Toledo Native Among the Dead at VA Tech

Kevin Granata , Photo Courtesy: VA Tech
Kevin Granata , Photo Courtesy: VA Tech

UPDATE: A Toledo native who graduated from Ohio State University and went on to teach at Virginia Tech was among those killed during the shooting rampage at the school, the man's brother said Tuesday.

Kevin Granata, 45, a professor of engineering science and mechanics, was in the classroom building either doing research or holding office hours where the shootings occurred, Paul Granata of Toledo said school officials told relatives.

He was among 33 people killed in separate attacks in two buildings. The suspected gunman - Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English - was a native of South Korea who killed himself, authorities say.

"He was very dedicated to his students and his university. Even more so, he was dedicated to his family," Granata said of his brother, who also taught part time at the University of Virginia. "We will miss him very much. The biggest loss is his kids won't have him anymore."

Granata said his brother lived in Blacksburg with his wife and three children, ages 11 to 14.

To remember the victims, Gov. Ted Strickland ordered flags at public buildings flown at half-staff from Wednesday through Sunday. The Ohio House of Representatives observed a moment of silence.

"Any parent who ever sent a child off the college certainly was horrified at what they saw and heard of that occurred on that campus yesterday," said Republican House Speaker Jon Husted.

Candlelight vigils were planned at Ohio University Wednesday night and the University of Dayton Tuesday night.

Kevin Granata graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo in 1980. He was on the football, chess and debating teams, worked on the school newspaper, and was in the Collegium Honorum, which required at least a 4.0 grade point average, according to the school yearbook.

"He was somebody I would describe as a really well-rounded student," said the Rev. Ron Olszewski, school principal. "He was a good student. He cut across a lot of different activities and groups. I just always presumed he would be very successful."

Granata attended John Carroll University in Cleveland as a physics major, then finished his bachelor's degree in 1984 at Ohio State University in physics and electrical engineering. He earned his master's from Purdue University in 1986 and doctorate in biomechanics from Ohio State in 1993.

Bill Marras, director of the biodynamics lab at Ohio State's college of engineering who served as Granata's adviser, said Granata would often drop by his office and the two would engage in long talks about science.

"Every time he sat down, there would go a half day," Marras recalled warmly. "We would get into great discussions."

After Granata got his doctorate from Ohio State in 1993, he stayed there for four more years as a senior research engineer.

"He was the kind of guy in the lab that got along with everybody," Marras said. "His intellect was very strong. He was great at explaining things to people. Even though he was very bright, he wouldn't look down at people that weren't up to his speed."

Ishwar Puri, head of the engineering science and mechanics department at Virginia Tech, said Granata and his students researched muscle and reflex response and robotics. Puri called him one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy.