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Shooting at Virginia Tech
December 8, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Two shot at Virginia Tech the gunman is still on the run. Virginia Tech was the site of the largest shooting by a single gunman in 2007. Yesterday and today campus officials were in DC appealing a $55,000 fine for failing to warn students quickly enough.
posted by SuzySmith (109 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh no.
posted by kmz at 10:46 AM on December 8, 2011


The Twitter feed for the College's newspaper is keeping up as best as possible with information.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:47 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the hell is with that school? I mean, what the hell?
posted by crunchland at 10:47 AM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Collegiate Times' facebook page.

I don't know why VA Tech, but my heart is breaking for that campus, I love VA Tech and have good memories of hanging out there (I did not go there, have friends and family who did when I was college age.)
posted by SuzySmith at 10:51 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing remotely like this happened while I was studying there (ten years ago now, yikes). It's kind of terrifying for me to imagine it happening though, since I know all of the places they're referring to.

There's a streaming audio feed from the police scanner for those who want to listen in.
posted by ashirys at 10:53 AM on December 8, 2011


Gunman on campus and these people are just lounging and gawking?
posted by spicynuts at 10:53 AM on December 8, 2011


If I happened to be close to the original crime scene where there's now a bunch of police officers, I might just hang there instead of trekking across campus (since your car is probably on the other side and they shutdown the shuttles) by foot to shelter in place.

I didn't attend VT, but know a lot of people who did. I think I don't know anyone who's actively attending the school, but family of some of my good friends live in Blacksburg. Hopefully this can end as soon as possible.
posted by skynxnex at 11:02 AM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Luckily it is exam time and there were no exams today so a lot of the students are either not there, or were inside studying.

Both shooting victims are now declared dead. One police officer, no report on other. Shooting is thought to have happened during a traffic stop on campus.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2011


Oh not again; so sad. I have the feeling Virginia Tech is going to be spending a quarter million plus on gunshot location systems soon.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another sad commentary on a militarized America and specifically Virginia. Give it up people, guns will not make people safer--they just raise the stakes! This is completely disgusting...
posted by kuatto at 11:12 AM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am a VT alum, and this just breaks my heart. Even though I graduated 30 years ago, I still try to get back to Blacksburg at least once a year. It's always been such a warm, comforting, and safe-feeling place for me.

Reality isn't always what it seems to be, though. That makes me sad. I hope this situation is resolved with nobody else getting hurt.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2011


. .
posted by Phire at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another sad commentary on a militarized America and specifically Virginia. Give it up people, guns will not make people safer--they just raise the stakes! This is completely disgusting...

While I agree with this viewpoint, I would caution against hanging political points onto this event while it is still happening, and even afterward. The last time there was a shooting at Virginia Tech, I worked at a left newspaper, and the editor wanted us to write pieces about how this shooter was influenced by violent video games and movies. We instead wrote pieces about how there was no evidence of either, which got us into quite a lot of hot water. But ever since then, I've been extra-cautious about using tragedies to forward my own worldview.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:18 AM on December 8, 2011 [47 favorites]


The suspect is wearing a maroon hoodie. VA Tech's colors are maroon and orange so a lot of the campus would be wearing a maroon hoodie on a cold day like today.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:23 AM on December 8, 2011


Both shooting victims are now declared dead. One police officer, no report on other. Shooting is thought to have happened during a traffic stop on campus.

Sounds like this might be less "crazy guy does school shooting" and more "drug dealer gets pulled over, coincidentally on campus".
posted by kafziel at 11:25 AM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Breaking: suspect being apprehended on steps of performing arts building on College Ave.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2011


Since the shooter is on foot now, and the car was left, I wonder if they know more who it is and aren't saying, or if it was a stolen vehicle?
posted by SuzySmith at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2011


What kafziel said. Also this thread is going to be full of people going off on political rants without having any idea what's actually happening there. Maybe it can wait.
posted by empath at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Has anyone seen or heard from sneakin?
posted by Eideteker at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2011


That person was not arrested, anotherpanacea, was detained then let go.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2011


@anotherpanacea That report is old.

