'I pretended to be dead ... people died on top of me'

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'I pretended to be dead ... people died on top of me'

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<b>Bobbie Johnson and Lee Glendinning
Wednesday April 18, 2007</b>
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059737,00.html">The Guardian</a>

Within hours of news of the Blacksburg shootings, a picture of the terror inflicted by 23-year-old Korean student Cho Seung-hui was being built online through videos, blogs and message boards.
Clay Violand, 20, a student at Virginia Tech, described on iChat, an online messaging service, how he pretended to be dead as his classmates fell on top of him. "I watched my fucking classmates get mauled in front of me and I was the only one who wasn&#39;t shot. I feel crazy. People died on top of me," he told his friend Alana Fragar, who also attends Virginia Tech. "I am the only person who didn&#39;t get shot in my French class in Norris and I have no idea why and I don&#39;t know what to do.

"I pretended to be dead and people got shot in the face ... I keep seeing gross images of blood and gunshots in the face and ... I have no idea why I lived. I didn&#39;t even get blood on me. I don&#39;t get it."

Friends of Emily Hilscher, the first victim of the shootings, had gathered online to create an instant memorial. Using the social networking site Facebook, hugely popular among American college students, friends built a page asking each other to collect their pictures of the 18-year-old from stages of her life.

"We want everybody that joins to post one or more things that made Emily cooler than you," it said. Tributes and messages had poured in from friends, family - and even strangers as far away as Norway.

"It didn&#39;t matter who you were or if she knew you ... she would be your friend in a heartbeat," said one friend. "Emily was so spunky and full of life," said another. "She had such a creative personality, and was always making such fun new things."

Youngsters gathered on the site to post tributes and messages for other victims, such as 18-year-old Reema Samaha. "Reema you were one of the funniest people I know ... We all love you," said one.

Facebook is a mainstay of American college life, and used by around 18 million people. Within a day, more than 120,000 people had joined a discussion group named "A tribute to those who passed at the Virginia Tech Shooting", leaving messages of condolence and confusion.

Many Virginia Tech students spent the day trawling through pages set up by their friends to see if they were safe, or logging on to local news websites just to keep up with events. Planet Blacksburg, a student-run website, was among those which kept updating despite being crashed by the amount of web traffic. Local newspapers such as the Roanoke Times were also overwhelmed by visitors.

Videos shot by students on their mobile phones were broadcast within minutes of events unfolding, while Bryce Carter, 19, chose to document his experiences on his blog. "I heard several faint gunshots from across campus ... snipers on the library," he wrote. "We saw a Swat member hide behind stairs, seemingly expecting a shooter to walk by ... they had no clue where he was, a scary realisation."

One unsavoury side of the internet began to emerge as speculators started offering gruesome website names for sale: sites such as BlacksburgTheMovie.com were registered within hours.

in a day, more than 120,000 people had joined a discussion group named "A tribute to those who passed at the Virginia Tech Shooting", leaving messages of condolence and confusion.<P>Many Virginia Tech students spent the day trawling through pages set up by their friends to see if they were safe, or logging on to local news websites just to keep up with events. Planet Blacksburg, a student-run website, was among those which kept updating despite being crashed by the amount of web traffic. Local newspapers such as the Roanoke Times were also overwhelmed by visitors.<P>Videos shot by students on their mobile phones were broadcast within minutes of events unfolding, while Bryce Carter, 19, chose to document his experiences on his blog. "I heard several faint gunshots from across campus ... snipers on the library," he wrote. "We saw a Swat member hide behind stairs, seemingly expecting a shooter to walk by ... they had no clue where he was, a scary realisation."<P>One unsavoury side of the internet began to emerge as speculators started offering gruesome website names for sale: sites such as BlacksburgTheMovie.com were registered within hours.

<B>On Guardian Unlimited</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/virginiashooting/">Full coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/0,,182056,00.html">Gun violence in the US</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/gun/0,,178412,00.html">Gun violence in Britain</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/0,,759893,00.html">Full US coverage</A><BR><BR><B>Related articles</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059217,00.html">Virginia massacre gunman named</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2059103,00.html">Unofficial list of shooting victims emerges</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2058887,00.html">Massacre on campus</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2059250,00.html">Q&A: US gun laws</A><BR><BR><B>World news guide</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldnewsguide/northamerica/0,,618255,00.html">North American Media</A><BR><BR><B>Media</B><BR><A HREF="http://edition.cnn.com/">CNN</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/">New York Times</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.washingtonpost.com/">Washington Post</A><BR><BR><B>Government</B><BR><A HREF="http://www.state.va.us/cmsportal2/">Virginia state government portal</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.usa.gov/">US government portal</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.whitehouse.gov/">White House</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.senate.gov/">Senate</A><BR><A HREF="http://www.house.gov/">House of Representatives</A>

Copyright Guardian News & Media Ltd 2007.
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Original Source:<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059737,00.html">http://www.guardian.co.uk/usguns/Story/0,,2059737,00.html</a>

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Staff: Bobbie Johnson and Lee Glendinning

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2007-08-12

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Adriana Seagle

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In consideration of the fee of GBP 0.00 ("the Fee") Guardian News & Media Limited ("GNM") grants the Licensee the right to: publish on its website for 10 years.

Contact info: Eve Thompson; permissions.syndication@guardian.co.uk

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Staff: Bobbie Johnson and Lee Glendinning, "&#39;I pretended to be dead ... people died on top of me&#39;," in The April 16 Archive, Item #996, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/996 (accessed July 30, 2014).