Monday, April 16, 2007
Tragedy caught on camera

This picture was taken from Tech student Jamal Albarghouti's cell phone.

Virginia Tech graduate student Jamal Albarghouti was on his way to see an adviser when police officers ran past him. The police told him to hit the ground. Albarghouti took cover, then took out his cell phone and captured some of the first images from the scene.

"When I saw the policemen taking their guns out, then I knew that this was serious," Albarghouti says. His dramatic video shows police closing in on Norris Hall. Gunfire can be heard in the background. Albarghouti quickly downloaded his video to his computer and sent it to CNN I-Report. (Watch Albarghouti's video of shots fired on campus)

Within minutes, his video was aired on CNN.

-- By Tyson Wheatley, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 4:12 PM ET
  14 Comments
When I saw the report in September, I was really shocked. I hope the situation has become better since then.

People are bombarded by tons of news every day and easy to forget what happened long ago. I admit I am one of them.

How sweet of you to think of all the people serving in forgotten area and to focus them now.

Thank you so much for reminding us of them and I hope everybody, not only CNN crew but all the people in that country are safe.
Posted By Anonymous Mio, Oita, Japan : 4:31 PM ET
I am deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened on the Virginia Tech campus. What is really shocking is that the campus was not locked down and classes cancelled when the first shooting occurred almost 2 hours earlier. Had they done so, 31 lives would have been spared.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families of this immense tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Elisabeth Larson Monterey, CA : 5:20 PM ET
There are really only 2 questions left remaining:

Is there a security flaw with the campus, or a flaw with the people? You would think someone would've noticed a gunman heavly armed.

And, if no one noticed, then are these criminals getting better at hiding their weapons and intentions?

I wasn't shocked by the gunning itself, but rather, surprised that it's now worse than Columbine. But why? I thought Columbine would've helped prepare for this better...
Posted By Anonymous Daniel Grape, Pittsburgh, PA : 6:17 PM ET
I am a graduate student at Virginia Tech, and I like every other student here am very upset by this tragedy.
While I understand that everyone is concerned and trying to understand how something like this could happen… I do not understand why the media has chosen to place the blame on the Virginia Tech Police, instead of the killer himself. And it made me angry to read that the previous blogger stated that 31 lives would have been spared if we had been notified sooner.
The first incident occurred at 7:30, the police were immediately at the scene and handled the situation how they knew best. We were informed 2 hours later, BEFORE the other events occurred. We were sent emails, the phone tree was activated, and there was a message on the website. The university did their best to inform us. What people don’t understand is that some people were already on their way to classes, and everyone doesn’t check email every 10 seconds. Many people were already on campus. When they had reason to believe that the killer was on campus, they immediately sent another email, locked down campus and made announcements on the emergency weather speakers. You cannot blame Virginia Tech for these 31 deaths... they did the best they could with the information that they had.
I agree that security should be reconsidered, and all campuses should learn how to better protect their students from this event… but right now, I think it is way too early to be so critical. I am more concerned about the people still in the hospital, and I wish the nation and the press would support us and our concerns, instead of making us feel worse by criticizing our school.
Have a moment of silence, pray, be supportive… and please wait to criticize until we know that everyone is okay. And remember that the killer is ultimately at fault, and no one but he can be blamed for this tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah -- Blacksburg Virginia : 6:47 PM ET
I am a Virginia Tech alum and deeply shocked to hear this news. However I think it is time we have strict gun laws in this country. I understand that people could still resort to illegal means of obtaining one if they need to. But if it is made more difficult to get hold of a gun in general, lots of these crimes can be averted. In the absence of a gun, these people will resort to knives and they can be stopped using self defense tactics and the number of causalities will not be as high as 30!! In countries that have strict anti-gun laws you don't see as many attacks in schools as in the US. It is time for us to act.
Posted By Anonymous Ann, San Diego,CA : 6:49 PM ET
I agree with Ann i live in a country with very strict gun laws, and have never heard of this kind of attack.My heart goes out to the family's that lost there loved ones, this is a very sad event, it has sent shock waves all the way to new zealand were i am from we are all thinking of you very unlucky people from Virginia tech aswell as the family's.
Posted By Anonymous Brian,Wellington,New Zealnd : 12:28 AM ET
If there were a few law abiding students in Norris Hall with consealed weapon permits (and allowed to carry guns legally) the damage could have been greatly reduced.

If the campus police and local law enforcement can't provide safety, then WE as US citizens must ensure our own safety.

