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Virginia Tech Student: "We Will Come Through"

[I received the following email from Phillip Murillas, of Fairfax, Virginia, now a freshman at Virginia Tech, majoring in communication. We also spoke by phone. He said the university sent out an email time-stamped 9:26 with the subject line Shooting On Campus: "A Shooting incident occurred at West Ambler Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating. The university community is urged to be cautious and are asked to contact Virginia Tech police if you observe anything suspicious or with information on the case." A second email at 9:50, he said, told everyone to stay put. More eyewitness material here.]

I woke up oblivious to the tragedy occurring mere minutes away from
my dorm room. My pressing concern of the moment was whether or not
the showers would be available or closed for cleaning. Before leaving
my room to head to my first class, I knew two things. First, the
university had sent out an e-mail explaining that an isolated
shooting incident had occurred in West Ambler Johnston, also minutes
from my dorm. Second, there was a squadron of sirens echoing around
the campus.

It was enough to make me change my Facebook status to "Phillip is
edgy." Aside from that, I assumed it would be a relatively normal
day. I had a quiz, an exam, and a community dinner to attend. As per
my normal routine, I went downstairs to fetch my friend so we could
walk together to McBryde Hall, practically next to Norris.

My friend was the one who showed me the e-mail I had just missed.

"PLease stay put" read the subject, typos and all.

"A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice.
Stay away from windows."

My friend drew his blinds.

That was when I grasped the severity of the situation. Disregarding
orders, I made my way to the common area to look out the windows
facing the Drillfield. Police car after police car sped down the
road, grouping at the spot of the field opposite Norris and the
evacuating buildings. A friend of mine came back in from class and
explained that the situation was happening in the same buildings
where I have had classes for months.

I literally ran upstairs to make sure everyone I knew was fine. And
so began my Monday.

It's been a stressful and confusing stretch of hours as the crisis
settles. News reports jumped from reporting one death to twenty. And
then twenty-one. Twenty-two including the shooter. It became too much
for some of us to watch.

It's easy to get angry. Angry at the media for fishing for the tragic
angle to feed a paralyzed audience. Angry at the university for not
locking down the campus in time. Angry at the person who unleashed
this violence on us in the first place. Without a doubt, we need
answers and we need to learn from this to make sure the community
feels safe.

But right now, all I can do is wait and hope. Right now, I'm waiting
to hear on the safety of two dorm mates who were in Norris when the
incident took place. They are unaccounted for. But all my energy is
devoted to functioning on the assumption that they are alive and well.

What I want is for the Northern Virginia and DC Metropolitan
community to also concentrate on hoping. Hoping for the safety of all
students, including those from the area. Hoping for the physical and
emotional recovery of victims and their families. And hoping that
this university will not let itself be forever crippled or tarnished
by this nightmare.

On our first day of classes, the shadow of William Morva shook us
all. This incident will understandably leave deeper scars. But just
as we overcame senseless violence once before, I am confident that we
will persevere. Tech has enabled me to have one of the best years of
my life and I, for one, refuse to turn this into a defining event.

I chose to come to this university for a variety of reasons. But I'll
continue to tell people why I'll stay. I'll stay to contribute to the
reparation and healing of this community. I'm not one to buy Virginia
Tech apparel or merchandise and I don't paint my faces for sporting
events. But I know now more than ever, that I am a member of this
university, in the best of times, of which there are many, and in the
worst of times, which I'm afraid are what the outside world will
focus on.

We will get through this. And we appreciate all the support that is
flooding in from our homes, our families, the nation and the world.
Please continue to support us. And please remember Virginia Tech for
its accomplishments and its spirit, not for this one day. We will
come through. You can count on us for that. -- Phillip Murillas

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 16, 2007; 5:19 PM ET
 
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Next: Virginia Tech: Second Guessing the Second Guessing

Comments

wow

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I just got off the phone with my 11 year old. His friend, the opposing Little League pitcher Saturday night, died in his sleep after the game. And many hundreds of miles away, this senseless slaughter. I just pray as much for his folks, as I do those VT parents, friends, and families, as well as service members who may be killed in action, and totally unnoticed today. May God be with us all.

Posted by: Father | April 16, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

RD, took my reply.

Posted by: dmd | April 16, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

No way could I read this without tears in my eyes. God be with them - and us - all.

Posted by: Slyness | April 16, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting that email, Joel. This is the boy my son contacted to tell to write to you. I think his message is beautiful and eloquent and it was best said in his words.

This is just a terrible day.

Posted by: TBG | April 16, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm re-posting this from the previous kit--you'll understand why:

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 6:04 PM | Report abuse

All of my VA Tech students are accounted for.

Posted by: Dooley | April 16, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Excellent news, Dooley. I hope the hospitals can give us more positive news as the night goes by.

*crossing everything*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 16, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

...That's my German teacher, I think....

Posted by: Phillip Murillas | April 16, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Just got back in, and saw the sad news.

To the families and friends of the people that are involved in this horrible event, my prayers are sent your way. For the many folks that are touched by this event, I will pray for also.

I just don't know what we can do to improve security at the different schools and colleges in our country. I feel so helpless.

Your email is full of hope and a determination to hang in there, young man, good thoughts your way, and the blessings of God through Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 16, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sorry, Phillip.

Posted by: Dooley | April 16, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Phillip Murillas, That was very well written.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Philip, Gott segne dich!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 16, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

After experiencing the climate of fear that occured after the Gallaudet University murders and before the murderer was caught, I can say that being sure the perpetuators are caught and can do no further harm to the university... that is the first step to healing.

May healing come speedily to Virginia Tech, even though many will grieve for a long, long time.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Phillip. We'll keep hope in our hearts for all of you.

Posted by: dr | April 16, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

What a senseless tragedy.

Posted by: SonofCarl | April 16, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Phillip, I just made my husband read what you wrote, we are both so impressed, best wishes to you - our hopes are with your community.

Posted by: dmd | April 16, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Like TBG, I went to Virginia Tech. I'm so saddened by these tragic events. My heart goes out to all of those killed and wounded and to their families and friends. I just feel so empty right now. When I was there, I remember reading about the occasional suicide of a student and how that would all give us pause. I can't imagine what the current students, staff, and faculty will be feeling over the coming days and weeks to deal with something of this magnitude.

Phillip, thank you for your e-mail. You and everyone else there will be in my thoughts. I think we would like to hear from you again.

Thank you, Joel, for publishing this and for your other comments on this horrible, horrible day.

Posted by: pj | April 16, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Tina, thanks so much for your help today.

Mudge refers to Derek O'Dell, who survived the German class shooting in room 207.

More here:

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/04/eyewitness_he_j.html#more


This comment by Steger -- that there was no connection between the two shootings -- makes zero sense:

"Charles Steger, president of the university, said at a later afternoon news conference that 31 people, including the gunman were killed at Norris Hall and two others died at the dorm. He said there was no connection between the two shootings, however, law enforcement sources told The Washington Post that a single shooter was responsible for both incidents. " (WAPo story)

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Broadside, the newspaper of George Mason University, in Fairfax, was able to get further information from Phillip Murillas on his experience. The information is posted on their blog:

http://broadsideonline.blogspot.com/2007/04/vt-student-from-fairfax-writes-e-mail.html

Posted by: AZS | April 16, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Phillip, God bless you and your entire community. Your hope is an inspiration to us all.

Posted by: Kim | April 16, 2007 9:11 PM | Report abuse

If you listen to the 5PM press conference Steger doesn't assert that there is no connection. Rather, he seems to be stating that this connection has yet to be firmly established.

Clearly, it seems unlikely in the extreme that both shootings just happened to have occurred within two hours of each other. Yet, strictly speaking, he is right. I have heard of no witnesses to the early morning shooting.

I am confident, however, that this question will be resolved quickly through ballistic analysis.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 9:11 PM | Report abuse

See comments at about 2:30 into the clip.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/04/16/VI2007041601364.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

At that time they weren't sure if it was only one shooter involved, or a pair (like at Columbine). I saw his noon briefing, and he said a similar thing.

They aren't ready to admit they let students walk around with a gunman on the loose and thats why so many died, of course.
I also think that they are still trying to figure out if there was a second shooter at all, and interviewing people. It takes time to straighten out exactly what happened.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 16, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Note that the WaPo article was posted at 6:36. From this it isn't clear if the law enforcement source came after the 5PM briefing.


Posted by: RD Padouk | April 16, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I second s'nuke. *crossing everything* literally and metaphysically. Phillip, my thoughts are with you and all your friends, family and community.

Posted by: CJ | April 16, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

My heart goes out to all of you with ties to VT. I don't know what to say except I'm keeping everyone in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sad for you Phillip, and for your classmates. Keep your spirit strong, it will help you heal.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | April 16, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Coverage from the Roanoke paper:

http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/breaking/wb/113294

Posted by: Achenbach | April 16, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Phillip,
I am a recent Virginia Tech alumni. Your letter was very touching to read. It is slowly destroying me inside tonight to think about the great people that were affected by the horrible event that took place today on our beloved campus. My thoughts and prayers go out to not only the students and staff that are no longer with us, but the entire Virginia Tech Family. To see the news showing the words, "Virginia Tech" next to words like, "tragedy" and "shootings" and "deadliest shooting every" brings an uncomfortable feeling to me that I have never before experienced.

On another note, there is not a University in the entire nation that would have been prepared to react like something that happened today. It is hurts to see the media such as Paula Zahn and now Larry King take cheap shots at our University for the way the situation was handled. Sure, looking back on the incident, it could have been handled differently, but it would just help to have the media focus on helping the students and staff through this time instead of focussing on what the media always wants to focus on.....the dramatization.

Philip, I personally wish you and the Virginia Tech Family well on your road to recovery.

Posted by: Jeffrey Zepp | April 16, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Phillip, your e-mail speaks volumes about perseverance. Godspeed to you and the rest of the VPI students, staff, alumni, and the Blacksburg/Christiansburg/NRV community. You are all being thought of frequently by many.

Posted by: jack | April 16, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

So sorry to hear about the tragedy. May God be with you...

Posted by: rain forest | April 16, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

To everyone who has commented,

Thank you very much for all your kind words and support. It's been...an interminable day to say the least.

I stand by everything I said in the letter about perseverance and dedication to this school and this community. As the day has worn on, I've heard word of two deaths to which I relate personally. According to friends of mine, I have lost a professor and a dorm mate.

It is much more difficult now to muster the same energy I had when I sent Mr. Achenbach the letter. But the sentiment is made somewhat more possible by the kind words spoken from all over.

We will find out what went wrong and what happened. For now, I am mainly focusing on grieving for my two lost friends. I don't know how to break the news to others, or if I should at all. We're currently gathering to spend the night together, as a dorm. And that's where I should be right now.

Once again, thank you and keep up the support. We need it more than ever as the victim list is finally confirmed.

Phillip Murillas

Posted by: Phillip Murillas | April 16, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Phillip, we're very proud of you and will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: TBG | April 16, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Phillip, thanks for sharing your experience at such a difficult time. TBG, RDP, pj, anyone with connections to Virginia Tech - my deepest sympathy. Hard days ahead as we learn who died, who was injured. Know that you have folks all around the world thinking of you.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 16, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Phillip,

Spend time with your friends. Support, love, and mourn for and with each other. You and everyone else at Virginia Tech have support across the country and you should know you can count on that.

Posted by: pj | April 16, 2007 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Phillip,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with everyone. My heart goes out to everyone in the Tech community. The days ahead are going to be very hard to get through. Please take the time to be with your friends and help each other become stronger for having to endure this horrific experience.

Ignore the media and those who are second guessing and criticizing the decisions made by the Tech Police and President.

