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Virginia Tech

This is horrible news. I'll post information as it comes in.

[If anyone has any direct contact info for anyone at Virginia Tech who might have information for The Post's coverage of this please email me directly at achenbachj@washpost.com. Thank you.]

[We will have plenty of time later to chew over the meaning of this tragedy, aided by some facts about the perpetrator, his psychological state, etc. This story really sickens me. But it's usually wise to wait for information to come in before drawing sweeping conclusions about something. I went out to Columbine after it happened and talked to students and neighbors and whatnot -- a very disturbing story -- and I'm not sure anyone ever really understood why Harris and Klebold did it.]

AP story at 3:38 p.m.:

April 16 (Bloomberg) -- A gunman killed at least 30 students and faculty today at Virginia Tech University in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.
Multiple press reports citing law officers said as many as 32 people died, including the gunman. At least 28 more were hospitalized with gunshot wounds and other injuries. Police declined to identify the victims at the Blacksburg college, the state's largest.
It's the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the 24 people killed in Killeen, Texas, in 1991. In that attack, George Hennard drove his pickup truck into a restaurant and shot 23 people to death before killing himself.


AP reports 21 dead in shooting.

[New report: 32 dead.]

From CNN:

CNN) -- The Virginia Tech police chief said at least 20 people were killed in twin shootings on the Blacksburg campus Monday morning.

"Some victims were shot in a classroom," Chief Wendell Flinchum said, adding that the gunman was dead.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said university President Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

The attacks mark the worst school shooting incident since 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that 17 Virginia Tech students were being treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 16, 2007; 12:38 PM ET
 
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Next: Virginia Tech Student: "We Will Come Through"

Comments

Just got up and started the day. This is very tragic. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families as well as the school.

Posted by: Aloha | April 16, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Now it's 21? Good lord. And at Virginia Tech.

Suddenly the Universe just got a lot smaller.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

...and at least another 21 injured/shot. The shootings appear to have been in two "batches"--the first at about &:15 in a big dorm, the second batch about 2 hours later in an engineering classroom and building, where the shooter died.

My outfit does a lot of engineering work down there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 16, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I remember the chaos at UMCP during 911; a few weeks later, a tornado slammed through, killing two sisters just after they drove away from their father who worked on campus. Young people straddle the child and adult worlds (we do also). Cell phones made for instant connect with family. I heard these sentences over and over:
I love you.
I am ok now.
I am scared.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

My heart goes out to the victims, their families, friends and the students at Virginia Tech, just a horrible tragedy.

Posted by: dmd | April 16, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

When I first posted about this there was only one confirmed victim. This is beyond belief. *hanging my head in sadness*

Posted by: jack | April 16, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Dear, dear VPI, as a Virginian I love you so much; this news makes me feel ill.

Posted by: JNelson | April 16, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

When I first posted about this there was only one confirmed victim. This is beyond belief. *hanging my head in sadness*

Posted by: jack | April 16, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

If anyone has any direct contact info for anyone at Virginia Tech who might have information for The Post's coverage of this please email me directly at achenbachj@washpost.com

Thanks...

Yeah it just makes you sick to your stomach.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Several of my coworkers have kids at Virginia Tech who have called in. These kids don't seem to know anything except crazy rumors.
Of course, these coworkers are enduring a mixture of pain and relief. Pain at the horror, and relief that their kids are still alive.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

RD, this is so so bad! Are the kids still in self-lockdown mode or are they out and about? Any word?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | April 16, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Last I heard still in lockdown. The kids are sitting around watching the news on television or internet like everyone else. A couple sick rumors that I don't want to repeat were mentioned. The people with kids at Tech have headed home though. Just too upset to work. Can't say I feel that much better. I mean, Virginia Tech is on my son's list.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

CNN is reporting that the profs have been evacuated and the students are on lockdown. It's absolutely horrible. I can't fathom - that corner of Virginia is so peaceful and seemingly so far removed from this kind of violence (I went to college at Hollins in Roanoke, about 45 minutes from Virginia Tech).

Today also marks 10 years since my father passed away, so on this day that I'm remembering my own (now, seemingly small) personal tragedy, I'm also so sad about so many more.

Posted by: PLS | April 16, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Just heard from former colleague who teaches technical writing at VTech. He says that they are still in the classroom, taking turns on cellphones, and touching base with others on campus...the students are buzzing with text, voice, and images over cell phones. Lots of chatter and no real information. Lots of parent-child chatting too.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Fox is saying at least 32 people dead at VA Tech. That's a lot higher than CNN's number.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 16, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, just now saw JA's update.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 16, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

This is horrible news.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this, directly or indirectly.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 16, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Sure. Thanks, NRA. And all the idiot politicians afraid of it. It's time to limit the ownership of weapons in this country.

Posted by: miamibob | April 16, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

VT president Steger said this morning:

"At about 7:15 a.m. this morning a 911 call came to the University Police Department concerning an event in West Ambler Johnston Hall. There were multiple shooting victims. While in the process of investigating, about two hours later the university received reports of a shooting in Norris Hall. The police immediately responded. Victims have been transported to various hospitals in the immediate area in the region to receive emergency treatment."

