Virginia Tech. Shooting -press conference – April 16, 2007 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
April 16, 2007 started off with news of a fresh set of horrors on a school campus. This time it was Virginia Tech. As too many times before, the shootings were random, senseless and staged by heavily armed people, venting some level of inexplicable disturbance into the lives of innocents.
Seung-Hui Cho, an undergraduate student at the university and a U.S. resident of South Korean descent, killed thirty-two people and wounded seventeen others with two semi-automatic pistols. Six others were injured jumping out of windows to escape Cho. As police stormed Norris Hall, Cho fatally shot himself in the head. It is the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, and was also the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman until it was surpassed nine years later by the Orlando nightclub shooting.
Cho had previously been diagnosed with selective mutism and severe depression. During much of his middle school and high school years, he received therapy and special education support. After graduating from high school, Cho enrolled at Virginia Tech. Because of federal privacy laws, the university was unaware of Cho’s previous diagnoses or the accommodations he had been granted at school. In 2005, Cho was accused of stalking two female students. After an investigation, a Virginia special justice declared Cho mentally ill and ordered him to attend treatment; however, because he was not institutionalized, he was allowed to purchase guns. The shooting prompted the state of Virginia to close legal loopholes that had allowed individuals adjudicated as mentally unsound to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
By the end of this day, some 33 students, including the shooter, were dead.
And again, the country was shocked. And again the grief flowed. And again the pledges of tighter gun controls echoed everywhere.
And as always, the loss and little else. The loss and no resolution. The loss and no resolution until the next time, and the outrage will echo again. Thoughts and prayers will be just as hollow.
Here is a portion of that press conference conducted by Law Enforcement in Blacksburg, Virginia on that April 16th in 2007.