Now is the time to be with your friends and to grieve. When I was in college, I went through something similar, we had several serial killers stalking campus and the surrounding town and killing students and others - over 20 people murdered in a six-week period, including students I knew. I can tell you that this experience does not have to define who you are, and does not have to define Tech. Be strong.

My prayers are with you.

Posted by: cricket | April 16, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing to say or share. I just stopped by to cry among friends. Love to all.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 16, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, that's how I feel, too. It feels sacrilegious to post here about triviliaties. Doesn't it make it even worse that the dorm was a freshman dorm - poor freshmen, away from home and comfort and now probably even locked out of their rooms!

CNN is almost worse than they usually are with a disaster.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 17, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Phillip, thanks for telling us your story and for following up with us on here.

There are a lot of people all over the world who read this blog and the comments, and you've just given all of us some perspective and sense of this tragedy. And some human connection to the situation, too.

I hope tonight brings all of us - and especially all of you down at VT - a little peace and a little rest after such a terrible and traumatic day.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 17, 2007 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm a graduate of what was, until today, the site of the nation's worst campus massacre, the University of Texas at Austin. The shooting there happened a few years before I came. Nevertheless, there wasn't a day that I walked past the Tower that I didn't think about what had happened there and how it could have been me.

It took quite a long time for UT to re-open the observation deck that Whitman used, and it was only in the last couple of years that the school built any kind of a memorial. Basically, they tried to sweep it under the rug for nearly 40 years. I hope that Tech will instead grieve openly, then move proudly into a brighter future. Make your school's greatness a living monument to those who died so tragically today.

I'm also a recent graduate of UVa, for what it's worth. There are no rivalries today.

Posted by: scottwmathews | April 17, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

This JMU alum (and sister of Tech and W&M alums) agrees: no rivalries today. There are too many tears for that.

So I've been hoping all day and I'll hope all of tonight, too. Because I just can't seem to get to sleep right now.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 17, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Philip, you and the rest of the campus will be in my thoughts all day. My sincere wish is for all involved to have the time and space and privacy to come together and heal.
_______________________

Joel, that 7:26 sure looks like blogspam and I'd feel better if it was zapped. Thanks.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 4:17 AM | Report abuse

Philip, wishing you peace and time to heal. Me ke aloha pumehana.

Posted by: Aloha | April 17, 2007 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Here's an odd side effect of the tragedy...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601077.html?hpid=moreheadlines

*tilting head like the RCA Victor dog*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 4:49 AM | Report abuse

Dear Americans,
I am petrified by such a senseless carnage and feel so sorry for you!
May God be always with you!
And I really in hunger to know whether the massacre was done by a Chinese stundent or not.

Posted by: Soso Shining | April 17, 2007 6:10 AM | Report abuse

there is something wrong with our global society, my concern is my daughter generation to whom we are not giving good exemples.
my condolences to victim's families

Posted by: csantos | April 17, 2007 6:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Boodle. Good morning, Cassandra. Scotty, I see you're up and about already. Gonna be another tough day for everybody, I think. I'm just glad you folks on the Boodle are here and safe and well.

I know what Soso was thinking at 6:10 about Chinese. My youngest son, age 21 and adopted from Korea, is hoping the shooter wasn't Korean. I guess I am too--and that he wasn't an adoptee. I'm sure no matter what the shooter's nationality, my son is going to take some crap about it.

I think there's gonna be some really serious post-traumatic stress disorder among all the witnesses and survivors in Blacksberg. Last night NBC interviewed those two guys I mentioned, Derek O'Dell and Trey Perkins. I don't think any of it has "hit" those two men yet at all.

8 a.m. update on survivors conditions at hospital, 9 a.m. press conference on campus.

What a world we live in.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning friends.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I wish all peace, love, and good things, in that name that is above every name, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 17, 2007 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Amen, Cassandra. Without God's love, we have no hope and no healing.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

As always, much of the speculation will turn out to be wrong. And as always, I'm saddened that the concept of a "24/7" news cycle forces so much uninformed guesswork.

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

On the other hand, perhaps some people realize not everyone wants a 24/7 cycle...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601830.html?hpid=topnews

*repeat of head-tilting maneuver*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Senseless violent acts of this nature -- seemingly random, meaningless -- just leave me speechless.

All I can share is a prayer:

[God / Higher Power of Your Understanding]...

Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I cannot,
and the Wisdom to tell the difference.

May peace be with all those touched by this tragedy.

Posted by: martooni | April 17, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Phillip Murillas, I want to thank you for your personal contribution to this terrible incident. I have not heard one radio / TV report, or even read an online article about this event until I read your words a few minutes ago. What you have written is so much more meaningful than any media production I've ever heard that covered a horrific event.

You give a great name to BT for the great university that it is.

Posted by: Pat | April 17, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I second Pat's comment.

FYI, you probably heard this already: The gunman is local. Apparently from Fairfax County.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

*SIGH*

Joel, all I'd seen was the CNN report where VT's president said the gunman lived in a dorm.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Pat, special good morning to you--I've been wondering where you were.

Martooni, that's been my prayer since the news broke, too. The human impulse is to try, try, try to understand, and to feel that we can DO SOMETHING to keep this from happening again. But without "the wisdom to know the difference" that impulse can lead us to argue about gun control or discriminate against some group that happens to share some random characteristic with the murderer or consider drastic security measures that curtail our freedoms. So I'm praying right along with you: The serenity to accept..., the courage to change..., the wisdom to know.

Phillip, sympathy to you and all those you represent. Your articulate and frank report is very touching.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 17, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

My wish today is for all to find peace at some level.

Posted by: jack | April 17, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I just want to say how much I am praying and thinking of you all. I feel so raw and shocked. I have two daughters in college and it just makes me think to always take time to say I love you, since it might be my last time. God help us. This is so crazy. It only increses the pain for media to play the blame game. I would ask that the media show compassion. West

Posted by: West | April 17, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Anybody willing to offer up a sky report?

I didn't ask anybody this morning, but my imagination is telling me it's gray and angry.

Posted by: Pat | April 17, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Pat -- in Maryland, the sky holds the possibility of rain still. The sky does not look like winter though; the cloud cover and the light it contains is springlike... lion and lamb forces...unsettled. But I expect you sense that.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 17, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey Pat...

You're not far off, sad to say. I believe the clouds are "scudding," as they say, across the sky, seemingly in great haste to leave the area and let the sun in to lift the gloom. I hope the weather improves for the convocation.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Pat, from my viewpoint where I am the sky is clear and blue. This morning I watched the rising sun produce orange-trimmed clouds at the horizon, and above those clouds, a delicate blue shading to a deeper blue overhead. The sun is bright and cheerful--there is no hint of tragedy in the weather. Even though you are far away from here, it's still the same sky, and I'm happy to share it with you.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 17, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Pat, in my neck of the woods the morning started with a subtle sunrise, soft orange and pink, followed by grey cloud cover and and light rain.

Posted by: dmd | April 17, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Pat... out my back window, the sky looks bright blue with puffy, damp clouds. The sun is shining bright and reflecting off the rain-soaked world.

I can't believe that such a short time ago our main worries about sending our kids off to college were "bootleggers" and having sex in their dorm rooms.

Sigh.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I saw Derek O'Dell on Nightline last night. Wow, the resilience of the young. Of course, as Mudge said, it hadn't hit him yet, even though he'd been physically hit by a bullet. Unfortunately, a warped and perverted version of youthful resilience and determination was shown by the shooter. Sad, sad, sad, and impossible to come up with the right words.

Posted by: Woofin | April 17, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Hey Pat! Cloudless and cool in the Carolinas this morning; it's supposed to warm up and be a nice day. After the winds we had yesterday, that will be a relief.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Pat
I see a bright blue sky, clouded only by my tears.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

God bless us all. So so sad.

Posted by: Meg in PA | April 17, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Words fail, hearts ache, souls shudder. . . .

Gun control anybody?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 17, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

...the sky is carolina blue...

Posted by: jack | April 17, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Well there were three police cars in the parking lot when I pulled up at work today.

Talk about weirding me out.

Is it just me or does the news seem to be taking on a hamster treadmill-like quality? A celebrity meltdown, shoved off the pages by a workplace or school shooting rampage, people driving their kids into a lake... followed by the usual suspects of people wrangling for some political advantage or spin, followed by much hand-wringing over what we can do to prevent it all. Which we can't.

We're trapped on the escalator of life.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Virginia Tech Police chief Wendell Flinchum:

The gunman was Cho Seung-Hui,
23, South Korean, resident alien, an English major...

from Centreville, Va

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

They just named the shooter--a South Korean national who is a resident alien in the U.S., and a student English major named Cho Seung Lee, 23. Ballistics confirms same gun used at both sites.

Appears to be some victims as well as some survivors who haven't been identified yet. They say they aren't going to identify any victims until ALL kin have been notified.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

SSC: I might have gotten his first name wrong, it appears. But Cho is his "last" name (family name), but comes first.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

That, of course, is the right decision.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Phillip,
My most heart-felt condelences to you and everyone at your school. Your post greatly affected me because of it's grace and spirit at a time when we need it the most. Thank you for that.

maria in Illinois

Posted by: maria | April 17, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. This morning the eastern horizon had bands of dark clouds, with a pink streak and the big orange sun barely peeking through. Rain later.

Thank you, Phillip Murillas, for offering us your thoughts and experiences. Good luck to you and the university community as you grive together. I hope you do come out the other side with a stronger community. Thank you, Joel, for giving us Phillip's comments.

I cannot warn strongly enough against this urge to second-guess or hold post-mortems on what happened and what should have happened. Someone suggested yesterday that I would agree there were prior warning signs from the shooter. Not me. The only thing I will say is that such episodes are rarely purely spontaneous. We now know the identity of the shooter, and know about at least some of his weapons, and appear to know who the victims are. That is all.

I don't understand the rush to condemn the university for failing to close the campus. For one thing, we don't yet know exactly what they did. For another, it is clear from student accounts that not all students paid attention to the warnings they did receive. Beyond all that, my mind boggles at the thought of trying to close or lock down such a large, multi-building institution. How, on an open campus covering thousands of acres, at the start of a busy day, do you stop everything in its tracks?

In my business, when a tragedy involving death occurs, it is common to see a rush to blame. Surely something could have been done, surely someone could have stopped the carnage, this must be someone's fault. Well, in this case, there is an obvious locus for blame: the person who shot at and killed his victims. That really should be enough.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 17, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely, Ivansmom, absolutely.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for posting that email, Joel--what a moving statement.

Posted by: Gina | April 17, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

An example of the heroics 'Mudge mentioned yesterday:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1665503.ece

I would concur that there is a rush to second guess security protocols with 20/20 hindsight. The perp was way over the top emotionally, and as large as the campus is (having been there to do research for my thesis), the authorities more than likely followed protocol necessary to deal with the problems they faced, in the order that they faced them. One can't predict the behaviour of a severely distraught human. The professor that is the subject of the article in the link is amazing.

Posted by: jack | April 17, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Amen Ivansmom. The school and security service(s) operated in accordance with what they knew and their own procedures. They will surely review their procedures, see what they could have done better and modify their procedures accordingly. Second guessing at this point is only useful in filling air time.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 17, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Ivansmom for saying what I couldn't put into words. I watched the news reports for a while last night and turned it off when it was clear they were just filling the air time with speculation and blame.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 17, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

http://www.cis.org/articles/2000/back900.html

Under the topic of acculturation and ethnicity, I wonder what's in the contents of this doctoral dissertation?