This is confusing: The second shooting was in a classroom, no? Wouldn't the university have gone into lockdown immediately after the first report of a shooting?

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This is too sad for me. This is my school and I have many friends with kids there now. My son says his Facebook friends have messages along the lines of "I'm not dead." But there are some we haven't heard from. I can't imagine that I won't know someone touched personally by this horrible thing.

Joel.. it's a huge campus. It could take hours for a lockdown to spread to every classroom.

Posted by: TBG | April 16, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Joel... My son also has passed along your email address to some of him friends down there.

Posted by: TBG | April 16, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

NPR says 31 are dead....
TBG--sorry, sorry for all, but especially for you and all the Hokie lovers.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

where does dooley teach?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Post's website now says at least 32 are dead. I h ate living in a state that allows concealed weapons, but this had to be done using more than a handgun. Why are these weapons even out there for someone to get their hands on? Makes me scared for my little ones. To the parents/families/friends of those whose lives were senselessly taken, this is the worst thing you'll go through in your life. I lost my second child when she was 5 weeks old to an undiagnosed, rare, congenital heart condition. There's absolutely nothing worse than losing a child. There are wonderful people out there who can help you get through this, though it won't seem like anything will do so right now...

Posted by: alexmom | April 16, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dooley's in Roanoke, I think. I don't think he teaches at Tech, but I can't be sure.

I thought of him right away, too.

Posted by: TBG | April 16, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

miamibob: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Sure. Thanks, NRA. And all the idiot politicians afraid of it. It's time to limit the ownership of weapons in this country."

Firearm ownership is -already- limited! Guns are -already- banned on campuses! All banning guns accomplishes is keeping them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who could have cut a rampage like this short. Criminals -will- get guns. No prohibition of any item has ever had the intended results. (If you look at England, they don't have many guns [though they're still being smuggled in], and they're having serious problems with non-gun violent crime, and the cops suggest waving your arms and honking your horn if you see a crime in progress.)

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

It takes a lot of ammo to kill over 30 people. Nobody needs that much firepower for legitimate personal protection.

I have a Bacon number of three (coworker's girlfriend's sister) to someone in the dorm where it started, but nothing worth passing along as a tip.

If last week was our national dialog on the nature of racism and free speech, this week the second amendment will get a good working over.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Frostdottir is beside herself. Many friends from Osbourn Park HS in Prince William County either are students at VA Tech or have siblings there. If we make contact with anyone who has something more than rumors to spread we'll pass it on to WaPo. So far she thinks the cousin of a close friend and his girlfriend are in the hospital.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 16, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

alexmom: "I hate living in a state that allows concealed weapons, but this had to be done using more than a handgun. Why are these weapons even out there for someone to get their hands on?"

People licensed to carry a concealed handgun undergo rigorous background checks and are among the most law-abiding of gun owners. I'd guarantee that this guy was not a CHP holder, and most likely was not using a gun he legally acquired. (You're probably right that it wasn't a handgun, either, but it could have been.)

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

And I don't think we can hide in the bunker on this one, yellojkt...

:-(

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 16, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt: "It takes a lot of ammo to kill over 30 people. Nobody needs that much firepower for legitimate personal protection."

It takes less than one box of rounds, that could be picked up at WalMart, to kill over 30 people. Nobody needs to carry that much ammo for personal protection, but anyone whose hobbies involve time at a firing range (to train for personal protection, or for firearm competitions) would likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds in their home.

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Columbine wasn't the worst massacre of students in US history. In 1921, a disgruntled guy angry about his farm being lost set a bomb off at a school, killing 42 children.

This was before the advent of automatic weapons and guns and all that NRA stuff people are griping about.

Not that I disagree with the premise that guns should be banned on campuses... I'm all for that... but I wanted to point out that guns only seem to increase the likelihood such a massacre will happen, not the total fatality outcome of a massacre.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

alexmom: "this had to be done using more than a handgun"

I've heard (but not confirmed) that he was carrying two 9mm handguns and several magazines.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Not much relevance in discussing who's licensed to carry a handgun in public. The issue seems to be who is permitted to possess a firearm capable of killing many people in a short time. The answer should be nobody. IMHO that's overlooked in discussions of the 2nd amendment. In the 18th century, you couldn't fire a lot of shots in a hurry, and only a group of people working in concert ("well-regulated militia") could create the firepower of a single individual today.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 16, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

A little gumshoe work confirms TBG's thought that our Dooley doesn't work at Va Tech (there seem to be 14-16 Dooleys working there, though.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that nearly everyone in Virginia has a Bacon number of three or less for at least one student or staff member at Virginia Tech. That would certainly be the case for most state universities that serve the entire state.

Universities like Virginia Tech are remarkably important in American life, and anything that makes their campuses less open, or feel less safe, affects us all.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 16, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

This is heart-breaking and sick-making. TBG, tell Son of G I am hoping the best for his friends (and him, and you). I can't tolerate the pro-gun advocacy on the blog, so will go away until tomorrow. Later, friends.

