Thursday, April 19, 2007
Cho's former roommates react to manifesto
I've stayed in touch with John and Andy, Cho Seung-Hui's former roommate and suitemate, since CNN Correspondent Gary Tuchman interview them on Tuesday. After the images of Cho were released yesterday, I contacted them to see what they thought.

John told me that he was pretty surprised. He told me that hearing his voice and seeing the photos were not the Cho that he knew last school year. He said that the rantings of Cho on the video are what struck him the most. They were eerily similar to what Cho had written on his desk and on the walls of their dorm room.

Andy told me late last night that he couldn't look at the pictures without getting angry. He told me that he was shaking when he saw them for the first time.

During Gary's initial interview on Tuesday, we found out that John and Andy are the ones that informed the university that Cho had suicidal tendencies. As Gary put it on "360" last night, they should be considered heroes.

-- By Kay Jones, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 10:28 AM ET
  25 Comments
I would hope that the news networks will limit the showing of this horrible video, the parents and students do not need to see this time after time. Report it and move on.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy E., Sparrowbush NY : 10:53 AM ET
As people try to assess blame for the horrible incident at VT and are busy blaming university officials, who do bear considerable blame, I wonder why no one has mentioned the parents of Cho.

He did not live in a vacuum for the past years of his life. As a former high school teacher with thrity-three years of expereince, believe me when I say he did not develop his problems overnight. Why is no one asking the tough questions as to how it is they managed, as parents, to abrogate their responsibilies to their child and society?

I feel for them as parents, don't get me wrong, but surely they had to have some clue that their son was less then a model of mental health.

Perhaps, as time goes on, we will come to understand that they did seek help and couseling for him, but as of this point in time no such information has become available, so the tough questions of why they ignored his obvious problems must be asked.

Family must be the first line of defense again societal misfits and predators.

Surely they couldn't have possibly been that oblivious.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Elma, New York : 11:19 AM ET
I wish I were able to say otherwise; however, unfortunately we've seen this before. After the massacre at Columbine, the news broadcasts were filled with the hateful ramblings and delusions of the killers. Much less attention was focused where it really should've been, on the victims and their lives. Many had thought then that society would someday learn to pay proper tribute to the ones who truly deserve to be remembered, rather than a murderer. Hui's actions and his thoughts should only be available to and considered by the various law enforcement agencies and by mental health professionals so we may learn from the painful lesson at Va Tech and potentially prevent other lives from being taken. I find it deplorable and nauseating that the varying news organizations like MSNBC, CNN, and Fox are allowing the people of Virginia and of this nation to be further victimized by focusing on a killer rather than remembering the lost. I understand that this is news, but Hui should not be the story. Remember the innocent, remember the heroism, help bring healing to those whose lives have been forever altered. Make THEM the story, and rise above.
Posted By Anonymous Jill - Tacoma, WA : 11:20 AM ET
As people try to assess blame for the horrible incident at VT and are busy blaming university officials, who do bear considerable blame, I wonder why no one has mentioned the parents of Cho.

He did not live in a vacuum for the past years of his life. As a former high school teacher with thirty-three years of experience, believe me when I say he did not develop his problems over night. Why is no one asking the tough questions as to how it is the parents managed to abrogate their responsibility to their child and society?

I feel for the parents, don't get me wrong, but surely they had to have some clue that their son was less than a model of mental health.

Perhaps, as time goes on, we will come to understand that they did seek help for him, but as of this point in time, no such information has become available, so the tough questions of why they ignored the obvious problems must be asked.

Family, though often the cause of problems, must also be the first line of defense against societal misfits and predators.

Surely, they couldn't possibly have been that oblivious.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Elma, New York : 11:30 AM ET
As people try to assess blame for the horrible incident at VT and are busy blaming university officials, who do bear considerable blame, I wonder why no one has mentioned the parents of Cho.

He did not live in a vacuum for the past years of his life. As a former high school teacher with thirty-three years of experience, believe me when I say he did not develop his problems over night. Why is no one asking the tough questions as to how it is the parents managed to abrogate their responsibility to their child and society?

I feel for the parents, don't get me wrong, but surely they had to have some clue that their son was less than a model of mental health.

Perhaps, as time goes on, we will come to understand that they did seek help for him, but as of this point in time, no such information has become available, so the tough questions of why they ignored the obvious problems must be asked.

Family, though often the cause of problems, must also be the first line of defense against societal misfits and predators.

Surely, they couldn't possibly have been that oblivious.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Elma, New York : 11:30 AM ET
Please CNN, stop showing these pictures and videos. Please. The police have admitted that there was nothing useful to them in the hate-filled, vitriolic vomit Cho spewed. Take the high road. Please. I'm begging you to stop allowing this individual to continue hurting his victims, the devastated classmates, the families who already have to endure the unendurable, and the rest of us who can't stop crying for the unspeakable loss we ALL suffered on Monday.