From Student Newspaper Twitter Feed (https://twitter.com/#!/CollegiateTimes)
"Breaking: person who surrendered at Performance Arts Building is not under arrest"
posted by Revort at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2011


Sorry, folks, SuzySmith is right. "Breaking: person who surrendered at Performance Arts Building is not under arrest"
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:29 AM on December 8, 2011


Give it up people, guns will not make people safer--they just raise the stakes!

Given that the culprit's first move was to violate legal prohibitions against murder (which in Virginia can result in capital punishment) by killing an armed agent of the state on a campus which specifically bans firearm possession by anyone except law enforcement and university security employees, I'm at a loss to understand why you think this reflects on firearm ownership by private citizens.

1) Do you think somebody who is not deterred by the prospect of capital punishment or life in prison for murder is deterred from committing murder by a markedly less severe punishment for possessing a firearm? Do you believe that the individuals and associations which in the United States commit the majority of gun violence are generally amenable to licensing schemes or other restrictions?

2) Do you think that an agent of the state, which for the most part maintains a legitimate monopoly on use of coercive force, "raises the stakes" when he or she possesses a firearm for the specific purpose of interrupting crimes and defending the populace? Do you think an unarmed police officer is more or less vulnerable, if either, to being murdered than an armed officer in the course of responding to a similar incident? Do you think the culprit had the opportunity to carefully examine the armament of the police officer before shooting him or her? Do you think private gun ownership, or separately and in particular the ability to carry a concealed firearm, is a necessary or sufficient condition for a state or municipality's decision to arm its police in force?

In short, your off-the-cuff remark betrays a marked lack of critical thinking about the issue and a knee-jerk culture wars-type capitalization on a tragedy.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:30 AM on December 8, 2011 [29 favorites]


Pictures from Campus by Collegiate Times. The school's newspaper is doing a fantastic job of covering the story as it is ongoing.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2011


Blacksburg High School is now on lock down as well.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:34 AM on December 8, 2011


Some photos:
Someone they thought was the suspect.
From Collegiate Times
Parking Lot of First Shooting
In Torg Bridge
posted by Revort at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2011


Sounds like this might be less "crazy guy does school shooting" and more "drug dealer gets pulled over, coincidentally on campus".

Why drug dealer? Could just as easily be someone wanted for any number of reasons, or most likely, someone in a stolen car. Or just a disturbed individual who went over the edge when the cop confronted him.

Could be not so coincidentally on campus. People come to campuses to commit crimes; they're notoriously open and have a lot of foot traffic where people don't expect to recognize anyone, in comparison to typical office buildings.
posted by phearlez at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2011


Question asked at press conference: "Is this related to armed robbery at Radford? Description of person is very similar."
posted by SuzySmith at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2011


"Another sad commentary on a militarized America and specifically Virginia. Give it up people, guns will not make people safer--they just raise the stakes! This is completely disgusting..."

I like how people make huge sweeping judgements only knowing two or three sketchy details about an on going development where infromation is just starting to come through. Bravo!
posted by amazingstill at 11:44 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Radford robbery on December 7th.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:45 AM on December 8, 2011


@SuzySmith this is the story they are talking about

Police Reports from Yesterday: "The suspect is described as a white, college-age male, wearing dark clothes and a baseball hat"

Today: "white male wearing gray sweat pants, a gray hat with a neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and backpack."
posted by Revort at 11:45 AM on December 8, 2011


From the way things are going, it seems the shooter wants to escape rather than simply gun down as many people as possible.
posted by exogenous at 11:46 AM on December 8, 2011


WDBJ7 just reported that there's going to be a press conference at 4:30.
posted by ashirys at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2011


Thanks, Revort. I was having a hard time finding much information about it as searches are pulling up a November 1st robbery on Radford at CVS.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2011


In June, Ken Cuccinelli (the Virginia AG, and 2013 gubernatorial candidate) told Virginia public universities that they are not allowed to prohibit open or concealed firearms outdoors, and are not allowed to prohibit openly carried firearms indoors.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
posted by schmod at 11:49 AM on December 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Chronicle of Higher Ed is doing updates too
2:35pm: Several vehicles are being tracked by police, including a burgundy Mitsubishi, a red Firebird, and a silver sedan that is either a volvo or a volkswagon. Campus seems to be clear.

@RevMichele Michele Carpenter Silver volkswagon bug travelling at high speeds on I-81 away from #vatech campus has license plate covered. Police alerted and enroute
14 minutes ago
posted by madamjujujive at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Clearly you already have. No doubt erroneously.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:51 AM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gunman on campus and these people are just lounging and gawking?

Or trying to figure out if they can get to their cars and get out.
Or waiting to be told what to do so they don't look like suspects.
Or pausing for a moment just as the photo was taken.
Who knows?

When you don't know where the threat is, and you are in the middle of the things, it's difficult to move to a safer position than where you already are.
posted by zennie at 11:51 AM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


adamdschneider: "Clearly you already have. No doubt erroneously."

Come on, dude. That was unnecessary.
posted by schmod at 11:55 AM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, Virginia Tech is really not a good place to be.

Listen up Virginia, think about tightening up gun laws willya? It's overdue.
posted by thelastcamel at 11:55 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gunman on campus and these people are just lounging and gawking?

I know. Why aren't they going to their dorm rooms and getting their guns?
posted by dhartung at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2011


People who are willing to shoot and kill others, are not following the gun laws already in place, how does making more laws make them suddenly follow the law?
posted by SuzySmith at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the thread where we talked about the last shooting.

I can't believe there's a "previously" for something like this.
posted by rtha at 11:59 AM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Inspector.Gadget, would you accept that guns as such are constituent and essential to the questions you raise? But you are right, I forgot the script, I forgot how I was supposed to react. All I can feel is disgust at the whole charade. It is disgusting that we do this every couple years and act horrified and surprised, as if we didn't know it was coming. Instead we look to events like this in a "non-political", viewpoint neutral manner such as they are. bullshit! Our answer to gun violence is assault rifles. A deadly, childish, cycle of first-order reasoning.
posted by kuatto at 11:59 AM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do you believe that the individuals and associations which in the United States commit the majority of gun violence are generally amenable to licensing schemes or other restrictions?

A lot of my friends in my younger years were gang members, and the easiest way to acquire guns was to steal them from people who legally owned them. Licensing is less of a concern than availability.

The sad part of that cycle is the first thing someone who owns a gun does, after a theft, is buy another gun...

That said, the usual extremist argument, "Well if everyone carried guns, then there'd be no problem!" would actually result in, "If everyone carried guns, no one would know who the aggressor is, and we'd see everyone shooting each other assuming they were the attacker, and the police would have a merry fucking time sorting out the bodies after the fact."

Other countries have general gun ownership and less drama, but that usually involves a culture that doesn't see violence as a solution, mandatory training, and often gun lockers that the police can, by right, inspect at any given time.

Note though, that those countries do have restrictions and the answer isn't "let's have everyone walk around armed all the time!"
posted by yeloson at 12:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the deleted FPP, you can listen to the police scanner here.
posted by Bukvoed at 12:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Police are heading toward sewage plant, suspect is possible hiding out there.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:03 PM on December 8, 2011


Someone on Reddit has pointed out that the police scanner is (a) a very important tool for folks in the area and (b) struggling under the weight of all the traffic ... so perhaps if you're not in the area, please don't use it.
posted by jbickers at 12:03 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just two days ago I was watching candles being lit in memory of the École Polytechnique shooting. Things like this really bother me deep down, moreso than all the other violence we see on TV.

The Chronicle's Storify
is reporting that Campus is clear.
posted by selenized at 12:06 PM on December 8, 2011


The old sewage plant is about a mile away from campus, across the interstate. Sounds possible.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:06 PM on December 8, 2011


Our answer to gun violence is assault rifles. A deadly, childish, cycle of first-order reasoning.

No. Our answer to gun violence is police work, as it has been for gun violence and other types of violence for a long time. That police generally are better-armed and better-trained than the people that commit gun violence is a positive thing, from my point of view.

Licensing is less of a concern than availability.

