Patterico's Pontifications

4/17/2007

Monday-Morning Quarterbacking

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 6:16 am



We all know that the press loves nothing better than Monday-morning quarterbacking. But tell me the truth: before yesterday, if you were running a university, and you heard there was a murder of two people with a gun on campus, would your instant reaction really have been to shut the campus down?

I can tell you frankly that would not have been my reaction.

Am I missing something?

75 Responses to “Monday-Morning Quarterbacking”

  1. With 2600 acres and 36,000 students and faculty, VT is like a small city unto itself.

    I went to Berkeley which is even larger than VT, and I would probably been infuriated if they shut down entire campus down every time something bad or dangerous or fatal or unpleasant hap

    The initial pair of people being killed in the dormitory is most certainly a horrible thing, but I can sympathize with the authorities for choosing to initially isolate only that location. There are a handful of students killed in dormitories or off-student housing every year. Shutting down an entire campus every time such a thing happens anywhere seems like major overkill.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  2. It’s a horrible situation that’s almost beyond understanding and planning. (I’m sure that colleges are updating their disaster plans now for ‘crazed gunman terrorizes school.’)

    But yeah, it’s hard to think that because a double murder takes place at one end of a 36K city the entire city is locked down.

    Understandably, we don’t generally have efficient communication systems in place for every eventuality. IIRC, the disaster planning center for New York City was underneath one of the towers that fell on 9/11, for example.

    And it’s easy to point fingers now. More and more fingers will begin pointing as scapegoats are desired. I predict the president of the college will “resign to spend time with his family” before the week is out.

    It’s a crazy guy who knew how to take advantage of a culture that didn’t know how to defend itself. Who put chains on the doors so students couldn’t leave and police couldn’t enter?

    steve miller (0fb51f)

  3. Thanks for posting what I was thinking. People are looking for someone to string up, and we are still in the speculation-is-reality shock bubble.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  4. Not as stated.

    But if I was told that the killer of two students was armed and loose on my campus, yes, certainly. It would be at least as dangerous as, say, a bomb threat.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  5. It’s a crazy guy who knew how to take advantage of a culture that didn’t know how to defend itself.

    What on earth are you talking about? How can a culture “defend itself” in a situation like this?
    The facts are still in the process of being assembled so I’m sure, there’s a lot of information still to come. But on the simplest level, how would it possible for anyone to predict that one shooting incident in which two people were killed would metasticize into an epic massacre (at a different locale at the other end of the campus)? Nothing we’ve learned so far suggests a “predictable” situation that could have become a simplistically “preventable” one.

    David Ehrenstein (7f21f7)

  6. would i shut the u down?

    i don’t know, a lot would depend on the circumstances of the first two murders; whether the killer appeared to have undertaken a limited task or a general task.
    the early report here was that the killer suspected his gf of sleeping with another man, and when a resident assistant tried to stop him from berating her, he shot them both. all by itself, that doesn’t suggest he’s gonna shoot as many people as he can.
    a more profitable area of inquiry than the monday morning quarterbacking would be improving the design and the warning systems themselves. should a classroom be a sealed pod like an airline cockpit? how about air raid sirens? it took the u administration over two hours to get a warning email out, when with a lo-tech system in place he could have just pushed a button.

    assistant devil's advocate (538ba7)

  7. I would get the information out and let people decide for themselves, but then again I am a libertarian. I think that is what the school did with e-mails.

    As a student or teacher what would you have done with the limited information?

    TomHynes (aab663)

  8. The material fact is not the two first murders. It is that their killer, armed with a gun, was loose. And the action need not necessarily have been to shut down the campus. It could have been to warn the students so they could stay in a safe place, with people they trusted, lock their doors and arm themselves even if it was with just a pot of boiling water on a hot plate.

    And we can even talk about the police, loitering outside the building, while dozens of shots are heard inside, before they decide to rush it. Heck, they didn’t even stop him. He shot himself. I wonder if we will ever find out whether it was with his last bullet.

    nk (6415d7)

  9. Someday, there will be a murder in a neighborhood. Two hours later, the killer will enter a nearby shopping center and kill some more.

    There will be those will say the police should have cordoned off the entire neighborhood, sent out warnings that a gunman was on the loose.

    If the UVA gunman had gone out into the community, the complaints would be that the university police should have notified them. Close down the city for one double murder?

    Many things in life are just not foreseeable, and government/law enforcement cannot be held to a standard of perfection.

    ManlyDad (22e85d)

  10. Good point nk… I think widely announced “There was a fatal shooting, and the suspect is not in custody” statement would hve been very very helpful.

    I know I would have cut class that day (and actually had an excuse for once)…

    At the very least I’d have tucked a knife into my bag or clipped one to my waist under a shirt or jacket…

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  11. When did we get so desensitized to murder? Any day in which students have to step over dead bodies to get to class is a day classes should be cancelled. This is especially true if the student/murderer has not been apprehended.