Posted by: Yoki | April 16, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

think about all those people getting kill in iraq and none of the white fools gives a flying f*** huh
now you can feel the feeling all the iraqui people are going thru just because a crazy dumb azz president want to rule the whole world see how fragil is any place in the use

Posted by: hotpimp | April 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

WaPo is hosting a discussion right now with the editor of Planet Blacksburg. If information is available, he would be able to supply it, I imagine.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/04/16/DI2007041600763.html

Posted by: Tim | April 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Scott K. about the fact that if someone else had been armed this guy would've pushing up daisies after victim #2.

Not that I'm comfortable in general with John Q. Public packing heat, but if these clowns who walk into a fast food joint knew the little old lady sipping coffee by the door might have a .380 in her purse it might deter some of them.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 16, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I -do- have friends at Tech. One of them has checked in, I haven't heard from the others. :\


LTL-CA: "The issue seems to be who is permitted to possess a firearm capable of killing many people in a short time. The answer should be nobody."

Define "short time"? A single-action six-shot revolver can kill six people in a few seconds in skilled hands. A pistol can kill ten or twelve people in a few seconds, in skilled hands. Fully-automatic guns are already wholly illegal outside of military and police (and unrelated to the Assault Weapon Bans.)

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I only count one pro-gun advocate here.

Somehow I'm more terrified by the idea of "righteous citizens" opening fire in a crowd trying to find the original gunman shooting people and right. Hasn't he heard what happened to Pat Tillman?

Here's a definition of friendly fire.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_fire

16% of all causalities in wwwI were from friendly fire.
Vietnam, 13%
Operation Desert storm, 23%
Afghanistan, 13%

And those were trained military personnel wearing identifying uniforms, not untrained citizens acting out of civic duty to stop themselves getting killed in a crowded campus

We must then mark up the likelihood of the percentage of causalities or fatalities caused by friendly fire in such a situation as Scott K CONSIDERABLY.

That is, we can assume that people ready to shoot back at the gunman in a crowd and not able to identify where or get a clear line of sight for more than a second would have contributed at least 10-20 more fatalities or causalities to this massacre.

This doesn't sound very efficient to me.

I say we already have people with guns who are trained to stop shooters-- they're called police.



Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Please no need to discuss gun issues or the NRA today or what is right or wrong about our society. We can do that in the upcoming days.

Please pray for the families of those killed and for the injured and for the skilled men and women who are trying to save these young people in such a desperate situation.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 16, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Scott K,
You have very cogent reasonable responses, but I have to wonder if you aren't part of the NRA Rapid Response Spin Team. Or at least a volunteer with said organization.

Mass killers are rarely legal law-abiding gun owners, but the people that start these massacres tend to have rather easy access to the arsenals of the legitimate owners or sellers.

Many years ago, a coworker of dubious mental stability brought in his handgun for show and tell. Other gun owners in the office had done the same, but this guy terrified us. Standing on his chair would have given him a clear shot at everybody in the place.

When the gun didn't go home the next day, we told the boss who had a talk with him. He laughed off the implication that he might go "postal" (sorry to slur fine postal workers, but there is a reason bad reputations start) and said the gun was perfectly safe since he kept the clip in the glove compartment. That did not make us feel any safer.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

WH deputy press secty Dana Perino today answered a Q about whether WH should do more on gun violence:

"PERINO:
I would point you back to the fact that the president, along with Secretary Spellings, hosted last October, October 10, 2006, a conference on school gun violence, after the Amish school shooting and the other shootings that had happened. Because the tragedies are the ones that just collectively break America's heart, and are ones that we deeply feel, because all of us can imagine what it would be like to have been at your own school, your own college and have something happen.

And those of us who are -- you know, are parents or brothers or sisters of people in schools, have to take that into consideration.

As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.

And certainly, bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting numbers -- I don't want to say numbers, because I know that they're still trying to figure out how many people were wounded and possibly killed. But obviously, that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for. "


Pulitzer announced. Cormac McCarthy won for The Road.

Some others:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling and Rick Loomas of the Los Angeles Times have won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for their reports on the world's distressed oceans. [hyped on Achenblog]

NEW YORK (AP) -- Lawrence Wright has won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11."
AP-ES-04-16-07 1508EDT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald has won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for reports on waste, favoritism and lack of oversight at the Miami housing agency

NEW YORK (AP) -- Andrea Elliott of The New York Times has won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for coverage of an immigrant imam striving to serve his faithful in America.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Error, that was another point, and expansion, I meant to make.

LTL-CA: "I wanted to point out that guns only seem to increase the likelihood such a massacre will happen, not the total fatality outcome of a massacre."

If a few people on scene had been armed, the death count would likely have been much lower. If the gunman didn't know who was armed and who wasn't--rather than the unfortunate fact of "nobody but him"--he might have never started in the first place.

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Agree with you greenwithenvy. I think we all wish we could have prevented this massacre.

I remember the October Snipers all too well. Every citizen in the area packing heat and ready to use it wouldn't have actually stopped the snipers, since they were operating from inside a car trunk, using long-range high energy rifles out of sight.

What cracked it was spotting and capturing them when they weren't actively shooting.

Our brains and observational skills remain our best weapons against would-be mass murderers.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I heard a report on the radio (can't remember if it was WaPo or NPR), that there was an initial lockdown after the 7:11 AM 911 call, but that it was lifted in the 9:00 hour for some reason (maybe to give kids a chance to get back to their dorms?). I think this lines up with the second wave of attacks.

