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Shooting at Virginia Tech Deadliest in U.S. History

At least 32 people were killed Monday during a shooting rampage in a residence hall and academic building at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va. Two reporters give the latest on the situation.

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    The day began with an emergency call to police just after 7:00 a.m. reported shots fired at a residence hall on the Virginia Tech campus. West Ambler Johnston Hall is a co-ed dormitory that houses 895 students at Virginia Tech, a 135-year-old land grant school in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, some 250 miles from Washington, D.C.

    Two people were killed in the dorm. More than two hours later, and while the campus was supposedly under lockdown, the shooting began again in an engineering building, Norris Hall, on the other side of the sprawling 2,600-acre campus.

    A student witness outside the building, using a cell phone video camera to tape the scene, recorded a hail of gunshots. Late this afternoon, Virginia Tech's President Charles Steger and University Police Chief W.R. Flinchum spoke to reporters.

  • CHARLES STEGER, President, Virginia Tech:

    I want to repeat my horror and disbelief and profound sorrow at the events of today. People from around the world have expressed their shock and their sorrow and endless sadness that has transpired.

    I'm really at a loss for words to explain or to understand the carnage that has visited our campus. I know no other way to speak about this than to tell you what we know. And let me do that now.

    It is now confirmed that we have 31 deaths from the Norris Hall, including the gunman; 15 other victims are being treated at local hospitals in the Roanoke and New River valleys. There are two confirmed deaths from the shooting in Ambler Johnston dormitory, in addition to the 31 at Norris Hall.

    We have not confirmed the identity of the gunman, because he carried no identification on his person. And we are in the process of attempting that identification.

    Norris Hall is a tragic and a sorrowful crime scene, and we are in the process of identifying victims and in the process of notifying next of kin.

  • CHIEF W.R. FLINCHUM, Virginia Tech Police Department:

    The information we had on the first incident led us to make the decision that it was an isolated event to that building, and the decision was made not to cancel classes at that time. We had information from witnesses and the evidence at the scene that led us to believe the shooter was no longer in the building and more than likely off-campus.


    More than likely. Why?


    I'm not going to release that at this time.


    Could you tell us if you believe that the shooter was, in fact, a student here?


    From the first incident? We do not know at this point.


    From either incident.


    We do not know at this point.


    Back in Washington, congressional leaders led moments of silence in memory of the dead. In the House…

    REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), Speaker of the House: And we ask for a moment of silence to be observed in this body. Would we all please rise to observe the moment of silence?


    … and in the Senate.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader: I'll offer my condolences for this unspeakable tragedy to which the majority leader has been referring and join him in calling for a moment of silence.


    President Bush addressed the nation late this afternoon.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community.

    Today, our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts, we lift them up in our prayers, and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering today.


    Classes at Virginia Tech have been canceled through Tuesday, and a convocation ceremony will be held in memory of today's victims.