    Blue Neponset (a09128)

  12. “I think widely announced “There was a fatal shooting, and the suspect is not in custody” statement would hve been very very helpful…At the very least I’d have tucked a knife into my bag or clipped one to my waist under a shirt or jacket…”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Yeah, definitely. UNM has done that several times: “freak on campus, stay inside”, that sort of thing.

    I always have a knife on hand, for what it’s worth (and against a gun, it’s not worth much).

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  13. Leviticus,

    I knew there was a reason I liked you. I’m a knife man too. And to quote Donald Hamilton: A gun without a man is just a worthless hunk of iron but a man without a gun is still a man. And even if you don’t need to defend yourself with a knife, you can always whittle.

    nk (6415d7)

  14. P.S. And Liviu Librescu was a man. Monday morning hero-recognizing too.

    nk (6415d7)

  15. Dad and I had a discussion on our way to work this morning, where we both stated that without ANY weapon (bookbags are hella-nasty loaded with books and swung with intent, chairs, etc) we’d still charge the guy. If you hear shooting in the classroom next door, you get ready to fight. Better to die moving, on your feet, than to die without a fight.

    I tend to not carry a weapon of any sort because, well, it’s against the law. There are rules that say I can’t walk around campus with a blade (even though I have a lovely selection of 1-handed lockbacks). Would I rather? Oh yes.

    Will I? 98% of the time no. Baring forggeting it was in the bag from something else (it happens, like getting tossed in without thinking after opening a box at home), it would take announcements like “Someone was shot and killed on campus, and we don’t know where the shooter is” would get me wanting a knife, but I attend a community college currently (nice and cheap, yo) and ride the bus there. Small campus (relatively) and once I’m there, I can’t go get a knife from the car or my room.

    But I think I’m going to start anyways…

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  16. P.P.S. I reread the entry while checking the link and was moved to tears. We can only hope to acquit ourselves as well as he did should we ever have to.

    nk (6415d7)

  17. Amen NK. Guy needs a freaking city named after him. 100% hero that guy is…

    A jew, who survived the Holocaust, on the day set aside to REMEMBER the Holocaust, sacrificed himself… Now that’s a lesson worth learning kids.

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  18. Who put chains on the doors so students couldn’t leave and police couldn’t enter?

    My understanding is that the killer himself chained the doors together just prior to the shooting spree.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  19. My understanding is that the killer himself chained the doors together just prior to the shooting spree.

    And apparently caught a class trying to flee when they got to the chained door.

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  20. There are three prerequisites to a crime, motive, means and opportunity, and the University administrators and campus police handed the SOB opportunity on a silver platter.

    nk (6415d7)

  21. Pat:

    If I were in charge of a school that did not allow guns (not talking politics on this) and there was a shooting, then yes I would lock it down.

    With that situation, the students should be the first thought of the man in charge. They are not equipped to protect themselves and you (mic) are not able to protect them (at that moment).

    Lord Nazh (d282eb)

  22. nk said:

    “arm themselves even if it was with just a pot of boiling water on a hot plate.”

    So sad that this might have been the best defense available on the “gun-free” campus.

    Elizabeth at A Biblical Home (690f90)

  23. Obviously they should have canceled classes. Come. On.

    It’s not a neighborhood. It’s a school. A multiple murder occurred, shortly after bomb threats were received, and the killer was known to be on the campus.

    Of COURSE they should have, at the very least, canceled classes.

    This doesn’t even rise to DUH. This was gross negligence, and – as usual – the only winners in this barbarity will be the plaintiffs lawyers in a couple years.

    I can’t even believe anybody would ask this question.

    DBasd (c65bfa)

  24. A lockdown seems to me to be a waste of resources, too, Patterico. You get to the scene, find the bodies, the killer’s fled; the campus is big but he can be off it faster than you got there. Broadcast that you’re looking, and do so.

    Professor Librescu, now there was a man. He’s going to have trouble getting by the Marines at Heaven’s gates, because they are going to want him to be the guest of honor at the party they’re throwing for heros. This is Gandhi’s true non-violence demonstrated, throwing yourself in the face of the oncoming guns.

    htom (412a17)

  25. Patterico

    Gunman was on the loose. if you had known that (its not clear if VT did at 7:30am) would this have changed anyones mind about lock down

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  26. 23

    He saw death first hand and still in an instant chose the life of his students over the rest of his life

    I can only imagine the depth and measure of this wonderful individual and could I ever be a tenth of the man he is and was

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  27. The media just loves to point out the failures of others. This is just one more opportunity for them to do so. That the media failed to point out this deficiency before hand is because it never entered their minds. Even their psychic hotline connections didn’t dream this one up. But no matter, to be less than perfect (like the media), is a sin that is to be exposed and enlarged and exagerated and blown out of proportion – hey it even looks important on page 1.

    web02 (8b5b5c)

  28. I guess the next time there is a shooting of 2 people here in Los Angeles the entire city should be placed into lock down. Maybe just an area equal to that of Virginia Tech would satisfy the idiots in the media who are questioning Virginia Tech’s decision not to lock down the entire school after the first shooting.

