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Professor: Shooter's writing dripped with anger

Story Highlights

• Former English department chair pulled Cho Seung-Hui out of class
• Professor tried teaching student one-on-one
• Gun shop owner says Glock 19 was legally purchased 36 days ago
• Police say one of the guns recovered was used in both shooting incidents
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BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- A year and a half before before Cho Seung-Hui went on a deadly shooting spree on the campus of Virginia Tech, a professor was so concerned about his anger that she took him out of another teacher's creative writing class and taught him one-on-one.

The former chairwoman of Virginia Tech's English department, Lucinda Roy, said the anger Cho expressed was palpable if not explicit.

Cho, an English major, never wrote about guns or killing people, she said. But his writing was disturbing enough that she went to police and other university officials to seek help. (Watch the professor tell how her student frightened her Video)

"The threats seemed to be underneath the surface," she said. "They were not explicit, and that was the difficulty the police had."

"My argument was that he seemed so disturbed that we needed to do something about this."

Without a clear threat, nothing could be done, however, and Roy made the decision to instruct him away from other students.

"I just felt I was between a rock and a hard place," she said. "It seemed the only alternative was to send him back to the classroom, and I wouldn't do it."

While teaching Cho one-on-one, Roy said she "made it clear that that kind of writing was unacceptable and he needed to write in another voice."

She also said that she encouraged Cho to go to counseling, and believed that he may have "gotten tired of hearing it" and begun to tell her he had been going when, perhaps, he had not.

Cho was an intelligent student, Roy said, but he left students and professors alike unnerved in his presence.

Police say Cho killed at least 30 people and wounded 17 others before killing himself in Norris Hall, an engineering classroom building, Monday.

According to a search warrant, police found a note in Norris Hall containing a bomb threat directed at engineering buildings on the campus.

During a three-week period before the shootings, the university received two other bomb threat notes, and police are investigating to see if those threats were related to the shooting. (Watch how the note threatens engineering buildings)

It's also believed the 23-year-old student killed two other people earlier that day in a dormitory on campus.

Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said ballistics tests show that one of the two guns recovered at Norris Hall was used at the dorm.

'Twisted, macabre violence'

Ian MacFarlane, who said he had class with Cho, called two plays Cho wrote "very graphic" and "extremely disturbing."

MacFarlane provided a copy of the writings to AOL, where he is an employee. (Read MacFarlane's blog and the two playsexternal link)

"It was like something out of a nightmare," MacFarlane wrote in a blog. "The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of.

"Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter."

Cho paid $571 for a 9 mm Glock 19 pistol just over a month ago, the owner of Roanoke Firearms told CNN Tuesday. He also used a .22-caliber Walther pistol in the attack, police said. (Interactive: The weapons used in the shootings)

John Markell said Cho was very low-key when he purchased the Glock and 50 rounds of ammunition with a credit card in an "unremarkable" purchase.

Cho presented three forms of identification and did not say why he wanted the gun, Markell said. (Watch how quickly these guns can be fired, reloaded Video)

State police conducted an instant background check that probably took about a minute, the store owner said.

Markell said he was shocked when three agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms arrived at his store Monday with the receipt for the weapon.

Shooter's note

Cho did not leave a suicide note, according to Col. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police. (Watch Flaherty describe the scene after the shootings Video)

However, ABC News reported that other law enforcement sources said Cho did leave some kind of note in his dorm room. It contained an explanation of his actions and states, "You caused me to do this," ABC News reported.

It also railed against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans" on campus, according to the Chicago Tribune. (Note indicates Cho was angry at "rich kids")

Authorities are still investigating whether Cho had any accomplices in planning or executing Monday's rampage, Flaherty said.

Cho, a resident alien from South Korea, lived at the university's Harper Hall, Flinchum said.

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations.

Governor not ready to talk gun control

Tuesday, after an emotional convocation service on campus attended by President Bush, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine announced that at the university's request, he was appointing an independent panel to review Monday's tragedy.

"It is a very important thing, and a standard thing, that a thorough after-action review be done, both on the event and the response, so that we can learn all we can about them."

However, Kaine said he wasn't interested in arguments about gun control.

"People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them," Kaine said at a Tuesday evening news conference. (Watch how crime rates affect public support for gun laws Video)

"To those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say: Take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs."

As questions continued to arise about how police reacted to the first shooting at the dorm, university President Charles Steger on Tuesday defended the response, saying police believed it to be "a domestic fight, perhaps a murder-suicide" that was contained to one dorm room.

Police cordoned off the 895-student West Ambler Johnston dorm and all residents were told about the shooting as police looked for witnesses, Steger said.

Authorities were still investigating what they believed was an "isolated incident" when the slaughter started at Norris Hall.

"I don't think anyone could have predicted that another event was going to take place two hours later," Steger said, adding that it would've been difficult to warn every student because most were off campus at the time. (Watch a student's recording of police responding to loud bangs Video)

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• Concerned parents should call the dean of students' office at 540-231-3787.
• Anyone with information about the shootings should call the Virginia Tech Police Department at 540-232-8477.


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