It is sad, but true. Guns don't kill people- people kill people.
Posted By Anonymous Bert from Pullman WA : 1:54 AM ET
The level of incompetence, of the Blacksburg police department is incorrigible, unconscionable and indefensible. All these apologist need to give up there ridiculous
notion that the police are infallible. Not only was the handling of the first shooting bungled completely under the guise of ridiculous protocol that only lead to gross negligence of assumption . Once the second shooting incident became apparent the complete lack of aggression and overall cluelessness and some what cowardess lead to the horror inside those classrooms. How many photo’s and video have I seen across the news stations showing police running around aimlessly, standing behind there vehicles in the middle of nowhere with there guns drawn to a seemingly invisible perpetrator. Not only that the one diamond piece of footage the cell phone video showing the police directly outside the building wherein you could here the gunshots, the victims screaming in terror, the perpetrator inside killing them like they were fish in a barrel countless shots ringing out all while the police stand out side with there guns only drawn to the wall of a brick face building. One person in three hours of coverage and four 24 hour news networks said what needed to be said a guest on “Scarborough Country” a Mr. Cohen a tactical force training officer for U.S.C. and others , which was, that the only way to stop this from happening was for the police to rush in an neutralize the shooter. So before all you pie in the sky news anchors go on and on about “what we can learn from this” b.s. the simple answer is nothing. It should be asked what wasn’t done to minimize what happened in this very incident.
Posted By Anonymous Eric Graziano Bristol, Ct. : 8:06 AM ET
As a mother of a senior in high school who will be attending college in the fall, my heart goes out to all the students and families from VT, especially those directly involved in yesterday's horror. I cannot imagine the pain felt by everyone there.
But as a middle school teacher, I applaud the maturity of Sarah who wrote her comments from the view point of someone who was there. There is no way to predict all the possible scenarios when school security is planned. Each incident is a learning experience for everyone involved, and a chance to make improvements in security policies.
As Sarah told us, let's remember the families who lost a loved one, the students who lost a friend, the students and faculty who were injured, and the students at VT and all over the world who will be scared when they go to bed tonight. Placing blame will not solve anything. Next week, let's learn from VT and work on a plan to keep all schools safe.
J. Sedgwick, Sevierville, TN
Posted By Anonymous J. Sedgwick, Sevierville, TN : 11:07 AM ET
I agree with Sara they did the best they could!
No matter what the university and police would have done this gunman was going to kill. They did the very best they could with in info. they had.It would not have matter if those student was in a classroom or walking on campus, he was going to finish what he had started 2 hours early. So if there was people walking on campus trying to leave, who to say he wouldn't have started killing then.

Don't be so quick to judge someone actions.

REMEMBER:
YOU CAN HAVE All THE BOOK SMARTS ON THE WORLD, BUT COMMON SENSE GOSE ALONG WAY!
Posted By Anonymous Erica, New Orleans : 11:30 AM ET
The shooter would have blended right in with all the other students. Clearly that is exactly what happened, as for two hours after the first shootings, he was not found or stopped. Apparently there was no witness at the first shootings to even know who to look for. As he left the dorm, with guns concealed in his backpack or coat, and made his way across campus, he would have not attracted any attention whatsoever. Even while police and others were running, even if they announced over a PA system or bull horns "there's a shooter on campus" he would've reacted like everyone else and "run for cover" in the building he was headed to. And continued his shooting spree. How he shot repeatedly and stopped to reload who knows how many times--that's a question I don't get, that no one grabbed him. But again, none of us were there, who knows what was going on.

My heart breaks for these victims, their families, the other VT students, faculty and staff, even the family of the shooter. Sadly we have seen this before--Columbine, Amish schoolhouse, malls, office buildings. There is no way to predict or prevent crazy people from doing crazy things.
Posted By Anonymous Cindi, Roselle NJ : 1:16 PM ET
What happened yesterday was tragic and without a doubt the most horrific shooting in American history. My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the victims of this horrible crime. However, if you look closely towards the end of this video, you can see a bunch of officers crowded around a doorway. It is my belief that the sounds heard are not gunshots, but instead banging from the police trying to break open the chained doors. The police chief said there was no shootout between the gunman and the police, and that he was already dead when they got into the building. Plus, i dont think there would be police just standing around or walking casually if there were actual gunshots going off at the time. I know shots were heard by many at one point, but these are not them. It is still very frightening to know as a college student something like this can happen. Even scarier is the fact that VT is a very secure campus, and that there are many campuses out there (such as mine) that are far less secure. College students everywhere, today we are ALL Hokies. Once again, my thoughts and prayers to the victims of this horrible tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Andrew, Norfolk,VA : 2:44 PM ET
In response to Bert, how many murders are prevented each year by people legally carrying weapons? And, in contrast, how many murders and homicides are committed by people carrying "legal" weapons? The odds of an individual running into someone trying to murder them are exceedingly slim. However, the use of guns to intimidate or harm others is disturbingly prevalent. Giving everyone guns to "protect themselves" is not the answer.
Posted By Anonymous jake, charleston sc : 5:29 PM ET
Virginia Tech's "Bloody Monday" Massacre was a senseless tragedy. I am shocked too to see individuals trying to lay blame on the University, its Police department or anyone other than the shooter himself. Guilt follows the path of the bullet. I think the hardest thing for all of us to accept that that a single individual armed with 2 handguns and a few clips for reloading could create so much devastation and heartache.

From what I have seen and heard, the University utilized every possible method to notify students and teachers that was available at the time. (E-mail, weather / emergency alert horns, individuals). I attended a large University (UT-Austin). It would have been very possible for the same incident to have occurred here. There are many places to navigate and hide between point A and point B. I can not recall many incidents where a shooting of 2 individuals in a domestic setting (dorm room) leads to a massacre in another location. For all initial purposes, the police probably thought they had an isolated incident and that the shooter would flee the scene.

The key now is to HONOR those that perished, were injured or were victimized by this crime by analyzing how the crisis management and response system can be improved. There is always room for improvement. Stop trying to blame institutions, departments, individuals, our country or his and become part of the solution by supporting them as they move forward. The worst thing that could happen now would be for NOTHING to be learned, changed or improved.
Posted By Anonymous Dana--Austin, TX : 9:03 PM ET
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