Tributes for shooting victims


Summary

Two days after South Korean student Cho Seung-Hui gunned down at least 30 people, many students converged on a sprawling field at the heart of the campus, seeking solace while paying tribute at makeshift memorials to those who had died.

Students, staff and members of the Blacksburg community stood quietly before 32 flower-strewn stones that had been placed in a circle at one edge of the field, in honour of the victims of Monday's two separate shootings.

Ribbons in orange and maroon, the school colours, had been fastened around the trunks of trees surrounding the field.

Meanwhile, the son of famous US evangelist television Billy Graham, along with several other preachers, conducted a prayer service on a section of the field just metres from the building where students were gunned down as they attended classes.

"I know there is evil in this world," said Franklin Graham. "We saw evil on this campus Monday."

Impromptu memorials

Nearby, students wept as they scrawled messages on large boards.

"We stand with you in silence," read one message.

"Dearest Reema," began another, "your beautiful smile, voice and dancing are so fresh in my mind. You will always be missed and never forgotten."

Yet another message paid tribute to G.V. Loganathan, a professor of Indian origin killed in his class.

"Loganathan, rest in peace professor. You will be greatly missed as you were a great professor and a great man. Your heart was always towards your students," it read.

Students said the tributes provided an outlet for their grief, after so many of their classmates and teachers were suddenly struck down.

"This is the worst thing I have experienced since 9/11," said Noah, 19, a first-year student who refused to give his last name, referring to the September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Deise Galan, 19, a student from Brazil, said she had come to the field to express her solidarity with the victims.

"I just want to show my support even though I didn't know any of those who died," she said.

Campus deserted

Meanwhile, the Virginia Tech campus, usually bustling with students going to and from classes, was eerily quiet as the university remained shuttered.

Many students who live on campus returned to their homes to grieve with their families, ahead of plans by the university to reopen Monday.

"A lot of the students who live in the dorms left," said Erin Merricks, 20, who was heading to her family home in Virginia. "It's hard to stay and watch this all week."

Several students said it would be hard to accept that the university, best known for its football team and excellence in engineering, would now be remembered as the site of the worst mass shooting in US history.

"I just hope this tragedy doesn't turn anybody off to come and study here," said Jared Pruett, 20. "We don't want to be known by this."


Two days after South Korean student Cho Seung-Hui gunned down at least 30 people, many students converged on a sprawling field at the heart of the campus, seeking solace while paying tribute at makeshift memorials to those who had died.

Students, staff and members of the Blacksburg community stood quietly before 32 flower-strewn stones that had been placed in a circle at one edge of the field, in honour of the victims of Monday's two separate shootings.

Ribbons in orange and maroon, the school colours, had been fastened around the trunks of trees surrounding the field.

Meanwhile, the son of famous US evangelist television Billy Graham, along with several other preachers, conducted a prayer service on a section of the field just metres from the building where students were gunned down as they attended classes.

"I know there is evil in this world," said Franklin Graham. "We saw evil on this campus Monday."

Impromptu memorials

Nearby, students wept as they scrawled messages on large boards.

"We stand with you in silence," read one message.

"Dearest Reema," began another, "your beautiful smile, voice and dancing are so fresh in my mind. You will always be missed and never forgotten."

Yet another message paid tribute to G.V. Loganathan, a professor of Indian origin killed in his class.

"Loganathan, rest in peace professor. You will be greatly missed as you were a great professor and a great man. Your heart was always towards your students," it read.

Students said the tributes provided an outlet for their grief, after so many of their classmates and teachers were suddenly struck down.

"This is the worst thing I have experienced since 9/11," said Noah, 19, a first-year student who refused to give his last name, referring to the September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Deise Galan, 19, a student from Brazil, said she had come to the field to express her solidarity with the victims.

"I just want to show my support even though I didn't know any of those who died," she said.

Campus deserted

Meanwhile, the Virginia Tech campus, usually bustling with students going to and from classes, was eerily quiet as the university remained shuttered.

Many students who live on campus returned to their homes to grieve with their families, ahead of plans by the university to reopen Monday.

"A lot of the students who live in the dorms left," said Erin Merricks, 20, who was heading to her family home in Virginia. "It's hard to stay and watch this all week."

Several students said it would be hard to accept that the university, best known for its football team and excellence in engineering, would now be remembered as the site of the worst mass shooting in US history.

"I just hope this tragedy doesn't turn anybody off to come and study here," said Jared Pruett, 20. "We don't want to be known by this."