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Mom: My son was in the room when Cho killed himself

Story Highlights

• Mother of Virginia Tech student tells how son was inches away from killer
• Colin Goddard survived wounds in leg, shoulder, buttocks
• He played dead, saw Cho standing next to him, then heard final gunshots
• University to honor killed students with posthumous degrees
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BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- Colin Goddard was mere inches from killer Cho Seung-Hui during Monday's massacre, and he heard the gunman end his own life after killing at least 30 people, Goddard's mother said.

After bullets had been fired all around him inside a classroom at Norris Hall, Goddard, a 21-year-old international studies major, played dead as the killer stood over him, said his mother, Ann Goddard. She told her wounded son's story Wednesday as he underwent surgery.

Goddard's ordeal began during French class, when he and fellow students first heard gunfire coming from a hallway, his mother said. (Watch Goddard's mother describe how her son was "scared to death" Video)

Professor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak told her students to dial 911, just seconds before Cho entered the room and sprayed bullets, wounding Colin in the leg. Cho "went first through one row of desks and started shooting just randomly," Ann Goddard said.

Cho then left the classroom, she said, and returned minutes later.

Colin lay on the classroom floor, playing dead. He "turned his head and actually saw the shooter's shoes come right up next to his body," Ann Goddard said. "The shooter was standing right next to him."

Her son was "absolutely scared to death," she said. "He kept his wits about him, but he was scared to death."

The gunman again shot Colin, hitting him in the shoulder and buttocks. Then he walked to the front of the classroom, she said.

Two gunshots were followed by silence.

Police broke that silence as they stormed the room, shouting, "shooter down! black tag!" Goddard said, which apparently are code words indicating deaths at the scene.

Police checked bodies throughout the classroom, she said. Couture-Nowak did not survive.

As surgeons worked to heal her son, Goddard said she didn't want the ordeal to become "the defining moment in my son's life."

Instead, she wants his defining moment "to be something positive, some great celebration of his life."

Colin, whose surgery was successful, was among the nine wounded who remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon.

Three victims of Monday's campus shooting spree were discharged Thursday.

One patient discharged had been recovering at Lewis-Gale Medical Center in nearby Salem, Virginia, a hospital official told CNN. There are no more shooting victims at that hospital.

Two other patients were discharged from Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, leaving six there -- three men and three women, all listed as "stable," according to hospital CEO Scott Hill.

"I can't speak enough to the strength of these students," Hill said. "They're really working hard to recover."

Two patients who suffered gunshot wounds were listed in good condition Thursday at New River Valley Hospital near Radford, officials told CNN.

At Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, one patient remained in serious condition with gunshot wounds. A 10th hospitalized victim who had been treated at Roanoke was transferred Wednesday to another hospital, spokesman Eric Earnhart said.

He declined to identify the hospital, citing a request for confidentiality from the patient's family.

Slain students to receive degrees

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's provost announced Thursday that the university will award the students killed in Monday's rampage with posthumous degrees.

"The families are very happy about this, and we are actually going to award those degrees during the regular commencement exercises that the students would have participated in with their friends," said Mark McNamee, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The university's scheduled commencement date is May 11.

McNamee also said university officials are working to provide current students choices about how they wish to complete the semester.

"We're going to encourage them strongly to continue in their classes, to get as much out of the learning process as they possibly can, but also to do it in the context of what they're capable of handling under the current circumstances," he said.

One possibility is that students could take a grade for the work they've done so far in class and not complete the semester.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.

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Virginia Tech student Colin Goddard, seen in a family photo, was inches away from the gunman and heard him take his own life.




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