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THE SITUATION ROOM
Massacre at Virginia Tech University
Aired April 16, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou.
We're continuing our breaking news coverage. Happening now, state officials -- state officials say a gunman still unidentified killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life. The killings occurred first at a dormitory, then at a classroom building. We're going to hear from a student who actually survived the slaughter and another who captured the sights and the sounds of this massacre, the worst shooting in U.S. history.
Police are trying to figure just what happened. Why was there a two-hour gap between the shootings? Did the gunman really act alone? Authorities plan to hold a news conference this hour. We're going to bring it to you live.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, sorrow, shock, and unanswered questions about the bloodbath at Virginia Tech -- this is what we know right now. The killing spree began about 12 hours ago. Virginia officials say 33 people were killed, including a gunman who took his own life. Still no official word on his identify or his motive.
The massacre occurred in southwestern Virginia on the campus of Virginia Tech. That's in Blacksburg. The first 911 emergency call was made at around 7:15 a.m. Eastern from the West Ambler Johnston Hall. That's a co-ed dormitory on the campus.
Two people were killed in that dorm. Two hours or so later, authorities got word of more gunfire at Norris Hall. That's a classroom building in an engineering hall across the campus. Most of the bloodshed happened right there. I want you to watch and listen to this extraordinary cell phone video from the scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: We counted 27 shots you just heard on that extraordinary video. We're going to speaking with a student who shot that video in his cell phone. That's coming up later this hour. You're going to want to hear what he had to say as he was steady enough to shoot that video. The college campus looked more like a battlefield today with these sights and the sounds of slaughter as you just heard.
Our Brian Todd is joining us now to take us through the day's shocking events at Virginia Tech. What a day, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure was, Wolf. Maybe the most chilling images we've seen so far, what you just showed on the air, the scenes of some of the worst carnage of the day, that incredible video taken from the cell phone of a student at Virginia Tech.
TODD (voice-over): Among the first images we saw captured outside the Norris Hall classroom building on the Virginia Tech campus.
TODD: Multiple gunshots recorded by student I-reporter Jamal Albarghouti. A law enforcement source tells CNN some of these shots may have come from police, but the Virginia Tech police chief says there was no shootout. This was the second campus building attacked and where all but two victims were killed. The first shootings occurred at least two hours earlier in the West Ambler Johnston Hall dormitory. The police chief asked why the entire campus wasn't locked down after the first incident.
CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: The information we had on the first incident led to us make the decision that was it an isolated event to that building. And the decision was made not to cancel classes.
TODD: But the carnage got much worse at Norris Hall, where the chief says the gunman took his own life. The campus resembled a war zone. Law enforcement officers wearing armor and wielding automatic weapons, taking cover themselves. Witnesses describe the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next thing I know I saw cops running out. Took -- people running towards me. I'd say about 50 to 100 people running.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw a police car flying up the hill by one of the buildings, and we were still walking. And then they just yelled run, and everyone started sprinting and we heard gunshots.
TODD: Some of the wounded seen being helped out of campus buildings. Officials tell CNN the wounded, mostly gunshot victims, are being treated at several area hospitals. The school's president says shock is a wild understatement.
CHARLES STEGER, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA TECH: I'm really at a loss for words to explain or to understand the carnage that has visited our campus.
TODD: And right now we're trying to find out more about the suspect. Police are saying very little at the moment, giving no name. Only saying this was likely one gunman. We're told by federal officials FBI agents are on the scene assisting the Virginia Tech police in this investigation. Also agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are deployed to Blacksburg to conduct ballistics tests -- Wolf.
BLITZER: When you get more information, Brian, we'll check back with you. Thank you.
And just a short while ago we got this description of the Virginia Tech gunman from a student who was actually injured in the shooting rampage. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEREK O'DELL, INJURED STUDENT: He was about six feet tall, Asian with a black coat on. He just started shooting, didn't say anything, just irrational acts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Derek O'Dell, a sophomore biology major at Virginia Tech. We're going to be speaking with some other students and eyewitnesses coming up.
But I want to go to Sarah Walker. She's on the scene at Virginia Tech. She's a volunteer with the Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. Sarah, thanks very much for helping us. Tell us where you were, what you were doing when you first got word of this shooting rampage.
2ND LT. SARAH WALKER, BLACKSBURG, VA VOLUNTEER RESCUE SQUAD: This morning, I actually went into the Blacksburg rescue station to do some basic paperwork for the crew hall. I had heard about the Ambler Johnston shooting this morning, thought that was an incident that was isolated, and then we starting hearing on the scanner that there was an active shooter on campus again.
BLITZER: So what happened? So what did you do then?
WALKER: I actually had to go on to campus and pick up one of our members who is a volunteer with the police department as a medic. We needed to pick him up so he could help out the police department there. So we picked him up, went back to crew hall, got him his gear and then I hopped on an ambulance to respond to the campus to help with the victims.
BLITZER: Now you immediately started to deal with what's being described as the walking wounded. Tell us about that.
WALKER: The walking wounded are the victims who had been grazed, who were bleeding, who needed treatment, but were able to walk out of the scene without a problem. Those were the first victims that were brought to us.
BLITZER: How many did you treat?
WALKER: Probably somewhere between three to five initially -- honestly, lost count of how many that I actually laid hands on.
BLITZER: And what were they saying to you about the actual incident? I assume if they were walking, they may have been wounded, but they were still alert and they could describe what they went through.
WALKER: We were more concerned about their injuries. We did not ask about the actual incident. We were concerned about their health and their well being and so we focused on that.
BLITZER: And how were they doing, those that you treated?
WALKER: They were scared, understandably they were scared. Most of the ones that I treated initially were -- will probably be fine, will recover with simply emotional scars. I did have some later in the day, multiple gunshot wounds -- again, of course, they were a little bit more serious. But I believe that they should recover as well.
BLITZER: And your bottom line, how are they doing on the campus right now, Sarah?
WALKER: As far as the mood of the campus?
WALKER: Is that what you are asking? I have been off the campus for an hour working with the media right now. It was pretty somber when I left, however.
BLITZER: Understandably so. Sarah Walker, thanks for your good work and thanks for helping us with this story.
WALKER: You're very welcome.
BLITZER: Sarah Walker is a volunteer with the Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. They do incredibly important work, life- saving work as you just heard.
Much of the carnage at Virginia Tech unfolded in the science and engineering building known as Norris Hall -- CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now live. What have you been learning about what happened at Norris Hall, Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it was awful, Wolf. Norris Hall, by the way is huge, 72,000 square feet, 72,000, classes with stadium-style seating inside this building. There are administrators who have offices in the building. When that gunman entered kids taking class were completely unaware that hours earlier two people already had been killed on campus.
COSTELLO (voice-over): The carnage inside Norris Hall is indescribable, but this morning for Tiffany Otey, a Virginia Tech student, it was a morning like any other. She along with 18 others were taking a test in Norris until they heard the gunfire.
VOICE OF TIFFANY OTEY, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: We called 911 and the police showed up, and outside they were armed with guns. We decided that we should probably go into a room that had a locked door, so we went into a teacher's office, there were about 20 of us, and we were in a teacher's office and locked the door.
