Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Some dorm residents surprised they heard nothing
As we stood outside Virginia Tech residence hall where two students were killed yesterday, we heard a wide range of stories.

Many of the students related where they were -- some in the shower, others asleep -- when the shooting took place. We didn't talk to anyone who heard the shots. Many were surprised they hadn't. We were told the sounds of laughter from an outside patio and a sand volleyball court often made their way inside. The students couldn't understand why didn't hear something as loud as gunshots in the dorm.

Another student told us she first learned there was a shooting in her building when someone instant messaged her and asked her if she was going to class. "Why not?" she responded, not knowing that two people just had been killed.

Other students told us of their memories of the victims.

Most people we interviewed knew Ryan Clark, one of the victims. Several students talked about his sense of humor and his work as a resident advisor -- an RA -- on the fourth floor. We met one freshman who remembered Clark helping her learn marching band drills. Clark played baritone and was a band officer. After we talked to her, she went to pick up her band uniform so she could wear it to the convocation service this afternoon.

Emily Hilscher was the other victim in the dorm. She was majoring in animal and poultry science. The people who knew her said she and her roommate lived just down the hall from Ryan. He was their RA.

Despite the killings, the dorm appeared far from empty. Many of the students who lived in the residence hall said they spent Monday night in their rooms. One student told us the trip home was too long to make. He wasn't bothered by being in the building. He said the evening was quiet, and most people stayed in.

-- By Aaron Cooper, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 3:54 PM ET
  3 Comments
It's strange how one event can unfold differently to different people. You always think you would sense that something is happening or about to happen, but for some reason everything seems normal. Why wouldn't you hear gunshots when you can hear laughter? Maybe it's what we allow ourselves to hear.

I wish Anderson were here; we aren't used to going through tragedies without his kind voice and understanding heart. He helped us through Katrina, the tsunami, and for some of us the death of Princess Diana and Pope John Paul. His absence makes this event even harder to go through and process.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 4:41 PM ET
Dear Aaron,

Your report reminded me of the lyrics to a John Lennon song that says, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Sadly, how true that was for the students at VA Tech.

My heart goes out to the victims and their familes.

Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 4:42 PM ET
When our nation realized that prohibition would not eradicate the liquor trade, we repealed the laws. Haven’t the anti-gunners realized that no amount of legislation will eradicate evil? It is high time to repeal existing gun laws and allow people to once again defend themselves.

An increased police presence on every college campus will not prevent future tragedies.
More of the same gun bans will not prevent murder and mayhem. But if only ten percent of the student population had been armed, Cho Seung-Hui would never have been allowed to leave the AJ dorm. At the very least, the casualty count would have been one-tenth of what it is.

Why did Cho choose a college campus on which to inflict his indignant and self-righteous vengeance? Guns are banned from most academic campuses, even for self-protection. There would be no one comparably equipped to stand up to him. He wasn’t a very sporting fellow. He trapped his victims and then slaughtered them mercilessly.

The media spends a ridiculous amount of time debating and bemoaning ineffective gun control policies, but has never addressed the fact that gun bans only prevent lawful citizens from defending themselves.

Let’s change tactics on gun control. Instead of prohibiting guns in so many public places, let’s encourage citizens to own and carry handguns in everyday life. Just as we have learned to wear helmets and seatbelts, we can learn to holster a pistol as soon as we leave the house each day. We can train ourselves to be alert, aware, and available to help others at all times.

How many more “anniversaries” must we observe before we understand that the solution is not fewer guns, but more. I would rather carry a gun and not have to use it, than desperately need one and not have it.
Posted By Anonymous DeeDee, Little Rock, AR : 5:52 AM ET
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