    Rick (fd0cd2)

  29. Would not shut it down.

    For those that would, tell us exactly how you would accomplish such?

    TC (b48fdd)

  30. Is a double murder in a dorm an event of little notoriety now? Is a domestic dispute that involves two murders in a dorm a common occurence? What is a domestic dispute in a dorm, anyway? Perhaps I’m too old to have an opinion on this. I finished grad school 25 years ago. But, in spite of that, I have to say that issuing a less-than-forceful email warning issued 2 hours after the initial murders and 20 minutes before the murder spree started was not enough. If an armed murderer is on the loose at an institution with another on-campus murder as recent as last August and bomb threats as recent as last week, more caution seems to be required.

    Shutting down a 25,000 student university is complicated, I’m sure. Managing and controling three times that many people at football games is also difficult, but I bet it’s accomplished on a routine basis at VT. I know that hasn’t changed since I was in college.

    Curtiss (c03bd7)

  31. Managing crowd control, and entry and exit from a twenty-six acre campus is more difficult than a football stadium, and requires a very different skill and tool set.

    htom (412a17)

  32. Incidents on college campuses are often chaotic and unpredictable. In addition, we don’t know what the administration knew and when they knew it. It would be helpful to hear more from the VT police chief. It was his investigation and his responsibility to inform the college administrators regarding threats to the campus.

    DRJ (50237c)

  33. I’m with Patterico on this one: it’s a city of 30,000 people and the U truly thought that the first killings were an isolated domestic tragedy. If 20/20 hindsight is to be used to point a finger (and I do mean “if”), mayhaps we should be looking at those who consistently overlooked Cho’s odd behavior and writings, and the seething anger so obviously in them.

    But a q for the pro-lockdown crowd: for how long would you have cancelled classes and/or locked down the U before you reopened everything? A day? A week? Till the killer was caught?

    ras (adf382)

  34. I wouldn’t have locked it down, but the INSTANT I knew there was a shooting without a shooter in custody I would have put warnings AL OVER THE PLACE.

    I’d have hired a sky-writer if I had to.

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  35. It is my understanding they locked down the universtiy last year when there was an escaped killer on the loose. The killer was subsquently found 7 miles from the campus, and the president of the university received a lot of flack for his actions. Perhaps this incident went into the decision yesterday not to lock down the university. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Glenn (0f6cbc)

  36. It would be at least as dangerous as, say, a bomb threat.

    You would have shut down the campus over a bomb threat? There would be a new one every Friday, and during finals.

    Daryl Herbert (5f6faf)

  37. Totally agree with you Pat. Given the details of the first murders, the expectation that this was going to turn into some kind of roving gunman scenario was absolutely implausible.

    There is another type of monday morning quarterback I find even more reprehensible:
    Blaming the victims

    Bob Loblaw (aaedb4)

  38. More on what Glenn (#35) said, check out the timeline on the Morva case from last year.
    http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/79080
    Is it fair to think that the Blacksburg PD should have achieved some mythical “lock down” of the Virgina Tech campus; and who’s to say that the shooter would automatically go to somewhere else on the University to shoot up students? He could’ve just as easily gone to Blacksburg HS or Montgomery Co. Regional Hospital to do his dirty work. I think David E. (#5) is right on this:

    how would it possible for anyone to predict that one shooting incident in which two people were killed would metasticize into an epic massacre (at a different locale at the other end of the campus)? Nothing we’ve learned so far suggests a “predictable” situation that could have become a simplistically “preventable” one.

    MikeH (e9e89c)

  39. I really agree with this thread , comment #14 by ‘alchemist’, which notes

    This sounds like an excuse, it isn’t exactly, but it’s an explanation of how large schools work. which is basically that they don’t work before 9am. These are goverment jobs, there are no secretary’s available until 9, the cops probably notified someone, who started notifying others, but depending on where people were and when, they may have had trouble making an executive decision such as cancelling classes before 9 o’clock.

    Unless we’re willing to make school administration a 24/7 job, it’ll be a lot harder to escalate things that happen before those in authority arrive in the morning.

    Nathan Mates (2ebe45)

  40. If they provided an immediate notice to students, what would the students have done with the information? Some would go about business as usual, others would congregate around the shooting scene trying to find out if they knew the victims or if their friends in that dorm are safe. The police didn’t need any more onlookers hanging around. Everyone was going to be somewhere that morning, and there was no reason to believe that a classroom building across campus would be the least safe place to be.