COSTELLO: They cowered inside, going online to figure out what was happening. Otey say she found out in an e-mail from Virginia Tech administrators someone had been killed two hours earlier at Ambler Johnston Hall, then the gunfire at Norris intensified.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a continuous gunfire going off, like every like second or so there would be another shot and there were approximately probably about 50 shots (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
COSTELLO: Other students who were inside Norris describe the scene as chaotic, Brandon e-mailing, one of my friends was in one of the classrooms where the shooting occurred. And the scene he described was utter chaos. It sounded like a scene from a movie, something that you watch but never expect to happen to you. At some point, police stormed into Norris encountering the chaos and bodies. They didn't wait for paramedics, taking the wounded out any way they could. Otey, still locked inside that classroom, heard that too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At one point we did hear like screaming because people were running out of the building, and at this point we were all kind of frightened as to wonder like what's going to happen to us.
COSTELLO: She and the others didn't have to wait for long. Police in riot gear burst into that locked office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were telling us to put our hands above our head and if we didn't cooperate or put our hands above our head, like they would shoot and I guess because they were afraid that like us, like the shooter was going to be among one of us.
COSTELLO: And, Wolf, one young man did not put his arms above his head. He was immediately thrown to the ground. All of those students managed to get out of that building safely. Tiffany, by the way, lives off campus and she says she is not looking forward to returning to class -- Wolf. BLITZER: You really can't blame her after a horrendous, horrible situation like that. Carol, stand by. We're going to be getting back to you.
Right now, understandably, area hospitals around Virginia Tech are treating all the injured by some estimates, at least two dozen, many in critical condition right now.
CNN's T.J. Holmes is over at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg. T.J., tell our viewers what are you learning about what's going on there.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we know here, Wolf, they started getting the injured right after that first shooting, around 7:30, 8:00 this morning. And they ended up treating about 17 people here, exactly 17 people. They actually had one dead on arrival, but of the 17 they actually discharged five, who were able to leave. Another nine are still here at the hospital, six of those in stable condition, three of those in critical condition.
And then there are another five at other hospitals that are being treated as well. Montgomery Regional is directly up the street. You just hop on the road, you take a left and you head straight down and you run into the Virginia Tech campus, so we're very close to it. Right here at the hospital, really since mid morning, we understand, families start arriving, trying to check on the condition of their loved ones understandably.
Hospital officials set up a separate area for them to congregate. They wanted to make sure they identified everybody and were able to get as much information as possible to them about their loved ones and exactly what the conditions are. It ranges here, really, according to the hospital officials. Wouldn't be too specific, but not all of the injuries they have here are gunshot wounds.
So he wouldn't get too specific, but did let us know that. That many of them -- most of them are gunshots, but we heard reports earlier of people jumping out of windows, trying to get away those might have been some of the injuries as well, but he would not confirm that too us. But a variety of different type of wounds here, but still even though a lot of it happened on campus and we know so tragically the dead, 30-something dead, but a lot of concerns still right now, Wolf, for so many that are still injured and still several are in critical condition -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thirty-two dead, 33 if you include the gunman who committed suicide according to the police. T.J., stand by. We'll get more information for you as it comes in.
In the meantime, let's check in with Jack Cafferty, he's watching all of this together with us. He's in New York -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The gun control debate will likely heat up again in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. Tragic events tend to become politicized. And a tragedy of this magnitude, the deadliest single shooting rampage in U.S. history will likely trigger a new round of debates over our constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.
The issue itself is one of the most hotly debated in the country. The National Rifle Association is a powerful political force, fierce defender of our citizen's right to own guns. But when something like this happens, some of the air goes out of their balloon. If guns were not so readily available, would things like this still happen?
So here is the question. Are gun control laws likely to change in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. I remember after Columbine, Wolf, we had the same discussion and for a week or two it was the top of the national agenda was reforming the gun ownership laws. Nothing ever came of it.
BLITZER: And in Virginia, as you know the laws, as far as guns are concerned are relatively easy compared, certainly to the District of Columbia where I am or the state of Maryland, not very far away either.
CAFFERTY: They are among the most liberal gun laws in the country there in Virginia, so maybe the state fathers will be taking a look at that too. Who knows?
BLITZER: I assume they will. We'll see what happens on that front as well. Jack, thank you. We'll get back to you shortly.
But let's go straight to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's keeping an eye on pictures coming in from the Virginia Tech campus through our own I-report on CNN.com. What are you seeing, Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well we're seeing, Wolf, exactly what these Virginia Tech students were seeing this morning, multiple pictures, images, sent in from camera phones, sent in from cell phones, and being sent to our Web site through dorm windows and classroom windows.
This is from Robert Fried. He's a junior. He said he already knew about a shooting before he headed in this morning, but he thought it was contained. So he went in anyway. Then when he got there saw the swarms of police, that taken from Torgersen Hall. Landon Mills is a sophomore. He was in class this morning. He headed back to his dorm after hearing about the shooting.
He said he saw people running out of Norris Hall at that time. And these pictures are taken right after he saw police headed in. He said the police were yelling at students up in their rooms to stay in their rooms. He took these from his window. Jason Joseph also recorded the swarms of police. This is from Lee Hall, all of these pictures taken he said either taken from his room or the room of friends.
And not the police recorded on the pictures here from Nancy Love, these from Durham Hall from her fourth floor office. Nancy says that she counts 13 ambulances here, ambulances that were pulled up to the Virginia Tech campus. All these pictures, many of them displayed on the CNN.com site and this is where people can send in their images to CNN.com/I-report -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you. Good information, very useful information.
Let's speak with a guest right now. Members of Virginia Tech student newspaper have been working this story since it broke. Amie Steele is the editor-in-chief of "The Collegiate Times" on the campus. She's joining us from Blacksburg.
Amie, thanks very much and our deepest condolences to everyone at Virginia Tech, a horrific, horrific day. Where were you? I know it's very windy, and the wind is pushing you around on the campus right now...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
BLITZER: ... Amie, but where were you when these -- when this massacre occurred?
AMIE STEELE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "COLLEGIATE TIMES": The original shooting, I was still at home. I had just woken up to go to class, and one of our reporters actually called me saying that he heard a rumor there was a shooting on campus and to see if I could find out what was going on, so I called our news editors and reporters from there to try to get reporters on campus to figure out what was going on. So I was still at home actually when the initial shooting occurred.
BLITZER: What about the second shooting at the Engineering Hall?
STEELE: By that time I was in our pressroom, trying to figure out what was going on. We had the initial reports from when our reporters were out for the first shooting. So we were trying to make sense of that and try to figure out what was going on. And then we heard over the police scanner that there was a second shooting, so I was on campus when the second one occurred.
BLITZER: There have been a lot of reports, a lot of suggestions, Amie that students are unhappy that they weren't informed between the time of the first shooting and two hours or so later that the second shooting, that this gunman was still at large. The campus had not been locked down, if you will, as thoroughly, as completely, as perhaps it should have been. How angry are students right now on the campus?
STEELE: I would say that's probably the number one thing that we are hearing from our peers, students on campus right now, wondering why, if the shootings occurred in the 7:00 hour this morning, why was the campus e-mail not sent until 9:30, so that's the big issue getting raised right now. And then students were not updated again for another hour. We received an e-mail about an hour after 9:30, around 10:30, saying that there was a loose gunman on campus, telling students to stay away from windows and to stay indoors. And then we received an e-mail an hour after that stating the second shooting occurred in Norris.
BLITZER: What is the explanation you're getting from campus -- from the campus authorities and law enforcement on the scene?
