Massacre at Virginia Tech: 29 Confirmed Dead


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Massacre at Virginia Tech: 29 Confirmed Dead
Fatalities Expected to Rise; Suspected Gunman Among the Dead


April 16, 2007‹ - At least 29 people are dead in what may be the biggest mass 
shooting in modern American history -- and the death toll may rise.

Police at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., said that the shootings happened at
a dormitory and a classroom on opposite sides of the university campus.

Law enforcement officials tell ABC News they believe there was a single gunman, 
firing at least two 9mm semi-automatic pistols. They said he may have been 
wearing a bulletproof vest.

It is unknown at this time if the guns had standard or extended clips, which can
fire as many as 30 shots before the gun has to be reloaded.

Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said the first shooting took place 
just after 7 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a large dormitory. At least one 
person was killed there.

Police were investigating the first shooting when more shots were fired at 
Norris Hall, an academic building across campus. At least 20 people are known to
have died there.

It is not clear what happened between the two shootings -- what could have been 
a gap of two hours. The buildings where they happened are about half a mile 
apart, a distance one can walk in about ten minutes, according to Alex Mengel, a
freshman at the school.

At last report, 21 injured students had been admitted to a local hospital.

"The university was struck today with a tragedy of monumental proportions," said
university president Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and horrified 
that this would befall our campus."

ABC News will broadcast President Bush's remarks at 4:15 p.m. EDT, followed by 
the officials' news conference at Virginia Tech. Full coverage tonight on "World
News with Charles Gibson" at 6:30 p.m. ETD and an extended edition of 
"Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. EDT

Eyewitness: '40 or 50 shots'

Engineering student Josh Wargo, a junior at Virginia Tech, said he was sitting 
in class when students began to hear "loud banging noises" followed by 
screaming. He said many students panicked. Some began to jump out of a window 
two stories above ground level.

"We heard almost 40 or 50 shots," Wargo told ABC News. "They were going on from 
the time we heard them and jumped out the window until almost two minutes 

"When I landed, I was in a daze, standing outside of the building," Wargo said. 
"Then I heard shots going through glass -- that's when it hit me that I had to 
get out of there.

"One of my friends called me to make sure that everyone is OK, I'm told that 
they're in stable condition, but some of them got shot," Wargo said. "They told 
me my prof was shot in the face and didn't make it but we're not sure," he 

The number of dead is almost twice as high as the previous record for a mass 
shooting on an American college campus. That occurred at the University of Texas
in Austin on Aug. 1, 1966, when a gunman named Charles Whitman opened fire from 
the 28th floor of a campus tower. Whitman killed 16 and injured 31.

Gina Om, another Virginia Tech junior, was at the Montgomery Regional Hospital 
-- one of several hospitals treating the wounded -- to visit a friend who had 
been shot.

"It's kind of surreal right now," Om said. "I've always thought Virginia Tech 
was very safeŠone of the reasons why my mom liked this school."

Shootings Follow Two Bomb Threats

ABC News has confirmed that there were two separate bomb threats last week at 
Virginia Tech.

The first was directed at Torgersen Hall, a classroom and laboratory building, 
while the second was directed at multiple engineering buildings. Students and 
staff were evacuated, and the university had offered a $5,000 reward for 
information into the threats.

"I got the e-mails, but my impression was it was prank or nothing serious," said
Wargo, describing the Blacksburg campus as "pretty peaceful."

The gunman, whose identity has not been released, is among the dead. Flinchum 
would not say whether the shooter had killed himself.

Federal officials told ABC News they did not know what kinds of weapons had been
used, but one senior official at the FBI in Washington said it was believed the 
shooter had at least two handguns.

But there was a lot of conflicting information because, as one agent said, "The 
crime scene is gigantic."

Students Look Online for Information

The campus is closed and classes are canceled for at least today and tomorrow. 
Families trying to find their children have been directed by the university to 
the Inn at Virginia Tech.

But many students were looking online for information about schoolmates. Some of
them established a so-called "wall" at to share what they knew; 
others turned to

"Many of us are all worried about our friends, so lets do this. If you are 
okay!," wrote a person on Facebook who identified himself as Carlos "Mohawk 
Monday" Fernandez. "Please update your status in facebook to say something like 
'i'm okay.'"

The campus web system was quickly overwhelmed by e-mail traffic, and concerned 
online visitors, after news of the shootings broke. Students said they could not
get on Virginia Tech's site for information.

Virginia Tech -- formally known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State 
University --is located in the western end of the state near the borders of West
Virginia and Tennessee. It has more than 28,000 full time students. Its campus, 
which spreads out over 2,600 acres, has more than 100 buildings.

This is the second violent incident to occur at the Virginia Tech campus in the 
last year.

In August, an escaped inmate who allegedly killed a sheriff's deputy and a 
security guard was found hiding in the brush near Virginia Tech's athletic 
fields. While he was missing, students were told to stay in their rooms, and 
classes were canceled on the first day of the school year.

'Utter Shock'

S. Daniel Carter, senior vice president for Security On Campus, Inc. who has 
been studying campus crime for 15 years, said he watched the news at Virginia 
Tech unfold in "utter shock." Carter is based a couple of hours' drive away, in 
Knoxville, Tenn.

"Nothing like this has happened before," he said, adding that the average number
of killings on all American campuses combined has hovered around 20 since the 
Department of Education formally began collecting data in the early 1990s.

While information had not been released about the gunman, Carter said he 
suspected that whoever the shooter was suffered from some deep psychological 
problem and was likely connected to the university campus in some way.

"In the past, in similar cases, it's usually been a psychological issue and not 
just a security issue," Carter said. "One of the people who was killed was an 
older individual, maybe a faculty member. That could be a likely underlying 
factor in this case ‹ someone who has failed."

"It is difficult to comprehend senseless violence on this scale," said 
Virginia's Governor Timothy M. Kaine in a statement. "Our prayers are with the 
families and friends of these victims, and members of the extended Virginia Tech

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Escaping the Matrix website:  
cyberjournal website:             
Community Democracy Framework:
Subscribe cyberjournal list:            •••@••.•••  (send 
blank message)
Posting archives:                      
Moderator:                                         •••@••.•••  (comments