Definitely, but the idea that guns are any more controllable than say, alcohol or marijuana in that regard is wrong. Promoting the use of gun safes by private firearm owners is a good idea; penalizing people for not using gun safes is guaranteed to snare gun collectors/hobbyists and accomplish little in terms of actually restricting the flow of firearms to people committing violence. As you note, it's a cultural problem: and the hard part about solving it is that people who grow up in a cultural setting that values hunting, target shooting, and/or instructing people in safe and proper firearm use and storage are not the people that are out committing violence. There is relatively little overlap between "gun culture" and crime simply because such a small fraction of privately owned guns in the US are ever used to commit a crime.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:09 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Local TV live streaming news.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2011


I just hope they find the gunman as soon as possible, so the tension on campus get a little better. Exams that were set for tomorrow have been postponed, officials will email students new schedule.

My Facebook feed is filling up with friends who have kids coming up on college age in the next few years, many of whom want to go to VA Tech. A lot of the parents are discouraged by this latest incident.

Waiting to hear about my one friend's son who is an undergrad at VA Tech, she hasn't been able to get a hold of him, but getting in touch with anyone on campus is pretty much impossible right now.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:12 PM on December 8, 2011


Selenized, thank you for the link to Ecole Polytechinque. I did not know about that shooting, but I was in my teens when that one happened.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2011


SusySmith, I'm in touch with several people Facebook.

My friends at the vet school are trying to study for exams. Some of them are locked in the vet school building. None of them can concentrate on studying now, whether they're safe at home or not. (Exam postponement may not apply to vet students.)
posted by zennie at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2011


@SuzySmith I am near campus and in contact with someone near the first incident. I was about to head over to meet her but lucky saw the alert right before I was going to the place the first shooting took place.
posted by Revort at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2011




Two days ago was the anniversary of the PolyTech massacre up in Canada, which was specifically targeted at women. There was an appeal against the Conservative government's scrapping of the long-gun registry. That massacre was to a large degree why we insisted on gun registration and control.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stay safe, Revort. Thank you and zennie for information that you are hearing.

I imagine your friends are not able to study very effectively at this point.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2011


I've been told that several of our local Virginia Tech students have not gotten in touch with their families yet as the phone lines are jammed.

No one has stated who the second victim was as of yet.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2011


Our answer to gun violence is assault rifles. A deadly, childish, cycle of first-order reasoning.

I'm no fan of guns (I get anxious just seeing them in real life) but how exactly should police react to one or more gunmen on the loose?

(I'm assuming that there's also snipers, hostage negotiators, etc on the scene. And that an assault rifle isn't a normal everyday sidearm for most cops.)
posted by kmz at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2011


Picture at Torg bridge
posted by SuzySmith at 12:34 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Picture at Torg bridge

Damn. I have to say, VT is doing a much better job this time. Sad lessons to have to learn.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2011


I'm no fan of guns (I get anxious just seeing them in real life)

I'm always slightly freaked out by how much modern hand guns and assault rifles kind of look like toys in real life.
posted by selenized at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2011


*sighs deeply*
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:41 PM on December 8, 2011


@CBS6 WTVR
*HOME. WDBJ reports that all Montgomery County schools are on lockdown. Kids will not arrive home on time. htl.li/7TmyM #vatech
11 minutes ago
posted by madamjujujive at 12:42 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


kmz,

The question is how can we prevent these events from happening? If we are in a purely reactionary mode, yes we can effectively control or kill the individuals who commit these crimes, but we will never get to the heart of why these events are happening in the first place, and like clockwork it will happen again.
posted by kuatto at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2011


The Collegiate Times tweets that the dramatic photo of law enforcement going up the stairs is from 2007.
posted by exogenous at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2011


SuzySmith: "People who are willing to shoot and kill others, are not following the gun laws already in place, how does making more laws make them suddenly follow the law?"

Because very, very few actual criminals are sociopathic masterminds.
posted by schmod at 12:50 PM on December 8, 2011


Picture at Torg bridge
posted by SuzySmith at 3:34 PM on December 8


Apparently, this photo is from 2007.
posted by cashman at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2011


ah damn, thanks exogenous.
posted by cashman at 12:56 PM on December 8, 2011


Thanks y'all. One person on CT's facebook page stated he was in Torg when that picture was taken, but it is being reported several places as from 2007.