Don't know if that information is true or not.

This whole thing is terrible on so many levels...

bc

Posted by: bc | April 16, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Incomprehensible. What is wrong with people?

Posted by: Pixel | April 16, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that guns are deterrent at all, especially in this kind of circumstance. People who do this kind of thing, are thinking of no one but themselves. Their inner thoughts are so subverted by whatever personal stuff they are going through, that they everyone else is responsible and is going to pay. Of course I am not an expert, but I do beleive they are extraordinarily self involved.

If there is an experty type out there, I wouldn't mind hearing in an fyi kind of way.

A whole lot of people are going on the prayer list today.

Posted by: dr | April 16, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Scott K again makes the assumption that the mass shooter even planned to get out of there alive.

He needs to review the University of Texas shooting, or heck, read MacBeth.

Anybody who gets up and starts shooting strangers at random is by definition not in his right mind or focused on his own survival.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Arguing about the right to bear arms is moot in the wake of this tragedy. I bet you dollars to donuts that this guy was not licensed to carry firearms. Regardless, 30plus people are GONE, snuffed out in the prime of their lives. I'm praying for everyone who's been even remotely touched by this. VT and Blacksburg are really a very safe area, idyllic even. It's terrible because lives have been lost and a sense of security will be hard to get back.

Posted by: Once a Hokie Always a Hokie | April 16, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Dr, I tend to agree with you, although I am no expert.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

This is shocking. No matter how often it happens, it is and should be shocking. I am sorry for all the loss, and particularly for those of you personally connected with it in any sense.

The nascent gun argument here, such as it is, seems to me to be beside the point. Some professional observations: (a) No mass murder like this is purely spontaneous. (b) People with guns kill more people than people without guns. (c) Persons who indulge in large-scale shooting events are seldom if ever deterred by the thought that others might be armed; while this might deter a smaller-scale criminal (an argument for another day and different circumstances), the mental state necessary to kill a lot of people, one by one, not in mutual combat, does not lend itself to thought of personal consequences such as possible death by a victim. Or, to put (c) more simply, it is highly unlikely that the shooter(s)(?) thought about it.

I am so sorry.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 16, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the police were called. They arrived after 31 people died. I'm not advocating vigilantism, or willy-nilly return fire. I would likely support mandatory gun training for anyone who wanted to carry in public--and it's the best possible idea for anyone who wants to carry.

yellojkt, I'm not even a member of the NRA--they're too political and too concerned with covering their own behinds to actually support gun rights--though I am a member of the Virginia Citizen's Defense League. No one put me up to this--I just fear the backlash from anti-gun advocates, and the overreacting-in-the-wrong-direction public, following this kind of event. My wife has a concealed carry permit, which she got following an abusive marriage. She regularly practices at the local ranges, and competes in pistol competition. Has she ever had to use those skills on the street? No, thank god. But it makes both of us feel safer knowing that she has both the equipment and the training to protect herself, or us, or the people around us. (Note that a key part of CHP training is on the legal aspects of firing in self-defense or to protect others--you can be in the right, and still suffer grave financial and penal loss.)

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

hotpimp:
Are you some of kind of terrorist? Now we can feel what the Iraqi people feel, talking about how fragile the US is? At least, that's what I think you're saying through your incoherent blather. 30 students, many of whom probably didn't even vote for Bush because they were too young to, just got murdered straight out, and you're talking about how this is a good thing b/c it shows us how the Iraqis feel?
Bush is completely incompotent, and my heart aches every time I hear about people being killed in Iraq, either U.S or Arab. But how does this relate to the VT shooting? You rejoice in the pain of others, while I, as a white fool, give a he!! of a lot more than a flying f--k about the Iraqi people.

Sorry (to the Boodle) for the rant. Actually, no, I'm not sorry. I need to go blow some steam off. Joel, if you want to delete this (and the post I respond to) that might be a good idea. Not that i want to tell you how to do your job...

Posted by: Tangent | April 16, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree that we will have plenty of time later to chew over the meaning of this tragedy, aided by some facts about the perpetrator, his psychological state, etc.

This story really sickens me. But it's usually wise to wait for information to come in before drawing sweeping conclusions about something. I went out to Columbine after it happened and talked to students and neighbors and whatnot -- a very disturbing story -- and I'm not sure anyone ever really understood why Harris and Klebold did it.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Anybody who gets up and starts shooting strangers at random is by definition not in his right mind or focused on his own survival."

Wilbrod, point taken. In this case, I could only [hypothetically] hope that someone armed and trained could have taken him out sooner.

In non-mass-crime scenarios, though, the point holds.

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The VCDL works fast. This is a headline currently on their website:

"04/16/07 - Gun-control claims lives at Virginia Tech"

The incendiary mis-logic behind this rashly disingenuous claim is opportunistic, misleading, irresponsible, and indefensible.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The campus is huge, but given the ubiquity of IM, e-mail, wireless, lockdown probably could have happened much more quickly than it appeared to. Bad disaster planning/execution?

I spent most of my life working in academia. The last place I worked had a security division with lots of swagger and not very much talent.

When I was in grad school, living in student housing, the 2 undergrads living in the apartment above mine quarreled constantly with everyone else in the building (grad students, long story). Seemed like they were always moving furniture. One night after I called them about the noise, I felt compelled to go sit in my bathroom to study because it seemed "safe." When the campus police finally got around to visiting them, they found multiple guns (behind furniture). They gave them 2 weeks to move off campus, during which time the undergrads displayed a toy Uzi in their front window with a shooter doll and victim dolls. THis was slightly pre-Columbine, but it still seems as if those students were given way too much latitude.

Posted by: dbG | April 16, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Oklahoma City bombing: April 19
Columbine: April 20
Virginia Tech: April 16

Any significance?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 16, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

dbg, that is an interesting thought. Do schools, campuses of size use these new methods like testing in any way to get students to safety faster? Maybe that should come into play in disaster planning.

Posted by: dr | April 16, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The Oklahoma City bombing was deliberately done on the anniversary of the ATF storming at Waco. Other than that, it just might be an extreme case of Spring Fever.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, headlines are designed to grab the reader's attention--be it supportive or outraged--to draw the reader into the article itself. Yes, Mr. Van Cleave's comments sometimes tend toward the incendiary--but it's an incendiary topic.

In the Brady Campaign's press release, they make several mentions of "powerful weapons." Last I heard, the shooter was carrying a 9mm handgun and a .22 caliber handgun. Who's being "opportunistic, misleading, irresponsible"?

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

It's been almost 6 years since I moved to the profits, but I'm sure some are (and more may now). Many campuses have e-mail groups to send the same message to all students, administrators or faculty. Similarly with phone lists. At my last employer, they could IM or call everyone's cell at the same time. (IT function, not Security's idea)

I've been meaning to ask: how did your perceived threat work out?

Posted by: dbG | April 16, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

April 20 is Hitler's birthday, Then Columbine occured on the 110th anniversary of his birth.

Posted by: omni | April 16, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Scott K, they were powerful enough to kill dozens. I wouldn't say the Brady Campaign was being misleading.

Posted by: dbG | April 16, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

As for the VT events, I'm pretty numb and can't think of anything to say. So off on this tangent instead. Scott K writes, 'LTL-CA: "The issue seems to be who is permitted to possess a firearm capable of killing many people in a short time. The answer should be nobody."

'Define "short time"? A single-action six-shot revolver can kill six people in a few seconds in skilled hands. A pistol can kill ten or twelve people in a few seconds, in skilled hands.'

The two examples you mention seem to qualify.

I think everyone should be allowed to carry an 18th century four-foot long muzzle-loader. You can't conceal it, and a shooter can be disarmed manually while reloading, without a need for the others to have a gun. If the others also had one, they could hit him over the head with it while he was reloading.

Isn't it interesting that when arguments take the form of competing scenarios, they always work out in favor of the position being argued. Like the argument that if everyone (at least 40% of people? what percentage is needed?) carried a gun, then we would all be safer and the mass shooter would not succeed. (Why wouldn't the others run away if possible, even if they had a gun? Why make themselves the prime target?) OTOH, there could be multiple killings every day resulting from traffic accidents.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 16, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I find the following statement, taken in context, not misleading in the least:

"Details are still forthcoming about what motivated the shooter in this case to act, and how he was able to arm himself. It is well known, however, how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country."

This VCDL statement cannot be logically defended as a factual statement:

"If just ONE of those victims had been armed, this most probably would
have turned out very differently."

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This is nothing to politicise. I would hope that no politician enters into this tragedy either as a "concerned" person or "to add grief counseling". Just stay out.

I'm prompted to write this because I just read the official White House comment "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," Perino said.

Now seems to me to be a very tasteless time to play to the gun lobby.

Posted by: hdhouse | April 16, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

For every shooting that might be prevented if a college student was armed I assert there very well could be a hundred that failed to occur because a college student was not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I believe a sustained discussion about mental health -- including depression characteristics in adolescents and expecially young males -- might offer practical measures about risk analysis.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I, like many people, am struck dumb by this awful thing. I just keep thinking that anyone who is not mentally ill in some manner would not be able to do something like this. Those of us who are in complete possession of our mental faculties cannot hope to understand what is going on inside the heads of those who aren't, and yet I try to make sense of it anyway. My thoughts are with those who are wounded first, and those who have lost a loved one second, but my thoughts keep returning, morbidly, to the mind of the shooter. Whenever something like this shooting happens, I think, 'This is no way to achieve notoriety.' But I am wrong. Why else would I have ever heard of Klebold and Harris, but for their being infamous? We will know this man's name, and we should also pray for his family, for they have lost a son, too. They will alos have to live with the thought that maybe they missed a warning sign, or something.

Posted by: Gomer | April 16, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

ahh, dbg, he did not come back yet, but I was right to raise the alarm. The front receptionist who was not in the day this fellow came by, was familiar with him. She said he'd come in before. She thought maybe she should say something, but she didn't want to be alarmist. I told her alarm away. Alarms are good.