STEELE: Campus -- I'm sorry. It's really windy. Campus administrators so far have informed us that they thought that they were two separate occurrences going on. The first one they thought was just a domestic dispute, and they thought they had it contained and had it controlled. They thought they had the gunman locked in the building, and they thought that they could take care of that. So they didn't feel like it was necessary to inform students or to cancel classes at that point, so they thought the initial shooting was just a domestic dispute and then hours later the second shooting occurred.
BLITZER: The -- at the Norris Engineering building, that's when some 30 students were gunned down over there. What are you learning from eyewitnesses and others about what happened inside that building?
STEELE: At this point, we are basically hearing rumors. All of our students in the newsroom are trying to figure out and wave through the rumors, trying to figure out what's truth and what's not. We are hearing that he just went into a classroom and everything happened from there. He tried a classroom before that, but apparently students had locked the door and put a chair underneath the door, so he could not get in. So then he went to the next classroom, which is where apparently the shooting mostly took place.
BLITZER: Amie Steele is the editor-in-chief of "The Collegiate Times" on the campus -- Amie, thank you for your information.
Carol Costello is getting new information on the weapon or weapons that may be the case that were used in this horrible incident today. What are you picking up, Carol?
COSTELLO: Yes, Wolf, you know everybody is wondering how you can shoot so many people in such a short period of time. There are rumors flying around out there that the gunman had a flak jacket on. We have not confirmed that yet. But we have confirmed that two weapons, believed to have been involved in the Virginia Tech shooting are being transported to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms laboratory, which is in Greenbelt, Maryland. Those weapons will be tested there.
I wish I could tell you what type of weapons they were, but I cannot. But we do know that two weapons have been taken from the scene at Virginia Tech and sent on to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. And of course they'll be conducting forensics investigations on these weapons, Wolf, and when we get the results of those we'll pass them along.
BLITZER: Greenbelt, Maryland, as you know, right outside of Washington, D.C., one of the suburbs here. We'll check in with the FBI and the ATF for more on that.
Coming up, we're still awaiting a press conference over at Virginia Tech. Hopefully, we'll be getting more information, answers to so many of the unanswered questions, so far, what unfolded today. Possibly get some new information about the suspect. We'll bring you that news conference with the authorities, live, as it happens. Behind the gunfire caught on cell phone video, I'll speak with the student who took those extraordinary pictures, speak about what he saw, what he heard, the dangers he felt. And could the carnage on one campus lead to copycat killings on another -- a former FBI special agent sharing his worst fears.
Stay with us -- our special coverage, continuing coverage of this breaking news right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: For many, the disturbing reality of this nightmare still is sinking in. CNN's Jeanne Meserve is on the scene for us at Virginia Tech. What do you see happening? What's happening right now, Jeanne?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we met a young woman named Erin Sheehan, she's a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering. She said she was a classroom in Norris Hall when the gunman entered; here is part of her story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN SHEEHAN, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: He peeked in twice earlier in the class, which is sort of sketchy, but then he came in eventually later, and he just stepped within five feet of the door and started firing. He seemed very thorough about it, getting almost everyone down. I was trying to be dead on the ground. Then he left for about 30 seconds, came back in, did almost exactly the same thing.
I guess he heard us still talking. And then we forced ourselves against the door so he couldn't come in again. Because the door would not lock, and so he -- he came and tried to force himself in another three times and started shooting through the door. It was a solid wooden door with no window....
MESERVE: How many students were wounded?
SHEEHAN: At least -- when we left, only four of us left (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and everyone else was unconscious, either dead or wounded seriously.
SHEEHAN: There was about 25-person classroom and professor was down as well.
MESERVE: What happened then?
SHEEHAN: One of us tried to call on the cell phone. We already tried to call the police we saw on the ground from the window. I'm not sure which was better to do, but they came and we heard the cops and they let the four of us out and they escorted the both of us. I mean all four of us with the two policeman down and outside and they told us to run, pretty much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: She described the gunman as a young Asian male. She said he looked familiar but she didn't know him. She described him as looking something like a Boy Scout, dressed in brown, but she said with something that looked like a black ammunition vest on, and she said when she saw him, he was carrying a single gun. She described it as a handgun, black plastic, but she said she isn't an expert on weaponry. She survived by playing dead on the floor of that classroom -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Jeanne. Stand by. We're awaiting the start of a news conference with local authorities to update us on what they know about the shooter, the extent of fatalities, the injured. We're going to bring you that news conference live as soon as it begins. We're standing by for that.
Mary Snow is watching all of this unfold. And, Mary, what are you learning about the timing of what happened today?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the killing spree began early in the morning before classed started. It involved two shootings hours apart from each other and at two separate locations.
CHARLES STEGER, VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT: At about 7:15 this morning, a 911 call came to the university police department concerning an event in West Ambler Johnston Hall. There were multiple shooting victims.
SNOW (voice-over): Multiple victims, a campus in chaos, a four- story dorm on the Virginia Tech campus is under fire, but police are just getting their bearings when calls ring in from another part of the campus, Norris Hall. Not even two hours have passed, and a classroom is also under attack.
VOICE OF MATT WALDRON, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Everybody said that there were gunshots that came from the inside, and then like two minutes later, people came pouring out of the door with their hands up and they were screaming and stuff like that and I guess two kids had jumped out of the window.
SNOW: At 10:00 a.m., the campus newspaper's Web site says a gunman is on the loose. The university is in lock down; 10:20, classes are canceled; 10:32, the worst news possible. People are dead. It's unclear how many.
STEGER: There are multiple fatalities. The number of fatalities has not been confirmed. Victims have been transported to various hospitals in the immediate area and the region to receive emergency treatment.
SNOW: 10:36, police report the shooter is dead, but is there another one?
ALEX SEMONITE, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I started walking towards my dorm, which is near Burruss too. Along the way when I was on the other side of the Drill Field, I heard shots fired, and I saw everyone running across the Drill Field. So I then immediately started running towards my dorm so that I could get into a safe environment.
SNOW: 12:18, reports are grim. There are at least 20 dead.
SCOTT HILL, MONTGOMERY REGION HOSPITAL: At Montgomery Regional Hospital, there are 17 patients being treated for various injuries.
SNOW: 12:23, the shooting is officially over. But the death toll keeps climb being.
CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: At this time we believe it's only one gunman, yes.
QUESTION: Where is that gunman?
FLINCHUM: He's deceased.
SNOW: Now as of this evening, authorities have still not identified the gunman. They say he took his own life -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thank you for that. It is the deadliest massacre in United States history. We are following the breaking news. Officials right now trying to figure out why a gunman, apparently acting alone went on a killing spree on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. As we've been reporting, 33 people confirmed dead, including the gunman, that, according to the school's president.
Police say the gunman took his own life. Today, several witnesses spoke out to our affiliates reacting with shock and bewilderment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand why they would do something like this. It seems really senseless, and it's really hard to just think about why, you know, all these people had to die for no reason sort of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's insane, just thinking back to Columbine and stuff like that, the shooting at the Amish school in Pennsylvania. It's just utter shock how anybody could do this to anybody else. And just be -- I don't know. It's crazy to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's something that no one will ever get over. I mean, the people who died, yes, they have finished their pain, but the pain for everybody else, it will go on forever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just insane. That's just -- it's such a big number. Like we were already saying this is just like a college Columbine. It's just really sad.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Let's take another look now at that cell phone video, that captured the gunfire and the chaos at Virginia Tech. The images taken by a student, found himself near the scene of the carnage at Norris Hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!