So sad that this has happened enough to have confusion like this.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:57 PM on December 8, 2011


.
.

My thoughts are with everyone at Virginia Tech and all of the loved ones of Hokies right now.

Can we please hold off on the political assessment until after we know things, at least?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:57 PM on December 8, 2011


but we will never get to the heart of why these events are happening in the first place, and like clockwork it will happen again.

So you're saying the heart of the issue, the cause, is too many guns or lax gun control?

So therefore, by your logic, if another country had more guns per capita then it should have the same amount of gun violence or more?

Or maybe there's another variable in this equation. Maybe we should, like you said, get to the real heart of the issue.
posted by formless at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2011


I've been told that several of our local Virginia Tech students have not gotten in touch with their families yet as the phone lines are jammed.

Looking at the bright side, there are probably 100,000* survivors - as in the odds are extremely in the parent's kid's favor that they were not the ones shot.

It sucks to be the .00001% of the parents that get the phone call.

*Purely a WAG. The same thing applied when the DC area had the whackos shooting folks from the trunk of their car.
posted by Man with Lantern at 1:06 PM on December 8, 2011


I know, MwL, I just feel for the parents who are waiting to hear from their kids. A couple have now gotten phone calls or posts on facebook that their kid is fine, just on lock down somewhere.
posted by SuzySmith at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2011


The question is how can we prevent these events from happening? If we are in a purely reactionary mode, yes we can effectively control or kill the individuals who commit these crimes, but we will never get to the heart of why these events are happening in the first place, and like clockwork it will happen again.

I think these are two different conversations, though -- "how to prevent it from happening again" requires different solutions than "how to stop it if it does happen again after all despite our best efforts."

Both valid conversations, mind. Very much so. But different ones.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:21 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Onion Article (no, really)
posted by schmod at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


US News: Authorites believe gunman is dead, alert to be lifted soon

posted by madamjujujive at 1:25 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


They think the 2nd victim was the shooter
posted by madamjujujive at 1:26 PM on December 8, 2011


@SuzySmith - Do they expect a call on Saturday morning to be sure that their kidlings weren't out boozing it up and wrapping their car around a tree somewhere? (Sarcasm on Or maybe I'm thinking of UVA. Blacksburg is probably dry, right? Or the kids don't drink. Sarcasm off)

Seriously, though, it's a matter of managing risk - something we as human beings - have evolved away from. More's the pity.

If we didn't have this on "Breaking News" parents wouldn't have cause to be worried and they could go on with their lives. ...and they'd have something to talk about with their kids.

FWIW, I feel for the parents. I've co-workers with kids at VT and it's painful to watch them. Overreacting? Probably.
posted by Man with Lantern at 1:30 PM on December 8, 2011


Straight from VT Alerts:



Law enforcement agencies have determined there is no longer an active threat or need to secure in place. Resume normal activities.

Virginia Tech Police, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, have determined that there is no longer an active threat or a need to secure in place. Resume normal activities.
posted by whowhom at 1:31 PM on December 8, 2011


Or maybe there's another variable in this equation. Maybe we should, like you said, get to the real heart of the issue.

To start we should acknowledge that guns are part of the problem. To say that guns are irrelevant is wrong, de facto. This is a situation involving guns. Of course we must defend ourselves when violently confronted, and police must help, but we don't need to buy into the farce that we are helpless and can do nothing except react to confrontation.

"Resume normal activities."

Exactly to my point, nothing can be "normal" if we expect things to change. We have to break out of complacency.
posted by kuatto at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2011



@SuzySmith - Do they expect a call on Saturday morning to be sure that their kidlings weren't out boozing it up and wrapping their car around a tree somewhere?


Do you think that some of these parents don't call their kid to check on them during the weekends?

