- FIRING SQUAD: Terrified students lined up against
the wall of their classroom and shot, execution-style.
- NO WAY OUT: Doors chained shut by the killer to
keep his victims in and police out.
- BODIES EVERYWHERE: Blood-soaked bodies piled on
top of each other.
- These were the scenes of almost inconceivable horror
at Virginia Tech University yesterday as a gunman claimed at least 32 lives
before killing himself.
- He was said to have quarrelled in a dormitory with his
girlfriend, whom he believed had been seeing another man. A student adviser
was called to sort out the row. But the killer produced a gun and SHOT
DEAD BOTH HIS GIRLFRIEND AND THE ADVISER.
- Two hours later he rampaged through an engineering building
on the other side of the campus in the town of Blacksburg, killing indiscriminately.
- Student Matt Maroney said: "He had an ungodly amount
of ammo on him. He was just dressed in a vest filled with clips and started
firing away at classrooms." Another witness said of the killer:
"He had a smile on his face but THERE WAS NO EMOTION IN HIS EYES."
- Last night, with 15 more victims injured and the death
toll expected to rise further, police and university authorities faced
stark questions about their failure to act during the crucial two hours
and prevent America's worst-ever massacre.
- Some students continued their work unaware there was
a killer in their midst, while university authorities merely sent round
an email saying that a shooting was being investigated. The gunman was
said to be of Asian appearance and dressed in maroon hat, leather jacket
and black-military style shooting vest.
- He had ammunition strapped across his chest as he calmly
walked from room to room refilling his two 9 mm handguns as he shot students.
He locked the doors of several classrooms to stop anyone escaping.
- Some terrified students jumped for their lives from the
fourth floor windows, while others used desks to barricade doors.
- Student David Jenkins said: "I know one person who
was in a room when the shooter came in and everyone was shot. TO ESCAPE
this person lay on the floor and PLAYED DEAD."
- Several teachers were among those shot. Student Derek
O'Dell, who was hit in the arm, spoke of his terror as he faced the killer.
- "He came into our room and started shooting,"
- "He let off a full round of bullets and I was probably
one of ten or 15 people hit. There was no warning. It was just random shooting.
He didn't say anything. He just shot and left. A lot of my classmates were
hit, and possibly my professor too.
- "The people who were less critical like myself were
able to hold the door shut because he tried to get back inside our room.
He tried shooting through the door at us.
- "Then the police came into our hall and cleared
the hall and we all managed to get out to where ambulances were waiting
- Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said: "The
university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions
... the university is shocked and indeed horrified."
- He said authorities at first believed that the first
shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and that the gunman had fled
the campus. He added: "We can only make decisions based on the information
you had on the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it."
- The sprawling 2,600-acre campus of 25,000 students housed
in 100 buildings had been closed down twice in the last ten days after
bomb scares. It was unclear whether the bomb threats were related or whether
the gunman had any possible terror associations.
- The first shootings yesterday took place at 7.15 a.m.
(12.15 p.m. British time) at the West Ambler Johnston complex, a coeducational
hall of residence which houses 895 students. Security there is said to
have been tight with individual identity passes used to enter the dormitory
- An immediate lockdown was ordered with students told
to remain in their rooms and away from windows as police and security officials
swamped the area. As some students fled the scene, they were tackled to
the ground and handcuffed by police seeking to stop the killer fleeing
in the chaos.
- However other students around the campus were allowed
to leave for their 8 a.m. classes. Police said they were still investigating
the shooting at the dormitory when authorities got word of gunfire at Norris
Hall, the engineering building.
- The gunman appeared to pick his victims indiscriminately.
Some, for no apparent reason, he spared. Others he shot from less than
10ft away. He is then said to have turned one of his guns on himself despite
still having ammunition available.
- Student Jason Piatt said: "I'm pretty outraged that
someone died in a shooting in a dorm at 7 a.m. and the first e-mail about
it had no mention of locking down the campus, no mention of cancelling
- "They just mentioned that they were investigating
a shooting. That's pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, while they sent out that
email, all these people got killed."
- Student Matt Maloney told how terrified students used
desks to barricade themselves in their classrooms as the gunman walked
down the main corridor blasting off shots. He said he saw several badly
wounded students being led away while others had been injured leaping for
their lives from upstairs windows.
- Josh Wargo was one of those who jumped. He said: "I
was in an engineering class. We all of a sudden heard loud banging noises.
We heard screaming through the walls and everyone started to panic and
jumping out of the windows.
- "We heard 40 or 50 shots. They went on for almost
two minutes. The window I jumped out of was two or three storeys up. When
I landed I was in a daze, standing outside of the building. Some of my
friends got shot. They told me my professor was shot in the face."
- Tiffany Otey, who was one floor up in the Norris Building,
said that when the gunfire started she and about 20 other students went
to a teacher's office and locked the door.
- "The gunshots were going off downstairs and half
of our classmates were downstairs," said Miss Otey.
- "We were just sitting there as if the shooter was
going to come up the next floor.
- "Maybe ten minutes later we were in the room when
police arrived. They told us to put our hands above our heads and if we
did not put our hands above our heads we will shoot you. We were running
out of the building freaking out."
- The shooting will re-open the often heated debate over
gun controls in the U.S., whose Constitution declares that the people's
right to bear arms must not be infringed.
- A sombre President Bush went on TV last night to say:
"Schools should be places of safety, sanctuary and learning. When
that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom,
in every American community.
- "We hold the victims in our hearts. We lift them
up in our prayers."
- FAST FACTS ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH
- School Type: First Tier
- National Ranking: #80
- Overall Score: 48 out of 100
- Peer Assessment: 3.4 out of 5.0
- Average Freshman Retenion Rate: 87%
- % of Faculty Who Are Full Time: 95%
- SAT/ACT Scores: 1110-1290
- Freshmen in Top 10% of Their Class: 37%
- Acceptance Rate: 72%
- Average Alumni Giving Rate: 21%
- HONORABLE MENTIONS: Virginia Tech's ENGINEERING SCHOOL
is ranked #18 in
- the nation ... AND ...
- it is ranked #35 in "The TOP 50 PUBLIC NATIONAL
- (U C Berkeley is #1 and UCLA is #4)
- SOURCE: 2007 U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT's "AMERICA's
BEST COLLEGES" (pp.
- 82, 85, 112, 114)
- © 2007 Associated New Media