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Author Topic: Virginia Tech Shootings
Samprimary
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quote:
Sorry, Samprimary. You should know by now that immediately after an incident like this, NRA-types begin proclaiming that we need even more fantasizers running around with concealed weapons.
Stop. The only advice I can give you is to stop. You are trying to open up with a salvo of gouges, you're running hot, and it's neither the time nor the place.
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Architraz Warden
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quote:
Originally posted by TheGrimace:
In addition to things that Dag mentioned, consider some of the following:

Well, a fairly certain way this could have been avoided would have been to arrest every single student in the dorm where the first shooting occurred, as well as tracking down any and all who might have exited as well just to be sure. It would likely have averted the tragedy, but lets not think about what sort of outcry doing this would have caused. After all, with our now near-flawless hindsight, we know it would have averted a tragedy.

The point: There are realistic expectations in these sort of scenarios. It does not take long to shoot 50 people in a densely populated classroom building, and you cannot expect the police to have an instant response time. The previously mentioned reasons are more than enough to prove while that is not feasibly possible.

Honestly what shocks me in all this is that a single person with two handguns wasn't subdued, beaten, or killed by a collection of students after the first dozen shots were fired.

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Phanto
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In domino confido. [Frown]
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Kwea
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This affects some of us in a very personal way.

Greywolfe, I am sorry, but as someone who has worked as an EMT, you are dead wrong. I understand why you feel that way, but there are reasons police and EMT's act in specific ways. It may not look like they are moving fast enough, but hurrying with guns in your hands is a good way to get dead, or kill someone else who is near you.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Why were they not immediately on the scene?
Which scene? The one where the shooting occurred in the morning, or the one almost a half mile away where the shooting started with no additional warning?

There are something like 27,000 full-time students on that campus. Here's a map of the campus. Find Ambler Johnston Hall on that map. Now find Norris Hall. Notice all the buildings around their. Even after Norris was positively identified as the scene, notice how big it is. I believe it's at least four stories. It's directly connected to one building, and a short sprint to 4 or 5 others.

The only way for SWAT to be "on the scene" is if they spent every day camping out in front of each building. We still don't know how long they took to get to the second scene - all we know is that some officers weren't running while some shooting was going on.

quote:
If they were, why weren't they doing what greywolfe said needed to be done?
You don't know that they weren't. Once in the building, they need to find the shooter. Have you ever let off a firecracker in a school hallway. Listeners elsewhere can't tell precisely where it's coming from. To do any good at all, the officers need to be able to clear the building - that is, progress through it in such a way as to ensure they haven't missed the shooter. This takes time. It also takes a hell of a lot of courage.
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TheGrimace
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quote:
Originally posted by Architraz Warden:
quote:
Originally posted by TheGrimace:
In addition to things that Dag mentioned, consider some of the following:

Well, a fairly certain way this could have been avoided would have been to arrest every single student in the dorm where the first shooting occurred, as well as tracking down any and all who might have exited as well just to be sure. It would likely have averted the tragedy, but lets not think about what sort of outcry doing this would have caused. After all, with our now near-flawless hindsight, we know it would have averted a tragedy.

Honestly what shocks me in all this is that a single person with two handguns wasn't subdued, beaten, or killed by a collection of students after the first dozen shots were fired.

I agree that the outcry involved should be the last thing on the police's minds, but I also know that it probably is. Especially since accidentally shooting a civilian or the like is the kind of thing that would end an officer's career (somewhat likely).

However, while I agree that such an action at the dorm potentially would have been a good move (and maybe should be an update to their policies) if they were led to believe that the shooter had already left (or if he indeed had at that point) then arresting however many hundreds of people in the dorm would likely just have tied up an excessive amount of the police force that were later needed on the other side of campus...

As for the question of why the students/teachers didn't take him down I agree, but I also understand that most people in a terrifying situation like that are going to freeze up, and if the killing happened over the course of a couple minutes rather than a couple hours it's likely that no one worked up the courage to do anything. I can't judge them for I've never been in a comparable bind.

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graywolfe
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I just don't get it Occasional. I think people imagine I'm blaming the cops. I'm not, I'm blaming the system. The guy didn't "vanish", he was somewhere. Was he easy to find? I don't know if he was or he wasn't. I don't expect superheroes or anything of the like. What I do expect is when someone starts murdering students left and right, some law enforcement official somewhere, will find them, and engage them as soon as possible.

