Virginia Tech Shooting Report: University Staff Warned Their Families Before Campus
At least two Virginia Tech administrators told family members about a double shooting in a dorm – the prelude to the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history – well before the rest of the campus was notified a gunman was on the loose.
Those details were revealed in a revised state report released Friday and prompted bitter reactions from some victims' relatives who have been demanding the resignation of President Charles Steger ever since the 2007 massacre that left 33 people dead.
"He's got to live with himself," said Dennis Bluhm, who lost his son. "If he's got any heart at all, and I'm not sure he does, he's got a long life to live with this on his brain."
The report adds to the long list of apparent missteps by university officials before, during and after the 2007 rampage by Seung-Hui Cho. The mentally ill student shot two students to death in the dorm, then three hours later chained the doors of a classroom building and killed 30 more people before committing suicide.
The two administrators notified their families about the dorm shootings around 8:05 a.m. – an hour and 20 minutes before a campus-wide e-mail warning was sent to staff members, faculty and students. The massacre in the classroom building began at 9:40 a.m.
One of the administrators who notified a family member was Steger's chief of staff, Kim O'Rourke, said Phil Schaenman, the president of TriData, the outside firm that put together the report. She often called her son, a Tech student, to make sure he went to class. She told him about the dorm shootings but still told him to go to class, which he did.
"I did tell him what had been happening, and I told him to go to class," O'Rourke told The Washington Post. "He was in class at the time of the shooting in Norris Hall."
"It's been taken that their families were given advance warning," Schaenman said. "But in her case, she said it was safe to come to school."
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