    I know there is a lot of emotion coming out in the calls to shut down the campus or immediately notify the students that ‘an armed killer is loose on campus.’ But that isn’t really what was known at the time. At the scene of the first shooting, they thought a boyfriend had killed his girlfriend and her RA and had fled the scene. Pat, isn’t it true that a killer in a domestic dispute is almost never a danger to anyone else? Isn’t the last thing you want is someone other than the police confronting the guy? The typical domestic dispute guy isn’t dangerous until confronted, so you want the police to look for him; you don’t want the general student population looking for him.

    Mike S (a7e484)

  41. Mike S has a point. VTech has 25,000 students. What’s 30 more or less compared with the bother of using the school’s intercom system and the campus police’s car loudspeakers to warn the students that there was a double murderer loose and risking having those students congregate around the crime scene? (Sarcasm)

    nk (6415d7)

  42. The fact of the matter is, there are dozens of murders on the prowl in Los Angeles at this very moment. I don;t see the city being shut down.

    That said, I fear that hindsight will show perhaps there were some prudent measures that could have been taken.

    Domestic violence cases that do not end in suicide often do end up in additional killings. Based on that alone I would like to think VT staff wuld have called in additional resources, and posted officers at the entrances to the classrooms on campus. Nothing too dramatic, but enough eyes to notice and/or deter something.

    If there were a homicide across the street from an elementary school, you wouldn’t shut the school. But you might very well post a couple of coppers at the gate just to be sure, and to make everyone feel better.

    Sadly, the fact of the matter in this case is that it might have only resulted in a dead cop on top of the 32. But, it also might have made the difference… hindsight being what it is.

    RCJP (2fc153)

  43. As I recall the info put out initially:
    The campus police secured the area of the initial shootings (dorm hall) and began interviews of witnesses. From those initial interviews, they found a high probability that the shooter had left the campus, perhaps had even headed out-of-state (words of campus police chief at yesterday’s presser). They worked the initial shooting no different than your local PD at a 7-11.

    Just what they didn’t need, would be hundreds of students coming from other parts of the campus to “hang” at the crime scene and just getting in the way.

    Since we do not have complete information, everything we say is speculation. I compare this to an aircraft crash. We can be standing near the crash scene watching the plane auger-in, but we have no idea why. It takes the NTSB usually a year to finalize their investigation, and release their report. We should give the VA authorities at least (maybe) thirty days before we form the lynching party; and, no, I don’t think the VT president will be resigning.

    Another Drew (a28ef4)

  44. I do not think I would have tried to shut down the campus after the first report. However, neither would I have allowed the unarmed-by-law student body to remain helpless with the very real possibility that there was an armed gunman loose who had already killed two of my students. I think I would have had armed patrols all over the place for at least a day or two, until the doer could be ID’ed or something.

    Even if that would not have prevented the start of shooting at some building, I would have had some assurance that armed responders would have been within hearing and able to minimize loss of innocent life.

    jim (f6c8b0)

  45. I think a college campus, especially one that prohibits its students from carrying legal weapons, assumes a higher duty to protect those students. I would probably view it as similar to the higher duty of a common carrier. Therefore, while I’m not yet willing to say the college administrators acted inappropriately in failing to lock down the campus after the first shootings, I’m more willing to consider that they should have than I would in normal circumstances.

    DRJ (50237c)

  46. A few observations, some nit-picky, others …

    I’ll start with nit-picky. #9, this occured at VA Tech, also formally known as VPI (Virginia Polytechnic Institute). UVA is the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson and located in Charlottesville, VA, about 2 hours NE. I’ve been to both campuses on numerous occasions. One of my children graduated from Tech, known as the Hokies. Tech has one of the best engineering schools in the country, and is also known for agriculture and business.

    Another of my children attends UVA, also known as the Wahoos. UVA is has an excellent law school, teaching hospital and is often referred to as an “ivy league of the south” school. It is recognized as one of the finest public universities in the country and is developing a reputation for its excellent engineering program. The two schools are historic rivals, though UVA at over 200 years old is a bit older than Tech at only a bit over 100 years old. Both are excellent schools and both campuses are both very beautiful and very large. We Virginians are justly proud of every one of our public universities, including particularly these two.

    Personally, I doubt it would have been possible to “lock down” Tech. The shooter was a student who lived in a dorm within easy walking distance of the first two murders. He simply walked away, went to his dorm, changed his clothes, reloaded and a bit later walked to the building where he committed 30 more murders. Even if classes had been cancelled, he could have easily just walked through his own dorm, other dorms nearby, one of several dining halls or the student activities building and murdered as many or more students.

