Police identify Norris Hall shooter as Va. Tech student

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Police identify Norris Hall shooter as Va. Tech student

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Cho attended Northern Va. high school, peers describe him as 'loner'

Maria Tchijov and Thomas Madrecki, Cavalier Daily Senior Writers

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Police identified Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, as the gunman responsible for killing 30 victims Monday in Virginia Tech's Norris Hall. Some who knew him described Cho as "a complete loner" and the author of "disturbing" and "excessively violent" plays.

Cho was found dead among the carnage that spanned four rooms and a nearby stairwell in Norris Hall.

Cho, a native of South Korea, was linked to the murder weapon through a fingerprint contained in immigration documents. Ballistics tests confirmed that one of the two guns found at Norris Hall was also used at the shooting that took place two hours earlier in West Ambler Johnston dormitory. While police said it is likely that the two shootings are related, the investigation is ongoing.

An ongoing investigation

Cho was an English major at the university from Centreville, Va. Peers from Cho's middle school in Centreville said he was quiet, shy and withdrawn.

"He was made fun of a lot by everybody," said Samuel Linton, a homeroom classmate of Cho's during seventh and eighth grade. "He was a complete loner, he never said a word ... he had no interaction with teachers -- he just stared like he wasn't paying attention."

David Gearheart, who also attended middle school with Cho, said he talked to Cho once or twice, but that talking to him was just that -- talking to somebody rather than with somebody.

"He had a lot of crazy writings in his notebook and stuff, how he hated Americans," Gearheart said.

Linton said Cho was once reported to the principal for writing down the names of people he was supposedly planning to kill.

"It was like a hit list," Linton said. "They found one in his locker."

Linton said people "constantly" talked about how Cho might be the type of person that would one day attempt to kill someone.

Officials at a press conference yesterday said they could not comment on allegations that Cho had a previous run-in with law enforcement officers in Blacksburg in 2005.

Authorities executed a search warrant yesterday of Cho's dorm room in Harper Hall and removed mostly documentary evidence, including his writings that were widely characterized as violent by peers and professors.

Stephanie Derry, a senior English student at Virginia Tech, said she knew Cho from a playwriting class. Derry described Cho's plays as "disturbing," but said nobody in the class took them as entirely serious.

"The plays were excessively violent," Derry said. "But you can't really assume that everything written is true or is going to be true."

The Associated Press reported that officials recovered a note in Cho's dorm that lambasted "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans."

Virginia State Police Superintendent Steve Flaherty said, however, there is no evidence of a suicide note.

Flaherty also announced that the handguns used by Cho in the massacre were purchased in accordance with Virginia law in March. Police have not yet determined whether Cho had an accomplice in the shootings.

Officials indicated that a person of interest from the first shooting is cooperating with police. That individual was an acquaintance of the female victim of the first shooting and was stopped by police and questioned by authorities at the time of the second shooting. As of press time, this individual was still considered a "person of interest."

Officials respond

Gov. Tim Kaine extended his condolences to the Virginia Tech community during a televised broadcast last night.

"Our hearts go out to the entire community, Kaine said. "This is the darkest day in the wonderful history of Virginia Tech."

Kaine also said he will commission an independent panel of law enforcement experts in the next 48 hours to examine the administration and law enforcement response to the events leading up to and immediately following Monday morning's shootings. The purview of this examination will include complaints about the university administration's delay in notifying students of danger immediately after the first shooting. That decision has been questioned publicly by some students and members of the media.

Kaine did not answer questions regarding policy changes.

"Before we talk about any policy changes we have to get our best assessment of what occurred," Kaine said.

Kaine added that families of the victims were the number one priority.

"This is not a crusade or something for a political campaign," Kaine said. "It's about comforting families ... and helping this community heal ... For those who want to make this into some kind of crusade I say take that elsewhere."

Officials said yesterday they are not releasing the names of the victims until they have identified all the remains and notified the next of kin. Several media sources, including the student newspaper at Tech, have released preliminary lists of the victims' names.

Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said Virginia Tech will cancel classes for the remainder of the week. Further announcements about classes were expected today. Norris Hall will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

"As you can understand, we are still working to understand this terrible tragedy," Steger said. "It is very difficult for me to express how we feel."

-- Alex Sellinger and Stephanie Kassab contributed to this article

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Original Source: <a href= http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=30192&pid=1583>The Cavalier Daily - April 18, 2007</a>

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Maria Tchijov and Thomas Madrecki

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The Cavalier Daily

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2007-07-31

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Sara Hood

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Meggie Bonner <meggiebonner@gmail.com>

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eng

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Maria Tchijov and Thomas Madrecki, "Police identify Norris Hall shooter as Va. Tech student," in The April 16 Archive, Item #870, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/870 (accessed September 17, 2014).