunman chained building doors to prevent victims from escaping.

According to ABC, the first shooting of this type on a college campus happened at The University of Texas in 1966. A young man, Charles Whitman, killed fourteen back then. Wikipedia reports the death toll in 1966 as 15. Crime Library, a link used by Professor Kim, agrees with the ABC figure of 14 and is probably a more reliable source than Wikipedia.

Pointing to incidents like Columbine and the recent shootings at the Amish schools, experts say that it’s important to reach out to people you know affected by these shootings now with shows of support. It makes a difference in deterring post-traumatic stress syndrome. After Katrina I wrote a post on coping with grief, disaster, and change. Some people may find the resources there helpful in this situation (Link).

Reported earlier at 2:20 p.m. today: President Bush will address the nation on these shootings at 4:15 p.m.

Reported earlier at 12:16 p.m.: This is not commentary but an FYI to readers. MSNBC reports that a gunman shot and killed 22 people at Virginia Tech University this morning and wounded others. Another blogger informed me and team members of this tragedy. MSNBC begins its report as follows:

BLACKSBURG, Va. – At least 22 people were killed Monday in a shooting rampage on the Virginia Tech campus, police said. They said the gunman was among the dead.

In addition to those killed, officials said at least 28 people were wounded.

Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said the gunman was dead, but that he didn’t know how he died.

Read the full story with both live and static video at this link. ABC is also reporting the story at its site. Click here if you want CBS’ coverage of this story.

Related: The Colors of Killers

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