Even though logically it is a tiny chance of it being their child, of course they are worried. The 2007 shooting is still very much in the forefront of the minds of those of us who are in Virginia.
posted by SuzySmith at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2011


Maybe it's just me, but wow, what happened with CNN/MSNBC and the like? None of them are covering the news conference or really even mentioning it at all. Did they kind of change this over time? It's an abrupt change for me, because I rarely turn to these channels (in the past year or so) now but before, there would have been major coverage. Is it the networks listening to the 'experts' who said to not cover it to thwart future attention getters?
posted by cashman at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2011


cashman, they are covering somewhat online / on their blogs - but the best stuff has all been student media on Twitter. Don't know why they aren't covering on TV, they usually love drama.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:42 PM on December 8, 2011


The press conference is streaming live right now at http://www.wdbj7.com/news/livestreaming/ if the cable networks aren't covering it.
posted by zachlipton at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2011


they are being super cautious - won't confirm 2nd victim as shooter.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2011


Jeez. This press conference is kind of whack. After the police and university officials gave an incredibly unclear briefing, a reporter stood up and asked a good dozen questions in a row to just try to get the basic narrative as to what happened. VT police can't even say whether any witnesses who were in the area that they've interviewed were students.
posted by zachlipton at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2011


If they can't confirm if the 2nd victim was the shooter or not, shouldn't the whole area still be on lockdown?
posted by Numenius at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2011


Very weird. I guess they are so paranoid about being wrong or doing something wrong after all the criticism they got in the past that they are pretty much saying nothing.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:07 PM on December 8, 2011


So someone was being stopped by a cop and a 3rd party walked up and shot the cop? Is that what they are saying? Strange.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2011


Very weird. I guess they are so paranoid about being wrong or doing something wrong after all the criticism they got in the past that they are pretty much saying nothing.

Pretty much. The VA State Police official at the conference just said that he can't say whether they are looking for any suspects, but the investigators believe the community is safe, so "you can kind of read between the lines."

So someone was being stopped by a cop and a 3rd party walked up and shot the cop? Is that what they are saying? Strange.

That is what they are saying. No information on where this 3rd party came from or anything of that sort.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on December 8, 2011


Seems like they would have been better off issuing a few statements rather than having a live press conference. This makes me understand why PR spokespeople exist.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:14 PM on December 8, 2011


VT President Charles Steger looks like a wet dog starring into headlights and has basically said nothing throughout most of the press conference. I realize that this isn't really in the standard job description of a university president, but he seems about as out of it as he was in 2007.
posted by zachlipton at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2011


.
posted by twirlypen at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2011


Well they didn't learn a damn thing about handling the media, apparently.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2011


VT President Charles Steger looks like a wet dog starring into headlights and has basically said nothing throughout most of the press conference. I realize that this isn't really in the standard job description of a university president, but he seems about as out of it as he was in 2007.

I doubt any of us can even begin to imagine the shock and horror of going through the events of from the first shooting and its aftermath, and then having a second shooting happen within such a short time.

All our hopes and whatever we do for praying should be with these people and their families tonight and in the coming days as they deal with losing two more and please let there be no others lost in what is surely a horrible nightmare for them all.
posted by empatterson at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given that the culprit's first move was to violate legal prohibitions against murder (which in Virginia can result in capital punishment) by killing an armed agent of the state on a campus which specifically bans firearm possession by anyone except law enforcement and university security employees, I'm at a loss to understand why you think this reflects on firearm ownership by private citizens.
Come on dude if you were being seriously you wouldn't pose rhetorical questions that people who oppose gun ownership could obviously answer. I don't know about this guy, but if you look at Jared Laughner, for example he didn't break a single law until he started shooting. He was pulled over by the police on the way to the shooting, armed, but even if the police had noticed he wouldn't have been able to do anything because of the gun laws in Arizona.

But beyond that, if guns were illegal, it would be much harder to get. Including black market guns. Most of the weapons used by Mexican criminals originate in legal U.S gun stores, before changing hands a few times. If there were no legal gun stores on the continent where would they come from? They'd need to be imported directly from the third world which would be very expensive. Obviously lots of drugs are smuggled from around the world to the U.S but how expensive would they be if they had the same cost per cubic centimeter as cocaine or heroin? Or even marijuana. They would be out of the hands of most common criminals.

