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Virginia Tech probe finds no fault in massacre response

  • Story Highlights
  • Review recommends classroom door locks, communications system overhaul
  • No university or police officials blamed for the way they handled the shootings
  • Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty members before killing himself
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From CNN Producer Eric Fiegel
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An internal review of the actions Virginia Tech took in the hours after student Seung-Hui Cho's April shooting spree makes suggestions to boost security but assigns no blame for the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

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A man pauses Sunday after the dedication of the memorial for the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.

The report was requested by Virginia Tech President Charles Steger. It was released Wednesday and includes reviews of the university's security systems, communications and counseling services that dealt with at-risk students.

It recommends many improvements -- ranging from locks on classroom doors to overhauling the campus communications system -- but doesn't fault any university or police officials for the way they handled the massacre.

Cho killed 32 fellow students and faculty members before killing himself April 16 on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus.

"We at Virginia Tech have been forever changed by the crimes of this severely disturbed young man," Steger said during a news conference Wednesday. Video Watch Steger announce the results »

"He was determined to commit murder, planned the crime meticulously and managed to conceal his homicidal urges from all of law enforcement authorities, and the mental health experts who tried to help him and presumably from his own family," Steger said.

The 23-year-old student had been described as a loner by his roommates, and the violence in his writings had worried his teachers. After Cho expressed suicidal thoughts to a roommate, who then alerted others, Cho was given a psychological evaluation and a judge ordered he be treated.

But that order was not entered into the criminal background database, and Cho was able to buy the two guns he used in the shooting spree.

Many students criticized the university for not giving them sufficient warning after Cho's first two victims were found dead in West Ambler Johnston dormitory.

In the days following the shooting, Steger defended the university's actions, saying that he initially thought the dorm room shooting was "a domestic fight, perhaps a murder-suicide."

"It was characterized by our security people as being contained to that dorm room," he said in April.

The report released Wednesday says there was good cooperation and sound agreements between Virginia Tech and local police. It also says that the campus communications system was "dramatically stressed," but performed adequately during the crisis. The review recommends replacing the entire system.

Other recommendations include a centrally controlled card key system, mass notification techniques within classrooms, a people locator system and more frequent emergency exercises.

One area of concern in the report is the way the university identifies and supports at-risk students. The report says "the system may not be robust enough to provide the kind of analysis that is warranted by more complex, high risk cases."

The committee recommends expanding a student group that works with at-risk students, creating a threat assessment team that would examine the most complex cases and improving communications with external agencies that treat troubled students.

The university's report comes days before a high-profile independent group -- formed by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine -- is scheduled to release its broader investigation.

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Kaine's Virginia Tech Review Panel, which includes former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, is looking at the shooting and police response, as well as the mental health system that failed to identify Cho as a threat and effectively deal with him in the months before the massacre.

School started this week for 28,000 Virginia Tech students. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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