That doesn't seem to be typically what happens in situations like this. Countless times it seems like they drive up, and then try to process information as another poster mentioned they should do. If they did the best they could and it took that long, fine, figure out a way to make the best they can do be faster for the future. 50+ people were shot, I don't see how it's conceivable that that could happen w/o procedures slowing up the police on the scene considering the reports of how the murders at least partially went down.

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Dagonee
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quote:
What I do expect is when someone starts murdering students left and right, some law enforcement official somewhere, will find them, and engage them as soon as possible.
No one has a problem with that expectation. What they have a problem with is your ill-informed belief that they didn't do that here, based in large part on a very poor understanding of what's actually possible in a tactical situation such as this.
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Mr.Intel
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http://youtube.com/watch?v=6HNrBd4kKMg - The infamous cell phone video.

From what the comments say, the gun like noises are the cops trying to break the door down. I'm dubious.

Emotions are really high right now and everyone is scrambling for information that just isn't publicly available. Getting our collective knickers in a twist won't help anyone, least of all the victims' families. Let's give the government entities some time to sort through things and give us a clearer picture. If there were misdeeds because of this, the already forming torrent of reform will be let loose on the local cops.

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graywolfe
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Looks like the administrators are gonna take a massive hit, and probably loads of law suits as well (no lock down). I hope, more than anything, that the survivors, and those grieving can find peace given time, and live good lives. For the rest of us, I hope that they really do a thorough investigation over what went wrong and what went right, and make use of this horrific day to find answers in how to handle such horrific disasters as effectively as humanly possible in the future.
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Papa Janitor
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As with any emotionally charged subject, it seems, we have people stepping over the line. Whether or not you believe this is proper retaliation for someone else's comments, please stop it.

--PJ

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Nighthawk
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr.Intel:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=6HNrBd4kKMg - The infamous cell phone video.

When I first heard that someone recorded it, I literally asked out loud "wonder how long it'll be before it's on YouTube..."

This guy shot 50+ people. Assuming he's even a so-so shot, let's say he fired 75 bullets minimum. With a handgun of the larger clip varieties (such as a Beretta 92, which has 15, plus one in the pipe), he would still need to reload at each gun at least twice, which means he was walking around with four spare clips. And that's if he's a good shot.

By comparison, I believe police officers are lucky to have two clips, and that's not considering a few cops still use six shooters.

This guy must have been a walking army surplus store. I'm impressed how a guy that's carrying a steamer trunk full of ammo can even get across the parking lot without being noticed, especially in a school that size.

Guess we'll have to wait a few days for further details.

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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
This guy must have been a walking army surplus store. I'm impressed how a guy that's carrying a steamer trunk full of ammo can even get across the parking lot without being noticed, especially in a school that size.
Not to mention the chains he reportedly used to close off one of the building's exits.

*

Hm, the police said they believed he had left the campus; it's possible that he actually did leave and return two hours later.

--j_k

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Risuena
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
This guy must have been a walking army surplus store. I'm impressed how a guy that's carrying a steamer trunk full of ammo can even get across the parking lot without being noticed, especially in a school that size.

Considering that it was snowing in Blacksburg this morning with high winds, the guy could have had everything concealed under a heavy coat and/or in a backpack and no one would have noticed - he'd have looked like any college student.

As to the chains, I could be misremembering but I vaguely remember VT using chains to secure outside doors on some buildings. So he might just have used what was already there.

Who knows? I'm sure we'll find out in the coming days.

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Mrs.M
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quote:
By comparison, I believe police officers are lucky to have two clips, and that's not considering a few cops still use six shooters.

FYI, Blacksburg cops all use semi-automatics, mostly Glocks, which have 17 bullets in the extended magazine. I don't know how many extra magazines they carry. Most cops also carry a backup weapon.

quote:
This guy must have been a walking army surplus store. I'm impressed how a guy that's carrying a steamer trunk full of ammo can even get across the parking lot without being noticed, especially in a school that size.
Actually, it's not surprising at all. I use hundreds of rounds when I practice and I carry them in my range bag, which looks like a regular duffel bag. He could have put the mags into a backpack and just blended in. He could also have just carried them in his coat pockets, again without being noticed.

Just to let y'all know, I trained with Roanoke and Botetourt County sheriffs when I lived in Roanoke and I did a lot of trainings with VT students (all of whom have checked in, thank G-d). Kids I taught, kids who go to my shul (and our Roanoke shul), kids of our neighbors and doctors all go to VT. The Virginia academic community is a close-knit one and we know so many professors there. This has been a terrible day for us, personally, though no comparison to the victims and families and students and faculty. When I posted my original comment, I truly did not intend it to start any kind of discussion about gun control. Certainly I've always been open about my views on gun ownership and I do wish that there had been students or faculty carrying firearms that they were trained to use. However, my primary focus is on the victims and their families and the Hokie community.

