Today in History: A shooting at Virginia Tech leaves 33 dead including shooter

The Virginia Tech shooting began at about 7.15am on 16 April 2007, when Seung Hui Cho, a 23-year-old senior and English major at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shot a female student and a male resident assistant in a campus dormitory before fleeing the building.

Police were soon on the scene but were unaware of the gunman’s identity.

They initially pursued the female victim’s boyfriend as a suspect in what they believed to be an isolated domestic violence incident.

However, at about 9.40am, Cho, armed with a 9mm handgun, a 22-calibre handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, entered a classroom building, chained and locked several main doors and went from room to room shooting people.

The Virginia Tech shooter, Seung Hui Cho. Image: Telegraph UK.

Approximately 10 minutes after the rampage began, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The attack left 33 people dead (including Cho) and more than a dozen wounded.

In all, 27 students and five faculty members died in the massacre.

Two days later, on 18 April, NBC News received a package of materials from Cho with a time stamp indicating he had mailed it from a Virginia post office between the first and second shooting attacks.

Contained in the package were photos of a gun-wielding Cho, along with a rambling video in which he ranted about wealthy “brats”, among other topics.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, authorities found no evidence that Cho, who was born in South Korea and moved to America with his family in 1992, had specifically targeted any of his victims.

The cover of the 30 April, 2007 edition of Time Magazine. Image: Time Magazine.

The public soon learned that Cho, described by students as a loner who rarely spoke to anyone, had a history of mental health problems.

It was also revealed that the angry, violent writings Cho had produced for certain class assignments had raised concern among some of his professors and fellow students well before the shooting.

In 2011, Virginia Tech was fined by the US Department of Education for failing to issue a prompt campus-wide warning after Cho shot his first two victims.

School officials only sent an e-mail notification about the dorm shooting to students and faculty at 9.26am.

According to the Department of Education, the message was vague and did not indicate there had been a murder or that the gunman was still at large.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at northsider@caxton.co.za  (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

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  AUTHOR
Blake Linder
Journalist

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