We have a button set up on the phones close to the front station. Anyone who hears anything untoward just has to push a button and the whole building will hear what is happening near the front desk. Some people are supposed to monitor and call the authorities if it sounds warranted, some are supposed to go up and assist (in our non security parlance, this means stand there and give physical presence) if it sounds safe.

Our building is peopled with ex-RCMP, police and military types, and these guys can stare most people to the ground, and we pray that is more than will ever be needed. The boss is thinking about locking the building and giving buzz in access only at the front door. We'd really hate to do that.

On the upside, the police swat (if that is what they call it) train weekends in our commercial area. We are a combination of light and heavy commercial, office commercial and are near residential areas, but access can be blocked of with very few assets. And weekends this area is extremely quiet. If they needed to sneak to this area, they know all the ways.

Posted by: dr | April 16, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Let me add my voice to greenwithenvy's 3:16. There will be plenty of time for political discourse in guns and their role in society. Today is a day to pray for those wounded and those who lost dear ones.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 16, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

That's just what we need--a nation full of armed college students, dozing through Ec. 101 with a Glock in their backpacks, "just in case" a wild shooting rampage should happen to break out (there are so many of them, ya just never know, know what I mean, Vern?). Let's see, there was this one, then Chapman in '66, and the guy in 1921...why the list just goes on and on. Good thinking, there, Scott K.

Of course, I work in downtown Washington--I'm sure the guards in my building wouldn't mind me waltzing in and out of govt. buildings (and the Naval Air Station I used to work at) with a concealed weapon, just in case an al Qaeda operative might show up.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 16, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I am horrified by todays events. here are some interesting stats:

32 dead in VA.

594 Iraqi dead in April 2007 in Iraq = 36.5 per day.

1889 Iraqi dead in March 2007 in Iraq = 60 per day.
*stats taken from icasualties.org

Imagine a VT shooting every day. Are some deaths worth more Media coverage, or simply more.

Posted by: tima | April 16, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

mudge,

I had a coworker that was very sympathetic to the VCDL. Their political goal is to allow anyone with a concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed weapon ANYWHERE, including airports, universities, and national parks.

I shudder that the innocent victims of this tragedy are already pawns in the political posturing over the issue. We will never get to ask the dead what their opinion was. Indeed, let's pray for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

It's 33 now, just wached the Virginia Tech live news conference. 2 from the dorm, 31 (including the shooter) from the academic building. Not much more news from the conference, at least the part of it I saw.

I'm off to class now.

Posted by: PLS | April 16, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, tima, some deaths are worth more media coverage. This should be a surprise to no one. We expect deaths and casualties in a war zone. That doesn't make the death less painful for those involved, but it does make it less newsworthy as an individual incident. We do not expect mass homicide on a college campus. Therefore, if it happens, it is an intrinsically significant event, precisely because there was no mental preparation or expectation of the occurrence.

Posted by: Tim | April 16, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

What awful news. I was out running around all morning, not listening to the news, so this is quite a shock. My heart goes out to those with friends and family there.

I'm always haunted by the parents of the shooters - what must they go through for the rest of their lives? I suppose that's because there have been many cases where the description resembled my own son (who, thank goodness, was never interested in guns, that I know of).

Sad, sad, sad.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 16, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

True, there will be plenty of time to mull this over when we actually have some reliable facts. But it is awfully hard not to take on grotesque assertions.

This hits me hard because it is so horrible, so salient, and because it makes me feel so powerless.

Bummer about no WaPo folks on that Pulitzer list, but look at it this way. Today would be a pretty rough day to crack open champagne.


Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Tim, well put.

From the wire:

POLICE SAW FIRST SHOOTING AS ISOLATED INCIDENT AND DID NOT CLOSE UNIVERSITY- CAMPUS POLICE CHIEF Reut16:49 04-16-07

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, a typo on the Pulitzers--it's Rick Loomis.

From the NYT:
The prize for explanatory journalism went to The Los Angeles Times for a series called "Altered Oceans," by Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling and Rick Loomis, examining how industrialized society had altered the basic chemistry of the seas.

Rick has been on my radar screen since Louisville, although I've never spoken to him out in Los Angeles. Aaron Brown showcased Rick's work in Iraq on his NewsNight program (I had just checked into a hotel in Parkersburg, W.Va., entered the room about 10:50 p.m., flipped on the TV, and there was the ending Newsnight segment with a photo essay of Rick's work--mmm, it was the last week of April 2004, I'm fairly certain.)

When we lived across the Ohio River from Louisville, I became acquainted with a tall, sandy-haired young reporter who worked at the Courier-Journal, Chris H.(can't recall the last name) formerly roomed with Rick Loomis, in college, I think.

Glad to see Lawrence Wright win for "The Looming Tower." See my previous post for Copyright Texas event.

Sorry to hear of the shooting in Blacksburg. I learned of it at noon, when I turned on the television. I see now late this afternoon that the death toll has now climbed by 10 to be 32. Tragic. Agree with Joel, best not to say to much until more details of the story become known. My husband came home from work to fix me lunch and stopped to purchase some Mucinex (I'll always be grateful for that recommendation a year of so ago, Mudge)--my cold is that bad. Been sleeping for about 24 hours, but am feeling better now--*obviously*, since I Boodling.

