Monday, April 16, 2007

"We're all locked in our dorms surfing the Internet trying to figure out what's going on."

A campus nightmare: At least 21 dead in Virginia Tech shooting (Hat Tip: Instapundit)--the story is still developing.

Update: Now news reports are saying that 30 are dead from the shooting. It is quite confusing that the news stories mention that there were rampages two hours apart (one at 7:15 AM) on different ends of the campus--one in a dorm and the other in an Engineering classroom: "Suspected Shooter Dead After Several Rampages On Campus; At Least 20 Others Injured"-- why weren't people at the Engineering school warned or were they? It seems like an early morning shooting would warrant a warning to all of the classes etc.


Blogger Bob R said...

I got home an hour ago. Still waiting to hear who was killed. I'm hoping it's not people I know and feeling like crap for hoping that. I taught in Norris a few years ago. 100 feet away from my office. I watched the police surrounding the building form my office. An EMT center was out there as well. Damn.

1:54 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Bob r,

I don't know what to say, I feel so sad right now for the families of these victims who have no idea of what would make someone so troubled and ruthless that they would kill this way.

2:00 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virginia's where I live. Not Blacksburg, however. Nice place, from what I've heard.

I'd like to believe the perpetrator was a terrorist - at least it would make some kind of sense. Unfortunately, he's more likely to be just another head case (sorry, Doc) playing out the end of his little personal drama.

2:01 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob - Your post came through as I was typing mine. I am truly sorry this happened, and I hope no one you know was caught up in it. Words, for once, fail me. You, the students, and Tech are in my prayers.

2:05 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for mentioning the story in the post below. I had just seen it on Instapundit and was shocked to find out what had happened. I think you are probably right that this is not a terrorist act. The news reports are mentioning a girlfriend etc. that the killer was looking for--I am sure we will hear more as the story devolopes.

2:11 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One student said that the killer was asian and wearing extra clips for his pistols on a vest.


2:13 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Bob R said...

There have been a lot of rumors floating around as you can imagine. Probably best to wait. Thursdays classes are going to be hard. "Let's have a minute of silence - Now let's do some math." Damn.

2:28 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger SFN said...

Yikes, how awful. The two hour thing doesn't make sense to me either - that's pretty bizarre that somebody could shoot up one building, disappear for a couple of hours without getting caught, and there were still people there to be shot hours later with apparently no police protection. You would think they would have evacuated the students and had the campus swarming with cops trying to find the guy. Hopefully there's some kind of explanation or the inital reports are just plain confused - it's not like that's never happened before.

2:41 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Bob R said...

I had heard about the first shooting about 9AM from the office staff. An email went out to the whole campus at 9:26. A bit after that I saw the swat team running down our street toward Norris and the campus was shut down. It's not clear what people know about the dorm shooting before they knew the guy was across campus. I gather that it has not even been officially confirmed that it is the same guy.

3:00 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The main campus includes more than 100 buildings located on 2,600 acres, and includes an airport."

Read that in one of the news reports. I don't have local knowledge, but I imagine that even the available state, local and campus police combined would have a hard time securing a place that size. If the shooter was a student, he could hide or blend in after the first incident, waiting for his chance to finish the job.

3:41 PM, April 16, 2007  
Blogger Bob R said...

I'll say this. Once they heard about the shootings in Norris, they shut the place down fast. There was a huge PA truck warning people to stay indoors and away from windows. There were emails and phone calls to every extension.

The stories about the 7:15 shooting are very murky. The Tech ambulance service said they were called because "a student had fallen from a bunk, and only determined there was a shooting after they arrived." I heard that no one in the dorm heard the shots (probably false). At any rate it is not clear when they knew they had a shooter on the loose.

3:49 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Browsing the news sites, I see the gun control debate has already started. In fact, it appears from some of the comments sections that people are more concerned about that than they are about the victims and their families.

Nice - every time we have a tragic loss of life in this country, our first reaction is disbelief and our second reaction is to go for each other's throats - sometimes before the bodies are even buried. These things bring out the best in a tiny, lucky few Americans, and the worst in just about everybody else. This one's already making me feel sick.

Bob, I hope you're able to stay far away from the coming media frenzy and retain whatever faith in humanity you might have left. Your students will need you, I'm sure. Hang in there.

5:44 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bugs, I'm with you; I'm leaving the gun control thing alone for today.

Reports I've seen are converging on the Norris Hall shooter having been equipped with extra clips and other equipment. And, it appears that before he started shooting, he went around the building chaining exit doors shut. So it sounds like this was premeditated.

The residence hall situation is a lot murkier. It hasn't even been confirmed yet that that was the same person.

6:09 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before 9-11 there were lots of laws against airline hijacking and lots of hijackings happened none the less.
After 9-11 the hijackers knew that their fellow passengers would not sit quietly by and allow themselves to be killed.
The result? No more hijackings.
Today there are lots of gun control laws and lots of gun massacres. As soon as the killers realize that prospective victims will not sit quietly by and allow themselves to be killed then such massacres will stop.

8:25 PM, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, d. reid, the simplest way to see that people don't stand by is to let them prepare for their own defense as they see fit. The policy of the gun control nut running the VT college was to make the maximum effort to disarm the campus. He succeeded admirably.

I am reminded of the Red Lake, Minnesota school shooting of almost exactly two years ago. Jeff Weise killed nine people and himself at a school that was the same gun control absolutist environment.

So how did seventeen year old Jeff get guns, get past the metal detecters, get past the guards, and find only unarmed victims? He got the guns by killing his grandfather who was a policeman. The metal detecters and guards didn't mean anything because the guards were unarmed. Remember, absolutist gun control so, unarmed guards who were shot first leaving the rest of the unarmed victims to Jeff.

Here we go again. People in positions of responsibility driving their own blind bias to the point it gets other people killed.

2:56 AM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is truly tragic! Dr. Helen, since this is your line of work, I would love to read a more indepth analogy on this once the facts have been made clear.

4:55 AM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My condolences and prayers goes out to all the victims and their families - as well as all our young people. This is truly tragic and very disturbing!

5:40 AM, April 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I don't understand, from Australia, is why your school/college teaching rooms and dormitories seem to have only one door. Every University Lecture theatre I have taught in had at least two clearly marked exits, usually three, to allow rapid evacuation. It would seem that an external fire escape is neccessary in case of a corridor fire. Surely the most useful measure would be to retro-fit all school and college buildings to allow emergency exits from any room for any situation: fire, bomb threat, shooter, etc..

As for locking students in their rooms, they're simply being trapped by the authorities and made totally vulnerable if the attacker gets through the outer perimeter. This is purely criminal negligence. The students should have been able, and taught, to get clear of the scene.

As the old saying has it:

"Run, run, run away,
live to fight another day."

My thoughts are probably not mainstream but the typical concentration on 'guns good/guns bad' or psychological analyses miss the practical things needed to done to reduce casualties. Creating distance from an attacker is a basic technique. Failing to provide the means for students to do this, and teaching them to stay put, is crminal negligence.

12:58 AM, April 18, 2007  
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