Juggling Two Worlds: Ethnic Identity of Korean-American College Students
by Ahn, Hue-Sun
University of Pennsylvania

As part of its mission to examine and critique American immigration policy, the Center for Immigration Studies serves as a resource for policymakers, journalists, academics, and others looking for the latest immigration research and news.

Posted by: Loomis | April 17, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

From this morning's story on the news conference:

Responding to widespread criticism that the university may have avoided the second, and more vicious, attack by locking down the campus after the first shooting, Virginia public safety secretary John Marshall called the law enforcement response "coordinated, prompt, professional."

"Yesterday morning, President Steger and his staff made the right decisions based on the best information they had available at the time," Marshall said.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

My initial 20-20 hind-insight was that the school administration made the wrong call by not locking down the university sooner. But as a number of people have noted, VT is the size of a small city. It also looked like a domestic situation, not a spree-killer. Today's front-page story has a sort-of critical comment by an anonymous law enforcement source, and some criticism from students, but my guess is that the story will now move on to the next set of questions: who was this guy, exactly, did anyone see this coming, where did he buy the guns and was it too easy for him to get them, etc.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for being the journalistic rudder through this mess, Joel.

Posted by: jack | April 17, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The boodle fortunately has so many excellent rudders. I was particularly grateful yesterday to Tim for his quick hands at the helm when someone tried out the VT/Iraq comparison (in an attempt to insinuate narrow-mindedness on our part in reacting so strongly to 32 shot dead on campus). A college campus isn't a war zone -- end of conversation.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

A French-canukstani connection to this mess: Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, a French teacher in the Language faculty and master swimmer is among the dead victims. *sigh*

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 17, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I admire your commitment to your school and the community. Thank you for not allowing this horrific event to define who you are and for commiting to being a part of the healing process.

Teressa S.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh, man. The bottom of the WaPo story on Cho uses the magic word: he was a "loner."

Anybody seen anything yet that goes to motive? The assumption has been that the girl was a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend. But I heard somebody say something about Cho being upset becasue he was passed over for some award. Anybody heard anything like that?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Shriek, I'm sorry to hear about her.

And now there's all the other news that's going to slip under the radar for a few days, including this little timebomb (I can't believe its on Deadtree A-12):

Warming Predicted to Take Severe Toll on U.S.

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2007; Page A12

Climate change will exact a major cost on North America's timber industry and could drive as much as 40 percent of its plant and animal species to extinction in a matter of decades, according to a new report from an international panel.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which released its summary report on global warming's overall impact earlier this month, provided a more detailed assessment yesterday of the effects on North America. The report, written and edited by dozens of scientists, looks at how global warming has begun to transform the continent and how it is likely to affect it in the future.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601546.html?hpid=sec-nation

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Mudge I would say it has slipped under the radar for some time already, quite a few stories up here about that report in the last week or so, including some controvery before its release about how certain parties wanted the wording of potential affects on the US toned down.

Posted by: dmd | April 17, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of people need to read this piece, a good one by Laura Stepp on the grieving process that will go on at the school. I didn't know about the 7-day thing. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041601828.html?hpid=sec-health

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's the "other" side. Howie quoted Rand Simberg in his blog thusly:

"Of course, the gun grabbers will use it as an excuse for calls for more gun control, though probably none of the nostrums that they put forth would have prevented it from happening. And defenders of the Second Amendment will point out (as I'm admittedly doing in this post), that if people had been allowed to carry legally on campus, as they are in the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, that the shooter would almost certainly have been taken out long before he could kill twenty unarmed people. And it's not clear that he couldn't have killed even more if he'd chosen to, since it's unclear whether he (or she, to be fair) was killed by a self-inflicted wound, or someone else."

Why, why would anyone encourage students to carry firearms on a college campus??? There should no reason for anyone other than a duly sworn officer to have to carry a gun around on campus. I'm not going to carry on at this point on the whole gun control controversy, but some people give a little thought to the consequences of allowing totally uncontrolled access to guns.

Posted by: ebtnut | April 17, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Some people SHOULD give a little thought...

Posted by: ebtnut | April 17, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

as korean

I really sorry about horrlble event.

In korea, we commiserate with victime

Posted by: hope | April 17, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

hope... We are keeping the shooter's family -- and the entire Northern Virginia Korean community -- in our hearts as they go through this difficult time.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

At 8 PM tonight, universities in the Atlantic Coast Conference will hold candlelight vigils, in support of all in the Virginia Tech extended family.

UMCP will hold a vigil in McKeldin Mall, in front of the library.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 17, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Two kids so far from Westfield HS in Fairfax Co, including the shooter. Just too much for those kids there to bear, I'm sure.

So far no one from my kids' school has been named.

Does anyone know of a good source for victims' names as they are being publicized?

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe anybody who knows your son will lump him in with the shooter, if only because the asian community in this area isn't exactly invisible.

He was 23, he was a senior and about to graduate, a time of high stress in life. Especially if he had applied to law school or other school and not gotten in.

Despite what Ivansmom disavows about "warning signs"-- he was indeed referred to counselling because his creative writing had taken a very disturbing turn.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1665503.ece

Could the university have done more? Probably not-- there are enough students who have sued universities for being kicked out just because they got counselling for depression without neccessarily being suidical. And they're correct to do so.

Although arson and stalking should have gotten him kicked out, IMHO, but it could have been that the red tape took time.

On a brighter side--Liviu Librescu apparently died as he lived, with courage.

Even with a partial list of the victims, it strikes me again just much our universities are a melting pot of cultures and nationalities.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

TBG, here is one list from the, link from NYT.

http://www.collegemedia.com/stories/417-300am-none.html

Posted by: dmd | April 17, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

TBG,

Here's the Collegiate Times Web site, currently being hosted by another server:

http://media.collegepublisher.com/media/collegiatetimes/

Posted by: pj | April 17, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, yesterday you suggested I concurred in the idea that there were probably previous warning signs from this shooter. Today, you say I disavow that. Not at all. My point throughout is that I refuse to speculate about anything concerning this crime: warning signs, security procedures, motive, choice of victims. I will accept any documented information, as it becomes available. Before the shooter was identified, there was no possible way to know whether he (I accepted the gender due to eyewitness accounts) had any previous difficulties at all.

Finding out the facts of, much less story behind, any crime is complicated and uncertain. Usually, we never know everything. The magnitude of a crime like this increases the uncertainty dramatically, as well as the temptation to indulge in guesswork. I won't do it. Even informed speculation is still just speculation. I'm glad so many of you, including Wilbrod, are able to glean facts from the news to share with us as we try and piece together the puzzle.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 17, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

As a Tech graduate, I'm heartbroken that this happened. As someone who has lived through the D.C.-area sniper shootings, witnessed (through media coverage) the Columbine and Lancaster, PA, shootings, and countless other mass murders in my lifetime, I'm outraged at the notion that we might have limited this tragedy with wider access to guns. That statement would be laughable at any other time. I can't muster the will to laugh right now.

Let's make this a different world.

Posted by: untethered | April 17, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

ABC seems to have a few more scraps of information about a note Mr. Cho has reputedly left in his dorm room.
"You caused me to do this,"
http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=3048108&page=1

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 17, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Ivansmom...

I've read the stuff on previous mass shootings, and there's almost always a history of troubled behavior and new, marked antisocial tendencies. Whether that's enough to predict trouble, I have no idea, of course, but it was a very fair bet that this wasn't his first violent expression of any kind.

I don't know enough about how many kids show antisocial anger with violent expression yet don't erupt... to be able to say what behavior predicts going postal very quickly, or if there's even a reliable indictor (other than buying weaponry.)

I do remember knowing a boy who was so severely bullied in HS that when the Columbine shootings happened I could have easily seen him doing that. But he didn't. He was too bright and well balanced for that, and he rarely spoke of those who bullied him even though he was such a pessimist generally.

He got even with his loathed school by unscrewing all the doors on the bathroom stalls and to the bathrooms themselves in HS-- and hiding the screws. He said it was crazy, they actually closed the school down looking for the screws.

He's since led an life absolutely on the right side of the law as far as I know.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Call me a cynic if you will, but has anyone given any thought to Giuliani canceling today's scheduled appearace at Pat Robertson's college? Could it be because there'll be no room on tomorrow's front page for "Rudy Reaches out to Religious Right"?

Posted by: Audentes | April 17, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Could be, Audentes.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope they don't stop holding hearings on this due to the tragedy:

http://dogblog.dogster.com/2007/04/14/extensive-notes-from-durbin-hearing/#more-3507

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Audentes, I'll call you a cynic--and welcome aboard. *we do the secret handshake* I'll go you a step further: I'll bet there was stuff in Giuliani's speech that wouldn't be appropriate today.

Wilbrod, where did you see the stuff about Cho being referred to counselling because of his writing, and the stuff about arson and stalking?

That ABC story indicates the girl, Emily Hilscher, had no known connection to Cho. But I also note that "Stack" Clark was a senior and English major, as was Cho. So there's a good chance that Clark was the reason Cho went into that dorm--and that the girl was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, being in the room next to Clark.

The really weird factoid in the ABC story is that after shooting those two, it appears Cho went back to his own room and wrote that long, multi-page letter, which I'm guessing pretty much will explain just about everything. And then he went back out again to Norris Hall. I'm wondering if that was less random than it appears--that maybe he was looking for someone specific he knew to be in one of those three or four classrooms.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I included the wrong link. Here it is:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070417/ap_on_re_us/virginia_tech_shooting

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

This bit about arson and stalking is based on a report the Chicago Tribune got from unspecified sources.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This is from the Fairfax County Public Schools' website. This is such a devastating time for this entire community. I'm not sure what percentage of the Tech students come from FCPS, but it's likely a large number...

FCPS Statement on Virginia Tech Incident

On behalf of Fairfax County Public Schools, we want to express the devastation that we in Fairfax County Public Schools all feel about the news from Blacksburg. We do not yet know the extent of the deaths and injuries among our graduates. It turns out that the shooter was a graduate of one of our high schools. Seung-Hui Cho graduated from Westfield High School in 2003. His picture and yearbook information are available.

This is a time for families and friends to grieve. The school system has put in place resources of trained psychologists and social workers to work with students and adults in our schools that have been affected by these terrible events. Superintendent Dale expresses concern for all families in Fairfax County who are affected by these events.

Police may be seen today throughout the community and near some of our schools; they are conducting further investigations of yesterday's events. Please respect the integrity of student learning. We would appreciate that all media inquiries come through the Office of Community Relations.

This is the extent of the official information we have at this time.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

On the Diane Rehm Show, they discussed warning signs. The guest described a comparative study of many spree killings since WWII, finding some regularities:

(1) The killer does not survive, shooting himself or waiting to be shot by police. It is an elaborate suicide.

(2) The killer usually has no legal history, but often has a mental health history. Identified mental health problems do not mean a propensity for murder-suicide, but a propensity for murder-suicide is likely to be spotted as a mental health issue.

(3) The killer typically is undergoing personal stress and rapid changes in life.

Article #1 means that concealed weapons would not prevent a rampage, since the killer expects to be killed after he has "made his mark." Perhaps extensive gun-toting could have stopped him sooner. I think that there are better ways to restrain such events with less public-health risk.

Consider: what about a right-to-carry for a tranquilizer dart gun? The weapon is more-than-likely nonlethal and can disable an assailant with a poor shot, so long as it hits somewhere. Would a right-to-carry advocate accept widespread accessibility of narcotics within the darts? If we can't trust people to that extent, how could we entrust them with lethal force?

An alternative is a taser. Would that be acceptable? If I knew I might get shot with a taser while trying to do something, I would arrange to wear a very lightweight shirt of wire mesh (essentially, chain-mail) to diffuse the electric discharge outside of my body.

