Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Police Identify Virginia Tech Gunman
Aired April 17, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're learning more late today about the gunman. Police say he was Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old English major from South Korea who had been in this country about 15 years. A government official says Cho had a history of mental illness and a university official says administrators learned of "troubling writings" from him about a year ago.
Authorities say the shooter had two guns. Sources close to the investigation say both had the serial numbers removed.
Doctors are stunned by the intensity of the violence, saying virtually all the shooting victims had multiple bullet wounds.
As authorities learn more about the gunman, it seems like the classic profile that we've seen so often in cases of multiple killings.
Let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd.
He's here on the campus with me.
What's the latest on this investigation?
I know you've been doing digging -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Wolf, and we've got an important document that's come up in this investigation. And this is an affidavit for a search warrant for the room that Cho Seung-Hui had here at Harper Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech. The search warrant goes -- the affidavit for the search warrant obtained by CNN.
In that affidavit, it speaks of a written bomb threat, a note found at the scene of the Norris Hall killings. That's where 30 of the killings, the majority of the victims were found. This bomb threat was directed at Engineering School department buildings.
Now, the Norris building is such a department building. There's no specific mention that we know of on that note of the Norris building, But we do know, according to this affidavit, that the note was -- this bomb threat was directed at Engineering School department buildings. Also, according to this affidavit, Cho Seung-Hui's room was to be searched for things like tools, documents, computer software, weapons, ammunition, explosives plus writing materials that were used in other recent bomb threats.
Two other bomb threats were reported -- were received by authorities in the past three weeks, directed at this Virginia Tech campus.
Now, it's important to note that these are -- this affidavit talks about bomb threats found at the scene, a written bomb threat, and the affidavit says: "It is reasonable to believe that the note is connected to the shooting."
It doesn't say directly that Cho Seung-Hui wrote the note. It says, Wolf, that it is reasonable to believe that the note is connected to the shooting at the Norris Hall building.
BLITZER: Was the note handwritten? Was it typed? Do we know any specifics about the forensics, what they're looking at?
TODD: We don't know those specifics yet. We're going to get more information on this note and on the bomb threats -- the other bomb threats, as well.
But apparently authorities says they did receive it in the weeks leading up to this incident.
BLITZER: And I remember, they -- yesterday they said there had been a couple of bomb threats.
BLITZER: They didn't know if there was any connection whatsoever. We had questioned some of the authorities on it.
BLITZER: And now maybe there is a connection.
TODD: There may be a connection between one bomb threat found, again, at the scene of the Norris Hall shootings. That's where most of the carnage took place. And -- and one of the bomb threats that was written -- one of those threats found at the scene.
BLITZER: All right, we hope you'll get more -- and I know you're working on this story.
We'll get it and we'll bring it to our viewers.
Brian, thank you.
Thirty of the victims were killed in a classroom building, gunned down methodically.
But out of that horror, tales of heroism and bravery. Let's turn now to CNN's Mary Snow.
What are you hearing about what happened in that classroom -- Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, from firsthand accounts, we're piecing together some of the terrifying moments of the gunman's rampage. And what's emerging -- stories of heroes who risked their lives to save others.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SNOW (voice-over): Inside Norris Hall, with the sound of gunshots and screams, one student reports hearing something else she'll never forget -- maniacal laughter.
TINA HARRISON, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT AND EYEWITNESS: What we heard was horrible. There were just so many gunshots and people screaming and it was hell -- what hell would be like.
SNOW: With a gunman on the loose came split second decisions. Senior Zach Petkewicz and others in his class threw up a table against a door to form a barricade to keep out the gunman.
ZACH PETKEWICZ, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT/WITNESS: He came to our door, tried the handle. He couldn't get it in because we were pushing up against it. He tried to force his way in. He got the door to open up about six inches and then we -- we just lunged at it and closed it back up.
That's when he backed up and shot twice into the middle of the door, thinking we were up against it.
SNOW: That barricade saved their lives.
Students say 76-year-old Professor Liviu Librescu was gunned down, using his body to block the gunman from entering the classroom door. He was also killed. His students survived.