If you are wondering at what point your network becomes as malicious as the speaker, I’m disappointed to inform you that you past that point.

I will not be watching CNN, or any other network, that continuously assaults us with the malevolent rantings and hate of a murderer. endure
Posted By Anonymous Dee M, Mineola, NY : 11:37 AM ET
Please CNN, stop showing these pictures and videos. Please. The police have admitted that there was nothing useful to them in the hate-filled, vitriolic vomit Cho spewed. Take the high road. Please. I'm begging you to stop allowing this individual to continue hurting his victims, the devastated classmates, the families who already have to endure the unendurable, and the rest of us who can't stop crying for the unspeakable loss we ALL suffered on Monday.

If you are wondering at what point your network becomes as malicious as the speaker, I’m disappointed to inform you that you past that point.

I will not be watching CNN, or any other network, that continuously assaults us with the malevolent rantings and hate of a murderer. endure
Posted By Anonymous Dee M., Mineola, NY : 11:39 AM ET
I feel that airing this awful video is giving this horrible man the attention he wanted even after his death. This also rang true for the killers of Columbine. Please remove these hateful things from the media. Not only is it heartbreaking for all the victims families but in my opinion it is morally wrong. This man deserves no attention, he needs no help (sadly it is too late). Be considerate of all that we affected by this horrible tragedy and let the victims families mourn in peace!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you all!!
Posted By Anonymous Kim Rochester, NY : 11:48 AM ET
The gross amount of adolescent ignorance and immaturity exhibited by Cho is overwhelmingly upsetting. 32 individuals were murdered by a paranoid cretin. It was the most blatantly senseless massacre in contemporary history.
Posted By Anonymous Michael M., Mayfield Heights, OH : 11:49 AM ET
I'm a frequent blogger on this forum. While I was out of town during the VaTech murders, I could have predicted the micro-analyzing and obsessive attention to detail that CNN (and other media outlets) would pay to this story. I find it narcissistic to dwell on interviewing people about their feelings on this. Of course we all hate evil and must fight it. And I find it annoying that, because it's a ratings winnner, CNN is now "investigating" every "angle." And lastly, I find it liberally-biased that you use "pc" terms such as 'gunman' (he's a MURDERDER); 'tragedy' (it's an act of TERRORISM, or at least KILLING SPREE).

I suppose now Cho will be called a 'victim' of something-or-other, instead of an evil killer.

And finally, this isn't about gun control, it's about background checks. A non-citizen shouldn't get a gun and someone who was admitted to a mental institution shouldn't get a gun.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 11:59 AM ET
Maybe the media needs to help find the answers. Current best practices in mental health and higher education obviously weren't enough to stop this tragedy.

As for placing blame on the parents of this killer, I don't buy it. One of my closest friends killed himself a few years ago. I promise. His parents and siblings and friends did everything possible to keep him here. He received the best care humanly possible. It wasn't enough to stop him from taking his life. He was too sick to get better. Our love wasn't enough to keep him alive. He just didn't think he was worth saving. Place the blame on a really sick person who was too ill to get better. Blame a mental health profession that maybe needs more work in figuring out how to help those most in need of help. Two other parents and a sister grieve a son and brother. They lost out in this one, too. And I cannot imagine their pain every time they see him on the air.
Posted By Anonymous Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 12:04 PM ET
What's with the duplicate comments?

Sorry but these boys are hardly "heros" unless your definition is different than everyone elses'. They smirked through the interview and the one boy appeared to be checking with the other to see what it was okay to say. I wonder if these 2 roommates may have tormented the "loner" on occasion but of course they won't reveal that to Gary or the police.

Really is there anything ELSE going on in the world?
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 12:48 PM ET
To Sharon:

We all have been sitting around the office this AM discussing the event and trying to make sense of all of this and we looked at your blog post and it was our sentiments to the tee.

Where was his family you questioned? We have all been reliving my stalker "Jim".

I knew this man for 10 years. He seemed normal at first and then he turned strange. He was a loner client who was so disturbed he would call my office up to 50 times a day, follow me home, to the store, email me up to 50 times per day along with pornography, call my house, send me flowers on Valentine's Day, expensive gifts on my birthday and then leave me expensive diamond rings on my car. He would follow my secretary, my female employees and my male employees. The day my daughter was born, he convinced the nurses that he was my father and he got behind a secured access area in the hospital. My father has been dead for many years.

Here's the key, Sharon, he had a family. They are business owners in the same town I live in. His family are nice, normal people. His son is remarkable and wonderful his daughter-in-law a great human. They couldn't stop him.

His family met with him, doctors met with him, attorneys met with him, the court system met with "Jim" and he just went on and on. I even asked his attorney one day why he represents twisted people. He said they have rights too.