Article #2 is of nearly zero predictive value. Warning signs and threats invariably are recalled, including threats announced to mental-health care workers. I believe that psychiatrists and psychologists already are bound by oath to report a patient who presents a danger. The fact that this does not happen in the case of these killers tells us that such threats are sufficiently common that only a small fraction come to fruition, masking the real warnings.

Article #3 is of zero predictive value. One college student among 26,000. Every young person on that campus is under stress and change -- tests, dating, living on your own. That's what growing-up is about.

And of course, what Mudge noted -- the "loner." The one predictive that seems like it might have value is to identify persons who have mental-health histories, who make homicidal threats, who are under personal stress -- and who have no social support system, and thus no one close to observe the warning signs.

The conclusion: there is not likely to be any effective method to identify soon-to-be mass killers. There is no legal basis for "preventative measures" against them. The only effective measures to prevent mass homicide thus will have to be (a) infrastructural, fashioning buildings to hinder mass homicide, and (b) societal, refashioning the vernacular of social interaction so that less-violent expression becomes a standard mode of thinking.

Neither option seems very darned likely to be put into action. Option (a) seems likely to be astronomically expensive. Option (b) seems likely to be cosmically expensive, and probably not technically feasible. And so, we must fall back on the only thing that has ever worked, what Kurt Vonnegut counseled: we must be kind to each other.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 17, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

A better-read colleague informed me that the student turned serial Killer of the novel "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver is using chains to block the door of the school's gym where he commits the murders. Some reports that Cho used chains to block sections of the building. Has anyone read that book?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | April 17, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Tim, your mention of fashioning buildings to hinder mass homicide reminded me that my kids' school district just asked for, and got, money to upgrade all the doors in all the schools. They will now lock from the inside, and have tiny slits for windows. There are also alarms and phones in every room.

How long will we cut funding for mental health over and over, while spending more than that amount on defensive measures such as this?

Posted by: Wheezy | April 17, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Tim further to your comments, an incident was believed to be stopped up here, when the parents of a 14 year informed the school and police of their childs intentions.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/070416/national/crime_school_columbine

Posted by: dmd | April 17, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Whenever ultraviolent incidences occur on a school campus, we review the emergency procedures for those times when a stranger or other individual meaning harm to our students gets into the building. I hope these protocols never have to be practiced in real time. As small as our building is, the ease with which it can be accessed is amazing. I generally keep my door locked and a blind pulled down over the window in an effort to afford a margin of safety.

Posted by: jack | April 17, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mudge. Right back at ya, with a twist. Let me get this straight: The Decider is going to the VATech memorial service, but avoids military funerals out of respect for the grieving families. So, he only respects those whose loved ones he sends to their death? (Who needs conspiracy theories, when you can just follow the logic out of this WH?)

Posted by: Audentes | April 17, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

SD- The kid in that book did use chains on the doors, but he used a crossbow to do his deed, after taking out his little sister first.

Posted by: Gomer | April 17, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"The weird" factor can't be discounted, SciTim. This guy refused to say or sign his own name in English class, classmates recalled.

We need to really understand first of all what is meant by this kind of "loner" in those circumstances.

It's too easy for us to assume that they resemble other introverts, even disabled people (autistic, deaf) or depressed, shy people, who warm up with kindness.

In fact, I'm not sure they do. Being kind to an antisocial personality isn't enough. They often will rebuff friendliness with flashes of anger or exaggerated lack of response, causing other people to leave them alone, as they desire.

As for Article number 2-- the psychiatrists or psychologists have to be certain that the patient announced a plan to carry out an attack or other major signs.

There is after all the seal of confidentiality, the fact the psychologist has to win the patient's trust to get to that point, and that any such disclosures could lead to the termination of treatment. That takes time, and the picture could have been confused by uncertainity about cultural differences coming in play.

If that guy wasn't even saying his own name in class, I don't think he was exactly opening up rapidly in counselling (if he went) to the point that anybody had enough reasonable evidence to break their code of ethics to report the guy was definitely a danger. The only clues was in his writing and actions.

I think there may not be a highly accurate method to identify soon-to-be mass murderers, but we can spot some if we're prepared to put the time and money in treating "false positives"-- after all, they need help too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

You can fund mental health initiaives all you want, it's not going to help with people who don't show any off-the-wall behavior beforehand. I'll just create many false positives and tar for life people who are unusally expressive and otherwise might go on to become actors or motivational speakers.

How do you determine someone "means harm" in advance if they're not carrying a weapon in plain site or otherwise frothing at the mouth? Lock up every quiet person going about their business because "it's the quiet ones you have to watch"?

He bought the guns legally because he had no prior history of problems. So forget gun control laws. Go ahead and ban them - there are as many illegal weapons on the streets as there are legal ones in dealers, and the only paperwork they require is a handful of US money.

Go ahead and put metal detectors on every door and live behind closed shades if you like. If he didn't have a gun he could've just driven a car into a crowd. Or stolen a bulldozer and gone through a wall. If all the shades are closed he could just pump bullets through them all, assuming he'd get someone. And you wouldn't see it coming.

Short of turning the US into a totalitarian state and creating our own version of the Stasi you're just not going to stop people who want to kill.

Just get used to it, and take heart that given the sheer number of weapons loose in the country that it doesn't happen more often.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

http://www.charlotte.com/201/story/88264.html

This brought tears to my eyes. Tommy is a local columnist for the Charlotte Observer.

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

Yep, Error. Deterrence works against people who can be deterred. If a thief is a casual shopper, going from door to door, you can deter him from shopping at your place with fences, dogs, and alarms. He'll move on to someone less guarded. The same holds true for muggers -- you're less likely to be targeted if you are alert and not an apparently easy mark. But if someone wants to break into your house, or attack you personally, they'll do it. It is all about motivation. The same holds true for larger crimes. If someone wants to kill people badly enough, either personally or en masse, they'll find a way no matter what deterrents you have in place.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 17, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Error, you're accurate except in one regard-- we are not talking about "highly expressive people" in this case.

We are talking about a group of people that fall between the ages of early teenhood to mid twenties, almost always male. Most mental illnesses start to mainfest themselves during this time period.

The difference between boys and girls is that boys tend to act out depression with anger somehow, especially if they can't verbalize it.

A boy that is so locked down that you only see depressive withdrawal and flashes of anger in his writing is at high risk of acting out somehow.

Due to the ambiguity of warning signals, that's exactly why "alarming writing" need to be referred to people who are trained to evaluate such behavior IN THE CONTEXT of the whole person.

Is this person highly verbal? A bully? Bullied? Are his parents just a little worried about his behavior recently? Is there any clear source of anger?

Violent and suicidal language doesn't always equal mass murderer, but it can equal mental illness or a history of abuse that can be helped before the boy acts out on others.

I've heard too many stories of sexually abused boys who then abuse others, withdraw, bully, or exhibit other troublesome behaviors not to think any boy who mainfests depression needs appropriate help (and sealing of juvenile records if needed).


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

From Comp.Risks....

http://www.passablynews.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1175830780&archive=&start_from=&ucat=&

In a nutshell: on 11 Mar 2007, a school received a bomb threat and through
their phone logs traced the call back to a 15-year-old boy, who was arrested
and incarcerated for twelve days despite the fact that the boy's voice
sounded nothing like the voice on the tape.

Of course the authorities had forgotten about the early onset of daylight
savings time, and the boy had actually called the school *an hour before*
the bomb threat.

Aside from the scary fact that it took twelve days for the authorities to
sort this out, the account contains this precious little burn-the-witch
moment:

"After he protested his innocence, ... the principal said: 'Well, why should
we believe you? You're a [terrorist]. [Terrorist]s lie all the time.' "

All this would be more amusing if we hadn't been doing more or less the same
thing on an epic scale for over five years now.

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 17, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

And amen to Error and Ivansmom for pointing out that deterrence doesn't work for those who are determined to kill.

It may just make them pick somebody else, that's all, and not even then sometimes.

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_9859.aspx

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

As someone said before, the second-guessing and armchair coaching about what should have been done is nerve-wracking. I heard some dude on NBC last night who was billed as a "counter-terrorism expert" (Jack Bauer, anyone?) talking about how many people could have been spared had the school officials done this or that after the first shootings... What an a$$hat. I agree with the ineptitude of constantly cutting funds to mental health programs, though. We as a society also need to rid ourselves of the negative stigma attached to mental health issues. These sick people are our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Let us stop alienating these folks and help them as best we can.

Of course the ones who need help now are the victims and their families. If anyone you know who is intimately connected with this event says they are fine without help or counseling, please don't believe them. Help them get the help they need. Nobody is made of steel.

Posted by: Gomer | April 17, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Even if they are made of steel, steel can be easily bent and deformed, given enough heat and pressure.

Posted by: Gomer | April 17, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

>deterrence doesn't work for those who are determined to kill.

Wilbrod, in the 70's we had joke t-shirts that said "If you intend to die you can do anything".

I wish they had stayed a joke. I'm afraid all we can do now is be alert, minimize our exposure, and cross our fingers.

Oh, and "be kind to each other". It may make the difference if you're unlucky enough to be present at one of these things.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I absolutely agree with the second-guessing. I think what they did was reasonable.

They never thought the gunman might be a student and have already gone to his dorm room to reload. They couldn't have been breaking into dorm rooms without the SWAT team back up without probable cause or a warrant, or have e-mailed everybody to close the university when it was 8 AM and lots of people were on their way to work already.

The timing limited what they could do, and they had to let the police do their work while they did theirs. It's not their job to be omniscient and second-guess the police.

Yes. I don't think anybody'll be entirely OK for a long while from this.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I really *hate* to go off-topic, as the postings have been wonderful (if that word can be used in this gruesome context). There appears to be such a feeling of helplessness in the midst of our grieving - grieving for people we don't (for most of us) know - it's hard to know what to do but wring our hands, shake our heads and shed our tears.

I just found out that I need to completely reinstall my Windows XP operating system. Mo, wanna come over and help me?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | April 17, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

It's not off topic. If I had to reinstall my Windows XP I'd be in tears, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and "be kind to each other". It may make the difference if you're unlucky enough to be present at one of these things.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 03:49 PM

That's quite cynical. I don't think that Kurt Vonnegut wanted us to be kind as a tactical maneuver, but as a way to ameliorate some of the nastiness of Life.

Posted by: Wheezy | April 17, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Well I am quite cynical, especially when people are espousing these lovely "oh we need to..." arguments in the face of the stark reality that none would matter.

I'd recommend kindness as an end to itself, but I'd say it's pretty obvious that if you were someone the shooter recalled as being decent to him it might help you just the same.

So often the nice thing to do is often best for us as well.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yes it does pay to be kind, but just ask the victims of stalkers how their efforts to let the stalkers down gently went.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I don't think the Golden Rule applies to stalkers and other evil people. There we have to do what we have to do to protect ourselves.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Is it time to return to normal boodling yet?

http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester

Posted by: LTL-CA | April 17, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I saw that "security expert" guy too--as you say, a real a$$hat (or to quote Vonnegut, a * ) named Mike Sheehan. I sat there and listened to him as my face got red and my breathing picked up. Wanted to throttle him by the time he was done. Had me talking to the TV until my daughter walked by and said, "Dad!" (Referring to some adjectives I may have been using.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

That's up to Joel. But great site!

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I've been Too Busy to Boodle lately, but I will say that I've read most of the comments for the past couple of days, and you guys continue to restore my faith in humanity.

