Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In a Word .... Grotesque.

I was once a college student … sure, it’s been more than a dozen years since graduation, but this tragic incident that happened on the campus of Virginia Tech a few days ago affected me a little. For those of you who haven’t heard (I’m basically speaking to my international friends here), there was a shooting at a college campus in Virginia in which a lone gunman killed more than 30 students including himself, physically injuring more than 20 more students, and probably emotionally and mentally injuring countless others.

For me, the University was a safe place to be … except maybe on weekends of home football games where State College became the third largest city in Pennsylvania … but I digress. College life for me was a time to grow up, learn, and socialize (never in that particular order). It was a safe haven for me to do all of those things. Sure, you would hear of the occasional suicide, and as tragic as that may be, it pales in comparison to what took place at Virginia Tech.

I couldn’t even imagine being a parent of a student attending classes there, hearing about this chaotic situation, and not being able to get in contact with my child. Many experienced this yesterday … some faced the realization that one of their very own was a victim in this grotesque occurrence. This nightmare is one they will unfortunately have difficulty waking from for a long time. I pray for them.

What I have trouble understanding is how somebody can take so many other people’s lives along with his/her own. Taking your own life is one thing (and certainly not acceptable), but dragging thirty others with you along with numerous ones who are directly and/or indirectly affected is beyond evil, and I am having trouble formulating the words to describe the anger and sorrow that I have. My hope, as always, is that we learn something from this.


The Rev said...

I've learned something...

it's that someone always tries to blame someone else for these sort of things, like the ones blaming VT security for not warning the students properly.

I mean come on... unfortunately, we live in a world where if a guy wants to shoot 30 people, he has a better than average chance of pulling it off somewhere. No amount of security in the world can stop him. They can only take him down before he shoots 40 more.

It's damn sad.

Steph said...

This is making huge headlines down here and started up the whole gun debate again.

I did think it deplorable that there was such a long time between his firt bout of shooting and the next. WTF was that about? Why wasn't he stopped after the first incident, and where were the cops the second time?

Dirty Birdie said...

I am thoroughly disgusted by all the major media bullshit. I'm not saying it's not a tragedy, but the fucking Today show with is sappy fucking music and special edition new coverage from the campus with MASSACRE AT VIRGINIA TECH splashed everywhere just makes me want to vomit. This asshole kills innocent people and these fucking media assholes take advantage of it like it's the fucking Oscars.

minijonb said...

from now on, people won't talk about Columbine without mentioning Virgina Tech in the same breath.

and people will write grad thesis papers about the media frenzy.

and gun control goofballs and gun advocate goofballs will, at the end of the day, still be goofballs.

i just feel sad for the families hurt by this tragedy.

Reverse said...

Man I took this hole thing really hard. I forced myself to go to Atlantic City and play poker 18 hours straight. We all morn in our own way.

Los said...

Rev - I hear ya, brother. If he didn't have guns, he would've probably bombed the place ... worth noting.

Steph - I think security originally thought it was a domestic dispute of some sort, and that the killer had left the campus ... it is 2600 acres big (the campus, not the guy).

DB - Of course, it's always about ratings.

Minijonb - I feel for the families as well. You think your kid is in a safe place, and this happens...

Reverse - That is one helluva way to mourn.

Kristin said...

It's the type of thing that makes you want to pack up your family and move to a remote island where you can start up a rum and suntan lotion business.

It's beyond horrible... it's incomprehensible.

Snowelf said...

Rev, was that a South Park moment there? ;)

Today at school, in a classroom right by the front door we were discussing this. Anyone at anytime could walk right in, hold up our class (there is only one door) and shoot all of us if they wanted to. There's no security to stop them. I'm not one to live my life in fear of what if's but it was a little sobering to be talking about that in Econ.

My heart totally goes out to those families.


Jeff said...

My condolences to the families and friends. Horrible tragedy, and probably should have had far fewer casualties.

The shooter is the only bad guy here, no question. May he rot in hell.

Sad that there was only ONE hero: the Holocaust survivor who sacrificed himself to get students out.

The Roanoke paper had an interesting editorial from a VT student in that building lamenting that he couldn't stop the shooter because his VA concealed handgun permit is invalid on campus. Obviously the "Gun-Free School Zone" only applies to law-abiding people.

That said, how many hundreds of students and faculty shrank from conflict? If they were the only passengers on United 93, the terrorists would've flown into either the White House or Congress. It's not an easy thing to do, but our society needs to confront evil.

Also, the campus should've been secured after the first shooting, which was before the first round of classes that morning and 2 hrs before the 2nd shooting. Dorms should have been locked down, and off-campus students (+ faculty and staff) warned to staff off campus.

If "Campus Security" can't secure the campus, then why does it exist?

Dirty Birdie said...

The reason for the "deplorable" two hours is that the girl who was shot - her roommate directed the cops to the girls boyfriend. The cops were questioning the ONLY SUSPECT AT THE TIME when the second shootings occured. No one had any idea that it was Cho, nor did they have ANY INDICATION that it was anything other than a domestic dispute until the second round of shooting began.

Also, the campus should've been secured after the first shooting, which was before the first round of classes that morning and 2 hrs before the 2nd shooting. Dorms should have been locked down, and off-campus students (+ faculty and staff) warned to staff off campus.

Over what the police were led to believe was an isolated incident??!!

You see, it's this sort of judgement with out knowing the facts that irritates me. Perhaps before people start pointing fingers of blame the should make sure they know what they are talking about. Also, unless you are a police officer with direct knowledge of the situation you probably shouldn't be talking smack. They're cops, not psychic superheroes.

Superstar said...

I am really trying hard not to listen or be a part of this media frenzy. It's near imposible.

~shakes head~
Please media people..stop glamorizing the DEATH of people.
REALLY hard to imagine that was your mom/dad/brother sister...then
PLASTER that all over.

Best regards,

Jeff said...

I used to work in campus security. It's a thankless job.

That said, "Police" and "Security" are 2 different functions. VT performed one and actively decided to not perform the other.

Three facts reported by the Houston Chronicle:
1. VT sent a campus-wide email warning at 9:26 am -- 2:10 hrs after the first shootings.
2. VT police interview of the then-suspect had started less than 20 min before the mass murders started.
3. 8 months ago, VT cancelled classes and locked down the campus when an armed criminal was seen near campus.

Two more facts:
4. The VT Leadership Team first met at 8:25 am to discuss the situation.
5. The VT Leadership Team was briefed at 9 am by the unfortunately-named VT Police Chief Flinchum.

This means that:
(a) VT has recent, relevant experience in making these decisions
(b) an armed double-murderer had been immediately on campus
(c) the university president was notified shortly after the first 911 call and chose to convene a committee meeting rather than exercise leadership
(d) that first cmte mtg began over an hour after the first shootings and during the first set of classes
(e) at that first mtg, the cmte decided to not act immediately
(f) police found the then-prime suspect over 1:30 hrs after the first shootings
(g) that person was a suspect based upon the speculation of an indirect witness
(h) by not warning the campus sooner, VT effectively decided that a double-murder suspect was not a threat to others BEFORE FINDING HIM
(i) at 9 am, VT re-evaluated the risk and acted accordingly

To not use 20/20 hindsight, let's ponder only (non-Cho) evidence available before the Norris Hall shootings. How did VT consider an indirectly-identified double-murder suspect a non-threat without first finding him? Wouldn't you assume he's a threat until proven otherwise?

I believe that the more than the first 2 victims would have been killed. But the 30+ death toll should have been prevented.