Monday, April 16, 2007
Tech student: How did shooter get across campus?
At LaGuardia Airport, Virginia Tech freshman Megan Pendergast, 19, was on her cell phone trying to speak to friends on campus. She said she was scared and nervous and couldn't understand how someone so heavily armed could have walked from the first building to Norris Hall.

"He would have to walk past a dining area and dorms," she said.
Posted By Deborah Feyerick, CNN Correspondent: 3:20 PM ET
  27 Comments
There isn't any real protection on college campuses across the nation. It doesn't surprise me something like this could occur.

A horrific event such as this should wake us all up to our vulnerability in this society.

It could happen anywhere, to anyone of us.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:55 PM ET
This is terrifying. How does anyone walk into a public place and open fire? Just a few months ago, a man got into the Mall of Louisiana here in Baton Rouge and I believe shot 1 people. Last summer, as I was leaving the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette, a radio report said there had been a shooting just minutes before. We need more gun control.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 4:00 PM ET
Most every college student on that campus probably uses a backpack to carry books and whatever else (weapons) around. It wouldn't be unusual to see someone with a backpack, hurrying across campus in the morning... you'd just think, "Oh, they're running late for class," and think nothing more of it.

My co-workers and I were watching the coverage of this at lunch today, and someone made the comment that it won't be long before you have to walk through a metal-detector to go into any building.
Posted By Anonymous John, St Louis, MO : 4:11 PM ET
it's ridiculous, this whole thing, as the poster says the distance between Norris and West AJ is really quite far, the press seems to be making it seem much shorter but as a tech student (on leave) who used to live in West AJ, a class in Norris meant a fairly hefty walk. I too don't understand how this could have happened and why the University did not immediately lock down the campus instead urging students to "exercise caution".
Posted By Anonymous Andy Knight, Arlington VA : 4:14 PM ET
Concealing firearms is not a science, this has been shown numerous times. Besides the mass chaos that one would bring upon everyone probably would have no problem blending in with everyone else.

This is a terrible event, but as stated above, it can happen anytime, anywhere.

For me, all the more reason to support concealed weapons laws. I'm not saying that is the complete answer, however I still feel better knowing that I'm prepared for the "unknown"

To all the victims and family of victims of VT, I can safely say, Americas heart is with you.
Posted By Anonymous E. George Louisville, Ky : 4:16 PM ET
It is so weird. My husband is an alumni of Virginia Tech and got his masters degree in the engineering program there. We were just talking about going there for a reunion for his fraternity. I told him I wanted to go there to see the campus. This is definately not what I meant when I said I wanted to see it. This afternoon when I talked to him, he called me back and the first thing he said was, oh my goodness, i took classes there in that building, this is awful!

I go to courses myself to get my degree in molecular biology, and it scares me to think that I could go to class, and possibly never come home to my husband and son because I wanted to further my own education and make a better life for my family.

Our prayers are going out to the families of the victims.
Posted By Anonymous Mellissa Roy- Bowling Green, KY : 4:23 PM ET
This is just terrifying. I was at my daughter's campus yesterday. I went right to her dorm floor. No one asked who I was or asked for ID. I am set to visit my son's campus next week-end. He just called to see if I had heard the news. He and his friends are just freaked about someone coming into their classroom and shooting them
. I will never understand how people can hurt others this way. I am watching CNN and waiting to hear who the shooter was and why on earth he would do something so horrendous. Thanks for letting me vent.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 4:36 PM ET
I am a graduate of the December 2006 class. Most campus' are vulnerable to this type of incident everyday, but a town such as Blacksburg, after being there for 4 1/2 years, its just hard to believe that there was a massacre in a place where much does not go on, other than being a student stressed out with school work. I am lucky that I moved back from there 3 weeks ago. My prayers are with everyone.
Posted By Anonymous Christina C. from Bronx, NY : 4:39 PM ET
This is indeed a very tragic event, but to address why the shooter could make it across campus unnoticed, you have to consider the circumstances. First, the shooter was allegedly carrying two handguns, which are very easily concealed, let alone the fact it was snowing and heavy jackets are considered the norm. The shooter would have drawn no abnormal attention by wearing a heavy jacket walking across campus while concealing the weapons. Secondly, as far as how this could have been prevented, I dont believe it could. No gun control will stop this situation, aside from destroying all firearms in existence. It is just not feasible. The concentration now should be on the families and victims, not on why the shooter was allowed across campus. Once all the details are revealed, then a prevention can be considered. Until then let us all keep the victims, families, and students in our thoughts and prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Matthew Moore, Little Rock, AR : 4:57 PM ET
Two summers ago I visited V. Tech, as it seems to be a promising school to get an MS degree in engineering (and it still is!). I got into another school, which was my first choice. Had I not, I would have been a student at V. Tech, taking engineering classes. I'm shock to hear all these and could only imagine if I were really there. It's a scary thought, and you would never think such a thing could happen to you, even if it's indirectly.