    All dorms at Tech have limited access by key card using the Hokie Passport which is like a credit card used for various purchases such as the book store, dining hall, etc. Unfortunately, all one need do is wait until students open a door then walk in. This would not be difficult for a student who knows the routine. Of course he could enter his own dorm at any time and even in the event of a “lock down” would be able to enter any classroom or office complex on campus.

    A timely warning might have reduced his potential targets but by virtue of being a student he could have easily killed just as many. At the very least, though, perhaps the removal of some of the element of surprise might have provided the opportunity for a more timely response from student “targets”.

    I completely agree that Professor Librescu was a hero by any measure. Who knows how many of his students owe their lives to him for having placed himself at the door between the shooter and his students, many of whom were able to escape through the windows.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  47. We can all sit here after the fact and say that we would have done things differently and the students at VT would have been safer. A lot of what we would do involves almost unlimited resources and a great ability to anticipate the actions of the killer. There were a lot of unknowns before the second attack.

    Let’s say that the administration did lock down the campus after the first shooting. For all they knew, they could be locking the killer IN with all 25,000 students instead of locking the killer out. Then we would be talking about how he wasn’t a crazed killer of 32 until the administration gave him no choice. There was no way to escape, he was cornered, so he took as many students with him as possible.

    Or we could be talking about the students who received an email warning, and confronted a guy who they thought was responsible.

    It’s not fair to those who have just gone through an unbelievably difficult time to question their actions based on information that we have now that they didn’t have then.

    Mike S (a7e484)

  48. The only ones who went through an unbelievably difficult time were the victims of the shooter. The ones who let it happen let it happen because they wanted to avoid difficulty and continue with their routine.

    nk (6415d7)

  49. LET IT HAPPEN??

    That’s just mean-spirited.

    Mike S (a7e484)

  50. The most ridiculous editorial comment that I saw conflated the murders at VT with male pattern baldness, saying that society tolerates both as aspects of maleness. From my local Gannett dogscoop:

    http://lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070417/
    OPINION/704170323/1015/OPINION01

    chsw

    chsw (5fe855)

  51. Not really. A university campus is pretty much a totalitarian society. Along with deprivation of freedom there is a responsibility for nurture and security. And the security was not there.

    nk (6415d7)

  52. The ones who let it happen let it happen…

    Some of your comments were insightful. This wasn’t one of them. Get a clue.

    Brian Day (138196)

  53. I’m about to go beddie-bye and haven’t read every single comment above, but, last I heard, based on how the university/campus police were describing it, they sounded as if they let the gunman go un-pursued. I kept wondering, still am wondering, did they issue an APB for the guy, trying to find the gunman while he was on the loose? They — the university and the campus police — kept saying that they thought he had left the campus, and maybe left the state.

    I kept thinking, but he has a GUN and he’s killed two people. You don’t just kick back and rely on what anyone SAYS or what you THINK. You go after the murderer and don’t stop until he is in custody. Usually, that means you alert the media. You don’t just send emails two hours later to the locals! Usually that means schools in the area are locked down. Nobody stands around whining that there are just too many schools to lockdown.

    Suddenly college kids are not as valuable to protect as high schoolers or grade schoolers? No, we all act like college kids would be able to, what, defend themselves? Even though they were barred from having a weapon equal to that of the criminal, in order to successfully defend themselves? No, we expect them to wield a book bag against a semi-automatic?! No wonder kids feel like we aren’t protecting them — because we aren’t.

    I also heard that someone thought it was a “murder-suicide.” What? Did they find a gun in the hand of one of the two dead? No? Then SOMEONE is still on the loose.With.The.Gun.

    I’m sorry, but I think the University president was covering for the campus police chief, and they were all incompetent to handle that scene.

    If the real police had been called in to handle the crime scene, what do you think they would have done?

    Lawsuits aplenty on the way, deservedly.

    alexa kim (05cd25)

  54. This is like the Pearl Harbor thing…..

    Look, you cannot lockk down a university that easily especially with imprefect information and then he would have done what – he would have shot out the glass in a dorm room window or door and done his killing spree there

    A lockdown would have accomplished nothing

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  55. If someone above did offer the wielding a book bag as a defense, I don’t mean to sound like I think a book bag is stupid — certainly not if you’re swinging it filled with books. It is definitely better than doing nothing at all. And the kids who had a chance to react with a plan to do something, did do something and saved their own lives, God bless them all.

    Against a Glock… um… yipes… uh… wow… boy… God bless all of them who fought for themselves and those who didn’t have a chance at all.

    I know it’s human nature to declare the shooter as evil incarnate. At his age, with his past? Serial killers are evil. People like Ng and Davis, yeah, they should be executed, for they are evil. Guys like Cho? Usually they’re suffering, all by themselves. Socially isolated people are longing for acceptance and are utterly incapable of even asking for it. You don’t get to kill people over it, I’m not remotely suggesting anything of the sort. But he was showing signs of suffering.