BLITZER: That gripping video conveys the sense of chaos, the panic that gripped the Virginia Tech campus this morning. Joining us now is Jamal Albarghouti. He is the student who recorded that video earlier today.
Jamal, I know this must be extremely painful and difficult for you, but tell our viewers where you were, what time this occurred, when you started your camera rolling?
JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: That was around 10 to 10, around 9:50 a.m. here Eastern time in Blacksburg, and I was just going to campus to talk to my adviser, but then I started hearing people telling me to leave. So I was on campus around 10:00.
BLITZER: What kind of camera were you using?
ALBARGHOUTI: it was my cell phone camera. I have a Nokia n70, and I was just using the cell phone camera.
BLITZER: And so what -- did you start hearing some shots at all? You saw people running? Is that when you decided to start rolling video?
ALBARGHOUTI: Well, I took that decision when I saw a policeman taking off his gun and started looking for a target to shoot. I knew that this isn't another bomb threat. Because we had two last week, so I knew this is something way more serious. It was then when I decided to use my camera.
BLITZER: We heard -- we counted 27 shots in the video that you made available to CNN through our I-Report operation, 27 shots, do you know if those shots were coming from the gunman, coming from the police? Do you have any idea what those popping sounds, where they were coming from?
ALBARGHOUTI: I have no idea. Thanks for counting them, Wolf. I didn't know there were 27 shots. I thought -- to tell you the truth, I thought I was really safe. I thought they were far away from where I am, but then people started talking about shots that might have been inside the building. That might have been the reason why they weren't so loud.
I -- at the end of the video, if you can hear it, there is a really loud, maybe it was a bang, like a tear bomb or something that the...
BLITZER: It sounded a lot louder, it was almost like a boom. The final shot that we heard. There it was right there.
ALBARGHOUTI: Yes. That was the loudest one I heard. That was when I knew that I'm really close a really serious situation. And there was a cop from behind me, rushing towards me, telling me to just leave, this is when I stopped using my camera.
BLITZER: We heard some screaming after that loud boom at the very end. What was that?
ALBARGHOUTI: That was the cop. There was a police officer coming towards me. Because I was trying to go closer to where the shooting was to take a better picture, but then I heard a police officer run towards me, and he told me to basically run back and leave.
BLITZER: So you were outside the West Ambler Johnston (sic) engineering building where these -- this mass killing occurred, 30 people -- no, no, no, excuse me. That was the Norris Hall. You were outside Norris Hall...
ALBARGHOUTI: Norris Hall.
BLITZER: That's the engineering building, where most of the dead people were found.
ALBARGHOUTI: Yes. This is the case. That's where you can see -- Norris Hall is the building that is -- that you would see mainly on my -- oh, sorry. That you will see mainly on the video I was taking.
BLITZER: That's the engineering building. Did you know earlier that there had been a shooting at the West -- at the Johnston co-ed dorm earlier that morning at 7:15, two hours earlier, two-and-a-half hours earlier? Had anybody alerted you to that?
ALBARGHOUTI: No. Actually, they did send e-mails, and it was on the Virginia Tech Web site, but I didn't have the time to actually check it. So I just went to campus without knowing that there was previous shootings on campus.
BLITZER: So basically you live off campus, you were going to your class, so you showed up at what, around 9:30, and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose.
ALBARGHOUTI: Yes. It's really windy out here. Yes, sir, this is what happened.
BLITZER: What do you know about -- if anything, about these chains that supposedly were on a door at the Norris Hall, the engineering building, where, what, 30 individuals were shot, including the gunman, who apparently took his own life?
ALBARGHOUTI: I didn't hear the first part of your question. Can you please repeat it?
BLITZER: Did you hear anything or learn anything about chains on the door at Norris Hall?
ALBARGHOUTI: No, but I saw the cops struggling to get into Norris Hall. Usually that door, I use it every Wednesday to go to class, and usually it's never locked. Probably the reason why the cops were not rushing into there is either that they were trying to open it or that they were just trying to throw -- to make sure it's safe to go in there. I did not hear or know that there were any kind of chains blocking that door.
BLITZER: The reaction on campus -- you are an undergraduate or a graduate?
ALBARGHOUTI: I'm a graduate student.
BLITZER: Are you an engineering student?
ALBARGHOUTI: Yes, I'm doing civil engineering, construction management.
BLITZER: So tell us -- give us a little bit of flavor of what your fellow students have been saying to you over these past few hours?
ALBARGHOUTI: Well, everybody here in Blacksburg is really sad. Blacksburg is one of the best and nicest towns I have ever been to. It's a really safe place. You can't imagine how safe it is, and with two bomb threats and two people died in August, at the beginning -- the very first day of -- at the very first day of the semester, and now more than 30 students, I guess -- or 30 people got killed in this incident, everybody is so sad. Everybody is shocked.
We don't know what's going on in here. We're just hoping that everything would settle down and we -- and Blacksburg would once again be the small, nice town it used to be -- or that it actually is.
BLITZER: Jamal, where are you from originally?
ALBARGHOUTI: Well, I'm originally from the West Bank, Palestine. I lived most of my life in Saudi Arabia, though.
BLITZER: So this is a very extraordinary for you to be experiencing here in the United States this kind of horrific event?
ALBARGHOUTI: Yes, yes. You can't imagine that I have been in cities where problems did happen in such cities. Like I've been in Palestine or I've been in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh once there was a bombing in the ministry of interior, but in Blacksburg, it used to be or it is really is a safe town, indeed. I never thought this such a thing would happen in front of me here in Blacksburg.
BLITZER: The Barghouti family, a very prominent Palestinian family in the Middle East. Jamal Albarghouti, thank you so much for doing what you did. Please be careful over there. Good luck to you, good luck to all of your fellow students at Virginia Tech. Is there anything else you want to say to our viewers?
ALBARGHOUTI: I just want to say how sorry I am for all of the families of those who got killed or injured in this incident. That's probably the only thing I can say.
BLITZER: Well said.
ALBARGHOUTI: We are really sorry for them.
BLITZER: Jamal Albarghouti.
ALBARGHOUTI: Thank you very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jamal.
BLITZER: Jamal Albarghouti, who took that extraordinary video for all of us to see. I want to quickly go to Carol -- actually, we're going to go to Carol in a few moments. Let's go to the campus of Virginia Tech. That news conference with new information beginning right now.
STEGER: ... receive a 9/11 call to respond to a dormitory room at West Ambler Johnston residence hall. Within minutes, Virginia Tech Police and the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad respond to find two gunshot victims, a male and a female, inside a dormitory room within the hall.
The residents hall was immediately secured by the Virginia Tech Police Department. And students within the hall were notified and asked to remain in their rooms for their safety. Virginia Tech Police immediately secured the room for evidence collections and began questioning dorm residents and identifying potential witnesses.
In the preliminary stages of the investigation, it was believed the deaths were an isolated incident, domestic in nature. Blacksburg Police Department were also on the scene, assisting the Virginia Tech Police with establish ago a safety perimeter around the residence hall and securing Washington Street.
At 7:30 a.m., investigators were following up on leads concerning a person of interest in the relation to the double homicide. Investigators from the Virginia Tech Police and Blacksburg police were actively following up on various levels.
At 8:25, the Virginia tech leadership team assembles -- that includes me and the other senior officers of the institution -- and began assessing the developing situation at the residence hall, and determining a means of notifying students of the homicide.
