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America's worst ever shooting rampage took place on 16 April
2007 at Virginia Tech. 23-year-old English major Seung-Hui Cho
killed 32 people – 27 students and 5 teachers – in two
separate attacks, hours apart. He then turned his gun on
First Attack: West Ambler Johnston Hall
The shootings began at West Ambler Johnston Hall. Around
7.15am, Cho killed Emily Hilscher and resident advisor, Ryan
Clark. Hilscher was the first victim, followed by Clark when
he presumably went to her aid. Soon after the shots were
fired, authorities arrived to investigate. They initially
believed it to be an isolated, domestic incident. "We had no
reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," said
Charles Steger, President of Virginia Tech.
Cho returned to his room after the first shooting. He reloaded
his weapons and left a note. He may also have filmed some
footage to add to his manifesto. During this time, Virginia
Tech operated as usual. Classes began at 8am with students
unaware that anything was amiss. The school's leaders met at
8.25am to discuss how to inform the rest of the school about
the killings. At 9.01am, Cho mailed his manifesto to NBC's
headquarters in New York.
Second Attack: Norris Hall
Between 9.05am and 9.15am, Cho entered Norris Hall. From the
inside, he chained shut all three entrances in order to
prevent people's escape. Virginia Tech sent a school-wide
e-mail at 9.26am, informing everyone of a "shooting incident"
at West Ambler Johnston Hall. It didn't help those already in
class. By 9.42am, police had received multiple calls from
students inside Norris Hall – another shooting was in
progress. At 9.50am, police broke through the chained doors of
Norris Hall. As they reached the second floor one minute
later, the gunshots stopped. They discovered Cho's body in a
stairwell; he had shot himself. At 9.50am, the school sent
another e-mail to every Virginia Tech e-mail address: "A
gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further
notice. Stay away from all windows."
Between 9.30 and 9.50, Cho shot 60 people in Norris Hall. He
killed 30. Over the course of his rampage, Cho fired more than
170 rounds. To escape the gunfire, some students played dead;
others jumped out of windows. In some cases Cho lined up
students and shot them. Wounded students barricaded doorways
of classrooms when Cho tried to return for the survivors.
Steger commented: "I am really at a loss to explain or
understand the carnage that has visited our campus."
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