    Wouldn’t it be great if more of us would just try, a little harder than normal, to just be kind to someone who looks like they could use a random act of kindness?

    alexa kim (05cd25)

  56. Ok, no, really, I am signing off now, but…

    A lockdown would have accomplished plenty: it would have least protected the people in all the buildings he wasn’t in, he would have known he was being hunted, he would have changed his plans, he would have made more mistakes, more eyes would have been looking for him.

    And if lockdowns are worthless, why are they routinely ordered for schools in the areas surrounding other shootings?

    Dept. of Transportation Sec. Norman Manetta did something never thought to have been possible before 9/11: he ordered the grounding of all planes. At once. And it was done. In far less time than thought humanly possible. Effectively, it was instantaneous.

    Where there’s a will, there is a way. Didn’t the students who saved themselves prove that? Didn’t Prof. Liviu Librescu prove that?

    alexa kim (05cd25)

  57. “…it would have least protected the people in all the buildings he wasn’t in”

    Nobody was hurt in the buildings he wasn’t in.

    People are trying to say that the authorities knew at 7:30 that they had another Columbine on their hands and did nothing. In reality, the first shooting looked like a domestic dispute – a terrible crime – but there was no indication that he would go on a random shooting spree.

    Mike S (d3f5fd)

  58. He saw death first hand and still in an instant chose the life of his students over the rest of his life

    I can only imagine the depth and measure of this wonderful individual and could I ever be a tenth of the man he is and was

    Actually, he did the same thing that other students did, i.e., tried to block the door. The only difference, they (at least some of them) were lucky and survived, he was not. At 76 he would probably not be able to jump out of the window anyway.
    Certainly, he did the right and heroic thing, but it was also a) the same thing that other people did, b) the only possible action that could lead to his own survival.

    This is not in any way to denigrate his heroism, of course.

    Nikolay (939eb6)

  59. How do you put a campus the size of VT’s on lockdown? If you can’t count on students seeing email alerts, some of them are bound to get caught in the open. Also, VT is a commuter campus; you can’t just go to the dorm supervisors and tell them to keep everybody in their rooms.

    A PA system might do the trick, though…

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  60. Here is a question: What did the police tell the administration about the first 2 murders? Did they say they believed the gunman had fled the campus? Did they even say there WAS a gunman?

    The media has been reporting that police thought it was a muder/suicide…even though no weapon was found. When police were told the female victim had a b/f on another campus who owned guns, they went there to investigate. So, first they incorrectly diagnosed what happened. Then when a possibility of a gunman being loose arose, they did not increase their presence on VT campus. The reason is that they thought that a gunman would have fled campus.

    All of the above is based on what has been reported, so a grain of salt is required as we know how “precise” the media likes to be.

    Hard Right (7900e3)

  61. Nikolay, you are making assumptions. Who says he could not have gone out the window? Also, who says he had no choice to but to hold the door. He could have allowed someone else to do it, played dead, or attacked the gunman.
    I know you mean no disrespect to his sacrifice, I simply feel he had options other than what he did. That’s why he is a hero.

    Hard Right (7900e3)

  62. #61, Levi, I believe there is a PA system available for use at Tech. Unfortunately it was not used because certain assumptions appear to have been made by the police and the administration.

    I would disagree that Tech is a “commuter campus” in the normal sense of the word. The preponderance of the students at Tech live in the dorms or in housing relatively close to the campus in Blacksburg. George Mason University, here in Northern Virginia, is a true commuter campus in that most of the students live at home and drive to campus on a daily basis. Tech is largely self-contained.

    Finally, as I indicated above, the problem with any of these notification and “lock down” arguments is that the gunman was a student who lived in a dorm, with full access to most buildings on campus. If classes had been cancelled, reducing his planned targets, he need only have gone to one of several large cafeterias during lunch and shot a hundred or more people.

    I do believe an email should have gone out immediately following the first two murders and that the police presence on campus should have been increased dramatically. I’m disappointed that there seems to have been some “assuming” going on that was not logically warranted. I’m just not sure that a different response would have resulted in dramatically different results at the end of the day.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  63. “I know it’s human nature to declare the shooter as evil incarnate. At his age, with his past? Serial killers are evil. People like Ng and Davis, yeah, they should be executed, for they are evil. Guys like Cho? Usually they’re suffering, all by themselves. Socially isolated people are longing for acceptance and are utterly incapable of even asking for it. You don’t get to kill people over it, I’m not remotely suggesting anything of the sort. But he was showing signs of suffering.”

    I almost love the above….. So WHO was responsible for monitoring this obvious sick kid wandering around our campus taking classes and such? WHO had the dossier on him? Who failed to clip his wings BEFORE the incident?