At 9:00 a.m., the team was briefed. They had had a chance to interview a number of witnesses by then on the situation, and Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum on the latest developments in the ongoing investigation.
At 9:26, the Virginia Tech community -- that's all faculty and students -- that's about 36,000 e-mails -- were notified of the homicide investigation, and seen at West Ambler Johnston residence hall, and asked to report any suspicious activity.
The Virginia Tech emergency weather line recordings were also transmitted, and a broadcast telephone conference was made to campus phones. A press release was drafted and posted on the Virginia Tech site.
At 9:45, the Virginia Tech police received a 911 call of a shooting at Norris Hall. This building contains faculty, offices, classrooms, and laboratories. The Virginia Tech Police and the Blacksburg Police immediately responded to Norris Hall, notice in leadership command center, via our police representatives, of the shooting that was going on.
We were actually having a meeting about the earlier shooting when we got word on the radio that another shooting was under way.
Upon arrival to Norris, the officers found the front doors barricaded. Within a minute, the officers breached the doors, which had been chained shut from the inside. Once inside the building, the officers heard gunshots. They followed the succession of gunshots to the second floor.
Just as officers reached the second floor, the gunshots stopped. The officers discovered the gunman, who had taken his own life. There was never any engagement between the responding officers and the gunman.
And, at 9:55, by the same means as prior notice, Virginia Tech notified campus community of the second murder scene. Other notifications followed via other means.
So, we would be happy to respond to questions at this point.
QUESTION: What are we hearing in terms of conditions of the students that are still in the hospital and maybe names of some of the victims?
WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF: We are still in the process of notifying the families of the victims. It's an ongoing process. They have not all been notified.
As far as conditions of people in the hospital, I do not have that information at this time. QUESTION: Do you know how many students -- I know, last time we checked, you had trouble with how many students were shot and killed, how many professors? Have you been able to get an update on that?
FLINCHUM: We do not.
QUESTION: Has the shooter been identified as a student or someone who didn't belong here?
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part of your question.
QUESTION: The shooter himself, what can you tell us about the shooter? Was that a student?
FLINCHUM: We have a preliminary I.D. that I'm not prepared released to release yet. But the investigation is ongoing. And we are making progress.
QUESTION: ... what happened in the classroom, as you understand it? What are the witnesses telling you? We understand that some people maybe jumped from some of the windows. And we understand that perhaps the shooter may have come back to the classroom, after leaving at one point.
Can you tell us anything about that?
FLINCHUM: I do not have all the details. As I said earlier, there were a couple of people who did jump out of a window in that building.
QUESTION: Were any surveillance cameras at either location?
FLINCHUM: No, there is not.
QUESTION: Are you looking for anybody else?
FLINCHUM: We are still actively investigating this case. And we are following up on all leads, yes.
QUESTION: But is there another gunman?
FLINCHUM: Again, we are following all leads and information as we get it.
QUESTION: Does your preliminary identification of the gunman found dead match the person of interest from the dorm? Is that the same suspect? FLINCHUM: No, it is not.
QUESTION: Chief, what can you tell us about the weapons?
FLINCHUM: We have recovered two weapons. I'm not prepared to release what type they were. But we have recovered two weapons.
FLINCHUM: Again, I'm not prepared to release the type of weapons they were.
QUESTION: Do you believe the shooter brought the chains into the building?
FLINCHUM: We don't know at this point.
QUESTION: Were the chains there before?
QUESTION: Chief, were all of the doors...
QUESTION: Were the chains there before, Chief?
FLINCHUM: I do not know.
QUESTION: Chief, what was happening after the first shooting? What happened after the first shooting? What was the disposition of your search for a suspect? How did another shooting happen?
FLINCHUM: In the first incident, based on the preliminary information that we had, we began investigation, looking into different leads.
As that investigation progressed, we identified the person of interest, which we worked toward obtaining witness information. So, it was an ongoing process, and took some time to get that done.
Keep in mind, we -- when we first got there, we had to figure out exactly what we had first. So, it did take some time to get all that in place and going.
QUESTION: Have you found that person of interest?
QUESTION: Chief, can you at least tell us if this was a student or not?
FLINCHUM: Again, it's preliminary. I don't want to release that information, until we are absolutely certain of what -- who this person is.
QUESTION: I have a question.
In the other school shootings that have happened in the past, what made this so different that over 30 lives were lost? What were the differences?
FLINCHUM: I don't have the answer for that.
QUESTION: Why are you reluctant to tell us what types of weapons (OFF-MIKE)
FLINCHUM: Part of it is, we are still -- the ATF is helping us with ballistics. And what they are doing is comparing the ballistic evidence from the first homicide to the incident at Norris Hall. So, at this time, we are declining to release those type of weapons.
QUESTION: Is that person of interest in custody?
QUESTION: Is he alive?
QUESTION: ... incidences are related? I know, the last time, you said that you were still trying to investigate that. Do you believe they are both related now, or are you...
FLINCHUM: That is still ongoing.
And part of it going to tell us once we get the ballistic evidence back.
QUESTION: Sir, you said there is a person of interest in custody?
FLINCHUM: No. There is no one in custody.
QUESTION: That person was one of the victims?
QUESTION: You are sort of implying that the first shooter was not the same as the second shooter. So, what can -- can you clarify what the connection is?
FLINCHUM: I'm not implying that.
QUESTION: OK. (CROSSTALK)
FLINCHUM: What I'm saying is, we're...
QUESTION: You are sort of intimating that somebody is still out there.
FLINCHUM: No. That's not what I'm saying; there is someone still out there. I'm not saying there is not.
We are trying to determine whether the two incidents are connected. Part of that will be the ballistic tests that we are having done.
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry. Everyone is talking at one time.
QUESTION: Was the shooter known to the police before?
FLINCHUM: The person we have preliminarily identified?
FLINCHUM: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Is the first person of interest still a person of interest?
QUESTION: What's the evidence that it was a domestic dispute, the first shooting?
FLINCHUM: It's based on the preliminary information we obtained from the officers on the first scene as they began their investigation, talking to the witnesses.
QUESTION: Chief, could you say that the description of the first student, the dormitory incident, that description of that suspect does not fit the description of the gunman who you found dead in Norris Hall?
FLINCHUM: I have never released a description of the suspect in the dorms.
QUESTION: Is that what you just said earlier...
QUESTION: You said that earlier.
QUESTION: ... about five minutes ago?
FLINCHUM: I'm not sure -- I'm not sure I released a description. If I did, that's not what I was implying.
We identified a person from that first investigation that led us to that person as a person of interest.
QUESTION: Chief, can you describe what Norris Hall looked like when you got there?
FLINCHUM: It's probably one of the worst things I have seen in my life.
QUESTION: Can you describe it?
FLINCHUM: Not at this time.
QUESTION: Does the person of interest and the person that you have -- I mean, the person that you believe you identified from the first instance, does that match the person that you have preliminarily identified in the second?
FLINCHUM: No. They're not the same person.
QUESTION: So, what would you say to...
QUESTION: ... the safety of this campus, if you are possibly are still looking for someone?
FLINCHUM: Again, before we can comment on whether they're related, we're still waiting for lab results to come back. We are still doing investigations. There is a lot of work to be done yet before we jump to a conclusion that it is connected or is not connected.
