'Loner' behind campus carnage


Summary

A day after Virginia Tech University was turned into a killing field, police identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, an English major in his final year at the school who was described as a "loner."

US media reported that Cho, who came to the United States from South Korea in 1992, when he was eight years old, left behind a rambling note with a long list of grievances. Fellow students in a playwriting class remembered him as a mostly silent classmate who wrote gory, morbid plays.

Deadly details emerge

Two people were shot dead in an initial attack in a campus dormitory around 7:15 am on Monday. Another 30 were killed in Norris Hall, an engineering building, two-and-a-half hours later. Up to 30 others were wounded.

Steve Flaherty, superintendent of state police, told reporters Cho was in his senior year at Virginia Tech, was from Centreville, Virginia, and had been living in a campus dormitory. He was a resident alien in the United States.

Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, said officials had difficulty obtaining information about the gunman. "He was a loner," he said.

Chilling note

The Chicago Tribune newspaper and ABC News reported that Cho had left behind a note in his dormitory in which he complained about "rich kids."

"You caused me to do this," he wrote in the several-page-long note that also railed against "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans."

Cho had shown recent signs of "violent, aberrant behaviour," including stalking women and setting a fire in a dorm room, the Chicago Tribune said.

The campus newspaper said Cho was known for writing gory, morbid plays that belied his silent presence in class.

"His writing, the plays, were really morbid and grotesque," student
Stephanie Derry told the Collegiate Times.

"I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chain saw around, and hammers at him.

But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a rice krispy treat," Derry said.

Derry said Cho had always been silent in class.

"He would just sit and watch us, but wouldn't say anything. It was his lack of behaviour that really set him apart. He basically just kept to himself, very isolated," Derry said.

Cho shot himself in the head as police closed in on Norris Hall, where he had methodically gunned down dozens of students and faculty members after chaining the doors of the building from the inside.

Flaherty said a Glock 9mm handgun and a .22 caliber handgun had been recovered.

Authorities found a receipt for the Glock, bought on March 13, in Cho's backpack which also contained two knives and a cache of bullets, ABC reported.

He bought his second weapon within the last week, the network added.

Survivors recounted tales of heroism, with students preventing the gunman from entering one class by barring the door with tables and holding it shut.

"He came to our door, tried the handle, couldn't get it in, because we were pushing against it," student Zach Petkewicz told CNN. "He tried to force his way in, got the door to open up six inches, and we lunged at it and closed it, and he shot twice into the middle of the door."

Amid the shock and horror, some students and families criticised college officials who failed to lock down the campus or alert students when gunfire first broke out.

The head of public safety for Virginia, John Marshall, defended university authorities, saying they "made the right decisions based on the best information that they had available at the time."

The shooting immediately renewed concern over school security and access to guns that was rekindled last year by a rash of shootings. The state of Virginia has some of the weakest gun licensing requirements in the country.

The mass shooting came almost eight years to the day after two students killed 13 people and themselves in Columbine High School, and six months after a lone gunman shot dead five people at an Amish school in Pennsylvania.


A day after Virginia Tech University was turned into a killing field, police identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, an English major in his final year at the school who was described as a "loner."

US media reported that Cho, who came to the United States from South Korea in 1992, when he was eight years old, left behind a rambling note with a long list of grievances. Fellow students in a playwriting class remembered him as a mostly silent classmate who wrote gory, morbid plays.

Deadly details emerge

Two people were shot dead in an initial attack in a campus dormitory around 7:15 am on Monday. Another 30 were killed in Norris Hall, an engineering building, two-and-a-half hours later. Up to 30 others were wounded.

Steve Flaherty, superintendent of state police, told reporters Cho was in his senior year at Virginia Tech, was from Centreville, Virginia, and had been living in a campus dormitory. He was a resident alien in the United States.

Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations, said officials had difficulty obtaining information about the gunman. "He was a loner," he said.

Chilling note

The Chicago Tribune newspaper and ABC News reported that Cho had left behind a note in his dormitory in which he complained about "rich kids."

"You caused me to do this," he wrote in the several-page-long note that also railed against "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans."

Cho had shown recent signs of "violent, aberrant behaviour," including stalking women and setting a fire in a dorm room, the Chicago Tribune said.

The campus newspaper said Cho was known for writing gory, morbid plays that belied his silent presence in class.

"His writing, the plays, were really morbid and grotesque," student
Stephanie Derry told the Collegiate Times.

"I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chain saw around, and hammers at him.

But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a rice krispy treat," Derry said.

Derry said Cho had always been silent in class.

"He would just sit and watch us, but wouldn't say anything. It was his lack of behaviour that really set him apart. He basically just kept to himself, very isolated," Derry said.

Cho shot himself in the head as police closed in on Norris Hall, where he had methodically gunned down dozens of students and faculty members after chaining the doors of the building from the inside.

Flaherty said a Glock 9mm handgun and a .22 caliber handgun had been recovered.

Authorities found a receipt for the Glock, bought on March 13, in Cho's backpack which also contained two knives and a cache of bullets, ABC reported.

He bought his second weapon within the last week, the network added.

Survivors recounted tales of heroism, with students preventing the gunman from entering one class by barring the door with tables and holding it shut.

"He came to our door, tried the handle, couldn't get it in, because we were pushing against it," student Zach Petkewicz told CNN. "He tried to force his way in, got the door to open up six inches, and we lunged at it and closed it, and he shot twice into the middle of the door."

Amid the shock and horror, some students and families criticised college officials who failed to lock down the campus or alert students when gunfire first broke out.

The head of public safety for Virginia, John Marshall, defended university authorities, saying they "made the right decisions based on the best information that they had available at the time."

The shooting immediately renewed concern over school security and access to guns that was rekindled last year by a rash of shootings. The state of Virginia has some of the weakest gun licensing requirements in the country.

The mass shooting came almost eight years to the day after two students killed 13 people and themselves in Columbine High School, and six months after a lone gunman shot dead five people at an Amish school in Pennsylvania.