Librescu's son, in Israel, says he is not surprised that his father, who was also a Holocaust survivor, would act with such bravery.
JOE LIBRESCU, SHOOTING VICTIM'S SON: I knew that he was going to take action, he was going -- he was going to -- he was going to do something that's not sort of normal or definitely not something cowardice.
SNOW: Ryan Clark, say students, also didn't run for cover. He was a resident assistant at the dorm where the first shooting occurred. Students say he was rushing to investigate when he was killed.
Pictured here in his marching band uniform, Clark was known for his smile. He pursued three majors and made time for charity work.
His twin brother and sister say the world lost an angel.
BRYAN CLARK, VICTIM'S TWIN BROTHER: Always willing to do for others and -- in any situation.
NADIA CLARK, SISTER OF SLAIN STUDENT: Ryan was an angel, someone that would have been great for this world. You know, all he wanted to do was help children and help other people.
SNOW: Early Tuesday, CNN's Kiran Chetry asked Zach Petkewicz, whose quick action saved many lives, a question so many are asking today.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say when people are calling you a hero today?
CHETRY: It's tough.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SNOW: And when asked how he was able to keep his wits about him in the chaos, Zach said -- in the stream you just saw -- he said he was virtually scared out of his mind, in his words, but knew he had to do something -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thank you.
Mary Snow reporting.
And coming up, we're going to have more on the Holocaust survivor who died a hero here on the campus helping his students escape the gunman. I'll be speaking live with the son of Professor Librescu. That's coming up. The son is in Tel Aviv.
We're also standing by for a news conference. We expect to get more details on the investigation.
The governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, he's expected to be speaking, as well. Once that news conference begins, we'll bring it to you live.
We're getting a lot of information online. A lot of people are remembering some of the victims. They're remembering what happened.
Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner.
What are the Virginia Tech students saying today about their friends here on the campus -- Jacki?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, they're using their social networking sites online to write notes to their friends, as if they haven't passed away, telling them that they love them and they miss them. This is Emily Jane Hilscher. We were speaking about her earlier. She's an animal and poultry sciences major. She writes in her MySpace profile that she likes snowboarding and music. She was just 18 years old.
Also being shot was Erin Peterson. She was from Centreville, Virginia, also a freshman. Her father told CNN that he saw her during a visit to the school on Sunday. She was killed in French class.
Also online, Matt Laporte, a sophomore from Dupont, New Jersey. He was a political science and leadership major. He aspired to be commissioned in the Air Force and work in intel.
And then there's also Rauf Alamadeen (ph), whose friends are posting pictures and remembrance online. This one he posted himself before he passed. His friends say he was intelligent, funny, easy- going and he's going to be greatly missed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jacki, thank you.
A lot of tragedy, a lot of heartache here on the campus. The death toll is appalling. But when the wounded are factored in, the scale of this rampage even more shocking. A number of the wounded are still hospitalized.
Let's go to CNN's John Zarrella.
He's watching this part of the story.
You've talked to friends, family members -- note, what are they saying?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are telling us that they have gone in. They've seen their family members and that they are all doing well, as well as can be expected. They are pleased with the recovery process. The doctors are telling us the same thing, as well.
The ones here are all in stable condition. There are eight remaining here. One was released. One also released at a neighboring hospital today. So in all, though, only eight patients remain here, all of them, Wolf -- good news -- in stable condition.
BLITZER: Any sense, note, as to when some of these students might be released or are a lot of them going to be in there for a long haul?
ZARRELLA: There are some that will be in here for a long haul. In fact, one of the doctors in a press conference earlier, Dr. David Stoekle, told us about one of his patients who was shot through the femoral artery. And basically this boy was an Eagle Scout, this young man. He took a piece of rope that he found in the classroom, tied it around his leg to try to stop the bleeding.
And, in essence, Dr. Stoekle said, this young man saved his own life by doing that, or he would have bled out and bled to death. There are about four that are still in the intensive care unit, but listed in stable condition. And they are likely to be here, the doctor said, for a while -- Wolf.