QUESTION: You said that it was a domestic, isolated incident that you believed. What led you to believe that the first incident was of a domestic nature?
FLINCHUM: As I stated earlier, it was the information we obtained from the officers who arrived on scene first, based on witnesses.
QUESTION: How soon before we...
QUESTION: ... ballistic information? FLINCHUM: I don't know the timeline on that information.
QUESTION: Can you tell us something about -- is it two hours (OFF-MIKE) from the first murders. Do you think you should have shut the campus down and locked it down on any murder, for any reason? A murder is a murder.
FLINCHUM: We acted the best information we had at the time.
What you need to understand is, this is a campus of over 2,600 acres, well over 100 buildings, 26,000 students, faculty and staff. A lockdown or shutdown does not happen in seconds.
You also need to understand, at the time the first incident happened, there were people on their way to campus, to come to work, to come to class. Getting notification to them was very difficult.
So, we made the best decision, based on the information we had at the time.
QUESTION: ... at Norris Hall?
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry. I didn't hear all of your question.
QUESTION: Can you tell us any more about the scene at Norris Hall? Where did you find the suspected gunman? And were there multiple (INAUDIBLE) scenes at Norris Hall? Or was (INAUDIBLE)
FLINCHUM: We are treating the entire building as a crime scene. There is more than one location in Norris Hall.
QUESTION: Do you believe these shootings were execution-style?
FLINCHUM: I do not know.
QUESTION: Have lockdown procedures changed?
FLINCHUM: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Have lockdown procedures changed?
FLINCHUM: I'm sure, after all this is over, we will all sit down and talk about this incident, what we could do better, what we did right, and those type things. Whether they're going to change or not, I couldn't tell you.
QUESTION: How many doors at Norris were chained, and how many were (INAUDIBLE) FLINCHUM: I do not have the answer to that.
I know for certain that two were chained.
QUESTION: Were they like...
QUESTION: ... type?
QUESTION: Sir, several times, you have stated that the school is a large campus. Do you think they need a larger police force to be able to handle the (INAUDIBLE) of the students?
FLINCHUM: Given that a campus is an open society -- and, by nature, most colleges are like that -- the public is free to come on. You cannot put an officer in every room. I think we have an adequate police department, adequate support from the university.
QUESTION: Chief, you said the person of interest is still a person of interest. Have you talked to this person? Do you know where they are?
QUESTION: You have talked to this person of interest?
QUESTION: Is the person of interest in custody, then?
QUESTION: Is he in custody?
QUESTION: Not in custody?
QUESTION: Why is still a person of interest?
FLINCHUM: As our investigation continues, until we rule him out, he remains a person of interest.
QUESTION: President Steger?
STEGER: Yes. QUESTION: A question: I have talked to several students at the university so far, some of whom live in that dorm. And (INAUDIBLE) almost none of them seemed to be aware that anything had happened, until almost 10:00. How could that be?
STEGER: Well, their resident advisers were going up and down the halls, trying to notify everybody there as soon as we were aware.
We also closed the building, and had it surrounded by security people. So, how they didn't know about that, I can't explain. But we certainly made every effort to do it immediately.
QUESTION: Any staff members injured or killed?
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Any staff members -- any staff from the university injured or killed?
FLINCHUM: Yes, there was.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how many?
FLINCHUM: I do not have the number of how many, but there were staff members that were deceased.
QUESTION: Chief, are you looking for a suspect still?
FLINCHUM: I keep going back to what I said. We are actively pursuing all leads in this investigation to determine whether they are or are not related. We're...
QUESTION: Is there someone out there on the loose or not?
FLINCHUM: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Chief, why is the person of interest not in custody?
FLINCHUM: Because they're a person of interest. We don't have a crime to charge him with. We don't have anything to charge with him, probable cause, yet.
QUESTION: Are they related to the -- the shooter?
FLINCHUM: Excuse me?
QUESTION: The person of interest, are they connected to the shooter? Are they related?
FLINCHUM: We do not know that yet, whether they are or are not.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: The victims at the dorm, Chief, do they any connection and relation to the shooter and/or the person of interest?
FLINCHUM: We're still trying to determine that.
QUESTION: Chief, have you ruled out murder-suicide in the incident at the dorm?
QUESTION: President Steger, this is a horrible thing. We wish it didn't happen. Are you satisfied with the decision-making that the leadership team...
STEGER: Well, I went through the timeline. And I think it is very important that, before you take these actions, you know what the facts are, and you take some time to do that.
Based on that, I think we did everything we could, based on what we knew at that time, as you appreciate, that you only have minutes to take these actions, and we certainly don't want to take actions that are inappropriate. But we did everything we thought we should do.
QUESTION: Did you consider blocking off the roads into the campus? Did you consider telling everybody to just go and go quickly? You waited a long time.
FLINCHUM: Well, it is -- leaving the campus is a significant event.
If you remember, we have 9,000 on campus, but we have 26,000 altogether. If you add together our part-time and full-time employee, we have 10,000 employees. And we also have, on any given day, literally several thousands of visitors.
So, we did block off Washington Street immediately. That's the street next to the Ambler Johnston dorm. And, then, subsequently, of course, we shut down the entire campus with barricades, so no one could come in. But it is not that can happen instantaneously, I guess is my point.
QUESTION: Chief, is -- the dead suspect have prior military; do you know? And is that person Asian -- of Asian background?
FLINCHUM: I do not know. Again, the identification is preliminary. And we will try to have that information when we get to the next press conference.
FLINCHUM: I can't hear everyone if they're shouting.
QUESTION: Why were the residents in the dorm not immediately informed by officers? Why did the information have to go from the officers to the university to the R.A.?
FLINCHUM: We secured the building, West A.J., as soon as the officers were there.
Officers were in the hallways. We were searching for witnesses. There were people notified.
QUESTION: Chief, in an earlier press conference, you guys mentioned -- you guys knew about this about 8:25. At 8:25 in the timeline (INAUDIBLE) Why did it take a whole hour, from 8:25 to 9:26 for them to notify everyone? Why couldn't the e-mails be sent as soon as you were (INAUDIBLE)
STEGER: Well, we were trying to determine what had happened, and interviewing witnesses and things of this sort. And, until you know what the facts are, it is difficult to craft whether appropriate response is.
QUESTION: But it was determined that there was a shooting?
STEGER: We knew that there was a shooting, but we thought it was confined to that particular setting.
QUESTION: Chief, you made a conscience decision that you thought that this was an isolated event.
QUESTION: What was it about the first shooting -- and I know you said witnesses. Can you give us some specificity about what made you feel confident that this was an isolated shooting?
FLINCHUM: Again, it was based on the information that the officers obtained when they first arrived on scene. We evaluated that.
As it went on, we had difficulty locating a key witness. Once we did that, we moved forward. And, at the time of the Norris Hall incident, we were still active -- we had found the person of interest off campus, in conjunction with the Blacksburg Police Department, and was conducting an interview at that time, when the second incident happened.
QUESTION: What time did you find the person of interest? Was it before the second shooting or after?
FLINCHUM: At the same time.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) in custody? Is he a suspect?
FLINCHUM: He is a person of interest, again.
QUESTION: Wait a minute, you said person of interest (OFF-MIKE) you were talking to him at the time, you got no word of the second shooting?
FLINCHUM: Yes, sir. That is correct.
QUESTION: Why is he of interest?
FLINCHUM: Because he knows one of the victims.
QUESTION: Is he a student?