Posted by: Loomis | April 16, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

tima, let me also note that I would not expect any coverage of this event on al Jazeera; or, perhaps, a not-so-sympathetic story about how this shows the American character. The story is written for its audience, not for its subject.

Posted by: Tim | April 16, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thank you, Tim.

It is hard not to try and make sense of this before what we even know what we're making sense of, and even harder not to engage persons who view an event like this through a particular lens (gun ownership, gun control, whatever). However, here's what we know: a person used some guns, apparently handguns, to shoot at and kill a bunch of people at a university. We know that at least some of the victims did not expect to be shot at or killed.

It is inexpressibly sad and shocking. That should be enough to start with.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 16, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Haven't had access to a computer today--internet down at work.

The only thing I teach for VA Tech is a field course, so I'm rarely on campus there.

I do have several students at Tech that I haven't heard from yet, though.

Posted by: Dooley | April 16, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The president of the school just made an excellent point: the first shooting was at 7:15. Classes don't start until 8 a.m. There were an estimated 14,000 people in transit--so there were NO CLASSES that COULD be locked down at 7:15 or thereabouts. The thinking was to let them get to their classes and THEN lock them down (which makes sense to me). The alternative is the 14,000 students arrive to find a bunch of locked classrooms and buildings, and there are 14,000 milling around with the shooter on the loose.

I really hate all this instant second-guessing. To me the shooting of two people in the dorm does NOT immediately suggest a mass spree was about to take place. I don't see there was any way to know that or to act otherwise. How many shootings take place every day that are NOT followed by sprees? Answer: just about all of them. There was just no way to predict that two people shot at X location would lead to 58 more killed or wounded a half mile away at Y location.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 16, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Dooley -- very good to hear from you, fossil guy. Let us know about your students. We are hoping for the best news.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 16, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tim and Mudge, for your wise words. This is one of those times when words are totally inadequate. One can only grieve with the bereaved, and pray for God to be with them.

Posted by: Slyness | April 16, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

You are quite right Mudge. I have a feeling, though, that the response to this decision will not be nearly so logical.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I've posted a new kit that's an email from a student at Virginia Tech.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Scoot K, I'm not going to backlash against guns in general.

Having been a victim of crime in general, after taking self-defense classes though...

I have decided that advance warning and a visible deterrent is far better than a concealed weapon. If you carry a gun in a purse, it can be stolen and used against you. Even when you carry it on your body, you have to consider that a larger opponent who takes you by surprise from the back won't give you a lot of chance to retrieve the gun and shoot backwards.

My choice is an signal dog who also is large to serve as a visible deterrent. I've had a man cross the street from us at night just because I cued him to keep staring at him.

He alerts me to people coming towards us from alleys, behind fences, around corners, etc., giving us the best defense-- avoiding trouble. He also alerts me to people in cars, getting in and out, even if I can't see them.

Nowadays, I would NEVER be in a parking garage alone without him, even if I had a gun with me.

If I could teach him to smell loaded guns and surreptiously alert me to their presence and direction, I would do that as well.

On the other hand, America is so far more restrictive about Europe on the rights to take dogs into public places, train, and socialize them for safety, that realistically not everybody has this option in America.

The restrictions are led in part by insurance and irresponsible dog owners who don't really understand their own dogs' potential for aggression, but there are cultural factors at work too.

Breed-specific legislation makes it increasingly difficult to own dogs that happen to LOOK dangerous (never mind if they are).

Annually, more people die from accidental gunshots on the JOB alone than die from dog bites (total), despite the fact there are far more dogs per household than there are guns.

The ratio is so disproportionate--
There were 730 accidental firearm-related fatalities in 2005, and only 29 dog bite fatalities in 2005-- and this was an unusually high year (the average year is 5-17).

That I don't understand why it's much harder to take a dog into any public place than it is to take a gun.

Ahem... So while I am sympathetic to your concern, I think you and your wife should be deeply concerned that the option of keeping and maintaining a dog for personal protection everywhere is not allowed by US law, even if the dog is not trained in bite work at all.
You could hire gun-carrying bodyguards if you two were obscenely rich, but never a dog?

...

As I said, I think this crime would have best been prevented before the said shooter ever began shooting.

Ivansmom, who IS an expert in crime, concurs-- this didn't happen out of the blue without prior warning signs from the shooter (...who we still have not identified nor know anything about how he shot people-- for all we know, he did it from a roof or out a classroom window... so it's all speculation at this moment).

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"for all we know, he did it from a roof or out a classroom window..."

Actually, Wilbrod, we pretty much know that's NOT how it happened. He appears to have done most of the shooting by going from classroom to classroom in Norris Hall.

We already have three bona fide heroes come out of this, two of whom have been interviewed. The shooter went into a classroom where there was a German class in progress. The shooter shot the teacher in the head, and then starting shooting students at random and without saying a word. He appears to have shot four or five. Then he left the room. Here's where the heroes come in. Two guys and a girl went to the door and blockaded it with their feet. It was a damn good thing they did, because the shooter tried to come back into the room. They three students kept the door blocked and the shooter fired five or six shots through the door, not hitting anybody. Then he left. One of the male students is/was an Eagle Scout, and therefore knew some first aid. He began trying to help the wounded while the other guy and the girl continued to block the door. The guy at the door is named O'Dell; I heard but forgot the other guy's name, but heard him interviewed and tell his tale. The girl is so far unidentified, but I'm sure by tomorrow everyone in America will know their names and what they did.

