Wed, Apr 18, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Virginia gunman was South Korean

NATION IN MOURNING A fourth-year English major was named yesterday as the man who shot 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech before taking his own life


Students sign condolences onto a VT (Virginia Tech) placard on campus on Monday night near where a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, earlier in the day before killing himself. It was the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history.


The gunman in two campus attacks that claimed 33 lives, including his own, at Virginia Tech University was a South Korean citizen and a fourth-year student in the university's English department, school officials said at a press conference yesterday.

Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum identified the gunman as Cho Seung-hui, 23.

Flinchum also said the same gun was used at both shooting sites, but he would not rule out the existence of "accomplices."

However, there was no evidence presented that there was a second gunman involved.

"It's certainly reasonable to assume that Cho was the shooter in both cases,'' but authorities have not made the link for sure, said Colonel Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police.

No motive for the shootings has been given.

Cho was a permanent resident of the US and his identity was confirmed with a positive fingerprint match on the guns used in the rampage and with US immigration materials, ABC News reported on its Web site, without identifying its sources.

He lived on the school campus.

The gunman struck down two people at a dormitory on Monday before killing 30 more people in four different classrooms and in a stairwell of a campus building and finally killing himself with a shot to his head in one of the classrooms.

University president Charles Steger said yesterday that classes had been canceled for the rest of the week. He also announced that the classroom building, Norris Hall, would be closed for the remainder of the semester.

Steger also defended the school's delay in warning students about what became the deadliest shooting rampage in US history.

Some students said their first warning came more than two hours after the first shooting, in an e-mail at 9:26am. By then the second shooting had begun.

"I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action after the first incident," said Billy Bason, 18, who lives on the seventh floor of West Ambler Johnston, the high-rise coed dormitory where the shooting spree began.

Steger said the university was trying to notify students who were already on-campus, not those who were commuting in.

"We warned the students that we thought were immediately impacted," he told CNN. "We felt that confining them to the classroom was how to keep them safest."

He said investigators did not know there was a shooter loose on campus in the interval between the two shootings because the first could have been a murder-suicide.

Two students told NBC TV's Today show they were unaware of the dorm shooting when they reported to a German class where the gunman later opened fire.

Derek O'Dell, his arm in a cast after being shot, described a shooter who fired away in "eerily silence" with "no specific target -- just taking out anybody he could."

After the gunman left the room, students could hear him shooting other people down the hall. O'Dell said he and other students barricaded the door so the shooter couldn't get back in -- though he later tried.

"After he couldn't get the door open he tried shooting it open ... but the gunshots were blunted by the door," O'Dell said.

President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush were planning to attend a 2pm convocation yesterday, and people sought comfort on Monday night at a church service on the campus.

The shooting began about 7:15am on the dorm's fourth floor.

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