FLINCHUM: He is not a student, no.
QUESTION: Was the shooter overheard saying anything? Was the shooter overheard saying anything at the dorm or at the...
FLINCHUM: I do not know.
QUESTION: ... asked any of the witnesses whether he said anything?
QUESTION: ... already, and if so, where have the bodies been taken?
FLINCHUM: Let me finish this question. Could you go ahead again?
QUESTION: Did you ask any of the witnesses whether they overheard the shooter say anything?
FLINCHUM: Again, I have personally not interviewed witnesses. The investigative teams are doing that. That will all come out at a later time. But I have not personally...
QUESTION: Did they tell you...
FLINCHUM: They have not told me anything, as far as the witnesses go. I have not spoken to the witnesses.
QUESTION: Mr. President, have you talked to the families of the victims yourself, personally?
QUESTION: And what can you tell us about...
STEGER: I have not spoken of any families personally as of right now. I am sure that I will be doing so in the next hours and days.
We, however, have officials of the university meeting with the families, as we speak, as well as grief counselors.
FLINCHUM: If I can follow up that question, I have personally been speaking to families of the victims, several of them, as a matter of fact, and making some of the notifications. So, that -- again, that is an ongoing process.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about...
QUESTION: Chief, has the crime scene been cleared yet? Has it?
FLINCHUM: Excuse me.
QUESTION: Has the crime scene been cleared? And where have the bodies been taken?
FLINCHUM: The crime scene has not been cleared yet.
QUESTION: Chief, we still have groups of people being interviewed. I have several people who have been saying they still haven't been able to locate loved ones or friends. Do you have people grouped together still that can't talk -- haven't talked to loved ones yet?
FLINCHUM: No, we do not.
QUESTION: Can you clarify how many people were actually injured? Just want to hear the exact number.
FLINCHUM: The preliminary, what I'm being told, is 15.
QUESTION: What room numbers were they in Norris Hall?
QUESTION: ... how much ammunition was found by your investigators? Can you tell us about that?
FLINCHUM: I don't have the amount. QUESTION: In the earlier conference...
QUESTION: ... can you character it in any way?
FLINCHUM: I really -- I don't have that information at this point.
QUESTION: Chief, what were their room numbers in Norris Hall where the shootings took place; 203, 205? What were they?
FLINCHUM: We will withhold that information until a later time.
QUESTION: Chief, what about the students who were accidentally put in custody? What is going to happen to them?
FLINCHUM: What are you talking about?
QUESTION: There was a student who was actually taking photos for -- of the scene in front of Burruss. What's -- he was put into custody. I know there's pictures flying around everywhere of him, you know, in handcuffs (OFF-MIKE) What's going to happen to students like that?
FLINCHUM: OK. And your question is?
QUESTION: What's going to happen to them? Is there anything -- I mean...
FLINCHUM: He was released.
QUESTION: He was released?
QUESTION: Concerning the person of interest, was it a male or a female that you have in custody -- not in custody -- but that you believe is a person of interest? And the two individuals that were shot as a part of this domestic scenario, was that a male or female, or both?
FLINCHUM: The person of interest is a male.
QUESTION: And what about the two individuals that were shot at that location...
QUESTION: ... the domestic -- what you believe to be a domestic? FLINCHUM: There was one female and one male person.
QUESTION: And the female, that's the person (INAUDIBLE)
QUESTION: ... found any written material, notes, e-mails that point to a motive?
FLINCHUM: Again, the investigation is still going. And I will keep saying that. But that's true.
We're looking into that, as we do searches and those type of things.
QUESTION: Can you tell us where you found the shooter? Was he still on the second floor there?
FLINCHUM: He was on the second floor, yes.
QUESTION: In a hallway or in a classroom?
FLINCHUM: In a classroom.
QUESTION: Chief, explain how a gunman can be still on the loose, but you consider the scene contained.
FLINCHUM: I know -- I'm not saying there's a gunman on the loose.
QUESTION: You didn't have him in custody after the domestic dispute. How can you call -- explain how the situation was contained?
FLINCHUM: You talking about now or earlier?
QUESTION: In the initial shooting.
FLINCHUM: In the initial shooting.
Our information that we had led us to believe the person was off campus, which we acted upon. And that person was found off campus.
QUESTION: Chief, it sounds like there's a lot of confusion about the person of interest.
It sounds to me like you were chasing the wrong guy, and that you're waiting for the ballistics to confirm that. Is that what you're hinting at here? FLINCHUM: It may be. It may not be. We're going to explore every avenue to confirm or deny that scenario.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Are you personally (INAUDIBLE)
FLINCHUM: It is very likely that I am.
QUESTION: Just to be clear on the person of interest, did you say that that person was being interviewed by officers with your department (INAUDIBLE) at the time of the second shooting? Did I hear that right?
FLINCHUM: I did say that, yes.
QUESTION: Is that person still a person of interest?
FLINCHUM: Until we rule that person in or out, yes, they are.
QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe the person of interest is connected to the dead gunman?
FLINCHUM: Again, we are exploring every avenue to make sure whether that person is or is not.
QUESTION: Is that person of interest still on campus?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (INAUDIBLE)
FLINCHUM: No, there's not.
QUESTION: Is the person of interest cooperating with you guys?
QUESTION: Do you consider him...
QUESTION: Chief, is the death toll the same since last briefing?
FLINCHUM: To my knowledge, it is.
QUESTION: Chief, are all of the victims American citizens? (INAUDIBLE)
FLINCHUM: I do not know yet all that information.
QUESTION: Are you able to reveal the condition of the people that are still in the hospital?
FLINCHUM: I don't know.
QUESTION: President Steger, what steps is Virginia Tech taking to deal with the psychological impact on the Virginia Tech community? And, you guys, you know, the reach is all across the nation, with the football and everything like that, and right here with us today.
STEGER: Well, let me say first that I have received correspondence, faxes and whatever, from literally all over the world, literally.
We have set two counseling centers up, one in A.J. for those residents, one in McComas Hall. I understand there's a candlelight vigil being conducted later this evening. We have a convocation tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.
The governor is flying in from Tokyo. We have our counseling center staff available. And we will be holding other sessions. We're trying to get an assessment of the numbers of people impacted. And we will certainly make available the resources to counsel them, whatever they need. It's a very serious problem.
QUESTION: We heard President Bush is coming tomorrow to the convocation. Is that true or false?
STEGER: They have made inquiries about coming.
QUESTION: Did the procedure for these sorts of incidents change after the shooting at Tech last August?
STEGER: We made some changes, in terms of how we handled our secure communications.
After every major incident, we do a review. We try to see what we could have done better. And we always find one or two things that we could improve with.
But, basically, the way the sweeps are done and everything else, the police are very skilled in carrying this out. And we follow those procedures.
QUESTION: President, you mentioned a candlelight vigil tonight.
QUESTION: We were told before the news conference that it was tomorrow night.
STEGER: Is it tomorrow night? I'm sorry.
STEGER: OK. I'm sorry. It's tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow night (INAUDIBLE)
STEGER: OK. Thank you.
QUESTION: Sir, in the previous conference, you had stated that there were problems with communication, and that, when students were coming in to school, they're not able to receive their e-mails.
Was it ever thought of a scenario that there would be an event happening at this time, they should be reached by another form of communication?
STEGER: Well, we (AUDIO GAP) we had available, including radio and whatever else.