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stihl1
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My nephew goes to VT. When I heard about this I immediately called my sister. He was fine. But this is what he told her.

Originally, they did not cancel classes or close the school. But he did decide to stay in his dorm and not go to class. He emailed his teacher, who berated him for not coming to class since they weren't cancelled. But he stayed in his dorm. Apparently he lives next to one of the buildings where the shootings happened.

I was relieved to find out he was okay, and went on with my day. Then I came home and found out that one of the people that posts on a local web board for Detroit Sports was one of the 33 killed. He was a great guy, a great Detroit Tigers fan, and I am devistated to find this out. His name was Brian Bluhm. Please pray for him and his family.

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Morbo
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[Frown] [Frown]

I read in a news story that quoted a professor that was in the 2nd building when the shooting started. He said the police were banging down the outside door (it was chained shut on the inside, presumably by the killer) within minutes of the first shots. All of the shootings (in the second incident) and the killer's suicide apparently were done very quickly, perhaps 15-30 minutes.

So according to an eyewitness the police did have a rapid response. Claiming the police weren't "immediately on the scene" is at best premature until more facts come out.

The 2hour gap between incidents is different, IMO. The administration and/or police could have handled things differently. I'm sure decision-makers are blaming themselves, rightly or wrongly, for not doing more to avert this tragedy.

Gun control debaters, pro- and con-, should wait until more facts surface before latching onto this awful event. Even then, they run the risk of looking ghoulishly exploitive and opportunistic, unless they tread very lightly.

edit: the blogger Digby succinctly sums up my views expressed in the above paragraph: Not Today

[ April 17, 2007, 08:07 AM: Message edited by: Morbo ]

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Euripides
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quote:
Originally posted by Morbo:

So according to an eyewitness the police did have a rapid response. Claiming the police weren't "immediately on the scene" is at best premature until more facts come out.

Yep; from what I've read, the police were on the crime scene almost immediately, but treated the first incident as a 'domestic' murder rather than a school shooting.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Looks like the administrators are gonna take a massive hit, and probably loads of law suits as well (no lock down).
What, exactly, would be the cause of action for these suits? For one, they'd have to prove that a lock down was possible - remember, 20,000 people are on that campus - and that it would have actually helped.

Even if they proved that, they'd also have to prove that the decision not to choose a lockdown was so obviously flawed as to amount to an abuse of discretion.

Even then it might not be enough to recover anything - this quite simply might not be a tort.

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Qaz
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Police are under no legal obligation to protect anyone's safety. VT is a government institution so it probably isn't either. OTOH with lawsuits anything can happen.
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BlackBlade
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Right now as it stands I would be disappointed if the families and victims put all their energies towards getting some sort of monetary compensation from the school or the government.

Unless not being psychic is a crime, I think both entities tried their best to handle the situation, there just was no time to intervene.

It will be nice if we continue to get more information.

edit: as an aside, this sentence feels wrong,
"It will be nice to keep getting more information."
Whats wrong with the grammar?

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Morbo
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A split infinitive. Though that's not as verboten as it used to be, so I am going to not object.
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Mr.Intel
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quote:
Originally posted by Qaz:
Police are under no legal obligation to protect anyone's safety. VT is a government institution so it probably isn't either. OTOH with lawsuits anything can happen.

No, but they have a moral and social obligation. If police officers choose to wantonly disregard public safety (I can understand waiting for backup against a gang war or riot) they will be punished. If the government cannot guarantee basic protection from loss of life and property, the government will be replaced. It's the whole reason the US Military is still in Iraq. If Iraq could provide those things for itself, we would have no need to continue our operations there because Iraq would quickly spiral into a failed state (some say it is already). The VT tragedy is an example of a sick person abusing freedom and causing a whole lot of pain. If it is determined that the government did not prevent it when it had the power to, you better believe there's going to be changes. Otherwise, good bye local government!

Cops have an obligation and they are regularly held accountable, not just by law, but by the fact that they have been given the right to use deadly force in the name of the will of the people. If they do so (or don't do so) without the will of the people, their powers will change.

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Dagonee
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I've been reading up on this, and the commentary going on about how irresponsible Tech and the police were is already getting old.

The common theme seems to be that the gunman shot up Norris hall TWO HOURS LATER with no police response. (And yes, the TWO HOURS LATER is usually capitalized.)

