Thankfully--yes, I said thankfully--in the case of the attack at VA Tech the shooter, one Cho Seung-Hui, all three characteristics of conditioning, training and arms were not what they could have been to further enable Seung-Hui to take more lives. Still, the mental and emotional conditioning he'd received and the training he'd enjoyed through the near-constant use of interactive video games has been one of the items brought to the forefront as a possible cause for this event. Let's be perfectly clear: while studies show that saturation play of these games does affect an individual's inherent inhibition against violence, games don't kill people. Not one of the 32 dead at Virginia Tech died as the result of a game shooting them. As to "well armed," all reports say that Seung-Hui was armed with two handguns, although the reports debate the calibers involved. Some say there were two 9mm handguns, while others say one 9mm handgun and one .22 handgun. From the terminal ballistics and victim perspective, it doesn't matter: shot is shot.
At 7:15 a.m. on the morning of Monday, April 16th, Seung-Hui committed his first murder in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory building on campus. When the resident student advisor went to investigate this first murder, he was also shot and killed by Seung-Hui.
What actually occurred between the time of those two shootings and when Seung-Hui started shooting people in Norris Hall on the other side of the campus at approximately 9:15--about two hours after his first murders--is the subject of much question and potential criticism. The fact that the actual pinpoint time the second murders started in Norris Hall hasn't yet been released in any news I can find, leaves the "approximately two hours later" as the best standard. One source of aggravation for the college is that the release time for a warning e-mail about the FIRST murders is both easy to pinpoint and already released to the media: 9:26 a.m. While much can be explained about a delayed warning about what was apparently originally perceived as a domestic violence situation, very little can explain why the college was releasing an e-mail about murders in West Ambler Johnston Hall ten minutes after the murders had started at Norris Hall. I can't grasp that any administration is that incompetent, but until the actual start time of the second shootings is documented and released only assumptions can be made.
Some folks who favor conspiracy theories over the factual truth have already spouted doubts about whether Seung-Hui was the shooter in both places. Let's lay that to rest real quick: information released to the general public and media outlets show that:
- Ballistic tests show that ONE gun was used in BOTH shootings, and
- Seung-Hui's fingerprints were on both guns.
In Norris Hall, Seung-Hui reportedly chained the front door shut behind him, prohibiting entry to the hasty teams formed by the responding police officers. Those same police officers would have attended response to Active Shooter training and would be forming hasty teams to make entry, move to the sound of shots and neutralize the threat. The glaring glitch was the unexpected planning and preparation of Seung-Hui in chaining the doors. Very few Active Shooter programs integrate challenges that require creative thinking under stress. When Seung-Hui finally ended his own life and rescue operations began, Mother Nature was kind enough to throw in another glitch: Med-Evac helicopters couldn’t be flown because of high winds. Some trauma cases were going to take longer than expected to get to care centers, and some of the care centers may not have been equipped as well as most serious trauma centers are.
Those are only two examples of the challenges faced by the responding officers and rescuers. Of those cited, there are two examples of heroic actions that need to be recognized.
As mentioned above, a resident student advisor in West Ambler Johnston Hall rushed to the scene of the first shooting to render aid. That young man, Ryan Clark, has to be honored for his courage. How many people today would rush toward the sounds of a violent confrontation, motivated only by the goodness in their heart? Ryan Clark was such a man and we need to remember him properly. Two hours later in Norris Hall, a professor named Liviu Librescu was shot through his classroom door as he held it shut, so that his students could escape out the windows. John 15:13 says "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Professor Librescu sacrificed his life saving the lives of the children in his classroom. His heroic actions saved all of them and he too needs to be remembered with honor.