LARRY HINCKER, ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT FOR UNIVERSITY RELATIONS, VIRGINIA TECH: I will address that.
Obviously, it's very difficult, during breaking events, to be able to get information to people quickly.
As it was mentioned earlier, hundreds of buildings on this campus, not just 100. We try to get to the university community through a phone broadcast system, which gets to the campus phones. We get through postings on our Web site. We post messages on a call-in line. We do public media. We send e-mails.
And, as a result of the last incident, in August, we are in the process of looking at a way that we can get text messages out to students on their phone lines. We have just not been able to implement that system yet. We have actually had people on campus this week and last week talking to us about that.
So, obviously, you try in any way you can to get information out through multiple channels. But, during a breaking event like that, it's extremely difficult, because as president Steger said, people are in transit. You don't know where they are. So, you just use every vehicle that you possibly can.
But we definitely will be using a system in the future, in addition to all of the rest that I mentioned, where students will give us their cell phone numbers, and then we will able to text message or also send phone mail messages.
STEGER: Or you might also note, though that, when an event like this happens rapidly, the cell phone capacity is saturated.
STEGER: So, it's very difficult to phone in or out.
QUESTION: How did parents get in contact with their students that are here? And (INAUDIBLE) problems? And are you concerned about parents pulling their students out of school?
STEGER: Well, we have set up an 800 number, and we have a call center.
And Larry has got the details on that. He can give you the number.
HINCKER: We are asking parents to call 800-533-1144. And, also, as was mentioned earlier, we are notifying the families through the normal channels. And the chief can tell you how that works.
FLINCHUM: We're still in the process of identifying all the students and other people that were killed or injured. So...
FLINCHUM: ... information.
QUESTION: ... are you concerned about parents pulling their kids out of class?
FLINCHUM: Right now, I'm focused on this investigation, determining what happened, and where we are.
QUESTION: That was actually for the president.
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry.
STEGER: Well, I guess, certainly, that could be an issue.
But, again, we are focusing our energies on dealing with the tragedy experienced by these families. And we will deal with those other issues as they come along.
QUESTION: ... clarification on that number? You had given us a number earlier for parents to call. Is this just for parents who have not been in touch with their kids, or -- or the 800 number you just mentioned?
STEGER: Well, the 800 number, they can call and get information. We also have numbers for the -- we put out numbers for the dean of students' office and others, that we will work with them as best as we can.
We have a lot of associated issues, with religious concerns and whatever, that we are working with people on as we go forward.
QUESTION: Is one of the victims in the West A.J., is it -- is one of them an R.A.?
FLINCHUM: I believe that is correct, yes.
QUESTION: Is it the male or the female?
QUESTION: ... students tell us that they believe a gunman came in to Randolph as well. Do you have any information that confirms that?
FLINCHUM: I do not have any information that confirms that.
QUESTION: How many federal agencies are involved?
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry. I didn't hear it.
QUESTION: Have you identified (AUDIO GAP) victim at this point?
FLINCHUM: All the victims have not been identified at this point.
QUESTION: Chief, while you don't have surveillance cameras at either one of these locations, according to you, do you have surveillance cameras that would perhaps show the gunman going from point A to point B?
QUESTION: No surveillance cameras on campus at all?
FLINCHUM: No to your question.
FLINCHUM: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Do you have a policy about carrying weapons on campus? FLINCHUM: We do.
QUESTION: And what is that policy?
FLINCHUM: Weapons are not allowed on campus.
QUESTION: And you are -- within Virginia's framework of laws, you're allowed...
QUESTION: How many federal agencies are involved?
FLINCHUM: Excuse me?
QUESTION: How many federal agencies are involved?
FLINCHUM: The FBI is involved. The ATF is involved. I do not know if there is any more or not.
QUESTION: Do you have a sense of where this guy went between the time that he went (INAUDIBLE) any kind of timeline, in terms of what he was doing between the residence hall and the other building?
QUESTION: So, he could have been on campus? He could have been off campus? We just don't know?
FLINCHUM: Again, I cannot at this point confirm whether it is the same person from the residence hall yet.
QUESTION: Both of you seem -- I know you gave a news conference earlier today. And a lot of people, of course, heard it.
But you just seem dispassionate, in a way, this evening. And I just -- if you don't mind the question, how -- how has today's terrible events -- how have they affected you personally?
STEGER: Well, I have spent my entire career at Virginia Tech. And I care deeply about this institution, the students, and the alumni. And I could not express in words my remorse for such an event.
FLINCHUM: You know, the safety of the students, staff, and visitors are of paramount importance to me. I'm deeply affected by it. I may not show my emotions, but this is one of the worst things I have ever seen.
My sympathies go out to the families. We are working diligently to try to bring this to a resolution. We will provide you with all the information as we get it.
There's just some things at this point we cannot release. And it has been a very trying day.
QUESTION: Why weren't any of the other schools closed down in the Blacksburg community?
FLINCHUM: That's not my area.
QUESTION: Chief, it sounds like you have two scenarios here, one scenario where the person of interest may responsible for shooting number one, the dead gunman did shooting in number two, or the dead gunman did both shootings.
Is that -- is that what you're looking at?
FLINCHUM: We're exploring all possible scenarios.
QUESTION: Right. But is that what you're looking at?
QUESTION: Two different people doing two different shootings?
FLINCHUM: We're exploring that possibility. Or it may be the same person. We are exploring all the possibilities. We want to get this right the first time.
QUESTION: Chief, what sorts of things do you tell the families -- you said you have conversation with the families. What sorts of things, in general, do you say to them?
FLINCHUM: What can you say? I tell them how sorry I am, and they have my deepest sympathy.
I mean, there's nothing I can say that's going to ease their pain.
QUESTION: At what time did you all enter the building, Norris Hall?
FLINCHUM: Within minutes after the first 911 calls.
QUESTION: ... the shooting began at 9:13. Do you have a specific time when you guys actually entered the building?
FLINCHUM: It did not begin at 9:15.
QUESTION: How many officers responded to the Norris Hall (INAUDIBLE) FLINCHUM: I don't have an exact number. It was (OFF-MIKE)
FLINCHUM: It was very (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: When you're doing your notifications, are you using and contacting agencies, of course, outside of Blacksburg? All across the nation, there are undergraduates...
FLINCHUM: We're using other police agencies to help us with that. And we're doing some notifications from here.
QUESTION: So, are some -- most of the notifications, can you give us an idea what's being done in person? Because, obviously, families have seen this on the news. So, are you sending local law enforcement across the nation to these people's homes?
FLINCHUM: We're sending local law enforcement wherever they are, yes.
QUESTION: Chief, does this have anything at all to do with the bomb threats over the past few weeks at all? Can you clarify that?
FLINCHUM: That's another possibility we're still exploring. I can't rule that in or out.
QUESTION: No bomb threats today, though, right?
FLINCHUM: Not yet.
QUESTION: Can you give us any specifics on bomb -- or what the bomb threats were or, when they came in, who they were made to?
FLINCHUM: Both of those were notes that were left in common areas.
QUESTION: Chief, how did the gunman get into Ambler Johnston?
FLINCHUM: I do not know the answer to that.
QUESTION: What was the gunman wearing?
BLITZER: All right. We're going to break away from this news conference. We will continue to monitor it.
We're not going to break away from our coverage -- much more coverage coming up of this breaking news.
Paula Zahn picking up our coverage -- Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thanks so much.
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