The Toll Keeps Climbing...

BLACKSBURG, Va. - A gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom across campus Monday, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.

Students complained that there were no public-address announcements or other warnings on campus after the first burst of gunfire. They said the first word they received from the university was an e-mail more than two hours into the rampage — around the time the gunman struck again.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.
"We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," he said.
He defended the university's handling of the tragedy, saying: "We can only make decisions based on the information you had on the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it."
Investigators offered no motive for the attack. The gunman's name was not immediately released, and it was not known if he was a student.

The shootings spread panic and confusion on campus. Witnesses reporting students jumping out the windows of a classroom building to escape the gunfire. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. Students and faculty members carried out some of the wounded themselves, without waiting for ambulances to arrive.

The massacre took place at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory that houses 895 people, and continuing at least two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building about a half-mile away, authorities said. Two people were killed in a dormitory room, and 31 others were killed in the engineering building, including the gunman, police said.
"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," Steger said. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified." Steger said the university decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means of notifying members of the university, but with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out. He said that before the e-mail went out, the university began telephoning resident advisers in the dorms to notify them and sent people to knock on doors to spread the word.
Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum would not say how many weapons the gunman carried. But a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was incomplete, said that the gunman had two pistols and multiple clips of ammunition. Police said they were still investigating the shooting at the dorm when they got word of gunfire at the classroom building.Some students bitterly questioned why the gunman was able to strike a second time.

"What happened today this was ridiculous," student Jason Piatt told CNN. "While they send out that e-mail, 20 more people got killed."
Students and Laura Wedin, a student programs manager at Virginia Tech, said the first notification they got of the shootings came in an e-mail at 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first shooting.
The e-mail had few details. It said: "A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating." The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious.
Student Maurice Hiller said he went to a 9 a.m. class two buildings away from the engineering building, and no warnings were coming over the outdoor public address system on campus at the time. Everett Good, junior, said of the lack of warning: "I'm trying to figure that out. Someone's head is definitely going to roll over that."
"We were kept in the dark a lot about exactly what was going on," said Andrew Capers Thompson, a 22-year-old graduate student from Walhalla, S.C.
At least 26 people were being treated at three area hospitals for gunshot wounds and other injuries, authorities said. Their exact conditions were not disclosed, but at least one was sent to a trauma center and six were in surgery, authorities said.
Up until Monday, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself.

The massacre Monday took place almost eight years to the day after the Columbine High bloodbath near Littleton, Colo. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives. Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage that took place in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire with a rifle from the 28th-floor observation deck. He killed 16 people before he was shot to death by police.


The rampage took place on a brisk spring day, with snow flurries swirling around the campus. The campus is centered around the Drill Field, a grassy field where military cadets — who now represent a fraction of the student body — once practiced. The dorm and the classroom building are on opposites sides of the Drill Field.


A gasp could be heard at a campus news conference early in the day when the police chief announced that at least 20 people had been killed. Previously, only one person was thought to have been killed.


Reported by: CNN






Somebody tell me where do you go from here...
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