Posted by: L | April 24, 2007

More on V-Tech response and crime-scene details

This from an upcoming Newsweek report (4/30) posted online gives some insight into how the university administration operates:

“Virginia Tech’s president, Charles Steger, had been through campus emergencies before. Early last fall, a prison convict had escaped near the university’s sprawling, 2,600-acre campus in rural Virginia, and gunned down a hospital guard and a sheriff’s deputy. Steger had ordered some students to evacuate their classroom building. But as he discussed what to do this time around with other top university officials, he recalled having some second thoughts about that earlier decision. What if an evacuation meant sending the students right into the cross hairs of the shooter? Maybe it was better to keep them where they were and not arouse panic.

(LR: I will go back and find Steger’s earlier excuse about why he did not shut down the campus – which was that it was too large, almost like a town. He didn’t say anything about sending people running into the shooter earlier.

No explanation why the PA system was not used either or a radio announcement made.)

As Steger and his lieutenants debated in the University Board Room in Burress Hall at around 9:45 a.m., a police report came in: there had been another shooting. Steger thought he heard something that sounded like gunshots. He looked up, he recalled to NEWSWEEK. He wondered if the noise was coming from a nearby construction site. Then he noticed police running toward Norris Hall. Steger ordered security to lock the doors to the president’s office. “I thought it could be a target,” he says.

LR: Yes – they had time to do that. No comment needed I think. Steger refused to step down despite requests.
Here’s more. As you can see, they don’t mention anything about student being sent into the arms of the shooter:

“Steger emphasized that the university closed off the dorm after the first attack and decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means to notify 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. ”

Let’ see that the students thought of that:

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 read: “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.

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 read: “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.

*************

And then some details I missed about the crime scene:

The gunman found dead yesterday by authorities from apparently self-inflicted wounds had been described to MSNBC by an injured student as a college-aged Asian with a maroon hat and black leather jacket.

Authorities found a cellphone at the scene that initially led them to believe the killer was a Virginia Tech student from China.

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