Stalking is about control over a person. I am by no means a hottie with a Barbie doll figure. I am just an average looking wife and mother. It can happen to anyone at any time.

Yes, you can have multiple court orders but it is the enforcement of the orders that is just not there in most cases. These folks are so ill and twisted that fiction become their facts.

How did I finally get rid of "Jim?" He died in his sleep on my birthday nearly one year ago.

What did I do on Tuesday? I finally had the courage to unload a filing cabinet drawer of court orders, cards, evidence and everything. I drove them to the shredding company because to be quite honest with you, I never ever want my employees, in-laws, my mother or my children to know everything about this strange, bizarre and twisted man.

And the diamonds and gold? I took them to the pawn shop and finally sold all of stuff in the filing cabinet. I took the cash and drove it to the domestic violence shelter and handed the Executive Director a pile of money and walked out the door. I didn't say a word.

Why would I post this on a blog?

1. I have compassion in my heart right now not only for the victims but also the killer's family.
It is no one's fault.

2. Because before I got twisted & crazy "Jim" in my life, I never, ever thought this would happen to me.

3. I never told any of my friends or family (except for my husband) so I totally understand the roommate's situation.

4. I wish the media would teach people about stalking and mental health.

5. I wish they would interview people that could provide information to people so that people could see the signs of stalkers and mentally ill people.

6. I wish the media would focus on the needs of mentally ill people. Government funding has been cut on local, state and federal levels and we have millions of mentally ill people in America. In Florida, Gov. Bush closed the state mental health hospital a few year ago. All of these folks are now out in the community.

At this point I humbly and truly feel there is so much more to this issue than seeing Cho's videos over and over again on every network and cable station. The BBC is covering this story in 33 languages on the internet. It is on the front page of Reuters as well.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 1:07 PM ET
Alright, enough already. I am disgusted and disappointed in CNN for having aired repeatedly the photos and videos of the evil soul that created this horror.
Have ANY of the news media given thought to the victims' families? Or the thought that this is EXACTLY what he wanted in the end and the media is giving to him? Just another one of his disgusting actions.
He knew the media would react like this and I am disgusted that you all fell into his trap.
The victims and families have suffered more than enough, take the focus to them and STOP giving Cho exactly what he wanted!!!
Posted By Anonymous Bec Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 1:07 PM ET
The above comments are spot on - there is no excuse for the media replaying the twisted ramblings of this sick man.

Instead of taking the short cut to sensationalism and high ratings, I'd like to ask the news media to take the RIGHT path and not play into the hands of Cho, broadcasting his vitriol at every opportunity. As officials have stated already, there's nothing to be learned from these videos. Why show them if not for cheap ratings?

So here's the challenge - which media outlet will be the first to do the right thing and say "enough"?
Posted By Anonymous Dave - Austin, TX : 1:20 PM ET
I am trying to tone down my internal rant right now, because I do not usually find myself as upset at the mainstream media as I am after viewing the video of the VA Tech killer. So I will simply ask a few questions:

1. Does the media have ANY responsibility to consider the best interest of those who consume their product?

2. When tv and radio broadcasters go to the FCC for renewal of their licenses, we hear that they "serve in the public interest." Is it in the public interest to broadcast these type of rants?

3. One of the so-called benefits of the internet is the loss of the "gate-keeper" function of the mainstream media, as the "democratization of information" allows everyone to have a voice. Have the market pressures upon the media because of this led to the lack of any filters for what is presented? The NY Times famous motto, "All the news that's fit to print" made clear that there was a level of responsibility attached to the privilege of presenting information to the public. Have we lost this, and is the cost worth the benefit?

One final thought. I am very afraid of copycat events here, as we give so much attention to the killer. In watching the videos, I recognized the tone as similar to several students I have worked with over the years.
Posted By Anonymous MS, West Grove, PA : 1:51 PM ET
Hi there and AC: That man gave me the big chills when I heard his comments last night on 360. Reminds me exactly of the killing rampage done by Kimver Gill which happened at Dawson College in Montreal about 6 months ago. Almost same scenario of hatered and killing. Question: Why aren't laws more severe for buying guns in Virginia and what is the minimum age required to buy one and are there questions asked to what's the use for it? Obviously there were signs of him being disturbed, he had it all planned and ready to act, he has been preparing this for a long time, there was so much anger in his eyes and voice...I pray to God for the families who have lost loves ones but also prayers this young man and his family...Thanks!
Posted By Anonymous Josee (Montreal, Canada) : 1:53 PM ET
This almost seems blasphemous to me in a way because I think CNN is the gold standard in journalism, but I think you guys have reduced yourselves to the National Enquirer level. I won't be watching CNN for the rest of the week. I don't want to see that video again.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 4:40 PM ET
Thank you, Renee, for showing compassion for someone who obviously made your life very difficult.

