Tuesday, April 17, 2007


If the teaching staff had all been armed, many lives would have been saved

The background -- from January 31, 2006

A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly. House Bill 1572 didn't get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.

The bill was proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Gilbert was unavailable Monday and spokesman Gary Frink would not comment on the bill's defeat other than to say the issue was dead for this General Assembly session.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." Del. Dave Nutter, R-Christiansburg, would not comment Monday because he was not part of the subcommittee that discussed the bill.

Most universities in Virginia require students and employees, other than police, to check their guns with police or campus security upon entering campus. The legislation was designed to prohibit public universities from making "rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a student who possesses a valid concealed handgun permit ... from lawfully carrying a concealed handgun." The legislation allowed for exceptions for participants in athletic events, storage of guns in residence halls and military training programs.

Last spring a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, despite having a concealed handgun permit. Some gun owners questioned the university's authority, while the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police came out against the presence of guns on campus.

In June, Tech's governing board approved a violence prevention policy reiterating its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus facilities.


The result

A shooting spree by a lone gunman has left at least 33 people dead at a Virginia university in the bloodiest mass shooting in US history. The killer first opened fire in a dormitory at Virginia Tech, the state's biggest university, killing at least two people. Two hours later he was able to continue his rampage in an engineering classroom on the other side of the campus. A lone male is believed to have been responsible for the carnage, before turning the gun on himself.

There were unconfirmed reports that the killer was an Asian man in his twenties who may have been motivated by jealousy, believing that his girlfriend was being unfaithful. By lunchtime, local time, the death toll had risen to 33 and a further 26 had been injured.

University authorities and police struggled today to explain why they allowed students on to the campus after the first shooting and failed to issue proper warnings. The internet was buzzing with postings purporting to be survivors' tales, including a dramatic description of students barricading themselves inside a classroom while the killer tried to shoot his way in.

Speaking from the White House President George W. Bush told a press conference: "Our nation is shocked and horrified." The massacre began at 7.10am, local time, when a gunman entered a dormitory at Virginia Tech, the largest university in the state. He killed two people, a man and a woman, on the fourth floor of the West Ambler Johnston Hall, one of the largest halls of residence with sleeping quarters for 895 students. At 7.15am the first emergency call was made. Police cars and ambulances rushed to the scene and armed teams fanned out around the hall, on the southwest side of the 2,600-acre campus, trying to find the gunman amid swirling snow.

Police and university authorities believed that the incident was "domestic" and was contained. They said later that there was reason to believe that the gunman had fled. By this time around 14,000 students and staff were on their way to the campus. The university sent e-mails to all Virginia Tech members but decided against shutting down the campus. Charles Steger, the president, said: "We concluded that once they got to the classroom, that was the best place to lock them down."

The e-mail had few details. It read: "A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating." The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious. But at 9.40am gunfire began again. Shots came from Norris Hall, an engineering building filled with classrooms. One student, Jamal Albarghouti, filmed the scene on campus with his mobile phone, images that were broadcast on CNN even before the full scale of the massacre had been revealed....


Missouri: 3 men charged in botched kidnapping: "Three men face second-degree murder charges in an attempted kidnapping that left a fourth suspect dead. According to police, the four men plotted to kidnap another member of their gang and demand a $50,000 ransom. Police said the suspects lured the man to a house Saturday claiming they wanted to buy drugs from him, then bound him with duct tape and called his brother, demanding the ransom be paid within 30 minutes. The kidnap victim, a man in his 20s, managed to escape without injuries and call police after shooting one of his captors, police said. Police Sgt. Richard Sharp said the shooting was considered self-defense and the man has not been charged. However, Marlyn L. Standifer, 18; Robertico Cooper, 19; and Antwan Wooden, 21, were charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action. Standifer and Cooper were in custody, but police were still looking for Wooden, who also is wanted in an unrelated shooting death in January. According to court records, the shooting happened when Antwan Wooden, Standifer and Cooper went to meet the victim's brother, who had gone to the police station. Court records say the victim was left alone with Keith Wooden, 24, the older brother of Antwan. The hostage worked his hands free from the duct tape and took Keith Wooden's gun from him, court records say. When Wooden lunged at him, the victim fired, court records say. He then fled the house. Wooden was pronounced dead at the scene."

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