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Monday, April 16, 2007

Ignorance Kills:
Did Virginia Tech Authorities Leave Students at Shooter’s Mercy?
By Nicholas Stix

Early reports on the worst mass shooting in American history – 31 dead, 21 wounded – are that a shooter killed one person in West Ambler Johnston residence hall at 7:15 a.m. One early report was that the dorm shooting was unrelated to the over 50 shootings that began two hours later in Norris Hall, an engineering building, but that highly unlikely report appears to have since been discredited. How many university campuses endure more than one shooter in the same day?

Following the first shooting, university authorities reportedly sent out an email to the campus community that there had been “an unfortunate incident,” but did not inform anyone that there had been a shooting, much less impose a campus-wide lockdown, telling everyone to stay in a safe place, locking the doors and windows, drawing down window blinds, and not proceeding out and about on campus. If the report about the initial e-mail is true, many lives were lost because of the policy that is increasingly the rule regarding heinous crimes, of authorities withholding potentially life-saving information from the public. And it seems highly unlikely that the two sets of shootings were unrelated.

At approximately 9:20 a.m., the university did send out emails telling everyone that the university was in lockdown, but by then, the damage had been done, and the shooter was dead. It is not clear yet whether the shooter killed himself or was killed by security forces or an armed campus community member. The news reports of 32 dead include the shooter himself. (I do not count killers in such counts, since that practice suggests that they too were victims.)

The university had already endured bomb threats on April 2 and 13.

The only report as to the now dead shooter’s identity was a student’s description of him as “an Asian student wearing a vest.” Initial reports that a shooter had been arrested have since been discredited.

Police have so far recovered two 9 mm. pistols the shooter used.

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