What the general public does not understand about mental ilness is that neuroses are perfectly normal and will affect most of us at one time or another during our lives. Many will go away without treatment. The stigmatism that goes with being considered different in our society causes many people who genuinely need treatment not to seek it.

Psychoses differ significantly from more common neuroses, but can be very difficult to diagnose by the layman. Cho was certainly depressed and sad for years before Monday. The difference is a neurotic person would have committed suicide, a psychotic person committed mass homicide. Many people attempted to help him, his parents, friends, and teachers, but his fear of being different--of being marginalized and ostracized--made him even lonelier and drove him even deeper into his sadness.

Please feel compassion for a young man who had great potential and cried out against a cruel world by taking a lot of other lives with great potential with him. In his view, he could no longer live with his pain and wanted to fight back in some small way as he made his exit. Like the rest of us, he was human.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Raleigh, NC : 4:41 PM ET
Who can't identify with anyone that is upset and distraught by the airing of the tapes and other material sent to NBC by the killer? My heart goes out to every person affected by what happened at V.T.; the world is praying and wishing healing for each and every one of you. At the same time, I truly believe that people need to see the tapes of the killer; we need to know what was behind the curtain of silence. It may be a lead-in to someone who is as mentally perversed as the killer was, and who remains undetected. After seeing what was behind the unimaginable, it makes us think - DO WE KNOW ANYONE THAT BEHAVES IN THAT MANNER? and just as importantly, WHAT SHOULD WE DO or WHAT CAN WE DO to get that person help?

Did I want to see it? NO. Evil that raw is too much for us to wrap our brains around. But I realize that information today - - could save a life tomorrow.

This information is provided to us not in entertainment form, but in educational form for each of us to evaluate and learn from.

Let's recognize that NO ONE could have imagined the rage inside this man's brain; we're not telepathic. Take the information in its intended form and pray that you never encounter someone in your life that warrants its application.
Posted By Anonymous DLN - Bay City, Michigan : 5:10 PM ET
I find myself agreeing with others as they ask for people to stop showing the video. The fear of copycats is out there and extremely valid.

At my college, we spent many classes discussing the tragedy that occurred and in one class, after we ended that discussion and moved on to other things an alarm sound rang out, and everyone tensed up, you could see it, even the professor, and we looked around in a few seconds of absolute terror, but then we realized that it was some computer alarm. We felt kinda foolish but it shows how on edge everyone is right now.
Posted By Anonymous Cora Copelin, Roseburg, OR : 5:32 PM ET
I agree with most of the people on the blog CNN. Please STOP doing what the killer wanted what is attention.

You can keep it accessible to people on the web, but please STOP airing it on TV.

I love to watch the news but when I get home tonight from work I don't want to see this killer's video all night again.
Posted By Anonymous Darren, Atlanta, GA. : 6:11 PM ET
Cho's parents vs. VT officials

Cho's parents should not be the first in line responsible for this sad event as they probably do not know what exactly Cho had done wrong in schools and why he was picked on, laughed at, and pushed around since middle school. Instead, it's obvious that VT university officials were reckless in handling Cho's mental illness. For godsake, he had court's order for his mental illness and warnings from professors as well as roommates and classmates about Cho's odd behaviors. What did the school actually help him? Kicked him out of an English class with an excuse that he intimidated others? C'mon, he's not mentally stable! VT should have informed Cho's parents and expelled him until his doctors said otherwise.
Posted By Anonymous Luke N, Sunnyvale, CA : 6:34 PM ET
In a post Columbine/911 world, we are encouraged to be vigilant, to observe , take note of, and report incidences of hostility, disturbed behavior, and severe depression. To their credit, the students and faculty of Virginia Tech did just that. Beyond that, the system failed miserably. As this country knows all too well, even the most advanced hurricane warning technology is of little use without a viable evacuation plan. The only course of action left is to board the windows, or as in this case, barricade the door…and pray. Apparently, Cho was not psychotic enough for the courts to commit him, his behavior not threatening enough for law enforcement to arrest him, and his background not deviant enough for him to be denied the right to purchase a gun. As distasteful and infuriating as the video of his manifesto is, surely the collective horror experienced from viewing it will insure that we take the necessary steps to correct a faulty system. He has not been given a voice…we have been provided an impetus for change…and change should be the last word.
Posted By Anonymous Lynda, Knoxville, Tennessee : 9:46 AM ET
I think the videos are an opener for everyone. It is now evident a person who never raised his head can rant like this and engage in carnage of this magnitude. But airing once is enough, we got the message, repeating anymore could really hurt many.
Another thing I want to bring to everyone’s notice; the memorial service should have been only for 32, the idea of memorial service for 33 is disgusting. Service to Cho along with the precious 32? What more can be humiliating to the deceased and their families?
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Boston, MA : 12:17 AM ET
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