    I’d almost wager that one could see the same signs of suffering on no less than 30% of the population on any given day, if you watch people enough it’s easy to spot.

    “And if lock downs are worthless, why are they routinely ordered for schools in the areas surrounding other shootings?”

    Hmmm HS, Middle school elementary, basically a single building with several entrances confined to 15-20 acres of land. vs. a college campus that sits on 2600 acres, 4 square miles, with over 100 buildings, add to that close to 35,000 people wandering around, 9000 living on campus, 4000 staff, 14000 commuting as these events are happening, another 5-7000 visitors coming and going, many with back packs or bags of some type, multiple major and minor roads for access into and out of the campus. Point being it’s not that they have no value, they do, but only within the context of possibility

    Grounding airliners? One call does it all! As for timing? All four airliners were on the ground before the flight lock down was issued as well.

    TC (b48fdd)

  64. #59 quoted me from #58

    “…it would have least protected the people in all the buildings he wasn’t in”

    then replied:

    “Nobody was hurt in the buildings he wasn’t in.”

    Tautology can be interesting sometimes.

    What I was saying, when I addressed an earlier commenter’s claim that a lockdown would have done no good, for the shooter would have been, unbeknownst to the authorities, locked down into a building he was hiding in, is that even in that case, the people who did the locking down would be in charge of the situation, not the shooter.

    “People are trying to say that the authorities knew at 7:30 that they had another Columbine on their hands and did nothing. In reality, the first shooting looked like a domestic dispute – a terrible crime – but there was no indication that he would go on a random shooting spree.”

    And there was no indication that he would NOT go on a random shooting spree.

    As long as a person with a gun is not in custody, then he is, literally, a loose cannon. You go after him without holding back. Especially when you know that you have a captive audience of as many as 25,000 whom you know you have prohibited from defending themselves with force equal to that of an armed assailant. You’ve made them entirely dependent on you, the University and its own police force, for protection.

    I just heard on the news that apparently, the first girl who was killed, had dated someone who owned a lot of guns. And, apparently, the campus police thought they had the shooter when they turned their attention on that ex-boyfriend. It took 2 hours for them to determine that the ex didn’t do the shooting.

    There are no cameras on campus. They do not have any pictures of the shooter, which would have saved two hours of grilling the wrong person.

    I don’t think anyone should be posing these questions to any of the faculty or students at VTech right now. I think they are fair questions, nonetheless.

    I am listening to Cho’s room-mate, Karan Grewal, say something important. He said he wished he had known that Cho had been depressed, he would have tried harder to be interested in him. He thought of him as being lonely and unresponsive.

    To all the lonely kids in schools: if other kids start trying to interest themselves in your life, be gracious, accept their efforts, and try to return their interest. They are worried about you and themselves. Let it reach you.

    To all the kids thinking about reaching out to a lonely kid: don’t give up to easily. Lonely kids are by definition not socially smooth. Give them some chances to get up to speed. They will be following your example. Start small but keep at it. And whatever you do, don’t play games with them. They are not naturals at that and they can easily misunderstand you.

    alexa kim (05cd25)

  65. Answering #65 –

    “I almost love the above….. So WHO was responsible for monitoring this obvious sick kid wandering around our campus taking classes and such? WHO had the dossier on him? Who failed to clip his wings BEFORE the incident?

    I’d almost wager that one could see the same signs of suffering on no less than 30% of the population on any given day, if you watch people enough it’s easy to spot.”

    Just want to be sure I understand you right. Are you agreeing that we are all our brother’s keepers and can and should reach out to others who seem lonely and try to at least befriend them? Or are you saying the professionals who Cho spoke to had an idea that he was in trouble but did nothing to steer him away from acting worse?

    Right now, professionals are given basically one option to handle people they think might, might, become violent: lock them up. Well, as Americans, that makes us very nervous. Denial of liberty is something we deeply fear.

    Committing someone is easier than it sounds. Many states have a form of WIC – Welfare and Institution Code. You can be locked up, without any access to a lawyer, for a minimum of three days. The stigma attached to seeking help for mental health is still quite strong in this country. It makes getting help rather tricky. If a person wants help, but they run the risk of being locked up if they do, they hold back.

    It sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Well, let me argue that if we would just be nicer to each other, be more willing to welcome people into a friendship, a lot of this lonely festering would get relieved while small. But too often, people can’t be bothered. We don’t want to be seen with anyone not cool, we feel more powerful when we put someone else down, especially if it amuses our peers.

    “Grounding airliners? One call does it all! As for timing? All four airliners were on the ground before the flight lock down was issued as well.”

    Yes, one call can do it all. (I feel like I’m misunderstanding you, I hope I am.) No one knew, at the time, that there were no more hijackers on flights, so in an abundance of caution, all planes were ordered down. We took control of the situation, not just hoping nothing else would happen.

