The university did not send a campuswide alert until the second attack had begun, even though the gunman in the first had not been apprehended. [University president Charles W.] Steger defended the decision not to shut down or evacuate the campus after the first shootings, saying officials had believed the first attack was a self-contained event, which the campus police believed was a "domestic" dispute.
There was much student traffic to and from the Norris Hall area when the school administrators issued that email alert, and few students in transit saw that warning message in time (say, on their handhelds). Many around the 'net are asking if more direct forms of warning — loudspeakers, a school PA system, telephone — in addition to the emails could have saved more lives. Why didn't university security just shut the whole campus down after the first shooting?
Snip from another NYT story:
One student finished the day's assignment and tried to leave, but returned to tell the others that the hall was full of smoke and that there were police officers everywhere. The class decided to go into a room with a lock. Dr. Hendricks, an engineering and mechanics professor on the same floor, barricaded himself in his office, pushing a bookcase in front of the door. Some students on campus took refuge in the library, searching the Web to find out what was happening. No one knew.
"I was crying," Ms. Otey said. "I was worried that the guy with the gun was going to come upstairs too."
The violence began early in the morning in the west wing of Ambler Johnston, the largest dormitory at Virginia Tech, where two people were killed, officials said. But when the first class started two hours later, at 9:05 a.m., many on campus remained unaware of any danger.
"I woke up and I didn't know anything was wrong," said Sarah Ulmer, a freshman who lives in the east wing of the dorm. "I went to my first class and my teacher was talking about how some people weren't coming because there was a gun threat at West A. J. and they were blocking it off. It was like, 'Oh.' "
The school did not notify students by e-mail of the first shootings until 9:26 a.m., said Matt Dixon, who lives in the dorm. Mr. Dixon did not receive the e-mail message until he returned from his 9:05 class. When he left for that class, he said, a resident adviser told him not to use the central stairs, so he left another way. On dry erase boards, advisers had written, "Stay in your rooms," Mr. Dixon said
Xeni Jardin wonders how I would feel about what I am hearing on the American cable news networks. To listen to CNN and MSNBC is to watch the news people stumble through this story.
These cable news people certainly should be aware that there is a copycat effect going on here. They have been reporting on this for ten years now, and can't see the legacy between wall-to-wall coverage and what happens when you elevate Columbine the way the media has.
Specfically today, there is something over-the-top being heard in some of the reports that this shooting today is the "deadliest" in American history. Also, incorrect information is being shared. These newspeople are misreporting on the profiles and the changes in it. Cable news earlier this afternoon misrepresented that this is an American-only problem. During the early evening, I just watched a report on CNN saying that the few historical non-American school shootings have been done by adult non-students.
Link to full text of post.
Mr. Chiang's "wanusmaximus" livejournal ("Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.") and Facebook profile include many photos of heavy weapons, and vanity shots of him posing with quantities of those weapons.
His journal contains much morose LJ prose about obsessive love, movie downloads, and oh, the futility of life.
"i put the cx4 [semiautomatic carbine] on the market cause i got bored with it," he writes in one entry, accompanied by this photo. "personally, i don't find it effective as a efficient manslaughtering tool, which definitely does not fit my needs."
Mr. Chiang is Asian-American, and early reports indicate the VA Tech shooter was, too — which added to many internet accusers' certainty that he was the killer, even though investigators still have not disclosed the name of the actual VA Tech murderer.
Comment fields on Chiang's site soon filled with racist lines like "so u are the asisan that shot up the school. i hate u and your people."
But, news alert: lots of LJs look like Chiang's. Gloomy web poetry and a gun hobby don't prove a dude is a mass murderer. After dozens of "j'accuse!" blog posts linked to his journal like so many pointed fingers, Chiang finally posted an update late last night:
Coming out. I am not the shooter. Through this experience, I have received numerous death threats, slanderous accusations, and my phone is out of charge from the barrage of calls. Local police have been notified of the situation.
My original intention was to wait until I got AdSense on my site and donating all the proceeds to Charity. However, this situation has now spiraled out of control. I am now confirming that I am not the shooter. I will be available for interview by a news agency to clear my name, talk about the experience, and give my opinion on how the situation could have turned out better if other students were allowed to be armed.
I will speak with individuals who are interested in donating to charities resulting from today's events. Please e-mail all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Special thanks to Jake Appelbaum).
Kevin Poulsen at Wired News has also been covering the misidentification story: Link.
Previously on BB:
Reader comment: John Bartley says,
Andrew Falconer says,
"There was much student traffic to and from the Norris Hall area when the school administrators issued that email alert, and few students in transit saw that warning message in time (say, on their handhelds). Many around the 'net are asking if more direct forms of warning — loudspeakers, a school PA system, telephone — in addition to the emails could have saved more lives. Why didn't university security just shut the whole campus down after the first shooting?"
Lots of questions to come on communications and protocols, but it's also important to get the facts right. This morning WGN Radio in Chicago replayed a portion of an interview with a Va. Tech representative who confirmed they DO have a PA system campus-wide, and announcements repeatedly told students to stay in their dorms and/or classrooms after the first shooting occurred. (This system had been implemented after a shooting took place sometime last year, I believe someone mentioned.)
The other thing people need to understand is the physical size of Va. Tech's campus. "Shutting the whole campus down" would be akin to implementing martial law in a small-to-medium sized town. Is that an appropriate response in any community that size for what authorities legitimately believed was initially a domestic disturbance call?
Robert Byrd says,
This site describes a school bombing in 1925 that killed many more than the VA Tech massacre.