Monday, April 16, 2007

BREAKING - At least 20 killed at Virginia Tech in campus shooting incident

***Scroll down for updates***

Another tragedy on a US campus.

Police said there had been "at least 20 fatalities" in two locations at Virginia Tech university this morning. Earlier, the university released a statement saying that one person had been shot and a suspect had been arrested but released the higher total to astonishment several hours later.

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

The shootings are reported to have occurred two hours apart at an engineering building and a dormitory, on opposite sides of the campus. Amateur footage showed armed officers running over the campus with the sounds of gunshots in the background.

At the news conference where the initial death toll was announced, Wendell Flinchum, the university's police chief, said that one man was believed to be responsible for the shootings and that he had been killed. Most of the victims are believed to have been students.

"We have a ballpark figure on fatalities. It’s at least 20 fatalities," he said to gasps. "We don't know whether the shooter was a student."

There's a lot of information that still hasn't been released yet, and rumors abound... was the shooter a student? One rumor states it was a young man who was looking for his ex-girlfriend (this is still rumor at this point of course). Was his fatal wound self-inflicted or was he shot by authorities responding to the incident?

I'll post updates as I find them.

UPDATE @ 10:22am: The VT website confirms 22 dead. Families wishing to reunite are suggested to do so at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

UPDATE @ 10:47am: ABC reports 29 dead now.

UPDATE @ 11:25am: Fox reports 32 dead and 21 injured.

UPDATE @ 2:31pm: The LATimes put the number wounded at 56, but not all of those were shot by the gunman. Medical personnel are seeing lots of injuries from people trying to escape; cuts from broken glass, broken bones, and sprains as people fled the shooter.

UPDATE @ 3:02pm: Seems like this might be a good point for a timeline of events (as reported in this SFGate article). The first shooting was at about 7:15am at West Ambler Johnston, one of VT's dorms. 2 were killed in the dormitory. The second set of shootings occurred at least 2 hours later about a mile and a half across the campus at Norris Hall, an engineering building. 30 were killed at Norris Hall; the shooter killed himself here as well. Much of the confusion with the inceident stems from the 2 hour gap as the gunman moved from the dorms to the engineering building which is why initial reports released had only one killed. University president Charles Steger says a school closure wasn't put into effect after the initial shooting in the dorms because authorities believed the dorm shooting was a "domestic dispute" and the gunman had fled the campus.

UPDATE @ 3:11pm: Fox News says the gunman was described as an asian male. He was wearing a vest covered in clips which I assume were for the two 9mm handguns that police recovered at the scene.

UPDATE 4/17 @ 9:12am: The information on the gunman yesterday has been released

April 17, 2007 — Cho Seung-hui, 23, the Virginia Tech student who police believe is responsible for killing 33 people yesterday, was "a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," said university spokesman Larry Hincker.

Police identified Cho, a native of South Korea and resident alien who lived in Centreville, Va., as the shooter by linking the fingerprints at the scene to his immigration documents.

Police say the senior English major, who lived in Harper Hall dormitory on the university campus, was likely responsible for both shootings at the university, the first of which took place at around 7:15 a.m. Monday morning when two people were killed at West Ambler Johnston Hall dormitory. Later that morning, the remaining victims were killed in Norris Hall, the engineering studies building.

ABC News has learned that Cho left behind a note after the killings at West Ambler Johnston Hall. He then returned to his own room, rearmed and entered Norris Hall, roughly a half a mile away, to continue his shooting rampage.

The Sydney Morning Herald confirms what I posted yesterday as simple rumor: the gunman's rampage began with the death of his ex-girlfriend, Emily Jane Hilscher, whom he shot in a jealous rage allegedly because she cheated on him. The second victim was the RA, Ryan Clark, who came by most likely responding to the gunfire.

Thus far, those who are confirmed to have died in yesterday's tragedy are Maxine Turner, senior, chemical engineering; Henry Lee, freshman, computer engineering; Matt La Porte, freshman; Jamie Bishop, instructor, foreign languages and literature (German); Professor G.V. Loganathan, civil and environmental engineering; Juan Ortiz, graduate student, civil engineering; Jarrett Lane, senior, civil engineering; Ryan Clark, senior, biology, English, psychology; Leslie Sherman, sophomore, history and international studies; Caitlin Hammaren, sophomore, international studies and French; Professor Liviu Librescu, engineering, science and mechanics; Professor Kevin Granata, engineering, science and mechanics; Reema Samaha, freshman; and the killer's former girlfriend, Emily Hilscher, freshman, animal and poultry sciences, and equine science.

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