Professor Mohammed Hajj says he knew going back inside Norris Hall would be emotional. "What we heard, what we saw, was pretty bad," says Hajj as he talks about being in his office when the gun shots started last Monday, and taking cover as the shooting continued a floor below.
Investigators say as many as 225 shots were fired inside Norris Hall. To the world, Norris Hall is the site of the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history -- a stone building with yellow police tape where terrified students jumped out of windows and where the lives of 30 innocent victims came to a tragic end.
For the Virginia Tech engineering science department, Norris Hall has been home for the past 70 years, a building where thousands of young minds have been educated and where professors like Hajj have spent much of their lives teaching and doing research.
"It means a lot to us," says Hajj.
For a few hours on Thursday, the Virginia state police allowed Hajj and other members of the engineering faculty a few minutes to retrieve materials inside Norris Hall. Each person that went in was escorted by both a member of the Virginia state police and a mental health professional. The second floor, where the killings took place, remained sealed off.
Professor Bill Smith has been at Virginia Tech for more than 50 years. He's retired, but still has a desk on the third floor. He came to retrieve some books. "The locks on all the doors are ripped off, but otherwise it looks the same," says Smith.
Three engineering professors were killed during the massacre: G.V. Loganathan, who professor Hajj describes as "every students' favorite professor;" Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who witnesses say died holding a door closed so his class could jump out of a window; and Kevin Granata, a husband and father of two young children who, according to staff, was considered one of the brightest members of the department.
"Some of the faculty members tell me they don't know if they'll ever be able to go back," says Ishwar Puri, who's head of the engineering science and mechanics department. Puri says most of the people that went back to Norris Hall "broke down."
Hajj says when he went back he was able to keep his composure, until he walked into his office and saw a stack of test papers on his desk. The exam on top had been taken by a graduate student by the name of Juan Ortiz, one of eight engineering students killed. Hajj says that's when he started to cry.
"Suddenly you're looking at the test and you see that he's not there to get his grade anymore, and for no reason," says Hajj.
What happens to Norris Hall is up in the air. A few have suggested it be torn down; others think that for the university to move on it should open up as soon as possible.
"I don't know what will happen," says Hajj. "But I would like to stay in Norris Hall. It means a lot."
--By Ted Rowlands, CNN Correspondent