Except for Mudge. He's a great guy, but anybody older than 600 years ain't human.
Plus he's an editor.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 17, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as Shop Steward, I have a general announcement to make: I will be largely off-Boodle for the next five days. I'm leaving tomorrow morning to fly to Miami to attend the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annoual convention, and won't be back until late Sunday night. (Dave Barry is the guest speaker at the banquet Friday night. I'm sure he'll have much wisdom to impart on the subject of dangling participles.) We're going to tough it out here: http://marriott.com/hotels/travel/miabb-miami-marriott-biscayne-bay/

I'd would turn over the conn as acting shop steward to my trusted aide scottynuke, except the last time I went away for a few days you people duct-taped the poor guy and generally misbehaved, broke into the soda machine, spiked the coffee urn with Bailey's, and etc. Plus I caught hell from Loomis for something or other, I don't even remember what it was I did or didn't do. But I must have been guilty, I suppose.

At any rate, effective at dawn tomorrow, I am hereby appointing TBG to be acting shop steward on Wednesday. CP, I would be grateful if you took the helm on Thursday. If it's Friday it must be ivansmom's turn. Yoki, would you like Saturday? And Sunday (generally a quiet, relaxing day) ought to be Cassandra's day of peace and quiet and rest. If any of you feel morally constrained against such arduous duty, or are otherwise facing some sort of conflict of interest, I would recommend you designate your own alternates from among Raysmom, Pixel, Maggie'O, slyness, and dr. (I would also designate Dreamer, but she lives on the far side of the world, and I'm afraid there could be day/night vissicitudes that might make long-distance helmitude too problematic. Or maybe not. And mo has a new job and is too busy, though she may be available on the weekend, I dunno.)

Ladies, don't take any guff from that other gender. And no crying. There's no crying in baseball, and no crying in the Boodle shop steward's office. And thank you.

(I know, I know...I'll come back and the place will be covered with fording doiles everywhere.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Enjoy, Mudge, and thanks for the confidence in us fairer sex types. Doilies, heck -- I'm thinking Precious Moments figurines.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 17, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: I believe that might be "doilies."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

>Wanted to throttle him by the time he was done. Had me talking to the TV

Hmmm, exhibits signs of agression, violent urges expressed in writing...

"Mr. C. Mudgeon, could you please report to the counselor..."

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I'll bring the pink crochet toilet-paper covers on Saturday.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

My heart goes out to all families, friends, sons, daughters, teachers, and students of those who were wounded and killed at VT. For me it is still hard to comprehend the pain the thousands of people are suffering now as I type this.

I just want to tell everyone who has suffered a loss to be strong and hang in there. Your loved one is in a better place now...

Deepest Sympathy,
Corey Bower

Posted by: RokerijNoord | April 17, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm in a cold sweat already. This isn't going to be pretty, is it?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I suppose we never got to the bottom of where those ladies' undergarments came from last time Mudge left...

It's probably better that way.

Have fun, Mudge. Give Dave Barry a big fat smooch on the cheek like Andy Granatelli gave Mario Andretti in Victory Lane at Indy in '69.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 17, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

And let me take this opportunity to let you folks know that I'll be incommunicado, Boodle-wise, starting Wednesday (tomorrow) for about a week. Hopefully I'll make it all the way back East tomorrow, and to the DC area Fri.

Remember, Mudge, if you want Dave Barry's attention, just yell, "Hey, Dave!"

Peace.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 17, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I'd also like to point out to everyone here that there will be a West Coast Boodler sighting in Falls Church on Friday...

BPH/Dinner this Friday, April 20, at

Ireland's Four Provinces
105 W. Broad Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Telephone: (703) 534-8999
http://www.irishusa.com/4ps

Boodlers will be gathering beginning at 4:30 or so.

Oh yeah... it's mostlylurking; she'll be in town to see Leon Russell that night at the State Theatre in Falls Church.

**Note the different BPH location this time!**

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

My heart crumbles everytime i am reminded about that incident. Those people were very bright and had a great future ahead of them. I cantstop thinking about what cho did. He did not have those rights at all. I'm sorry for all those friends family and everybody else who is trying to deal with this situation. All the suffering and pain that thousand of people feel still hurts me now. Even though I nevered attended Verigina Tech I still have alot of sorrow for the family friends and loved ones. I am sorry for all the pain that you guys are going through. I will be sure to keep you in my prayers.

Stay strong and let the Lord be with you.

Brandi Gorodn

Posted by: XbabyknockoutX | April 17, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

That Unsuggestion thing does work pretty well-- I only hit two Unsuggestions I had actually read after inputting a Dick Francis title, and even those are kind of on the far boundaries of my taste, but to their credit they are well written.

Geek Love
Running with Scissors

Also, if you own "Walden" you're unlikely to like Terry Pratchett to fan-level status as well. What gives?

And if you like Terry Pratchett you're unlikely to be a fundamentalist Christian or seminary student, as well. This list of Unsuggestions could be dangerous in the hands of zealots.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

When I was a child of 10 our country was at was with Germany & Japan and the only way we were made aware of possible danger from aircraft was through air-raid drills. Loud sirens signaled danger, another siren declared the signal for "all's clear". Today an email to warn of danger, have we taken leave of our senses? How many lives would have been saved today with a siren to warn of danger, to lock down? Maybe all but the shooter and his orginal victims?
Not high tech but more effective than an email, maybe all those who died would be alive if this simple concept were in effect.What would it take to make a simple idea in WW2 to become possible today?

Posted by: Joan Lieberman | April 17, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Exhausted from an all day meeting, with another one tomorrow. Lots of people wore their VT sweatshirts.

I'm not sure why this has hit me so much harder than past tragedies. Maybe it's because I have a teenaged son. Maybe it's my proximity to VT. Maybe I've just started to pay more attention. Whatever.

I do know that I am dreading, just dreading, what I expect to come next. The recriminations. The lawsuits. The opportunism by people both for and against gun control. The droning analysis of that which is beyond analysis. I am ashamed to say that even the inevitable ritualized canonization of the victims leaves me depressed. I realize that all of these things are necessary, and even healthy. But it all makes me want to go hide down in the bunny room and never come out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 17, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Sirens AND appropriately flashing lights. Not all of us can hear 'em. You are absolutely correct though; even pulling a fire alarm...

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

To Joan Lieberman: several of the reports specifically mention that the VATech campus has a loudspeaker system used for weather warnings (eg, tornadoes), which was used to warn students to stay indoors, on the floor, doors closed. It made no difference at all to the students in the building with the shooter, they already were there and it seems they already took those actions as soon as the problem was perceived. The lockdown was delayed because there was no evidence of it being an appropriate action until the shooter started firing in the second, and bloodier, phase. By then, what method could you propose to get those students away?

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 17, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

RD, tell me what you need to build a bunny bunker other than cute bunnies. Fluffy carrot hangings? Nice rug and sofa to lie down on? Lots of MREs and water?

A nice new and very fluffy kit?


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

If you had pulled a fire alarm in the building at VA Tech, as the first response, it would have filled the hallway with potential victims. Doesn't sound like a good idea. Remember that he had barricaded the external doors -- the students would have pooled against the doors and provided him with a shooting gallery. Bad idea. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm a little surprised that he didn't do it himself.

In every case, it's looking like the actual actions that were taken by students, faculty, and administration were the only reasonable and effective options. In order to learn from this incident, we need to look at the actual actions and examine which ones could have been facilitated for greater effectiveness.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 17, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

You know, I really wish you hadn't brought that one up.

I was thinking more of tornado drill lights (blue)-- they're ubiquitious at colleges with high risk of tornadoes. Students are given the drill to stay away from windows, doorways, and if they can proceed to lower ground, to do so.

That would be a more safe response, yes, or more appropriately fire alarms should be modified to be able to communicate more than one message.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Would someone be so kind as to zap the blogspam at 5:36? Thank you.

And may I extend a "Very well done indeed!" to Gov. Kaine for his handling of the press conference I just saw. He refused to speculate on what he did not know, he refused to pontificate, he laid the focus squarely where it needs to be right now: The victims and their families.

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

And 'Mudge, I got all the tape residue off already, jeeeeeez...

*sulking in the corner*

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes, well done-- he's authorized a state of emergency so all additional resources can be sent to Va Tech as needed.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

RD, that lagomorph sanctuary sounds pretty good (I giggled trying to type "bunny bunker"). Appreciation of the victims is necessary. Pointless analysis verging on speculation, lawsuits, recriminations -- I'm not so sure. SensibleTim has the right idea: figure out what went right, look at what might be done, if anything, to cut short such crimes in the future -- these are good measures. You notice I don't say "prevent".

On a different topic: I FINALLY finished "Aristotle's Children". Liked it very much too. Now I have to briefly synthesize it so I can recommend it coherently this weekend. Thanks, RD for the tip.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 17, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

But what happened to the red bra, S'nuke? I know you're pleading the fifth, but rumor has there was a reason why you were caught doing a tug of war with Wilbrodog over it.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Mudge have a grand time. Mostly, have a grand time.

Yoki, the kind with the little dolly and the attached skirt? I luuuuuuv those (NOT).

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, don't MAKE me go there...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 17, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

RD, TBG and others: Having children opens the heart to the full range of sorrow. Cassandra buried a child and is initiated into that select and sorrowful club, as are many from VT now.

Our job is to watch our children as they become young adults walk in an ever-widening circle out from us. Mostly, we can do this. But when horror snatches them from us, we want to spool back the kite string and retreat into...well, RDP has named it for all: lagomorph land or the bunny bunker.

For visitors and newbies here, read the bunny bunker as a place to retreat and restore, with some gentle token of Nature.

So it goes. May as well be kind.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 17, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod dubbed it the "Bunny Bunker." And it is a very good name for this very good place.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 17, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, someone will zap the blogspam now.

Someone is trying to finish a long story while being rather obsessed with this VT tragedy. I'm with you RD: Very depressing.

Cho reminds me a bit of Eric Harris: He acted like a guy who might try to take out half the school. There were warnings. It WASN'T out of the blue.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll post a new kit in the morning.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The red bra still strikes me as some sort of aberration. S'nuke strikes me as a more of a leopard print kinda guy. But, hey...I could be wrong.

Posted by: LostInThought | April 17, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Overload.

I am powerless to help.

Except to reiterate that all the second-guessers, Monday quarterbacks should probably shut it. There are so many levels of difficulty everyone has had to handle that non-involved people will just get in the way. It tolls for me, I recognize.

I will forgive the people who cannot stay glued to their TVs, the people who deal with faraway things with sarcasm and unfeeling poses, I will forgive them all. We are all just people, people.

I guess I'm angry.

Posted by: Jumper | April 17, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Lost in Thought-- I pried a confession out of Wilbrodog.
I don't think he actually intended to wear the red bra himself, rather it was an (ahem) gift, which Wilbrodog decided looked just dandy to play with-- he generally only goes for clothing that doesn't smell worn, hence owned. A series of comic events ensued, and well, Wilbrodog wound up on top of S'nuke while he was clutching the red bra to his chest when others walked in...

Honestly it was a PERFECTLY reasonable misunderstanding. Although the rest of S'nuke's state of dress has never been quite explained.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 7:06 PM | Report abuse

May be I am cynic, and you will definitely not like what I have to tell you, but I simply can't keep quiet here:

First of all, my second son died when he was just a year old, so I am rather sure how the people in Blacksburg feel.

Nevertheless I can't agree to your use of the word "tragedy" in this case (Wikipedia: tragedy is a play, movie or sometimes a real world event with a sad outcome), because give guns to everybody and wonder what happens - that is not a tragedy, that is consequences. If this would be a sad outcome, then why on earth do you allow everybody to have his / her gun? Do you like sad outcomes?

