Gunman Said To Kill 32

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The shootings came three days after a bomb threat Friday forced the cancellation of classes in three buildings, WDBJ in Roanoke reported. Also, the 100,000-square-foot Torgersen Hall was evacuated April 2 after police received a written bomb threat, The Roanoke Times reported.

 

At least 33 people, including a gunman, were killed Monday during shootings in a dorm and a building housing classrooms at Virginia Tech, university officials said.


The death toll makes the incident the deadliest school attack in U.S. history.

Two people were killed at a dormitory about 7:15 a.m., while another 30 people were killed two hours later at Norris Hall, the engineering science and mechanics building, university officials said.


Though university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said police were still investigating whether the two incidents were related, he also said the gunman at Norris Hall took his own life. Investigators are not ruling out a second shooter, Flinchum said.


"Norris Hall is a tragic and a sorrowful crime scene, and we are in the process of identifying victims," university President Charles Steger said.

Asked why the campus, which has more than 26,000 students, was not shut down after the first shooting, Flinchum responded that police received information that "it was an isolated event to that building and the decision was made not to cancel classes at that time."


Steger added, "We had some reason to believe the shooter had left campus."

Spokespersons for hospitals in Roanoke, Christiansburg, Blacksburg and Salem told CNN they were treating 29 people from the shootings.


Sharon Honaker with Carilion New River Medical Center in Christiansburg said one of the four gunshot victims being treated there was in critical condition.

Scott Hill, a spokesman for Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, where 17 wounded students were taken, said he wasn't expecting any more victims.


The killings mark the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, surpassing attacks at Columbine High School in 1999 and at the University of Texas in 1966.

The first reported shootings occurred at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory that houses 895 students. The dormitory, one of the largest residence halls on the 2,600-acre campus, is located near the drill field and stadium. Amie Steele, editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, said one of her reporters at the dormitory reported "mass chaos."


The reporter said there were "lots of students running around, going crazy, and the police officers were trying to settle everyone down and keep everything under control," according to Steele.


Kristyn Heiser said she was in class about 9:30 a.m. when she and her classmates saw about six gun-wielding police officers run by a window.


"We were like, 'What's going on?' Because this definitely is a quaint town where stuff doesn't really happen. It's pretty boring here," said Heiser during a phone interview as she sat on her classroom floor.


Another student, Tiffany Otey, said she and her classmates initially thought the gunshots were construction noise until they heard screaming and police officers with bulletproof vests and machine guns entered her classroom.


"They were telling us to put our hands above our head and if we didn't cooperate and put our hands above our heads they would shoot," Otey said. "I guess they were afraid, like us, like the shooter was going to be among one of us."


Student Matt Waldron said he did not hear the gunshots because he was listening to music, but he heard police sirens and saw officers hiding behind trees with their guns drawn. "They told us to get out of there so we ran across the drill field as quick as we could," he said. Waldron described the scene on campus as "mayhem."


"It was kind of scary," he said. "These two kids I guess had panicked and jumped out of the top-story window and the one kid broke his ankle and the other girl was not in good shape just lying on the ground."


Madison Van Duyne said she and her classmates in a media writing class were on "lockdown" in their classrooms. They were huddled in the middle of the classroom, writing stories about the shootings and posting them online. The university is updating its students through e-mails, and an Internet webcam is broadcasting live pictures of the campus.


The shootings came three days after a bomb threat Friday forced the cancellation of classes in three buildings, WDBJ in Roanoke reported. Also, the 100,000-square-foot Torgersen Hall was evacuated April 2 after police received a written bomb threat, The Roanoke Times reported.


Last August, the first day of classes was cut short by a manhunt after an escaped prisoner was accused of killing a security guard at a Blacksburg hospital and a sheriff's deputy. After the Monday shootings, students were instructed to stay indoors and away from windows, police at the university said.


"Virginia Tech has canceled all classes. Those on campus are asked to remain where they are, lock their doors and stay away from windows. Persons off campus are asked not to come to campus," a statement on the university Web site said.
The university has scheduled a convocation for 2 p.m. ET Tuesday. Classes also have been canceled Tuesday. In Washington, the House and Senate observed moments of silence for the victims and President Bush said the nation was "shocked and saddened" by news of the tragedy.


"Today, our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones," he said. "We hold the victims in our hearts, we lift them up in our prayers and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering today."


Before Monday, the deadliest school shootings came in 1966 and 1999.
In the former, Charles Joseph Whitman, a 25-year-old ex-Marine, killed 13 people on the University of Texas campus. He was killed by police.


In 1999, 17-year-old Dylan Klebold and 18-year-old Eric Harris -- armed with guns and pipe bombs -- killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

 




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