Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Cell phones of dead still rang
It was a tearful, lonely drive for Brian Horne.

The Christiansburg, Virginia, resident was called to the Virginia Tech campus Monday morning as a member of the local volunteer fire and rescue squad. Horne did not see the carnage; he was stationed at a command post on campus.

But as authorities began to comprehend the scope of the disaster, Horne volunteered to take care of a sober task. His family owns a funeral home about 10 miles from the campus, and Horne drove back to collect 36 body bags.

"We knew then there were at least 30 dead and possibly more," Horne told CNN in a brief interview outside the funeral home, where a giant American flag flies at half staff in honor of the victims.

Horne said he has responded to many tragic events in the past, but nothing anywhere comparable to the scope of the campus massacre. "It is difficult to comprehend, but at that moment I knew I could assist with what we needed to do," he said.

Horne would not speak on camera out of respect for the victims. He also said he did not want to overstate his role in the rescue operation, saying many friends had it much worse. He recounted their stories of helping collect and count the bodies, even as the victims' phones and PDAs rang and vibrated.

-- By John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 11:48 AM ET
  20 Comments
Devastating.

Absolutely devastating.

My heart bleeds for the victims, the friends, the family, the school and this country.

With Katrina, Columbine, and other tragedies that have occurred on our soil - natural or otherwise-, we inevitably point the finger. We need to stop blaming others and find solutions. I think that's the lesson in history that we have failed to learn and most desperately should.

My thoughts go out to these people. What a tragedy indeed.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa McCue, Somerville MA : 12:13 PM ET
Being a English major, reviewing all of his work while at VT may be of some benefit in getting some idea on what this young man was all about.
Posted By Anonymous Larry Spring Grove, Pa : 12:33 PM ET
John: I can only hope that we start to put faces to this tragedy rather than just a body bag count. However, this is the reality of it all and Brian Horne should be commmended for taking on the most heartbreaking task of them all...counting and collecting the bodies. My heart goes out to him and all of the other volunteers.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:48 PM ET
That is so incredibly chilling. I can't even begin to comprehend the situation. As a student at KU, it just hits you like a slap in the face - this could happen anywhere at any moment.

I'm thinking about Virgina Tech. They're on my mind and in my heart.
Posted By Anonymous Carly Halvorson, Lawrence KS : 12:51 PM ET
Hi John:

It was good to see you on 360 last night.

Thanks for telling us about the local heros helping out like Brian Horne and his friends. The young men did a kind service to the families. Many of us don't think about these things. Someone with love and compassion has to do this kind of work.

I read the story of professor Liviu Librescu at CNN.com who was eduacated in Romania and survived to Holocaust and then died by a gun man at Virginia Tech. I just sat here at my computer and cried.

Who survives the Holocaust and gets killed by a young person in America? It just seems too sad and overwhelming.

Much love to all the families of the victims and their friends, professors and associates.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 1:04 PM ET
I just returned after spending almost 10 years in South Korea as an English Teacher. Their personalities are very intense.
Everything seems to be a matter of life and death to them. When I hearn the shooter was Asian, I wasn't suprised that he was Korean.
Posted By Anonymous T.J. Fall River, MA : 1:28 PM ET
This tragedy is truly devestating and grossly chilling. Not only has it made an impression upon all those at VT, it had made one on all campuses here and abroad. It makes you wonder how safe are our college campuses? From my own experience at Ball State and my brother's at NKU, it's all too easy to access school buildings and dorms. Something must be done to ensure the safety of future America. If we can't even protect ourselves, how can we protect anyone?
Posted By Anonymous Amanda B, Cincinnati OH : 1:29 PM ET
It's quite a sobering thought that dead bodies lay there with cell phones vibrating. A desperate search for friends and family by those seeing the news. We all take life and our daily activities with a grain of salt. Live and let live---we never really know what day or hour will be our last. As I sat glued to the terror on campus I was overwhelmed with a rush of emotion I had experienced 13 years ago. My 38 year old husband left to go to work one morning and never returned. He was killed by a careless driver who was reading a manual as he drove down the road in a rural Kentucky community. Never do we get up and plan on tragedy striking our family on a certain day. My prayers are being lifted for every family member and friend of those lost yesterday. The thought that there certainly has to be a better place rings true in times like this. May God's comfort fall upon each family at this time.
Posted By Anonymous Zann Martin, Tennessee : 2:01 PM ET
Why must blame be placed at all? Why the immediate finger pointing and accusations? This horrendous event cannot be fixed or changed. Will accusing or blaming someone help?

