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Quick Guide & Transcript: Special Report: Tragedy at Virginia Tech

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(CNN Student News) -- April 17, 2007

Quick Guide

Tragedy at Virginia Tech - Learn about the tragic events that took place Monday at Virginia Tech University.

Student Stories - Hear several students' accounts of the shootings on Virginia Tech's campus.

Dealing with Tragedy - Find out some of the ways in which students can cope with their feelings after a tragedy.

Teachers: Today's show addresses the shootings at Virginia Tech University. Please prescreen this program to determine whether it is appropriate for your students.



CHRISTINA PARK, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're glad to have you with us for this special edition of CNN Student News. I'm Christina Park. Teachers, please preview today's show, which covers Monday's shootings at Virginia Tech University. A shocking tragedy: More than 30 people are dead and dozens more are wounded after an attack on the campus of Virginia Tech University. A moment of silence: The country's leaders offer their support to the Virginia Tech community after Monday's terrible events. And a plan for healing: experts talk about ways people can cope with their feelings after being impacted by a tragedy.

First Up:Tragedy at Virginia Tech

PARK: A tragedy on a college campus leads today's news. Virginia Tech University is reeling after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. At least 30 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in two separate attacks Monday on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus. Virginia Tech's president calls the shootings a tragedy of monumental proportions, and says the university is shocked and horrified. Chris Wheelock has more on the early morning attacks.


CHRIS WHEELOCK, CNN REPORTER: Gunfire reverberating across a university campus in the state of Virginia captured on a cell phone by a student. As panic set in, the campus was placed on lockdown, everyone ordered to stay inside and away from the windows.

CHARLES STEGER, VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT: There were two shootings which occurred on campus. In each case there are fatalities.

WHEELOCK: Police and ambulances poured into the sprawling campus, where there were early fears of not one, but two shooters.

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: The first thing I saw is when the policeman started taking their guns out, and then I knew this was serious.

WHEELOCK: Police now know there was one shooter, two shootings, two hours apart. The first one in a dormitory, the second in a building housing classrooms.

WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF: Some of the victims were shot in a classroom.

REPORTER: Do you believe this is one gunman and that gunman is deceased?

FLINCHUM: At this time we believe it was only one gunman, yes.

REPORTER: And where is that gunman?

FLINCHUM: He is deceased.

LAURA SPAVENTA, VIRGINIA TECH SOPHOMORE: It seems very, very unreal. None of us could comprehend what was going on. I think a lot of us were in shock and denial. Like, it still seems like it's so unreal.

WHEELOCK: Police are now piecing together the brazen acts of a lone gunman, as more than 25,000 students and faculty struggle to cope with the shootings and the aftermath of one of the worst shooting sprees in U.S. history. Chris Wheelock, CNN, Atlanta.


Student Stories

PARK: As you just heard in that report, Monday's attacks happened in a student dorm and a building where classes were in session. Confusion and panic took hold as the sounds of gunfire were heard and reports of the situation were e-mailed to students by the university. Several students gave first-hand accounts of their experiences as the horrific events unfolded.


VOICE OF LAURA SPAVENTA, VIRGINIA TECH SOPHOMORE: I was in Shank's Hall, which is located in the upper portion of campus. And we were having class and all of a sudden we had e-mail saying that like there was a shooting on campus, and then we were updated with it saying that like classes were being canceled and to stay where we were. Right after we got that e-mail we heard five shots on campus and we could hear the emergency speaker system. So, we all got down underneath the desks and moved away from the windows.