Three heroes already--and I'll bet there's more.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 16, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... we know NOW. I was replying to something posted when we didn't know and were only speculating.

Sigh, classroom-to-classroom shootings-- this sounds even more like Columbine now.

Maybe instead of arguing for concealed weapons, we should be arguing for bulletproof vests to be worn everywhere legally-- wait a minute, these vests are legal, yet nobody was wearing them to class. They should have known it was gonna be a combat zone, right?

I'm curious to see Ivansmom's take on this case in Alabama, specifically the failure to prosecute the 16 year olds.
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/973592425?ltl=1176760949

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Horatius at the bridge...

O'Dell at the door...

Some times it's good history repeats itself. It's even better when the repeater lives to tell the tale.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 16, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

For those not quite 100% on Roman history: "Horatius at the Bridge"

http://www.kellscraft.com/romanhistorych2.html

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

New kit

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon: "nation full of armed college students, dozing through Ec. 101 with a Glock in their backpacks"

In backpack = concealed carry = trained, certified, licensed. Works for me.

"just in case"

Just in case any sufficiently dangerous situation arises. Happens every hour, every day, around the country. Works for me.

"I'm sure the guards in my building wouldn't mind me waltzing in and out of govt. buildings (and the Naval Air Station I used to work at) with a concealed weapon"

You probably walk through a metal detector every day. Either there are no guns or knives in the building, or they trust badged employees.

-----------------------------

Wilbrod: "If you carry a gun in a purse, it can be stolen and used against you."

If you carry a gun in your purse, or on your person, you have a responsibility to be hyper-aware of its presence, the presence of everyone around you, and to ensure that it is not stolen from you.

"larger opponent who takes you by surprise from the back won't give you a lot of chance to retrieve the gun and shoot backwards."

The same applies with any form of self-defense (aside from your dog, but dogs can't be taken everywhere--fewer places than guns, in fact.) Again, hyper-awareness of your surroundings significantly decreases your chances of being attacked unawares, regardless of your decision to carry a gun or not. That said, a gun on its own, even training in its use, is far less effective than that in addition to additional self-defense training (in case you're disarmed, or in a situation where guns aren't allowed.)

BSL: I'm completely and totally with you on this one. We have several American Staffordshire Terriers, as do my parents and sister, and my inlaws have an American Pit Bull Terrier; they are the sweetest dogs you'll ever meet, and they're more likely to be stolen than to guard your house in your absence. With dog bans, I'm sure that allergies and messes are as much of a concern, if not moreso, than liability.

"As I said, I think this crime would have best been prevented before the said shooter ever began shooting."

Hear hear.

Bulletproof vests: Prohibitively expensive--so expensive, it would seem, that we can't afford to supply enough for our military, but that's another rant entirely. Also, uncomfortable and/or unwieldly.

Posted by: Scott K | April 16, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

BTW, My dog is actually an hearing ear dog-- for me, "hyperawareness" is not enough.

And because of the fact he is completely task trained for my deafness and trained for stability and temperament (and not making messes) in public, I CAN take him virtually anywhere since he assists my disability under the ADA.

I appreciate it so much and I've also heard enough about the European system (dogs there are allowed on buses, in many public places-- only places they're explictly banned are in establishments containing raw meat), and the correspondingly outstanding manners of pet dogs there, to think America needs to take a deep rethink of its attitude towards dogs in public-- and expectations of dog owners in public as well.

Anyway back to why I feel safer with my dog-- the value of advance warning and why hypervigilance isn't enough, I learned when I was mugged by a 15 year old KID who must have been behind a row of parked cars when I looked back last. He was wearing sneakers and it was dark too. I fought back, but it ended with a successful theft (he only got 13 bucks). It was less than 20 feet from my door in a safe neighborhood. I was lucky to get in my apt, he took my keys as well. I know that if I had the warning so he didn't have the jump on me...

For a long time, I was not able to sleep alone in my own apartment without startling at every little thing, and I was scared to step even a foot outside my door in the dark (so I do empathize with your wife), but that ended once my dog was reliably alerting me-- less than a month after I got him.

I'd say I'd rather have the reflex time to assess and react than have to make a split-second decision to shoot that can never be reversed. Or to have to shoot when I'm already shot, or shoot in a crowded area where I could hit an innocent person.

Just a difference in perspective. And I do feel bad that too many people feel their only safety alternative is to carry guns.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Firstly I want to express my sincere condolences to every person affected by this unnecessary horific incident. AND I also agree with tima and hotpimp to some extent. Thousand of people die daily, many of them at the hands of violence caused by the US (i think every one knows what i am talking about)and why does it have to be on the news 24/7 and on the front page of every news paper worldwide - watching CNN last night a reporter said they were shocked that is was not on every front page and even mentioned some. Its ridiculous, they are making bad news into good news. Further more most probably more than half the world does not even care, i mean the US tops the unpopular country chart by far. The US should stop interfering with other and fixed their own place, because its going down,down,down

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