There is, of course, much we can learn from this, but right now - just for now - we need to grieve, cry, pray for the families, friends, school officials and law enforcement officials who are left to somehow sort this out. How DO you sort something like this out?

It will likely never make sense. How do you secure a campus which has over 30,000 students? I don't have the answers and I doubt anyone does.

Instead of accusing and blaming, let's work, as a nation, to get through this - not around it. My heart is ripped up for the familes of the victims. I will never be able to understand the depth of their agony, I know. I suggest we pray hard - very, very hard for the victims who lived and the families of those who died and show our support to them however they need it. Whether they need money, plane tickets, a car to borrow, clothes, someone to talk to, someone to cry to - let's try and do that for them. They need someone to care about them right now - and to show it.

I hope that in time, someday, maybe we can find compassion (dare I say forgiveness?)in our hearts for the shooter too. Hating him won't change anything and does not excuse his sickening and terrifying actions. He will forever be remembered as the mass murderer he is.

I am not a grievng parent or spouse today and I live far from VT. But, perhaps compassion will provide a little healing balm to the tortured hearts and minds of the familes of the victims.
Posted By Anonymous Judythe Mechanicville, NY : 2:02 PM ET
Shame on you media, like vultures at the carnage of all the victims' bloodied carcasses. Poking and picking at the witnesses and victims--they're still traumatized and in SHOCK, and you're sticking microphones in their faces!! Shame on you all media!! YOU people help cause these tragedies with your *hyping* of these terrible tragedies--you are helping to "up the ante" for the next mass murders gone psycho!! GO AWAY and LEAVE VT ALONE for lord's sake!! Shameless!!
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Sacramento, CA : 2:03 PM ET
What is this world coming to?

I am frightened beyond words for my high school teenagers. They should be concentrating on making a good score on their ACT test..... NOT whether they will live or die in high school, college, or the workplace, where recent shootings seem to dominate daily headlines.

The lives lost at VA Tech from this horrendous, incomprehensible, henious violence goes far beyond any words of condolences. However, as I mourn those lives, which is all I can do....... I shutter to think of the next "copy-cat" situation. How in God's name are we as a society going to address this problem?
Posted By Anonymous Julie, St. Louis, MO : 2:18 PM ET
You can just imagine the anxiety and fear building in the caller when their call isn't answered. At first I thought maybe someone should've answered the victim's phones and PDA's; but then I thought of the reaction when a stranger would answer.

I pray that God helps everyone touched by this tragedy to find peace.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 2:29 PM ET
This series of events is shocking, terrifying and wrenches my heart into the deepest level of sadness. Cell phones of college students went off across the country, with parents and friends fretting uncontrollably on the other line. Yesterday, the nation experienced simultaneous and long-standing anxiety as they attempted to discover the status of their friends and family. From Northwestern University, I give my solemnest and deepest support to every roommate, classmate, friend, parent, teacher, and relative who worried over the well-being of others. May the victims of this incident rest in peace and may those who care about them receive ample support.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Long, Northwestern Univeristy : 2:35 PM ET
My heart goes out to everyone effected by the terrible tragedy at VT yesterday. It is my belief that we should pray everyday for not only this school because of the tragedy, but for each kindergardner, middle school student, high school student, and college student in the world. There is nothing to prevent this from happening to any other school not only in the U.S., but in other countries as well. I believe if we did as much praying as we do finger pointing this world would be a much better and safer place to live.
Posted By Anonymous Brittany Riley, Columbia, MS : 3:01 PM ET
As a senior at the University of MD, Baltimore County (UMBC), the death of these beloved college students and professors by a tortured college student sends chills down my spine. I have spoken with other friends at my university, who feel the same way. We think of our selves, friends, and family members away at college, and how in college we feel like we are in a protected bubble. That bubble has now burst and I don't think I will ever feel the same way walking on campus again. However, I feel it is important to not live life in fear over misalligned people, but rather to use the knowledge gained from this experience to ensure it does not happen again.
Posted By Anonymous Sara Baltimore, MD : 3:12 PM ET
When I woke up yesterday morning and turned on the news my heart broke. Such a tragedy, what is this world coming to. My heart, prayers and thoughts go out to the families and friends of the lost but also to those that survived this horrible attack. In my little town in Northern British Columbia Canada the news spread very fast and many prayer chains went out immediately. I commend the rescue workers and authorities and would like to say that I admire your bravery and courage. We are all praying for you and never forget, but let this tragic event strengthen you and remember your fellow students, those who have gone and those who remain. From one college student to the next, we love you and our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Posted By Anonymous Nikki Clarkson Fort St. John British Columbia Canada : 3:18 PM ET
First of all, my prayers are with the families of their loved ones lost in this horriffic tragedy. You are not alone; your hurt and loss are felt around the world. I ask that as everyone remembers the students, families and teachers in their prayers, as a volunteer EMT, please don't forget the rescue workers who will also forever be effected by this tragedy. They will need our love and support too.
Posted By Anonymous Tabatha, Shreveport, LA : 3:41 PM ET
T.J. Fall of Massachusetts made a comment regarding his lack of surprise that the killer is Korean ---