"It is our freedom" - what is sad about freedom?
"It is our right" - do you understand what I want to say?
"If the other students had had guns themselves, they could have stopped him." - nonsense: if nobody has guns, nobody would have to be stopped!

May be as a German I should stay quiet for the next hundred years, because my grand(!)parents lived in World War II?

No: As a German I should tell you, what we learned about mistakes of earlier times. We managed (with your kind help, that is known to every German, and all of us are thankful for that) to overcome our history. Not everything is perfect here, but at least it is almost impossible to have guns - and almost never ever anybody is shot here.

If all of you that believe the outcome in Blacksburg is sad (as I do), if all of you who use the word "tragedy" here really want to stop those senseless killings, than you will have to get rid of your guns - it's that easy - or all of us will only have to wait for the next massacre.

Yours, Andreas

Posted by: Andreas D. | April 17, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

At AOL there are copies of two plays that Cho wrote for an English class. They're evidence that he should have been in a mental health facility rather than in college classes.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

The last time I was down in the bunker, I noticed that the walls were terribly bare. So, I will bring my collection of Thomas Kinkade paintings to decorate. (They go well with doilies.)

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 17, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

>In every case, it's looking like the >actual actions that were taken by >students, faculty, and administration >were the only reasonable and effective >options. In order to learn from this >incident, we need to look at the actual >actions and examine which ones could have >been facilitated for greater >effectiveness.

This is as speculative as people writing that everything could have been avoided if only. I am not trying to start or continue an argument, but all the evidence isn't in, pro or con.

Posted by: CC | April 17, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

No...not the Kincaids. I HATE Kincaid...

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

To me, what Joel points out is a tragedy, though not the greatest. I was at the Montreal Polytechnic (sp?) the day Marc Lepine did his evil (but not at the same time). Taber is just up the road. I taught a class at Dawson in Montreal, and knew exactly those same sorts of kids just in different years.

There are *always* signs. Over and over again we ask ourselves "what can be done?" Frankly, a lot more than is usually done.

I liked CP's suggestions yesterday, and the threat-assessment psychologist on the WAPO chat today, and the Calgary parents whose story dmd linked today, and Wilbrod's cost-benefit analysis today. Take every sign seriously and investigate it, and have trained people available to assess it, and be ready to act. We won't be able to prevent every terrible thing, but if we are serious and willing to commit some resources, with compassion, we could head off some of them.

I guess there just isn't the will in society, to do the necessary. And so it goes. I often think that young people are treated as expendable (because they have no money, no voice, no connections to the powerful?), and that is a real tragedy for all of us.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Wow, those plays Cho wrote are truly disturbing. He had so much anger. It seemed to have twisted his mind.

Posted by: Aloha | April 17, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The trouble is that even though professors at VT recognized that Cho needed help, there is no way to force someone to get it, if they haven't committed a violent act. Now, maybe that should change - but then you could be committing people with overactive imaginations. I don't know - it's very troubling. Hard for me to imagine how someone who wouldn't talk in class could get admitted to college, much less stay in for 4 years.

My sister works in mental health - I'll have to see what she thinks about all this when I visit.

Posted by: mostlylurking | April 17, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Dear Andreas D,

I am very sorry about your son. Some of us here know about losing people in the saddest and most shocking of ways.

Many here are simply too tired and sad to think about gun policy. One comment about this issue: Our country is very different from Europe, chiefly in how large, sprawling, and non-federal in governance. Our decisionmaking is fragmented. Our collective will is never very unified on most issues.

I think you made a great effort to find this site and post. All here agree about the senselessness and horror of what happened. Today, and for some time, we are trying to find the truthful details as they are revealed and documented. We are trying to listen to each other. We are being sad together. We also tend in the blog space, even in hard times, to be funny. This is to survive, not to be-little the hardship.

Maggie O'D -- I see your Thomas Kinkaid's and raise you with some Lladro statutes....they look so nice next to the Precious Moments figurines. Who will hang the curtains? Calico? Eyelet?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 17, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

*laughing*

dr, *exactly.* The ones with comb-able hair, and lace at the hem that fans out on the counter or tank. Sometimes I even like to tuck a little potpourri sachet into the roll, to freshen up the atmosphere. So tasteful.

At least this week, the loo-seat will be down.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh! Oh! Why don't I bring the "Franklin Mint Genuine Certified Commemorative Decorative Plate Marking the Historic Occasion of The Prince of Wales' Marriage to Lady Diana Spencer" (complete with certificate) Himself and I received as a wedding present (we married the same year as the dysfunctional Royals) from his WASPY great-aunt Edna?? I'm sure 'Mudge would love to find that hung in the cockpit, when he returns. I think I even have the "included plate hanger suitable for wall or display cabinet" (somewhere in a box, in the basement).

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

College parkian, sheer curtains --- we have nothing to hide!

Posted by: nellie | April 17, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Redecorating to spite Mudge?

How about blushing pink, lemon yellow, and pale violet plush carpet runners with dainty floral lace patterns?

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

And we never should forget the hordes of cats of all colors, whether alive or stuffed as essential decor to make a place feel cozy. (I vote for at least one live cat that specializes in tickling noses with his tail and waving his one-eye in people's faces.)


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

>Andreas D.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm fine with getting rid of the guns. But my neighbor would kill anyone who came for his, because he thinks the UN is taking over America and he needs to give more money to the NRA.

I can't stop the b******d from coming into my yard while I'm not here and shooting at deer - out of season, with no license, with unregistered guns. Drunk. (I found 3 16oz cans of Bud in my recycling container this morning. I don't drink Bud.)

What am I going to do? If I call the cops he'll shoot me before he goes to court.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I also noticed that the walk up to the bunker was sub-par. Evidently Mudge spends way too much time pleasing his wife's gardening diktaks and is totally neglecting the bunker. I'll bring the boxwood and peonies if someone else brings the begonias. College Parkian?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 17, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Electric fence.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

...cats...Lladro...peonies...cheesecloth curtains...

*weeping silently in corner in fetal position*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Move out of that corner! We're parking the overstuffed loveseat there, and then we have to outfit it with doilies. THEN you can cry yourself into a stupor.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

As the member of Korea, I deeply feel sorry to victims and I hope the families of the victims could overcome this tradegy soon. And This tragegy should never happen again.

Posted by: KIM, DAE WON | April 17, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

>Two words: Electric fence.

Five digits: $30,000

Non-electric. :-(

But yeah, that would possibly work. Of course it would also keep the deer away.

Hmmm....

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Of course the 08:22 PM was me. Sorry, I'm so cheesed off I forgot to sign. The proximity to this other business doesn't help.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for writing, Kim Dae Won. Know that you and your society and families are not responsible for one sad lost child. My heart goes out to yours. Be peaceful in your soul.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

*waving at Error Flynn* Hi love.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Bwhahahahaha!

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are wearing VT caps, which is certainly a thoughtful gesture.

Joel, I tried to read those, but am just not quite up to it. It sounds like the teacher did the right thing. Unclear if there are any liability issues here, but I imagine we will find out.

Mudge - Just so your bunker doesn't get too frilly I am sending over a nice stuffed moose. Plus, one of those fish that sings. So no worries.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 17, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

"At AOL there are copies of two plays that Cho wrote for an English class. They're evidence that he should have been in a mental health facility rather than in college classes.

Posted by: Achenbach | April 17, 2007 07:25 PM"

Well, heck, guy--there are those of who question whether David Broder should be in a mental health facility, based on his writings in WaPo. Not that he appears likely to shoot up a college campus, of course. (?? Maybe not "of course".)

I read only one of the plays. It's over the top, but not half as bad as some of the rap lyrics I've had teenagers quote at me. What sane person would write a play like "A Streetcar Named Desire", with its sadism and rape? --And remember, the version we read has been worked over far more than any college assignment ever is. Have you read Faulkner? Traced through all the degradation Addie's family goes through as she's dying, then the days-long trip they make in the hot sun with her putrifying body? Is that a healthy mind at work? Should have locked him up for sure, even before we considered the alcoholism. Ever listen to the Doors? Should certainly have locked up all four of those loonies, before Morrison walked on down the hall, told his father he wanted to kill him, and his mother that he wanted to...

Well, anyway, I suspect that it would have been easy to assign Williams, or Faulkner, or Jim Morrison, or a lot of other members of the human species into funny farms based on their writings after they killed 32 other people with hand guns. Doing it beforehand is a different matter.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | April 17, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Hi Yoki! **waving in a somewhat toasted Grover-manner**

>Plus, one of those fish that sings.
Was that really made by Q as an Xmas gift?

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

MoF : Mental health treatment, even in a facility, does not mean being locked up in a loony bin or being sent to a funny farm. It means getting professional medical treatment for a disease.

The attitude you present is why mental health treatment carries such stigma.

And besides, if Morrison had gotten some help maybe he wouldn't be dead now.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 17, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I loved Chet Kincaid. Mudge, what's your problem? First star to anyone who can explain the lyrics to the first Cosby sitcom. Best I can tell, one part was "I'm gonna gets raggets and some rolls and some mezzenasome."

Posted by: bill everything | April 17, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I read the plays. The violence alone isn't the issue, I certainly agree with you that I have read worse in dialogue or in violent detail.

However, combined with his models of how people act, it is concerning.

The mother's dialogue makes very little sense from a logical model of normal discourse, and the whole scenario is disjointed.

Likewise, the second play Mr Brownstone is more coherent in its anger and with extremely strong freudian symbolism... especially in conjunction with the students' flat statement that all teachers do this.

Illogic + violent imagery is never a good combo. It does show a tendency towards disturbance in basic thinking process.

Of course, neither you or I are creative writing teachers, who see zillions of poor-quality student writing a year.

Still I've critiqued enough bad student writing to get some good ideas, and this is kind of outside the boundaries of bad writing.

"A streetcar named Desire" is a good play because the author is able to conceptualize the characters and their motives well, even though the actual violent acts themselves are shocking and reprehensible (but all too plausibly done and not unheard-of.).

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Oooh! Ooooh! I just bought a new sewing machine, I can make red velvet curtains to go along with the portrait of Elvis on red velvet! I'll start first thing in the morning...

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Can you incorporate S'nuke dog-eared red bra in those red velvet curtains? It's velvet, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Uh, BE, not THAT Kincaid.

THIS Kincaid, the guy who painted "Gingerbread Cottage" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: http://www.thomaskinkade.com/magi/servlet/com.asucon.ebiz.catalog.web.tk.CatalogServlet

*barfs*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

>And besides, if Morrison had gotten some help maybe he wouldn't be dead now.

Well, there are a lot of artists whose bodies couldn't keep up with their substance abuse. Not everyone can be a Keith Richards.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I know, just trying to leaven the darkness.

Senseless is as senseless does, no way to make sense of it. Although some semblance of gun control might be worthy of consideration in this country.

Posted by: bill everything | April 17, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Keith Richards has actually been dead since 1972, EF. This is an alien clone.

But don't tell anyone.

Posted by: RD Padouk | April 17, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

That would explain "Before They Make Me Run" on Some Girls.

Posted by: bill everything | April 17, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Shhhhh.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

RD from you, I believe.

By the way, in the most off-topic post ever, I'm listening to Ian Dury and The Blockheads "New Boots and Panties".

Or maybe not: I'll you what all these guys need, shooters and jihadis alike - more sex and drugs. Maybe we should be talking about legal bordellos instead of more gun control.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

EF, I agree that the Stiff record label could have saved the world if only they'd listened. Ian Dury, let's face it, had a vision of what was important in life.

Posted by: bill everything | April 17, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

The Netherlands has legalized prostitution and its crime rate is actually higher than the U.S.