BLITZER: John Zarrella reporting.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty for The Cafferty File -- Jack, you know, we hear these stories. These are amazing stories, some very, very courageous young people, and some not so young, including this professor who -- who died but saved some of the students in the process.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we -- there was an interview last night with a couple of kids who held a table against one of the classroom doors and prevented this guy from -- from getting through the door and into another classroom.
It's pretty amazing what the human spirit is capable of when it's really challenged.
It's pretty easy to get a gun in Virginia, but you can't have one in most of the schools. The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence says that no license or permit is required to buy a weapon in Virginia and there's no waiting period for people who want to buy a gun.
You want to buy a gun?
Go out and get one right now.
The law does prevent you from buying more than one gun every 30 days, though.
The state got a C minus from The Brady Group in its most recent report card on state gun laws. But get this -- Virginia ranks ahead of 32 other states that got grades of D or F.
Here is a part of the problem, a pretty good sized part. Guns are banned on most of Virginia's college campuses. Back in 2002, a graduate student who was kicked out of Virginia's Appalachian School of Law came back to campus with a gun, killed the dean of the law school, a professor and a student and wounded three others.
So while it's relatively easy for anyone to get hold of a gun in Virginia, for the most part, the students, faculty, etc. can't have them.
They become the ultimate helpless target for some psycho. He knows the students are unarmed.
How much easier could it be for him?
We'll never know the answer to this, but what if somebody besides Cho Seung-Hui had had a gun at Virginia Tech yesterday?
Here's the question -- what can other states learn from these mass murders that happened in Virginia?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, I've been on this campus now, Jack, for just a few hours. But the young people here -- this could be any campus anyplace in the United States; indeed, any place in the world, and all of a sudden this place is turned upside down by this kind of tragedy.
CAFFERTY: But you know what shows through?
I've got -- and believe me, I've been watching this story closely. My youngest daughter is a senior at Tulane and the second this story broke yesterday my thoughts went right to her. Of course, she's fine.
What shows through to me is the character of the young people. It's like those three kids down at Duke University that were exonerated, found innocent of all of that -- the lacrosse players, that rape charge. You listen to those young men talk -- and these students here -- and there's a lot of reason to be, I think, hopeful, about the future of this country.
We've got some terrific young people, who keep their head in the midst of a crisis and keep their wits about them. And it's just stunning to me how -- how lucid and well thought out these young people are. I mean they're -- they're something to be very proud of, I think.
BLITZER: I totally agree.
They're very, very impressive. And one thing that's clearly coming through here on the campus, they love Virginia Tech. This university will not only survive, it will thrive...
CAFFERTY: We got a lot of...
BLITZER: Jack, thanks.
CAFFERTY: We got a lot of mail yesterday from students there. And they all said, almost without -- without exception, we love it here, we're staying, we're proud of our school, we like this place.
So the future looks good there.
BLITZER: And it is a beautiful campus and a beautiful facility; a really excellent, excellent university.
Jack, thank you.
Up ahead, new information being revealed about some of the victims of the massacre. We're going to hear from friends of one young man who left his country to pursue the American dream.
Also, he survived the Holocaust only to lose his life here on the campus of Virginia Tech, becoming a hero in the process. I'll speak with his son.
Much more of our special coverage, right after this.
BLITZER: He lived through the Nazi Holocaust, died in a massacre on a quiet college campus. Romanian born Liviu Librescu, an Israeli citizen, moved to the United States some two decades ago. He taught in the engineering school here at Virginia Tech.
Today, students tell how their professor barricaded his classroom door so they could escape and jump out the window.
Librescu did not escape. He was shot dead on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when people all over the world remember the Holocaust.
His son is joining us now from near Tel Aviv, outside Tel Aviv, Joe Librescu.
Joe, first of all, our deepest, deepest condolences to you and to your entire family.
I've been on the campus now for a few hours. I've only heard wonderful things about your father.
Tell us a little bit about your dad.
What -- what -- what was he like?
LIBRESCU: First of all, thank you.
Thank you, Wolf.
He was passionate about everything that -- that he did, which is the study, the research he was conducting at Virginia Tech; the people that he had worked along with, with students.
He simply had an -- just an amazing passion for that.
He had other passions -- for music, for sports, for hiking, for travel. Just -- he was just a real passionate person.
His top passion, though, has been his research and his -- and his university environment.
BLITZER: I know that he was born in Romania. He lived through the Holocaust and came to Israel.
Tell us about his journey from -- from his early days to Israel, and how he wound up here, on the campus of Virginia Tech.
There are a lot of -- a lot of things that I still need to learn, to know about -- about his journey. But, you know, sort of briefly, as much as I know, he basically -- he made it through the Romanian, the Nazi -- or the Romania that was conquered by the German forces in World War II. His father was sent out to a labor camp in Szretznitzia (ph) in the Ukraine.
(INAUDIBLE) he later came back to Romania. During the time, my father, along with his mother, was sent out to a sort of a secluded city that was secured for Jews (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
He survived the whole deal and went into college to study other -- basic aerospace engineering.
He worked in Romania at various institutes for his beginning of a career. He had a tough time being a communist -- under the communist regime, for he renounced communists. So he definitely was held back and was it was very tough for him to see that, because he always had been very good at what he was doing. And being held back definitely was not something he accepted lightly.
But that was the price you paid to be -- not to be a communist under a communist regime.
And later, when he wanted to come to Israel, he was -- he was forced into resigning and basically sort of tried to be sort of starved to death, you know, starved to basically renounce his desire to come to Israel.
BLITZER: So he came to Israel and...
LIBRESCU: He, however...
BLITZER: He came to Israel and then -- and that's where he raised you and your family.
And then what eventually brought him to Virginia Tech?
LIBRESCU: Eventually he got -- after seven years of working (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Israel, he like -- he got his sabbatical. And he chose Virginia Tech for being one of the top schools in his domain, which was basically engineering science and mechanics.
And so that was -- that was his original attraction to Virginia Tech...
BLITZER: Well, tell us...
LIBRESCU: ... and he came here...
BLITZER: Tell us what happened in that classroom yesterday. I know that you've been in touch with some of the students who survived and others.
LIBRESCU: Right. Right.
BLITZER: Walk us through what your father did yesterday to save some of those students. LIBRESCU: Well, basically I just got -- I just got -- we got off the phone with mom and she -- she wrote me in the morning e-mails to the entire class of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he thought that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to write back as to their last memories that they had of my dad and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in that classroom.
And basically I think that one of the more -- the most clutching e-mail or mail that she had gotten was of this guy, which is name I don't know, but I'd like to know in the future of him. And he explained that he was the last guy to basically flee out the window. He looked behind and he saw my dad pushing out at the door and he felt that he just doesn't have much chance to keep out that door. And he was torn between jumping out the window or coming and helping my dad.
He -- he chose -- and possibly, you know, made the right decision -- to jump out the window. And -- and basically that's all the entire story. All the students, 20 of them or so, out of the window and the professor, the 76, coming up to 77, pushing out the door and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) getting shot.
BLITZER: Joe Librescu, thank you so much for sharing some thoughts about your father.
He died a hero here on the campus of Virginia Tech yesterday. He saved lives of students. Unfortunately, tragically, he himself did not survive.
Our deepest condolences to you and to your entire family. A very, very sad moment.
Thanks for spending a few moments with us remembering Liviu Librescu...
LIBRESCU: Thank you.
BLITZER: ... a professor here on the campus.
LIBRESCU: Thank you.
BLITZER: There's a news conference that's beginning here at Virginia Tech.
We're expecting to get some more information on the investigation, the fallout.
Let's go there right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: E-R-T-Y.
He is the superintendent of the Virginia State Police. He's going to make several brief statements and then he'll turn it over to the Honorable Tim Kaine, governor of the Commonwealth.
(VIDEO OF PREPARATIONS FOR PRESS CONFERENCE)
BLITZER: All right, we're standing by. We're waiting for the formal start of this news conference.
We expect to get some more information on this investigation. So many unanswered questions about Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old killer. Born in South Korea. Came to the United States as -- at a young age. He lived in northern Virginia, one of the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He eventually came here to the campus of Virginia Tech University.
The gunman an English major, 23 years old. Clearly he had some serious problems. In fact, one of his professors noticed those problems a year ago based on some of the writings that Cho had -- had put together here on the campus -- very dark, somber, eerie writings.
We heard our Jim Acosta reporting on this in an earlier hour, but unfortunately not enough was done to deal with the warning signs, as they're already being called, some of the warning signs that potentially -- potentially could have averted what has become the worst shooting spree in United States history.
We're hearing, though, incredible stories of heroism, incredible stories of some of the things that were done to save lives here on this campus.
I must say that the students here, the faculty, they are resilient. They are going forward. Some of the young people have left. Their parents probably want them to leave. But by and large, this campus will continue. The campus is moving forward.
The president of the United States has been here. He's been spending the entire afternoon here. He participated in a service on the campus earlier. He spoke passionately. And since then, he's been paying his personal respects, dropping flowers at a makeshift memorial, meeting individually with some of the family members, some of the victims, those who endured this horrible, horrible ordeal that began yesterday morning, 7:15 a.m. Eastern when that first 911 emergency call was made.
The governor, Tim Kaine, of Virginia -- he flew back. He was in Tokyo yesterday on a trade mission, representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. But, of course, as soon as he heard of this tragedy, he and his team made arrangements to come back.
They got back very quickly. The governor participated in the service earlier here on the campus. He was here, as well.
As we await the start of this news conference -- and we expect to get more information on the investigation -- in fact, let's go there right now.
The news conference is just beginning.
COL. STEVE FLAHERTY, SUPERINTENDENT, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: We have, in the last 24 hours, executed a search warrant on this gunman's dorm room and we are currently evaluating the evidence that we've recovered to determine just what the evidentiary value is from the assortment of items that we collected. Investigators are continuing to follow-up leads in the shooting and the weapons that were recovered in Norris Hall.
As many of you know, we recovered two weapons, a .9 millimeter handgun, as well as a .22 caliber handgun. Investigators have traced these weapons and confirm that Cho did legally purchase these weapons in accordance with Virginia law.
There's no evidence at this time to suggest that Cho left behind any type of suicide note. The Virginia State Police has been coordinating the efforts to contact all the family members and let them know the status of their loved one. We have, to date, made tentative contact with all of those family members, either directly, by the Virginia Tech Police Department, the Blacksburg Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office or FBI or other local and state agencies around the United States.
The major thrust of the medical examiner's office today has been continuing to attempt to identify -- to positively identify the victims in these cases. They've been -- they've been pulling fingerprint records. We have been assisting and gathering fingerprint records from -- from various levels, state, local, federal and, in some cases, international level, trying to bring these together so we can make those positive identifications.
The staff at the medical examiner's office has been working 12 hour shifts in order that they can expedite this collection of scientific evidence and be able to expedite this identification process.
But as you heard yesterday from Dr. Fiero, probably it will still take days before we're able to complete this work.
I now would like to invite the governor to make some comments.
GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Good afternoon.
This has been a horrible tragedy for the Commonwealth and for this community and for the nation.
As I indicated this morning -- this afternoon in the convocation, my wife and I had just arrived in Korea for a -- in Japan -- for a two week trade mission, part of which included highlighting a Virginia Tech initiative in India.
Then we received news and then turned around and came back, arriving back to Dulles at about 11:00 today.
Our hearts go out to the entire community. This is the darkest day in the history -- the wonderful history of Virginia Tech. But I know this is a very strong community. It's a resilient community. That was obvious in the reactions of students even during the very difficult events of yesterday.
I pledge every effort of the state in the days to come to assisting this university in the healing process and assisting the family members who have experienced grievous loss, as well as students and others from this community who knew folks who are injured or who were killed.
As is standard and as is customary in an instance of this kind, there will be a very thorough after action report of the event and the response.
The university has asked me to appoint independent law enforcement expertise to assist in that effort and I will do so very promptly, probably within the next 48 hours.
It is a very important thing and a standard thing that that thorough after action review be done, both on the event and the response, so that we can learn all we can about them.
With that, I have stated all that I need to and will be glad to entertain a few questions.
QUESTION: Governor, there's a lot of information now coming out about writing about chainsaws and attacking teachers, and all this stuff, and the fact that some of the writings were so concerning to (INAUDIBLE). Is that examination going to include and should it include whether more rigorous action should have been taken prior to this event?
KAINE: The -- I would view the after-action review as encompassing the matter. What was known about this individual, the events of the day and the response thereto.
The idea is to do this after any significant incident to learn, you know, what we could do differently, and that's what we will do. But yes, I suspect that any of that information, and I've heard it alluded to, have not seen it directly, but any of that information would be part of the very thorough and independent review.
QUESTION: What do you know about the campus police first interactions with Cho in 2005?
KAINE: At this point, I am not going to talk about particular items, because I've heard things third hand without, you know, directly knowing it. That is the purpose for the after review of this kind. It's to put people with expertise and independence in place who can review it. And that will be evaluated and commented upon in due time by people involved in that review.
QUESTION: ... I know that a lot of Asian students have left the campus. And were you concerned this matter will cause more ethnic discrimination or ethnic (INAUDIBLE)?
KAINE: I would certainly that would not be the case, and I know that it is the fervent desire of this community that all students who are here who are part of the Virginia Tech community continue to be welcomed. One of the things that I noticed as I was, you know, kind of feeling powerless, waiting to board a plane five or six hours out in the future yesterday, was a number of the students who were commenting on behalf of Virginia Tech were Asian students, who participated in one way or the other in consoling other students, and talking to news and press outlets about what they had seen.
This is a community at Virginia Tech where Asian students play a very significant role. I am aware of at least one of the individuals who was killed who was an Asian on the faculty here. And so this is not an incident -- this is an incident that cuts across all the barriers. There's grief for all. I don't believe this will be seen by people in this community and others as an excuse to exercise prejudice or intolerance against anyone.
QUESTION: Governor, is the death toll still at 32?
KAINE: As soon as practicable, given the need to do identification, yes, that should be done, that should be the first item of business. I've chatted with a number of families about that, and also with the -- with law enforcement and university officials. It's just important that that be done soon, but not so soon as to compromise either identification or any aspect of this investigation. But I know that the officials working on that place that has a top priority.
QUESTION: Governor, is the death toll still at 32, plus the shooter?
KAINE: I will need to ask on that. Yes, that continues to be the toll of this.
QUESTION: Governor, the administration of the university and law enforcement have said that they have done everything, they did everything in their power to protect the students' lives. There does, however, seem to be on campus -- to be some dispute, some controversy about that.
Who will investigate to see whether or not everything can be (INAUDIBLE)?
KAINE: Well, that is a natural question to come up in such an emotional and difficult and tragic situation, was everything done that could be? It would -- it's so natural that question be asked, and we have to answer that question. And that is the purpose for immediately commencing this review of the events, everything we knew about the individual, the events and the response. I do not know at this point, standing here, who all of the members will be who will be on that assessment team. But I do know that I've been asked from the standpoint as the governor to appoint independent law enforcement expertise of great skill in this area.
I'm not -- I'm not going to right now say who I will appoint, because I have to get a yes. I have in mind individuals that I would like to serve in this capacity, and I suspect that that will be done immediately.
QUESTION: Who asked you to fill that?
KAINE: It was in discussions between me and the president of the university, Charles Steger, and the board. That they recognize the need for this after-action review, and they asked if I had people of skill in these areas that I could put on board to make sure that there was both expertise and independence.
KAINE: Look, I think that, you know, people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobbyhorse to ride, I have got nothing but loathing for them. This is not a political hobbyhorse or a crusade or something for a campaign or for a fund-raising mailing.
At this point, what it's about is comforting family members, doing what can be done to make sure that they have the ability to see their family members, that bodies can be released to families, and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to, you know, try to make this into some little crusade, you know, I say take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs.
QUESTION: Governor, how many foreign students (INAUDIBLE)?
KAINE: How many foreign students are there at Virginia Tech?
QUESTION: No, just in the deaths.
KAINE: I do not know the answer to that yet, and that will be known soon as the identities of all are released. Certainly, in, you know, hearing about a couple of the faculty members that were killed, there were foreign-born faculty members whose names will be released soon.