Let's get something straight. The shooter has been living in the US since he was eight, and is as American as millions of others who live here. In fact, having been a green card holder for as long as he has been, the only thing that differentiates him from you and I is his lack of citizenship, which he could have easily obtained at this point. American. Don't forget that.

This is a young man who did what he did as the single psychotic act of a deranged mind. It is not the product of of a clash of culture or race.

The fact that the media has consistently portrayed him to be a "foreign student from South Korea" is a not-so-subtle attempt to fan the flames of latent xenophobic hysteria that first began in 9/11.

Whatever happened to conscientious journalism? Already the effects of such representation are noticeable, not more than a day after the tragedy: One student of Chinese descent at Virginia Tech has received death threats from his gun enthusiast website from people who believe he is the killer. Apparently they cannot tell one Asian man from another, but somehow I doubt they care.
Posted By Anonymous Anna M, Ann Arbor, MI : 4:09 PM ET
My heart aches for each and everyone of the families of the victims. I to lost my son 4 months ago thank god not to tragdey but suddnenly. No one can no the true pain of loosing a child so young , it seems so unfair that we as parents have to go through the process of burying our child, our child is suppose to bury us.I pray that they can find peace in GOD as I have.
Posted By Anonymous Angie Garrett redfield Arkansas : 4:32 PM ET
We are not even 48 hours past this tragedy and so much finger-pointing and laying of blame is occurring. Stop! Take a deep breath! Mourn!

Tomorrow we will pursue the investigation, research and analyzing of this horrible tragedy. We will honor the victims, their families & friends and those responding to their aid by learning from and improving our crisis management and response plans. We will teach our children coping skills and survival skills. If we don’t then we have failed all of those who died and those who are fighting for their lives.

The reporters need to be responsible with their questions and report the facts. They need to respect the survivors (which includes all of the students & faculty at VT, their families, the responding police officers, Paramedics, Physicians & Hospital support staff, etc.). These are real people! Real lives were taken from us! This is not a ratings game. Be ethical! Be human! Report the facts, not rumors. Don’t create news. Take time to investigate the story, verify the source and ensure credibility, then report responsibly. Please!

The blame should begin and end with the shooter. Not his place of birth. Not the color of his skin. Not the University he attended. Not the gun store where he purchased his weapon. Not the place where he bought his coffee. He had a plan. He set that plan into action well before he bought his gun. The question is how can we prevent this type of disaster from occurring again? And…if it were to be initiated, how can we stop it without so much loss of life.

Could things have been handled differently? Of course! Hind-sight is always clearer. Before we can move forward, we have to thoroughly investigate and reconstruct the shooter’s past, his thought process and how he implemented the crime. This will take time and will be performed by professionals, not the media. Don’t embellish. Don’t guess. Just allow the investigators to do their job, follow-up and report the facts.

My heart and tears go out to families of VT. You are in my prayers!
Posted By Anonymous Dana--Austin, TX : 11:29 PM ET
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