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Names of the Victims (and Shooter)

John on April 17, 2007 at 2:20 am

10:10PM: NY Times reports that police were at Radford U interviewing a suspect when the second shooting took place:

According to a search warrant filed by the police, Ms. Hilscher’s roommate had told the police that Mr. Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his town house. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Mr. Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman.

But as they were questioning Mr. Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in, making it clear that they had not contained the threat on campus. Mr. Thornhill was not arrested, although he continues to be an important witness in the case, the police said.

Radford is a smaller college located about 20-25 minutes from Tech. Been there many times. Also, this is odd:

Students were also alarmed that Mr. Cho was taking inappropriate pictures of women under desks, she said.

How does that jibe with Cho’s reportedly moralistic suicide note? Very strange.

9:30PM: The NY Times posts photos and biographies of all the victims who have been identified. [HT: Hugh Hewitt]

3:00PM: That President Steger and the local police are covering their own asses is becoming ever more apparent by the hour:

After leaving the scene of the first shooting, Cho telephoned authorities with a threat, saying there was a bomb at Norris Hall, about half a mile away from Johnston.

Up to now the claim has been that they had no idea where the suspect was or where he might be going. But well before 8AM they had a bomb threat on Norris hall. And a bomb did in fact go off in Norris in the form of Cho Seung-Hui.

So to sum up the situation. Police received the third bomb threat in little over a week but this time the building wasn’t cleared, teachers weren’t even notified. Steger and the police chief picked this moment, in the wake of a double homicide across campus, to relax security precautions? Inexcusable.

If this report is accurate, Steger should be run out of Blacksburg on a rail. No one couldn’t prevent an attack on students by a gun wielding nut, but Steger had ample opportunity and good reason to clear Norris hall and notify teachers and students throughout campus to be on high alert.

Steger failed Va. Tech.

Update 11:30PM: “Ismail Ax” was written on Cho’s arm. What does it mean? Speculations abound. I’m not buying it though. I have a theory, but it’s still half-baked. Once the full note is published I think we’ll have a better idea where he was coming from.

Wow, this kid was angry and it wasn’t just a break-up that made him that way. [HT: HotAir]

Allah also notes that President Steger got a standing-O from the crowd. I’m sorry but Steger’s actions were stupid and reckless. His whining about too many students being on their way rings false. Blacksburg is a small town. Most students, even those off campus are less than a 10 minute drive from classes. [I'm an alum who lived on and off campus.] Had Steger sent out an e-mail notifying students by 7:45 most of the campus would have been talking about it that morning. Word would have spread quickly.

And remember that this incident comes in the wake of two bomb threats, which it seems also trace back to Cho. Steger not only didn’t make the connections, he made sure no one else did. For the critical two hour delay, which was entirely his decision, Steger should be fired.

Update 9:40AM: The killer left a note:

Law enforcement sources have now described the note, which runs several pages, as beginning in the present tense and then shifting to the past tense. It contains rhetoric explaining Cho’s actions and says, “You caused me to do this,” the sources told ABC News.

Yesterday Allahpundit at HotAir asked what the killer was doing between 7:15 and 9:45. I suggested he went home to reload. That seems to be what happened:

Sources tell ABC News that Cho killed two people in a dorm room, returned to his own dorm room where he re-armed and left a “disturbing note,” then went to a classroom building on the other side of campus to continue his rampage.

Update 9:10AM: The killer has been named:

cho1.jpgPolice identified the gunman in the classroom attack as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui (pronounced Choh Suhng-whee). Cho held a green card — meaning he was a legal, permanent U.S. resident — and had been in the United States since 1992, federal officials said. Officials said he graduated from a public high school in Chantilly, Va., in 2003.

He was a senior studying English and by all accounts a “loner.” Police have now stated the obvious, that the two shootings were by the same person, though they still don’t seem to see the connection. Eyewitness reports saying he peeked into classrooms as if looking for someone might suggest an answer, though no clear connection to any of the victims has been made.

I can tell you from experience that most English classes take place in Williams hall, on the opposite side of Burruss (the big central building). So it’s hard to understand why Cho would have picked Norris hall, an Engineering building where he probably had few if any classes, to go on a rampage. But the fact that he chained the doors from the inside suggests that he chose Norris rather than just ended up at there by accident.

I still have questions about the timing of events. Quite a few people have expressed outrage at the two hour delay between the first shooting which was called in at 7:15AM and the first, vague notification of the student body, which happened around 9:20AM. Cho’s rampage in Norris hall began about 15-20 minutes later.

Its entirely possible this was purely a coincidence. It’s also possible there is a connection. One possibility is that the University sent the e-mail at that moment because they had received a report of suspicious activity and became concerned. It’s also possible that Cho — as a student — received the e-mail and was in some way prompted to act by it. I’m not suggesting the administration shouldn’t have acted. They should have sent this e-mail two hours sooner. But the timing does suggest a possible connection.

Finally, President Bush is traveling to Tech to be part of a “convocation” in honor of the victims.

[End update]

Names of the first two victims, who were killed in West AJ, have been released. They are Emily Jane Hilscher of Rappahannock County and Ryan Clark of Georgia. She was a freshman and he was a senior and an RA.

Kevin at Wizbang has a post listing some of the Norris hall victims as well. He also has links to photos of some of them.

Here’s the Chicago Sun Times article which claims the shooter was a 24 year old Chinese man who had been in the country less than a year:

The 24-year-old man arrived in San Francisco on United Airlines on Aug. 7 on a visa issued in Shanghai, the source said. Investigators have not linked him to any terrorist groups, the source said.

Police believe three bomb threats on the campus last week may have been attempts by the man to test the campus’ security response, the source said.

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