You can argue that that's not an ideal situation if you want too, but don't pretend it would be just as easy for a criminal to get a gun if they were completely banned, rather then legal for most people.
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I doubt any of us can even begin to imagine the shock and horror of going through the events of from the first shooting and its aftermath, and then having a second shooting happen within such a short time.

Ya, no one should have to go through that once let alone twice. It's got to be terrible, I am sure for many ptsd will kick in. Terrible thing for the school and all the people in it and overall, it seems like they handled things well.

They should just hire a good media relations person because even though it appears they have handled events well, the conference didn't reflect or impart a sense of competence - a statement would have served them better until tomorrow.

But it's always easy to be a critic.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:41 PM on December 8, 2011


In June, Ken Cuccinelli (the Virginia AG, and 2013 gubernatorial candidate) told Virginia public universities that they are not allowed to prohibit open or concealed firearms outdoors, and are not allowed to prohibit openly carried firearms indoors.

This isn't exactly what he said here. The basis for his ruling is that the ban, enacted by the university powers that be, overstepped their authority and conflicted with explicit state law.

While I loathe The Cooch and may have to quit my job to spend time supporting whoever he runs against when he goes out for governor, I don't think it's an unreasonable position to make that legal judgement.
Where does that leave the university’s gun ban? It’s fine, Cuccinelli reasons, as long as it doesn’t conflict with any actual law.
This happens to run concurrent to Cooch's outlook but consider what it would mean if the university had a policy saying they could ignore other state regulations, such as ones about FOIA or banning tobacco use?
posted by phearlez at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2011


Everything I've read so far has avoided mentioning whether or not the second shooting victim was a suicide or not, which seems like a rather important detail. What gives?
posted by schmod at 9:05 PM on December 8, 2011


empatterson: "I doubt any of us can even begin to imagine the shock and horror of going through the events of from the first shooting and its aftermath, and then having a second shooting happen within such a short time. "

I totally get where you're coming from, but Blacksburg, VA is a city of 42,500 people. As far as anybody can tell, this appears to have been a tragic and random instance of gun crime that may have been completely unrelated to the college.

In Virginia, there were 3 gun-related homicides per 100,000 people in 2010. Seeing one or two gun-related murders in Blacksburg each year would not be a statistical anomaly (although the fact that this one involved the murder of a police officer in broad daylight certainly makes it unusual).
posted by schmod at 9:22 PM on December 8, 2011


It is odd, schmod. The cops are being really evasive.
posted by deborah at 9:22 PM on December 8, 2011


According to the latest reports, one guy shot a cop and then shot himself. It is not known whether the cop was known to the shooter. If it had happened on any other campus, it would have been called "A Murder" by a "Murderer" rather than a "shooting" by a "gunman".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:52 AM on December 9, 2011


Or a "murder/suicide."
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2011


It is odd, schmod. The cops are being really evasive.

I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that university lawyers were in court this very same day fighting a big fine over violating a federal law requiring disclosures. They're worried about saying anything in the moment that might get them socked in the mouth again. Unfortunately this means we get inane seemingly-contradictory statements about how the danger has passed and nobody has been apprehended but they're not willing to say if one of the dead is the shooter.
posted by phearlez at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2011


phearlez: "They're worried about saying anything in the moment that might get them socked in the mouth again"

Um. Weren't they in trouble because they didn't say anything in the moment?
posted by schmod at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2011


They're in trouble because they allegedly failed to disclose the right things and indicate danger to people. They didn't fail to do that here but I suspect they're avoiding public off-the-cuff statements that someone might later use to point to a pattern or which they might have to retract or clarify. So they say what they have to but won't commit beyond that.

Did that make sense? Essentially I think they're doing their minimum legal requirement for immediate disclosure and working really hard to avoid saying anything unnecessary out of fear of future trouble, even if it makes them sound stupid in the moment.
posted by phearlez at 2:19 PM on December 9, 2011


A big thank you to our police officers who put their lives on the line every day.
posted by stbalbach at 7:04 PM on December 9, 2011


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