Massacre of 32 at Virginia Tech shocks alumni in MetroWest


Massacre of 32 at Virginia Tech shocks alumni in MetroWest


By Danielle Williamson/Daily News staff
Tue Apr 17, 2007, 12:07 AM EDT

NO DATA - For Bill Saam, the slaughter yesterday at his alma mater resurrected the shock, sadness and anger he felt when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.

"On a personal level, the feeling I had today was very much the way I felt on 9/11," said Saam, a Northborough resident and 1992 Virginia Tech graduate.

An active member of the college's alumni association, Saam was in touch yesterday with other classmates who struggled to comprehend the news.

"It's very much a tight-knit community," he said. "I hope no one from New England is directly affected by this."

Saam described Blacksburg as a "small, rural area."

"You don't hear about crime down there, never mind shootings," he said.

For Milford native Jim Pyne, a 1993 Virginia Tech graduate, yesterday's murders are a sad reflection on the state of society.

"We have people who fly planes into buildings ... and screwballs who have guns and shouldn't have them," said Pyne, a former professional football player. "It's the society we live in, and it's just despicable."

Pyne, who was an All-American at Virginia Tech and played nine seasons in the NFL, said he watched much of the news yesterday but "couldn't keep watching it. It doesn't seem real."

"I've been in all those buildings. I took classes there," Pyne said. "I feel for the parents of the 33 kids and I'm horrified about what happened and what it's like for them."

Peter Darby of Charlestown, who leads the New England chapter of Virginia Tech's alumni association, said the Boston area has 1,300 alumni, many of whom were in contact with each other yesterday.

"We're stunned just numb," Darby said.

For Waltham native Marcus Ly, the shootings were particularly difficult to comprehend.

"I called a lot of my friends in Blacksburg. They're all OK," said Ly, a Virginia Tech grad student speaking by phone yesterday from Minneapolis. "But it's just a lot of confusion, they don't really know anything more than we do reading the headlines."

A 1995 Waltham High School graduate, Ly finished a graduate school program in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech last winter.

"It's really the equivalent of something like this happening in Weston," said Ly, trying to describe the town of Blacksburg, home to the 2,600-acre Virginia Tech campus. "It's one of the safest cities I've ever lived in and I've lived in a lot of cities."

Natick's Chris Mitchell, a junior at Virginia Tech, never imagined such horror could occur on the campus.

"It's a small town and a university where everybody knows everybody," Mitchell, an economics major, told WCVB-TV. "It's the last place where you'd think something like this would happen."

Newton resident Theodore Fritz recognized the buildings photographers captured throughout the day.

"I'm certainly transfixed here," said Fritz, a 1961 Virginia Tech graduate who watched television reports throughout the day.

A Boston University professor, the killings affected Fritz both as a college educator and a Virginia Tech alumnus.

"I think this probably could have happened anywhere," he said.

Danielle Williamson can be reached at 508-490-7475 or Daily News staff writers Albert Breer and Nicole Haley contributed to this story.


Original Source:Framingham,MA - The MetroWest Daily News
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Danielle Williamson/Daily News staff, “Massacre of 32 at Virginia Tech shocks alumni in MetroWest,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,