    Regardless of how big a “place” is, you can make one phone call, to a person who orders more calls be made, and each of them order more people to make calls, some alert the media, some set off the sirens, some hit the Send button, some call in reinforcements. The university and campus police, having (hopefully) trained their faculty and charges what to do, now have “deputized” everyone and the entire ant colony is in proactive mode, ready to stop the attack, many against one. And everyone will know that there are people on the campus who will be armed, and will be protected against civil liability.

    Once a population has shown itself prepared to react unambivalently to a threat, and stays prepared, they are left alone. (Oh the analogies.)

    Anytime someone says “it can’t be done” well then they’re right.

    Well’p, that’s all I have time to say about it. I go fetch lunch now. Thanks Patterico for letting us share our thoughts here, I appreciate it.

    alexa kim (05cd25)

  66. I think this is a straw-man type of question. The problem is the campus police and administration froze for nearly two hours, and made some unsubstantiated assumptions on the whereabouts of the shooter. If there was a basis for their belief that the shooter was no longer in the area, then, of course, no. But if, on the other hand, there was basis for the belief that the shooter, still armed, was wandering around the campus, then yes, they should have gotten people into secure areas, using their ability to send e-mails to all students and personnel.

    A campus is not a city. It is a place where students go, and where the school administration is supposed to act in loco parentis. That implies a higher level of vigilance, and a need to err on the side of caution — as any of us would do with regard to our own kids.

    The school had the ability to send e-mail to the entire campus, including many who could receive these e-mails on mobile devices. The e-mail could have said “get into a secure area,” which might be a classroom if the door could be locked. The seemingly absurd error

    johnstodder (68ee0b)

  67. “It is a place where students go, and where the school administration is supposed to act in loco parentis”

    By all means, since we are Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking, let’s have the administration act more parental. Let’s start by NOT letting our 18 year freshmen spend the weekend visiting a boyfriend on another campus. I’ll bet the parents of the first shooting victim are PISSED about that. If she hadn’t been returning to her dorm early Monday morning …

    Mike S (a7e484)

  68. Monday morning quarterbacking indeed!

    Those who bitch about the (non)response are usually the first to bitch about “trampled civil rights” when the response they say “should have happened” actually does happen.

    dubya (753723)

  69. I learned a long time ago that if you can be misunderst5ood that you will be misunderstood, I was, sorry.

    I was making an attempt at being a tad sarcastic towards your comments. WHY? Because the ? posed is still valid, WHO had Cho’s dossier? Homeland Security? Cheney? Bush? Rove? Pelosi? CIA FBI, VT’s pres, the Gov? And what are we going to say about govt keeping such tabs on us?

    “Just want to be sure I understand you right. Are you agreeing that we are all our brother’s keepers and can and should reach out to others who seem lonely and try to at least befriend them? Or are you saying the professionals who Cho spoke to had an idea that he was in trouble but did nothing to steer him away from acting worse?”

    I am not my brothers keeper, does not mean that I am my brothers antagonist either or should be. Seems his own roomie stated they tried a lot to bring him into a more open relationship as friends and roommates and such, only to be constantly turned away by Cho. Hey when somebody desires to be left alone? Probably best you do such. Some folks do to need the constant babbling and such from other humans all the time, though most of us do desire some and some way too much, it is possible to be a fine person and NOT have an entourage along wherever you go. You are correct in that a friendly smile continues to go a very long way towards a better world for all of us.

    BTW I still do not agree with your analogy about shutting down the ATC system with shutting down a college campus. Two very different systems, when flying you are already under very strict rules and regulations! If ATC says land, you land and that means ASAP period, PS the end! If ATC says you will not enter Us airspace, you don’t! and yes, one call does it all! Ignore ATC commands and you find an F-16 on your wing with another right behind with lock and tone!

    Our campuses on the other hand are wide open for all almost 100% of the time! Impossible to lock a college campus? NO, improbable? Very much so, especially within a two hour or less time line this event dictated.

    TC (b48fdd)

  70. Need to add this one.

    Another Opinion/comment

    TC (b48fdd)

  71. After they eliminated the real boyfriend as the killer they should have blown the siren–IOW, take cover–which would have been about 9:26. This text messaging stuff is nonsense, expensive, and easily missed or non-accessible due to overload. It was a half-assed warning but that’s only my humble opinion. I pity the VT president.

    I know from working in academia that they resent the implications of a loud siren, admitting the reality that their world is as dangerous as the real world. (Remember that schools are run largely by aging liberal boomers.) Now they cannot avoid knowing.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  72. Patricia, they figured out he wasn’t involved when they got reports of shootings… They were talking to the guy at the time, apparently.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  73. A VT professor responds to some of the monday morning quarterbacking over at the Corner

    Bob Loblaw (aaedb4)


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