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/europe/netherlands.html

The rates are highest not for rape or othe violent crimes (lower than US) but for property theft, presumably because having a drug habit may be legal and cheaper, but it still costs money.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Never fear, dr is here. I am an actual certified expert at decor in the land moose.

We have doilies for that.

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading the coverage here, and trying to process it. It's not easy to understand.

I do have one comment about the WaPo web site, specifically the page listing the victims of this horrendous crime. Does it bother anyone else that the largest single thing on the page is a "better-than-Botox" ad, followed by a Nextel ad? The skin care ad is animated, too, making it that much more distracting.

I realize the Post web site has to sell ads to exist, but I think a simple black box would be more appropriate for this particular page.

(Update: I reloaded a couple of times, and the ads change. But my reaction does not.)

Posted by: bigcranky | April 17, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I just found out my that sister, who is an EMT in Christiansburg, VA, was on one of the ambulances called in to VA Tech for the 7:15 shooting. They were still there when the call came in about Norris Hall.

Re: the 8:22 post, I grew up in the country. Twice in a five-year span our house was shot by rapid, undisciplined hunters chasing deer through our yard.

Posted by: Dooley | April 17, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

And I know how to power down those fish.

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

dr is my hero(ine)

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow Dooley.

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Dooley. How is your sister coping?

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I have a feeling I'm just gonna toss and turn all night long...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Send the bra on, Wilbrod. It will make a dandy tie to pull the curtains back. Wonder if I can find another one to have a matched pair?

Have a good time, Mudge! You'll be delighted with the office when you get back.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, did they have critical incident stress debriefing for the emergency responders? That can be helpful.

God's peace be with all affected by this horrible event.

Posted by: Slyness | April 17, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

An aberrant individual, a psycho, a student obessed by futurity? Who knows?

There may be in the angst ridden writings of Cho a sign that our culture really is perverse. We have created fear in children about global warming , not unlike that of an earlier generation of children instilled with fear of nuclear war. We have color coded Homeland Security Agency alerts about the dangers of terrorism. We witness here a suggestion of siren warnings on campus - and see the opportunistic polticos making use of an event.

An ennui engulfs the country until an event of tragic proportion - not tragedy - but of tragic proportion, happens.

That lassitude, that ennui, is indicative of the "I" society of consumerism. We buy and guzzle and enjoy the good life with little regard for the chance of tomorrow.

The events at VT will be short memoried as lesson. Life goes on.

Posted by: Shiloh | April 17, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Thank you to your replies. One word to Wilbrod and the Netherlands: If you really read the article you mentioned, you will see, that the rates for "intentional homicides, ... in 2000 was 1.15 for Netherlands, 0.50 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA."
In other words: The crime rate in the Netherlands is (a little) higher than in the U.S. - but there are almost five times (!) as many people intentionally killed in the U.S. as in the Netherlands (out of 100 000, this means it has nothing to do with population - just to avoid a misunderstanding).
If you tell everybody, that the crime rate in the Netherlands in these cases is "lower" than in the U.S, than it is almost a lie.

Posted by: Andreas D. | April 17, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey.. has anyone seen Martooni around? I hope he's OK.

Dang that hippie; I wish he'd check in more often. Doesn't he know we worry about him?

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I was counting the danghippie days too, TBG. 17 is good. 19 is fantastic. I just hope he's been at a meeting instead of spending Tuesday evening on the Boodle. And if not, well, heck, 19 days will give him strength to start again. He knows he can do it, he just has to strechhh.

He's a good friend, isn't he?

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I kind of hope he is home hugging the pants off little Miss Bean.

You know this last couple days, I was wishing for one of those magic doors of his. Maybe we could install one of those in the bunker? Mudge, would that be OK?

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

For pity's sake, 'Mudge. You've ceded control. Go to bed, already!

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Did you see the pictures of Little Bean? So sweet. I think he's OK.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

>Hey.. has anyone seen Martooni around? I hope he's OK.

He's working on my Jackson Pollack Adirondack chair.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Excellent!

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Andreas that is interesting. Here in Canada, our crime rate, overall is falling, though the rate of violent crime is rising. This is substantiated by no actual knowledge or numbers just a randomly heard and loosely quoted info.

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The picture of bean with her tool belt is my favourite. What a sweetie.

Posted by: dr | April 17, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's strange that imaginary friends bring on such real feelings.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

>You know, it's strange that imaginary friends bring on such real feelings.

There's nothing imaginary about your friends here. They're just geographically distributed. You know that when macaroons and coconut-covered marshmallows and pie filling shows up on your doorstep.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Almost a lie is not a lie, Andreas.

It is a good thing that I included the report link so people can read exactly how much lower the murder rate is.

The US is 24th in the world in murder rate-- not a good showing, I admit.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

Thailand, which I know legalizes prostitution is ahead in murder rate compared to the U.S.

I am speaking simply to the idea that legal prostitution lowers violent crime overall.

The Netherlands has a slightly higher murder rate compared to quite a few other European countries with much more restrictive attitudes about prostitution.


Posted by: Wilbrod | April 17, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Not at all. Not at all. These friends are among my real friends.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

TBG, you're my real friend. And Yoki, you are too. And so many others.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | April 17, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Reely, everybody here. Love you too, Maggie O'D.

G'night.

Posted by: Yoki | April 17, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

The Northern Virginia Korean community plays a huge role in my everyday life. They are my neighbors, my friends; they own and operate the stores and businesses I visit nearly every day. My heart goes out to them and I hope I can say that no one feels any animosity towards Koreans in Virginia or anywhere.

He was a troubled young man, a student, a son and brother. The other labels can include "loner" and "angry." But I just don't see why it matters that he was Korean and I hope that one label goes away.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the well wishes for my sister. I haven't talked to her yet(she had to work tonight), but my mother said she's doing OK so far. Tomorrow night one of the local high schools is holding a vigil, and invited the rescue squads to attend--I think she's planning to go.

Posted by: Dooley | April 17, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

'Night, Boodle. *tucking everybody in*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 17, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Wait! Leave the lights on! I'm still at work!

Jeesh.

Posted by: TBG | April 17, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching "An Affair In Trinidad", with Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.

"With a woman like that, why would a man commit suicide?"

Just Sayin'.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 17, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Just heading off to bed, Mudge have a good and safe trip. Would my collection of Better Homes and Gardens spiff up the bunker nicely, there would be such a nice addition to dr's doilies and the Kincaids - we could even order the Christmas ornament collection from Kincaid!

Hugs to all and blessings to those grieving over the tragic events in Virginia.

Posted by: dmd | April 17, 2007 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little surprised that Kinkade is still in business. Apparently many customers and dealers were shocked to find that their extra-valuable, hand-touched-up, touch-of-the -master collectibles were turned out in far greater numbers than they'd thought. Evidently lots of lawsuits.

How about an event where you pay to hurl commemorative plates loaded with wet paint at Kinkade prints?

(along those lines, I was just watching an Italian movie featuring an animated demolition of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (Victor Emmanuel Monument)in Rome, with one big statue flying off and turning into an angel, then a bird. It would be fun to give the same animated treatment to the thicket of tall buildings in Reston that stare down at the Mall. On the other hand, the Vittorio might simply need a coat of brownish paint.

I'm off to UF tomorrow for the annual Florida Native Plant Society conference, hoping the locals won't be too jumpy and also hoping the great Asian food store on 34th street near the Florida Museum of Natural History is still selling black rice. Might be a good chance to pick up another silver saw palmetto.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | April 18, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Faulkner might have lived another 20 years had he received help too. Maybe we should impose psychological remediation on Broder?

For those of you who easily jump to conclusions after the fact, I offer the novel "The Tygers of Wrath" by Philip Rosenberg; for those of you seeking solace try the golden oldie, "The Bridge at San Luis Rey" by Thornton Wilder.

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | April 18, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

You really think Rita Hayward would be serving in a bordello today, Error?

She'd be a pretty old coyote, if she was still alive.

(Chuckling at the image-- but not sure she would be.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | April 18, 2007 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, hope reigns supreme. I confess I really hadn't seen many of her movies. Or maybe any, because... yow. I would've remembered.

Posted by: Error Flynn | April 18, 2007 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Error, that movie has been on here in the office tonight, too. And there's a guy here who's been "yowzing" about her the whole time!

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 12:50 AM | Report abuse

http://24f1124.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Leah Dizon private SEX image outflow. | April 18, 2007 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Just got home from work. I feel like greenwithenvy on the night shift (except I got to work at 9 this morning! Oops. Yesterday morning).

NOW I'll say g'night all.

Posted by: TBG | April 18, 2007 2:36 AM | Report abuse

Those of us on the "night shift" miss out on the morning fun. By the time I sign on it's lunch time for you all back east. But, on the bright side, I suppose I can say I age slower than you guys in my timezone.

While you all are gusseying up Mudge's bunker, can I bring my hand embroidered, kitten days of the week kitchen towels? I think they'd go well with the toilet paper holders.

Posted by: Aloha | April 18, 2007 2:45 AM | Report abuse

*yawns* Good morning, Boodle. Good morning, Cassandra. I hope everyone slept well? I didn't. I had the weirdest dream. It was like it was directed by Fellini, like the movie "8 1/2" or something, only I was being harrassed wherever I went by an army of Martha Stewarts. Big Martha Stewarts, little Martha Stewarts, fat grotesque Martha Stewarts, skinny Martha Stewarts, even one hearing-impaired Martha Stewart gnome with a guide dog. There was one Martha Stewart who looked like Giada De Laurentiis who kept urging me to eat my brussel sprouts and who slapped me repeatedly because I kept looking down her cleavage. Then I was being smothered by a single layer of gossamer--then a second layer, then a third, and more and more layes of gossamer until it was like a horse blanket and I couldn't breathe. Then I was being chased down a long, dark alley by little tiny porcelain figurines who kept calling my name, "Curmudgeon, Curmudgeon...." only the voices coming out of these little shepherds and cherubs was like the Devil's voice in "The Exorcist." Then I was walking down the street in a large city when two men accosted me with a gun and asked me, "What's the password, Kenneth?" And the strange thing was, I KNEW the password! It was "Pastels." So they let me go, and I woke up just as five guys who looked like Carson whatshisname were coming at me with racks of clothes to try on, and the word "Makeover" was ringing in my ears.

Ooooooooooooh, it was awful.

Anybody know what time TBG got home? I left the porch light on for her. Worry worry worry, that's all I do is worry about these kids, up at all hours of the day and night. She's supposed to take the helm this morning and here's she's been out carousing till the wee hours. Harrumph.

OK, got to sign off and go pack and hop a plane to sunny Florida.

My heartfelt apologies, scotty. I should have listened to you. But I thought I was giving you a little respite, for your own good. I fear I shall pay a heavy price now.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | April 18, 2007 5:37 AM | Report abuse

If anyone uses a blackberry device you may have some problems this morning.

http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/204398

Posted by: dmd | April 18, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

TBG's last post was stamped at 2:36 this morning, Mudge. She's on a tear, no doubt about it. Hope she sleeps in this morning. Have a safe trip and a good time!

Oh, and good morning, everybody. Hey, Cassandra.

I looked at the list of the victims in today's paper. What a horrible loss. Also saw that the young man refused help. Wonder if we can identify a point where intervention becomes involuntary?

Posted by: Slyness | April 18, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

More blogspam @ 2:05... *SIGHHH*

And LiT, just WHO showed you that Tarzan pic????

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Got home very late last night from a meeting in Minneapolis.

Here is what the Prince William County superintendent of schools sent out via e-mail (I've been trying to unsubscribe for 2 years now.)

To Our Community:

On behalf of Prince William County Public Schools, I want to express the profound sadness
that we feel about the tragedy that occurred yesterday at Virginia Tech. We grieve for
those who lost their lives, those injured, and for their families and friends.

This horrible event touches all of us, most especially those who may have a personal
connection to Virginia Tech. Many seniors in Prince William County Public Schools may be
receiving letters of acceptance from Virginia Tech and other students may have siblings
there. Our schools have crisis teams available to help students and school staff through
this difficult time by answering questions, listening to concerns, and helping those
grieving to cope with their feelings of disbelief, anger, sadness, and fear. These are
normal emotional reactions to a senseless and devastating event that has seriously injured
so many and taken so many lives.

When such events occur, concerns about school safety tend to arise. We want to assure the
community that all Prince William County Public Schools have Crisis Management Plans and
Crisis Response Teams in place. We are persistent in reviewing our readiness and ability to
respond in the event of any crisis.

Please keep these victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Steven L. Walts
Superintendent of Schools

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah...

Morning all! *lepoard-print waves*

Dooley, I hope your sister can attend and benefit from that vigil.

'Mudge, travel safely!

And I have a dartboard for the bunker...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Slyness -- "...point intervention becomes involuntary." That is the Million dollar question. And the answer here, in this country, is we don't do that.

Mental illness, in all gradiations, is such a drain on ordinary life and contentment. But, you cannot make people seek help, let alone respond to the proferred mix of talk, meds, and social support. Hey, we allow people to be medicated until they feel better, and then let them decide to stop taking meds. Case after case within court and administrative law confirm this preference for self-determination. Happens every day. Happens every day. Happens every day.

(Note to any parent with a troubled teen: get help now because somewhere between 16 and 18, you lose the ability to insist on treatment....at 18, even if you claim them as dependant and pay their tuition, they are adults and can refuse treatment.)

Slyness, not meaning to be pert here. We agree, I think, that this is not right.

I am reviewing what the English prof and dept. chair did. Roy's one-on-one class was a generous and "practical" response. Practical in that she behaved with the heart of the teacher: connect and support the student. How many of us can do that, which adds another dimension on what is "practical." There are such limits on what we can do, in the funny area between 18-young adulthood. She made an extraordinary gesture, heroic even.

I walked a student once, under the guise of a coffee-field trip/chat, into the counseling center and sat with her until she went through the door. At one point I held her hand, remembering that, technically, we are not supposed to touch students. This is not pc to say, but male teachers would have to follow that rule, I have more discretion but might be in huge trouble if I touched a male student.

Oh Kurt, the timing of your passing here boggles: May as well be kind.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Frosti,

I was thinking last night that you have social connections to both the VT bloodbath and the one near Bemidji about 3? years ago. What is your take on the community in Upper Minnesota now?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is still tough for me, as I am sure it is for all of us. It is always hard for parents when they have to bury their children. My heart goes out to them, it really does. I don't know the answers, but I do know prayer, so I will pray, as we all should. For the families and for each other.

I believe Eugene Robinson's op-ed piece this morning speaks to how the situation is now. I also, believe that we should not rush to judgement, but take time, give time, to the folks involved in this horrible event. Sometimes media folks can be oppressive. We know you have jobs to do, but the hurt is so strong, and folks are really at a loss about this event, we need to go slow. I believe answers will come out, but we need to recognize that we are dealing with young people that don't understand, and families that are grieving beyond anything anyone can imagine.

I can hardly think about all of this without crying.

Morning, Mudge, Scotty, Slyness, and everybody *waving*

And Pat, so good to hear from you. It has been bright and sunny here, and is so today. The sky does not reflect the mood, because so many of us just don't understand why this happened. Here in the small town I live in, we have people walking around with mental health issues that are not being addressed. Some of them sleep in old houses, wear the same clothes from one end of the week to the next, and don't have food to eat. Many times programs that addressed their needs have been cut or totally done away with. If I had money, I would buy a big home and put them in it, and try to take care of them. We really are our brother's keeper.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | April 18, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' Boodle...

No need to fret -- I'm still hanging in there and today makes 23 sober twenty-fours. And Little Bean *was* wrapped in a big dang hippie hug last night. We're re-reading "Winnie the Pooh" a chapter a night and last night's was "In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump".

I've been intentionally shying away from the wall-to-wall VT coverage, which is why I haven't posted much. I'm just as saddened as everyone else, but I have a tendency to "personalize" tragedies and I really don't want to give myself an excuse for a bender. That said, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and survivors and everyone else affected.

--

> He's working on my Jackson Pollack Adirondack chair.

Error... you really shouldn't give me ideas. ;-)

--

Gotta run... "Handy Hippie" has to go fix the world now. :-)

Posted by: martooni | April 18, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Exactly, CP. Regardless of a person's age, we should be able to require treatment and treatment to continue.

Back in February, an NCSSM classmate of my younger daughter committed suicide. She said he was the most intelligent of all of them, but he was into guns and depressed. What a loss, but thank God there was no other life loss. Again, another case where intervention could have saved a life.

Heeeyyy Martooni, check in, willja? We want to hear from you.

Posted by: Slyness | April 18, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' Handy Hippie some appropriate spandex and a cape*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

SN -- no more faxing of spandex until you consult with TBG and the beautifucation committee. Under consideration are these patterns: spray of daisies repeated on a pale green background OR baby pink rosebuds against sky blue. Saving the world here is best done with cuteness and Hallmark moments.

Martooni is already sensitive about how his rear looks in spandex. The print will obscure any figure flaws. Don't believe me? Read any "Cathy" comic anthology or study the Land's End catelog carefully.

And before I forget:
Take that Dogs Playing Poker paint-by-number monstrosity down. We are nearly done with needle-worked Hello Kitty version.

Payback time.

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Some SCCs are more important that others.

Beautification. Beautification. Beautification.

Posted by: CeePee here | April 18, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

What else can we do to make the bunker more homey while we have the chance to decorate? Perhaps piles of throw pillows? Some guest towels and decorative soap? Scented candles?

Scotty, stand by to fax Mudge the necessary cleansing supplies when he returns. You know: duct tape, leaf blower, pneumatic nail gun.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 18, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I think I would go with a couple of black lights, a few velvet posters, a lava lamp or two.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 18, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

CP-a very complicated question.

We had a school shooting over 30 years ago in our school district-located about 2 hours from the shooting 3 years ago. A student shot and killed an assistant principal and wounded another student. The teacher whose room was adjacent to the hallway went on to found the county's Children's Mental Health Service in 1988. She just happened to be the scheduled speaker at an Alternative Education Task Force meeting on Monday afternoon. Two former students who were in the school at the time of the shooting were also in attendance. VT was not discussed, we are not speculating people up here and not much had been released at that point. However, this impromptu longitudinal study did reveal that lives were forever changed. The teacher quit teaching psychology and became a therapist. The facilitator of the meeting knew the shooter, a victim of bullying, and went on to develop alternative programs for kids in trouble all over the state of Minnesota. Another attendee was in class with one of the AP's sons and reported he says "I still feel abandoned." I have no idea how the majority of those affected responded, but at least these folks have spent a good deal of their lives working towards making schools more responsive places that don't produce violence.

I need to think more specifically about life on the res and how folks are dealing with that more recent shooting it is still hanging in the air but that is a very closed community and more rumor than fact gets spread about it. From working with a local BIA school I can tell you it is easier to get money for security guards than therapists.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

If you guys need to fill up a little space, I inherited my great aunts ceramic frog collection. Frogs of every description, in every lovely shade of green. Truly a thing of beauty.

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

CP-Traditional red and pink Hello Kitty or the more modern pale blue metallic? I am torn. Normally a purist I am a sucker for the shiny blue.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

SCC - aunt's

Posted by: Kim | April 18, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

MMMMMMMMMMM......Green

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 18, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Kim -- bring 'em on down. Do you have a shadow box or display case? Be warned, however, RDP may spring a ceramic bunny collection on us anyday, and well, we would accomodate him.

Strategy: cultivate the men with bunny-inclinations or those willing to wear bright colors. (SN wore a SALMON-pink shirt last BHP!)

Frosti -- ripping out the red background for bright blue....how can 'Mudge object to blue....
------
Frosti -- thanks for the update, including the mystery about the res. Do I take this correctly: two incidents near Bemidji in 30 years? So sad. So sad.

How can we move national thinking -- local thinking? -- toward less security hardware and more support of mental health resources?

Megan's Law helped change policing on sexual predators; Walsh, etc. and Amber Alerts changed our thinking about speedier responses and missing children.

Can we work for the Blackburg Proviso on troubled youth and more active intervention?

We can't save or stop every body. But many sit on the fence. How can we safety-net those?

Posted by: College Parkian | April 18, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

*Monkees flashback*

I would do this room in French Provinical.

The color scheme would be lavender or puce...

*holding up beaker*

Or this!

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 18, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

martooni, I join you in knowing that the wall-to-wall VT coverage isn't good for me. I can only absorb this in small doses and have to turn off the television, close the newspaper, sign off the web.

But I count myself fortunate that I can do these things. Unlike the students and families who can do nothing to make it go away.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 18, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

New Kit! Hanging head in shame. I didn't come get you guys before commenting. A thousand pardons, I am so revolting.

Posted by: frostbitten | April 18, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, put Beaker down or I'll sic Kermit on you!

Posted by: Raysmom | April 18, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone.

I think the Boodle Command Den should have at least one piece of leather furniture. Perhaps a couch or a big reclining chair. And it should at least be good quality imitation leather furniture, anyway (in deference to our vegan friends).

Thanks to Wilbrodog for explaining the bite marks on that bra. And the severely stretched condition. And here I was thinking Scotty was just a Very Vigorous Man.

Back to reality for second, this seems to be a very difficult time for a lot of people - some Boodlers, some not - for a variety of reasons.

I'm going to take some time today to refelect on these things, and to think about what I can do to have a more positive presence in the world today. Even if it's simply making someone laugh.

I sincerely hope everyone has a good day today. And know I'm thinking about you.

bc

Posted by: bc | April 18, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

S'nuke
I had the Monkees TV show song in my head most of yesterday morning, I thought today I was free of it, but there you go and bring it up.

"Hey Hey were the Monkees"

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 18, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"Life Knows Only Today; Love is Forever"

Listen, do you feel the roar of silence?
It has been so long since we last came together,
We procrastinated and now our reunions can never be complete.

Why does my body cry when my soul rejoices?
I know in my soul that this is a day of Peace and Promise.
But, somehow, I cannot help but feel the pain of my personal loss.
Just as I know the mechanics of gymnastics, I know of the Peace.
But my mind gives way to the flesh and fails to dry my tears,
just as my earthly body will not allow me to execute a flip.

I have been blessed with a Love that now seems lost.
Yet I feel an emptiness that I do not understand.
Now the pain is up in the top of my throat,
I try to swallow but the sorrow is so great.
How can I go on? But how can I not?

Now my inner soul takes control, and I'll make it to the end of the day.
Still, as my tomorrows become today, the emptiness will haunt me,
but there are groceries to be bought and mortgages to be paid.
There just won't be time for this eclipsing pain.

And I will remember the times we shared and the Love we have.
Even now, I am filled with our Love, and I find a little smile.
God, if it could only last... But I am left here in this world.
So now I turn, and walk away... good-bye for now, but,
know that your flame burns on in my Heart.

We have always known that our Love was not of flesh, but of our Hearts,
A Love so strong that nothing can possibly keep us apart.
Surely, time is only an invention of this earthly life.
Deep down I know that before we were born
there was only a bright flash of light,
and there will only be forever,
when we again unite.

mike barnes

Invent Tomorrow With Today.

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