The ignorance is quite simply painful.

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Morbo
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Oh, no!!
I just read that the Fred Phelps nutjobs will do their patented crazy act at the funerals. I feel sick.

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Morbo
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Dag's right. Let's not have a rush to judgement. An event this chaotic always spawns false rumours and half-truths. Wait for more facts to come out. edit:before blaming people other than the madman.
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Qaz
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Blessings on the instructor in Norris 204, who stayed behind blocking the door so that students could escape, and paid for it with his life.

Blessings on the others there who did acts of heroism we don't know about yet, and maybe never will.

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MidnightBlue
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In a press conference this morning they said that the reason classes weren't cancelled was that only 9,000 of the students live on campus, and with classes starting at 8 and the first shooting around 7:15 (I think?), many students would have already been on their way.

This makes sense to me. If all of those students didn't have classes to go to, and didn't have dorms to go to, would they have just left? Or would they have all congregated somewhere and provided a larger, denser target? There's no way we'll know.

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Launchywiggin
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Hey everyone from Radford University, which is 15 minutes from Blacksburg and VT. I grew up in Blacksburg and the VT campus and have been in the area for 13 years now. I know like 50 people that go to Tech--my mom works in Blacksburg still. I was in Norris Hall just last month before a Ben Folds concert, and I've spent the night in West AJ with my friends. The mood in this whole area is numb, with complete disbelief. Blacksburg is just about the prettiest mountain town you'd ever see. We have an extremely low crime rate and it really is idyllic. I feel like yesterday's event is going to taint us forever.

I now know 2 people who won't be going back to class. Met them at an engineering party.

Just to clear some things up. When the administration found out about this, the cogs of getting the University going were already running. 15,000 people were already in commute, and all they knew was that two were dead, an RA and a girl in her dorm. They had every reason to believe that it was an isolated incident--no one could have imagined that it would have turned into what it did. There was no reason to believe that anyone else was in danger. To me, closing down the entire campus because of a domestic homicide would seem unnecessary (not to mention a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Even if they should have immediately closed classes, no one knew who did the first shooting. What exactly are the police supposed to be looking for or trying to prevent? The news channels have been trying to spin it and find blame and it makes me sick. I don't think there's any way this could have been prevented and that the VT administration and police did the best jobs they could do.

Blacksburg really is an amazing place, and VT is a great school. This whole thing is so surreal and out of place.

Anyway--thanks for all support from Hatrack. You guys have been a huge part of my life for the past year.

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Morbo
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Launchywiggin, great post.

Qaz, I just read that it was Liviu Librescu, a Romanian/Israeli lecturer who blocked the door so students could jump out of windows to escape. What a brave man!
quote:
"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Librescu's son, Joe Librescu, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."
http://www.sunherald.com/311/story/33521.html
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Puppy
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quote:
"It will be nice to keep getting more information."
Whats wrong with the grammar?

quote:
A split infinitive. Though that's not as verboten as it used to be, so I am going to not object.

Where is the split infinitive? I didn't think that "to getting" was a verb ...
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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Morbo:
Qaz, I just read that it was Liviu Librescu, a Romanian/Israeli lecturer who blocked the door so students could jump out of windows to escape. What a brave man!
quote:
"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Librescu's son, Joe Librescu, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."
http://www.sunherald.com/311/story/33521.html
Oh, my.

Oh, my.

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Morbo
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Hmm, true, my bad. Grammar's not my strong suit.
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Morbo
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I can't take anymore coverage of this horror right now.
But I just found a great website for those interested:
http://www.planetblacksburg.com/
"Planet Blacksburg is a student-run new media organization striving to provide content to the New River Valley and beyond."

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Qaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Morbo:

Qaz, I just read that it was Liviu Librescu, a Romanian/Israeli lecturer who blocked the door so students could jump out of windows to escape. What a brave man!

And a Holocaust survivor.

I'll be thinking warm thoughts to him for time to come.

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Morbo
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Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day also.
http://www.isrealli.org/virginia-tech-tragedy-prof-liviu-librescu-among-the-victims/

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ketchupqueen
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This story about Librescu made me cry this morning. Every time we have these tragedies, we seem to hear something of the best of humanity coming even of the worst of humanity. I think these stories get told not just in memory of the people who so acted, but because such action restores hope in us a little bit. And that's not a bad thing.
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Risuena
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More names and profiles of the victims are coming out. Article from MSNBC
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erosomniac
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I got about halfway through the profiles of the victims and had to stop. I can't take it.
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sndrake
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quote:
I've been reading up on this, and the commentary going on about how irresponsible Tech and the police were is already getting old.

