BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Virginia Tech students still on edge
after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history got another scare
Wednesday morning as police in SWAT gear with weapons drawn swarmed
Burruss Hall, which houses the president's office.
The threat of suspicious activity turned out to be unfounded,
said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, and the
building was reopened. But students were rattled.
"They were just screaming, 'Get off the sidewalks,"' said
Terryn Wingler-Petty, a junior from Wisconsin. "They seemed very
confused about what was going on. They were just trying to get
One officer was seen escorting a crying young woman out, telling
her, "It's OK. It's OK."
Roommates and professors began opening up Wednesday about the
gunman who had killed 32 people and himself in two university
buildings on Monday. Roommates said Cho Seung-Hui rarely spoke or
made eye contact with them and that his bizarre behavior became
even less predictable in recent weeks.
Cho started waking up as early as 5:30 a.m. instead of his usual
7 a.m., his roommate, Joseph Aust, told ABC's "Good Morning
"I tried to make conversation with him earlier in the year when
he moved in," Aust said. "He would just give one-word answers and
stay quiet. He pretty much never looked me in the eye."
Aust was among many students and professors who described the
killer in the worst shooting massacre in modern U.S. history as a
sullen loner, and authorities said he left a rambling note raging
against women and rich kids.
News reports said that Cho, a 23-year-old senior majoring in
English, may have been taking medication for depression and that he
was becoming increasingly violent and erratic.
Professors and classmates were alarmed by his class writings -
pages filled with twisted, violence-drenched writing.
"It was not bad poetry. It was intimidating," poet Nikki
Giovanni, one of his professors, told CNN Wednesday. "At first I
thought, OK, he's trying to see what the parameters are. Kids curse
and talk about a lot of different things. He stayed in that spot. I
said, 'You can't do that.' He said, 'Yes, I can.' I said, 'No, not
in my class."'
Giovanni said her students were so unnerved by Cho's behavior
that she had security check on her room and eventually had him
taken out of her class. Some students had stopped coming to class,
saying Cho was taking photos of them with his cell phone, she said.
In screenplays Cho wrote for a class last fall, characters throw
hammers and attack with chainsaws, said a student who attended
Virginia Tech last fall. In another, Cho concocted a tale of
students who fantasize about stalking and killing a teacher who
sexually molested them.
"When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a
nightmare," former classmate Ian MacFarlane, now an AOL employee,
wrote in a blog posted on an AOL Web site.
"The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used
weapons I wouldn't have even thought of."
He said he and other students "were talking to each other with
serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter."
Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university's English
department, said Cho's writing was so disturbing that he had been
referred to the university's counseling service.
Despite the many warning signs that came to light in the bloody
aftermath, police and university officials offered no clues as to
exactly what set Cho off.
"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding
information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.
"We always joked we were just waiting for him to do something,
waiting to hear about something he did," said another classmate,
Stephanie Derry. "But when I got the call it was Cho who had done
this, I started crying, bawling."
With classes canceled for the rest of the week, many students
left town, lugging pillows, sleeping bags and backpacks down the
On Tuesday night, thousands of Virginia Tech students, faculty
and area residents poured into the center of campus to grieve
together. Volunteers passed out thousands of candles in paper cups,
donated from around the country. Then, as the flames flickered,
speakers urged them to find solace in one another.
As silence spread across the grassy bowl of the drill field, a
pair of trumpets began to play taps. A few in the crowd began to
sing Amazing Grace.
Afterward, students, some weeping, others holding each other for
support, gathered around makeshift memorials, filling banners and
plywood boards with messages belying their pain.
"I think this is something that will take a while. It still
hasn't hit a lot of people yet," said Amber McGee, a freshman from
Cho - who arrived in the United States as boy from South Korea
in 1992 and was raised in suburban Washington, D.C., where his
parents worked at a dry cleaners - left a note that was found after
A law enforcement official who read Cho's note described it
Tuesday as a typed, eight-page rant against rich kids and religion.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not
authorized to speak to the media.
"You caused me to do this," the official quoted the note as
Cho indicated in his letter that the end was near and that there
was a deed to be done, the official said. He also expressed
disappointment in his own religion, and made several references to
Christianity, the official said.
The official said the letter was either found in Cho's dorm room
or in his backpack. The backpack was found in the hallway of the
classroom building where the shootings happened, and contained
several rounds of ammunition, the official said.
Monday's rampage consisted of two attacks, more than two hours
apart - first at a dormitory, where two people were killed, then
inside a classroom building, where 31 people, including Cho, died.
Two handguns - a 9 mm and a .22-caliber - were found in the
According to court papers, police found a "bomb threat" note -
directed at engineering school buildings - near the victims in the
classroom building. In the past three weeks, Virginia Tech was hit
with two other bomb threats. Investigators have not connected those
earlier threats to Cho.
Cho graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., in
2003. His family lived in an off-white, two-story townhouse in
At least one of those killed in the rampage, Reema Samaha,
graduated from Westfield High in 2006. But there was no immediate
word from authorities on whether Cho knew the young woman and
singled her out.
"He was very quiet, always by himself," neighbor Abdul Shash
said. Shash said Cho spent a lot of his free time playing
basketball and would not respond if someone greeted him.
Some classmates said that on the first day of a British
literature class last year, the 30 or so students went around and
introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak.
On the sign-in sheet where everyone else had written their
names, Cho had written a question mark. "Is your name, `Question
mark?"' classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The
young man offered little response.
Cho spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room,
wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a small department, Cho
distinguished himself for being anonymous. "He didn't reach out to
anyone. He never talked," Poole said.
"We just really knew him as the question mark kid," Poole
One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a
receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol. Cho held a
green card, meaning he was a legal, permanent resident. That meant
he was eligible to buy a handgun unless he had been convicted of a
Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock
and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571.
"He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won't sell a gun if
we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious," Markell
Investigators stopped short of saying Cho carried out both
attacks. But State Police ballistics tests showed one gun was used
And two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity because the information had not been announced, said
Cho's fingerprints were on both guns. Their serial numbers had been
Gov. Tim Kaine said he will appoint a panel at the university's
request to review authorities' handling of the disaster. Parents
and students bitterly complained that the university should have
locked down the campus immediately after the first burst of gunfire
and did not do enough to warn people.
Kaine warned against making snap judgments and said he had
"nothing but loathing" for those who take the tragedy and "make
it their political hobby horse to ride."