My prayers to everyone at V. Tech.
Posted By Anonymous Danny Gunawan, Alexandria, VA : 5:43 PM ET
I used to think that this was a "right to bear arms" problem, but no, and gun control isn't the answer either. If someone has the means and motive to do this they will.

It's a wake up call.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 5:51 PM ET
Sadly, although law enforcements officials say they had no reason to believe there was further danger at the time of the first incident - they did. First, they had a shooter who was not yet captured, (to assume a simple domestic dispute shows a lack of foresight/basic training.) Secondly, this is a Univ. which has been apparently receiving bomb threats the last two weeks - surely it would have been in the best interest of everyone to error on the side of caution and take these two glaringly obvious danger signs into account - what a different outcome we would have had today.

My heartfelt prayers to all.
Posted By Anonymous Donna Larson, Vancouver, BC : 6:16 PM ET
The campus needs a better way to inform students and others on campus of an emergency. This was quite evident last August during the William Morva incident. The nUniversity sent phone messages to all phones on campus--a process that took 90 minutes. Email only works if someone checks it. Most buildings have a PA system--that only firemen can use.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Sebek, Blacksburg, VA : 6:37 PM ET
I blame Virginia Tech officials. They should have immediatly cancelled classes after the first 2 students were killed. The television and radio stations could have been notified to get the message out. Two murders would have been enough to act quickly. Most campuses, high school or college, would set up grief counseling for even the death of 1 student let alone 2. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out. I would not blame the families of the dead to sue the college.
Let this be a warning to all the colleges across America - it is better to make radical decisions for safety then to ignore dangerous situations.
Posted By Anonymous Chris Ypsilanti Mi : 6:41 PM ET
Unfortunately, I have to wonder how long it is before this sort of thing happens at a corporate campus as well...
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Seattle WA : 7:04 PM ET
The expectation that the university and police should have locked down the entire campus after the first shots and death in West AJ seems unreasonable - the campus has more than 20,000 students, plus the staff. Just up the hill is the research park, so close that you would need to lock it down, too. On top of that, Montgomery County allows its citizens to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons - at least they did when I lived there and worked at VT 5 years ago. This is a tragedy, and authorities will investigate and learn from it.
Posted By Anonymous Cindy, Corvallis, OR : 7:30 PM ET
The campus should have been immediately shut down following the first shooting. Though there may be over 20,000 students enrolled, word of mouth spreads quickly. RAs should have been informed and made to tell their residents as soon as possible.
Not only this, but college students are constantly online—whether it be checking email or Facebook, if every student who knew told one other student to stay in countless lives could have been saved.
Posted By Anonymous Kendra Butters, Quinnipiac University : 9:19 PM ET
Deborah,

There are more questions than answers on my way home from work talk radio was overwhelmed with questions we are all asking , why such a delay in time between the initial killings to the rest of the shootings , could a loud overhead speaker have saved the innocent? the killer was so efficient fast, firing so quickly , concider the 17 ? wounded then 31 dead? with two weapons? tonight I pray for the families

Maritza san jose, ca
Posted By Anonymous Maritza Munoz San Jose, Ca : 11:23 PM ET
First, it is not hard to conceal a weapon. A long weapon can easily be hidden by a long coat or even in baggy pants. Second, the decision to cancel classes and lockdown is not a simple as you it seems. It is easy for people to complain after the fact when all is said and done. The shooter shot two people and then did not attack again for two hours. We don't know the situation at the dorm. If the shooter left behind a gun then it would have appeared to have been a domestic murder/ suicide. Third, gun control has no merit. If the shooter knew that one of his intended victims might have had a gun, would he went through with his plan? If someone in that building had a gun, would so many have died? Police can only respond. It is up to each person to ensure their own safety and each person has a right to defend themself.

There are lots of questions that need to be answered. My heart goes out to those who have lost, those who have witnessed, and all those impacted.
Posted By Anonymous Andrew Schneider, Central New Mexico Community College : 12:23 AM ET
I keep hearing people say that the campus should have been "locked down" or "shut down" after the first shooting. What does this even mean?

As an alumnus of Virginia Tech, I can tell you that this is a huge campus with hundreds of people out wandering back-and-forth across the drillfield all throughout the day.

So, a shooting occurs. You lock down the campus as soon as responders are in place. No one can leave buildings. Fine. Where do the people not in buildings get moved to? The nearest building? Then what? By the time the response is in the shooter is either A) in the original building, B) between building, C) in another building, D) gone. In scenarios A-C you've now contained the shooter to a single building. So the shooter commits his homicides in AJ versus Norris, or in Pritchard (right across the prairie from AJ). I don't see how a "locked down" campus provides any greater security than the situation as it occurred.

It seems to me those calling for this do not understand the dynamics and setup of such a large campus. And it seems all the security consultants brought onto these news shows as talking heads are just peddling their security snake oil against reactionist fear. Circulation of vague information, rumors, and guesses could lead to even greater risks. What advantage would being "alert" in this situation provide? Where do you go when you know there's a shooter but don't know exactly where?
Posted By Anonymous Michael Novi, Brooklyn, NY (VT Class of 1999) : 12:27 AM ET
I think it is rediculous that people are actually trying to place a blame on the university for what has happened. Closing down the university due to the first shooting is like closing down a university because it is near a neighborhood that experienced a shooting. We as Americans need to stop trying to place the blame on someone else and just give our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this event that will forever be remered in the history of this great nation.
Posted By Anonymous Andrew, Topeka, KS : 1:04 AM ET
I don't agree that the students at Virginia Tech died for "nothing". They died because the administration chose to try and minimize the first shooting and refused to do anything about warning everyone on campus. The means to do so were at hand and they were a couple of hours late in using them. How many lives would have been saved by action immediately after the first shooting? It is appalling that the news media has chosen to ignore the fact that the president of the University refused to call for a lockdown because it was "an impractical idea". This remark was made by a counseling priest on campus who was asked why everything wasn't shut down immediately. I wish someone would explore that further - does that mean they were trying to avoid "bad" publicity?

The second item that's being ignored is the report in an interview of another student who was on his way to a TEN A.M. class. He had heard all kinds of stories and rumors from other students and called the University's main office to check it out. They told him there was nothing to worry about, to go ahead and go to his class. So by their refusal to admit to reality, another student was put in harm's way. That is simply reprehensible. The administration should be replaced with people who have the safety and security of the students as their first and foremost goal rather than the avoidance of bad publicity.

People are now talking about "why this happened". The reason is very simple. The insane we have always had with us. A couple of thousand years ago, a man would go berserk and dash into the marketplace and start stabbing innocent people. It would end when a Roman centurion arrived on the scene and put the nutcase to the sword. In the aftermath, people would look at all of the dead and wounded and ask the same question and the same answer would come up: "You can't predict the actions of someone who is deranged".

Fritz Owens
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Posted By Anonymous Fritz Owens Hendersonville, North Carolina : 6:51 AM ET
Why is it that CNN is so focused on placing blame? It's almost as if CNN is wringing its hand, delighting to find someone to point the finger at. 20:20 hindsight is always perfect. We can ask "what can we learn from this?" without trying to make someone other than the shooter responsible.
Posted By Anonymous M Bergman, Mpls, MN : 1:26 PM ET
I am a 2006 graduate of a private catholic college located in northwestern Pennsylvania. As others have stated, it is very easy for anyone to show up on a college campus, blend in with other students, and commit an awful crime. I applaud educators across the country who have taken measures to prevent things such as these in our middle, high, and even elementary schools. However, I think more needs to be done in the college setting. Almost anyone can walk in to any academic building, and even some dormitories. The difficult thing is preventing something like this from happening when the attacker is a fellow student.
Is it possible for campus securities to collect cell phone numbers for all students, faculty, and administration, and send out a computer generated text to all numbers, especially in an emergency? Not everyone has cell phones, but I think this would be the best way to send out a quick message in an emergency, and what to do from there.
My prayers and condolences go out to all friends and family of the victims at Virginia Tech.
Posted By Anonymous Lindsay, Groveland, MA : 1:59 PM ET
I think it's unacceptable that after the first 2 students were shot in the dorm and the killer was still at large that the school didn't have a better emergency plan in place. If the campus is so large that a lock down isn't feisable maybe they need to have another way to communicate to the students. For example Florida's emergency response system for missing children is called a "Amber Alert" in which they post messages on electronic billboards on the highways and on local tv stations. I still think they should have at least attempted to close campus immediately after the first 2 murders.
Posted By Anonymous Susie Hearne, Orlando, FL : 3:51 PM ET
I am saddened with this tragedy.

Thirty lives would have been saved if a "MAY DAY " has been called out to everyone in the campus. As in hospitals, we call it a "cODE BLUE" or some kind of any ALERT CODES (like a CODE STORK if someone has stolen a baby from the nursery)to notify or alert everyone to get away from the campus. It would be hard to reach everyone thru e-mails in this kind of incidence since some people would still be asleep, in bathrooms,or whatsoever...no one checks e-mails every split second and A SECOND COUNTS in between life and death situations.
Posted By Anonymous Klair of Ft.lauderdale,FLorida : 7:43 PM ET
Virginia Tech's "Bloody Monday" Massacre was a senseless tragedy. I am shocked too to see individuals and Broadcasters trying to lay blame on the University, its Police department or anyone other than the shooter himself.

I would like to see some responsible reporting. I would also like to see the camera ZOOM-IN on the next reporter that asks an idiotic question like "what was the victim's thought process as he looked down and saw his leg bleeding" (referring to the victim that utilized a make-shift tourniquet to save his own life). Come on...if you don't have an intelligent question, keep your mouth shut. We want you to REPORT the news, not create it. Don't antagonize or disrespect the victims and their families by creating issues.

Be responsible. Report the facts. Ask intelligent questions. Don’t go to air with stories just for the sake of ratings. These are real people. Real lives were lost!

We have them in our prayers!
Posted By Anonymous Dana--Austin, TX : 9:32 PM ET
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