The common theme seems to be that the gunman shot up Norris hall TWO HOURS LATER with no police response. (And yes, the TWO HOURS LATER is usually capitalized.)

The ignorance is quite simply painful.

Dag, the TV coverage last night was horrible. And the theme you mention was quite prominent.

There are probably two factors in this that I see (probably more that I don't as well).

1. The students, faculty and the public is horrified - the people on campus haven't even begun to process the fear and anger. The shooter is dead and there's an unfortunate human tendency to look for a target of those emotions.

2. The 24/7 Cable shows were devoting all their resources to covering this and had little information to actually report. I suspect this played a role in visiting this theme over and over again, since it was something they could at least talk about.

Like everyone else, I'm sickened.

I've followed the discussions and I have to say that Diane and I had the same reactions as Dag and others to the accusations against the administration. The logistics were just plain against any notion of "locking down" the campus. I don't know what they could have done differently, but I would bet that no one is wondering that more than the campus police officers who will live with the visions of the scenes in that building for the rest of their lives.

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sndrake
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I haven't got the stomach to check this out, but AOL claims it has an exclusive. Two plays allegedly written by Cho Seung-Hui.

I don't know if this link works for non-AOL users.

AOL Newsblogger: Cho Seung-Hui's Plays

quote:
AOL News has obtained two plays a classmate says were written by Cho Seung-Hui. Ian MacFarlane, the former classmate and current AOL employee, provided us with the plays. A note from Mr. MacFarlane and links to the works appear below.

Note from MacFarlane and links to plays on the page.
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Dagonee
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I do hope - and expect that they will - do a detailed study to see what might have improved the response. I expect they'll find something - maybe even something significant - that might have improved the situation.

But we can't know any of that yet, and the implications that if the police acted less than perfectly then they acted badly are very harmful to any kind of retrospective examination of an event like this.

The worst part of the criticism is the seeming inability of the pundits to examine the situation based on what was known at the time. It's very possible that they will identify something that would have helped but that the officers on the scene had no way of knowing about.

quote:
I don't know what they could have done differently, but I would bet that no one is wondering that more than the campus police officers who will live with the visions of the scenes in that building for the rest of their lives.
Exactly.
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Risuena
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I agree with everything that both Dag and sndrake have said. Yet I still wind up watching the news and yelling at the talking heads.

I was brought to tears watching the convocation and seeing everyone in Cassell giving Steger a standing ovation and showing their support. I'm glad that the Hokie Nation isn't letting the media influence them to criticize Steger.

I also cried as Nikki Giovanni recited the poem she wrote and as the Let's Go Hokies cheer broke out afterwards. I was particularly moved by the line "We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be." To me, that encapsulates everything great about being a Hokie.

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ketchupqueen
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The link works for me and I'm not an AOL victim--er, user.

I'm not sure I actually want to read the plays, though. I'm going to skim and if it gets bad I'm not going to read it.

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BaoQingTian
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It's bad. I don't have words to describe them though, I'll just warn you off.
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ketchupqueen
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The first one is very disturbing, but I got through it.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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[edit, removed quote because the question was already answered.]

Hm, a scoop from "AOL News," of all places.

If you don't want to read them yourself: the first one is about a kid who is violently angry at Mr. McBeef, the man who married his mother. The kid tells his stepfather off one day and it ends with the stepfather striking and killing the boy.

The second one is about a group of teenagers who sneak into a casino and meet one of their teachers there. A member of the group wins five million dollars (don't know how that works) but the teacher (Mr. Brownstone) has called the casino manager and tells him that the kids stole his winning number. He gets the money; the kids are dragged out.

--j_k

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ketchupqueen
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I think the sense of paranoia and, well, misunderstanding of basic human interactions is the most disturbing part, if these are indeed by the shooter.
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ketchupqueen
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(That and the fact that everything is sexual. Was this young man molested or something? Or does he just have a disturbingly sexual world-view?)
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BaoQingTian
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I guess I'm like Stacy in the comments section. One of the first things I noticed was the quality of writing was subpar for a senior in high school, let alone one about to get a college degree in English.

I'm afraid I didn't really see a point to either of the plays. There was a lot of suggested violence, profanity, and perverse sexuality present, but what came across was the overwhelming anger and unfocused, blind rage of it all.

For you English teachers (or others), is this typical of teenage and young adult writing? Or does something here raise some big warning flags?

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