Monday, April 16, 2007

Developing: Virginia Tech Shooting Incident; 32 Killed

VT flag at half mast - via Instapundit

Keep scrolling for updates and to see how the situation developed as news reports came out.

One person has been killed and one wounded in a shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, a state government official tells The Associated Press.
This is a developing story and will update as information becomes available.

Classes have been canceled today at Virginia Tech and the hunt continues for the gunman.
A gunman was "loose on the campus" the state university said on its Web site. The advisory said a shooting had occurred at a residence hall and that students should stay in their homes away from windows.

"There's just a lot of commotion. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on," said student Jason Anthony Smith, 19, who lives in the building where shooting took place.

The shooting was reported at West Ambler Johnston Hall.
The latest reports indicate that there might have been multiple shootings and seven to eight casualties. More here.

17 injured in the shooting incident. No word on whether the assailant(s) have been taken into custody or not. From the report, it would appear that there were at least two assailants as the shootings began at opposite ends of the campus.

Multiple fatalities are being reported, and there is some confusion as to whether the same assailant may have managed to get free of the lockdown to resume the shooting rampage. In fact, there's an unconfirmed report that 20 people were killed in the attack at the Blacksburg campus. I hope that someone got those numbers wrong and confused casualties with fatalities - as there were reports of 17 injured in the shooting spree.

WDBJ in Roanoke, VA is reporting that VA Tech officials have confirmed 20 people were killed and that an assailant was taken into custody. So far, that appears to be the source of the story.

Make that 22. My thoughts and prayers goes out to the VA Tech community. The VA Tech website is getting hammered by people trying to get information. For more information, see here.

The number of people murdered appears to be at least 20, with at least 20 others wounded. The assailant was apparently killed according to the Fox News reports.

The death toll from this incident continues to climb. Police report that there was a single assailant who was killed by police, though that may not be clear either. There is sketchy information as to the assailant's identity or appearance, though some suggest he may have been Asian and wearing a vest that had multiple clips of ammunition.

Since the reports indicate that there was a single assailant and police are conducting a search for a second assailant as a matter of routine, one has to wonder how if there was a single gunman that he managed to get across campus to continue his murderous rampage despite a lockdown and police swarming the campus.

Hot Air has more, including a photo of students being carried out of one of the campus buildings by police.

ABC News is reporting that at least 28 people were murdered, plus the shooter. Why is ABC News conflating the death toll of those murdered with the shooter? One caused all the death and misery and the others were nothing more than innocent victims. There was also several bomb threats called in last week. No word on whether these are related incidents. However, the fact that the shootings appear to have occurred in two distinct locations across the campus has not been adequately explained:
Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said that one person was killed in the first shooting, which occurred just after 7 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a large dormitory. Flinchum said that at least 20 more people were killed at Norris Hall, an academic building.

The gunman, whose identity has not been released, is among the dead. Flinchum wouldn't say whether the shooter had killed himself.

ABC News has confirmed that there were two separate bomb threats last week at Virginia Tech that targeted engineering buildings. The first was directed at Torgersen Hall, while the second was directed at multiple engineering buildings. Students and staff were evacuated, and the university had offered a $5,000 reward for information into the threats.
Virginia Senator Jim Webb has released a statement on the massacre at Virginia Tech. President Bush was shocked and horrified by the attack.

There are additional reports suggesting that the death toll is as high as 32.

The VA Tech shootings is now the deadliest mass shooting at a school in the nation's history. 31 people are confirmed murdered.

MSNBC has this curious report, which headlines the higher death toll, but the actual story carries a lower death toll while providing some details on the suspected killer:
Authorities said the gunman was dead after he shot nearly 50 people at two locations on campus. Twenty-one were confirmed dead, NBC News reported. At least 28 others were injured, at least four of whom were in critical condition, NBC affiliate WSLS-TV in nearby Roanoke reported, quoting local hospital officials.

The name of the gunman, whom witnesses described as a young Asian man wearing a maroon cap and a black leather jacket, was not released. It was not immediately clear whether he shot himself or was killed by police.

The man did not appear to be shooting at random, NBC News’ Pete Williams reported, quoting federal law enforcement officials. He appeared to have specifically targeted the two locations, a co-ed dormitory and a classroom in an engineering building.

Officials told Williams that they were investigating reports that the gunman may have chained the doors of the classroom closed so his victims could not escape.
Given the updates of various news stories, the numbers will continue to fluctuate for some time.

Thinking on the Margin has been liveblogging this developing situation from the VA Tech campus. He provides a map of the campus, though not the distance involved to traverse from the dorm to the engineering building.

The NYT is reporting that the identification of the gunman is going to prove difficult because of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot to the head and a lack of identification on the body.
The shootings started early in the morning and as they unfolded, many of the details emerged from witnesses who recorded images on their cellphones or described fellow students jumping out of campus building windows. The university has more than 25,000 full-time students on a campus that is spread out over 2,600 acres.

The identification of the gunman was proving difficult because the suspected shooter did not have identification among his effects and was further complicated because of the severity of an apparently self-inflicted wound to the head, according to a federal law enforcement official. He said investigators were trying to trace purchase records for two handguns found near the body.
Other reports indicate that a 9-mm handgun and a 22-caliber gun were recovered.

An interview of one student injured in the gunfire.

Pajamas Media has running updates.

It was a lone gunman with two handguns who caused all the carnage. He is described as an Asian who died from a self-inflicted gunshot. Still no identification or motive.

Another presser was held by the VA Tech police and the VA Tech president a short time ago. They're saying that they still have a person of interest that is not in contact with law enforcement at this time. They have a preliminary identification of the shooter at the Norris Hall shooting. Two people were killed in the dorm, and it was first treated as a domestic dispute. While the Administration was discussing the situation at the dorm, the reports of the shooting at the Norris Hall site started to come in. Police arrived on scene and found the doors barricaded and shooting occurring. It was after the doors were breached by police and reached the second floor that the shots ended - the gunman had killed himself, but not before murdering 30 other people.

There are serious questions about how the school administration handled the reports of the first shootings and whether they did enough to inform the student body that there was a developing situation.

ABC News also wonders whether high capacity ammo clips were to blame for the shooting. What isn't asked is whether the ban on firearms possession on campus may have also played a role. The sad fact is that people who have bad intentions will disregard whatever laws are on the books and obtain illegal weapons or equipment to carry out their deadly intentions.

Others weighing in on the crisis at Virginia Tech: Patterico, Michelle Malkin, Rick Moran, AJ Strata, Ace of Spades, Sister Toldjah, and Outside the Beltway.

Even though I linked to Malkin above, please take note of the email she reprinted from a student who was in Norris when the shootings occurred.

Dan Riehl has been taking a pulse of the Virginia Tech online community and they're not happy with the media's coverage and savaging of university officials for not instituting a lock down or taking other steps to secure the campus after the first incident. There's a lot of raw emotion there.

The AP report has more eyewitness detail and the university's response as the crisis was unfolding. There will be memorial services all throughout the week in Blacksburg and surrounding towns.

There are some reports surfacing that the shooter may have been a Chinese man. That's still unconfirmed and law enforcement isn't exactly tripping over itself to release the identification of the shooter.

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