MATT WALDRON, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I don't know what was happening. Everybody said there was gunshots that came from the inside. And then, not two minutes later, people came pouring out the door with their hands up, and they were screaming, stuff like that, and I guess two kids had jumped out of the windows and one boy had broken his ankle, and the other, a girl had gotten pretty shaken up

VOICE OF KRISTYN HEISER, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: We were having class as usual and my teacher was lecturing and then there was a pretty big window in our classroom and we saw all of a sudden about -- this was probably around 9:30 -- about six officers run by the building with their guns drawn. We were like, what's going on? Because this definitely is a very quaint town where stuff doesn't really happen. It's pretty boring here. We were all alarmed, but someone got on their laptop and checked the Web site. All the Web site said was that there had been a shooting incident and that it had occurred at that dorm, which is across campus. So, at that point we were all very unnerved. And then someone from the building, I think a professor came by and said they wanted everyone to stay in the building because class was set to let out at about 10:00. We've just been sitting here. I'm literally sitting on the floor of my classroom.

MADISON VAN DUYNE, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: As things escalated, rumors start coming, so we were trying to find as many facts as possible. At the time we were hearing that 20 students had been pronounced dead, and that there were 28 injuries. Obviously we have heard more reports now that that is increasing, unfortunately. So we were just trying to hear the students' aspects that might have been inside the building, and everybody is terrified on campus. it's just been an awful day.


PARK: The U.S. House of Representatives observed a moment of silence Monday to honor those people killed in the attack. President Bush and House Speaker Pelosi offered their support to the Virginia Tech community as it struggles to come to grips with the tragedy.

Spoken Word

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: School should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact if felt in every American classroom and every American community. Today our nation grieves with everyone who has lost someone 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.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is the worst campus shooting in the history of our country. As a Virginia Tech community struggles with the mourning and questioning that is certainly to follow, our continued prayers of this congress are with the students, their families, the faculty and the staff at Virginia Tech.

Dealing with Tragedy

PARK: When you're impacted by a tragedy like Monday's attacks at Virginia Tech, the feelings you experience can be confusing, and it can be hard to come to terms with those emotions. Carl Azuz looks at how people can cope with their feelings after a school shooting.


CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: It makes sense that shootings like this are traumatic for everyone involved: students, teachers and parents. Psychologists say you can expect a variety of responses, and there's no one right way to deal with them:

DR. NADINE KASLOW, EMORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, I think that one of the things you can do is let people talk, let them share their stories, let them talk about what they want, but also sometimes, they're going to want to be distracted, and that's okay too. Appreciate that everybody has a different way of responding. Some people are going to want to know all the details and are going to be obsessed by the news and the information, and other people are going to want to get as much distance as they can. And all of those different ways of coping are normal.

AZUZ: Virginia's governor says it's difficult to comprehend senseless violence on this scale. But Dr. Kaslow points out it is not unusual to want to know what kind of person carries it out.

KASLOW: Everybody wants to know why this happens. And with this situation, we have very little information right now. But people want to know whether or not somebody was particularly angry at that school or that system or somebody there, or whether somebody sort of just went on a rampage. Obviously, people who do this have a very, an impossible time controlling their rage and their anger, and that they don't use the kind of judgment the rest of us do in knowing that this is absolutely wrong. Sometimes people have mental illness problems that do this, but sometimes they do not have mental illness problems when they do this. But they have sort-of personality issues that make them get simply out of control.

AZUZ: But are there warning signs? What can you watch out for, regardless of what kind of campus you're on?

PAUL VIOLLIS, SECURITY ANALYST: Normally, you don't see someone that just walks on to a campus and starts shooting. There are certain signs from a behavioral standpoint that the shooter will in fact display, whether it be telephone calls, verbal threats, e-mail threats, handwritten notes, to indirect threats, to loud outbursts leading up to direct threats before the actual event takes place.

AZUZ: And one thing you can do if you see any of these signs? Tell somebody. The more that teachers or administrators, parents or police know, the better chance there is of preventing violence. Carl Azuz, CNN Atlanta.



PARK: Teachers, if your students want to talk more about the events at Virginia Tech, we've put together some questions that can help guide the discussion. You can find them at And if you'd like to share your students' thoughts, you can send them to us by using the Contact Us link on our home page.


PARK: And that'll bring this edition of CNN Student News to a close. Thanks for watching. I'm Christina Park. More Headline News is on the way.



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