The president and first lady and my wife Anne and I visited with them after the convocation. So again, this is -- this is a grief that does not know an international boundary. It affects not just this tiny town, but it affects, you know, the entire world.
QUESTION: Governor, the...
KAINE: Christina (ph)? QUESTION: Are you concerned that the gunman may have used a (INAUDIBLE) magazine that (INAUDIBLE)?
KAINE: Christina (ph), the after-action review that I mentioned earlier will focus on those issues, as well. I don't know enough about the -- you know, the precise components of the ban that expired and the weaponry used here to be able to comment on that now. But certainly, the facts will be out, and at that point, that can be discussed. But at this point, that is not something I know enough facts to weigh into.
KAINE: Before we talk about any policy changes, we have to get our best assessment of what occurred. That is first.
Dealing with families is first. The careful and independent assessment of what occurred is second. Once that is done, there will be ample time to discuss whether there need to be any changes made to policy here or elsewhere.
Yes, right here.
QUESTION: Governor, can I ask you or law enforcement personnel, what's the situation with this person of interest that was mentioned this morning? And there's been talk that the first young woman who was killed, she had a new boyfriend, and this caused jealousy, et cetera, et cetera.
KAINE: I'm not able to comment on that. I don't know if there is...
QUESTION: Is this person of interest somebody who still exists and is still a person of interest? Could you clarify?
FLAHERTY: I think you are speaking of the original case, the original shootings.
QUESTION: Yes, correct.
FLAHERTY: And there was an individual who was of interest at the time that Virginia Tech Police Department was looking at, and had actually interviewed, et cetera, and remained a person of interest, and probably will be looked to for evidentiary information as we go ahead.
When I spoke earlier to you, remember that we talked about additional shooters, we talked about the potential for accomplice. At this particular point in time, Mr. Cho is the individual who was the shooter in Norris Hall. We know that.
We don't know -- we can't prove at this point whether he did or did not have any accomplice. There is no evidence that he did. But we are following through to make sure that that's not the case, to make sure that he had no one at any portion prior to or during the event, that there was no one else that was helping him in some fashion, in any fashion whatsoever.
We're also -- we have not been able to make that evidentiary leap, remember, that we told you, that we've identified that one of the weapons that was used at Norris Hall is also the weapon that was used in AJW. We have not been able to make that evidentiary leap at this point to say that Cho is the individual that did those shootings.
We're still following all those leads, and there are a myriad of leads that take us in many different directions. We're at the point where we're reviewing a great deal of evidence that has a slow move (ph).
FLAHERTY: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: The two search warrants that were executed, can you talk about what was pulled form his dorm room and from that secondary address? Did you recover any of the bloody clothing, the...
FLAHERTY: I'm only familiar with one search warrant. I have been several hours from the command post.
FLAHERTY: So I haven't had the benefit of knowing of a second -- second of a second search warrant. But what we have taken at this particular point in time were mostly documents that we're -- that we're reviewing to try to determine if there is some evidentiary value. There were considerable writings that we're reviewing.
QUESTION: Sir, he purchased 50 rounds of ammunition. Is there any indication that the reason he stopped shooting was because he ran out ammunition?
FLAHERTY: I don't know why he may have stopped shooting, no.
QUESTION: Were that many rounds fired?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) that there's some sort of sign something like this might happen, something that might tip you off? Did police do anything, or did they do enough concerning the concerns raised by the English Department regarding his writings?
FLAHERTY: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the first part of your question.
QUESTION: I said you always hope that maybe there's something that would tip you off ahead of time. What was done, if anything -- what did the police do regarding the concerns from the English Department?
FLAHERTY: I'm not familiar with that. That wasn't something that was reported to us.
QUESTION: Will you be releasing the note (INAUDIBLE)?
FLAHERTY: We have no plan to produce any of that evidence at this particular point in time. And as I mentioned, there's no evidence that there was a suicide note.
QUESTION: I'm talking about any notes he may have written regarding his girlfriend or other things like that.
FLAHERTY: Well, it's all part of the evidentiary process right now.
FLAHERTY: I'm sorry, you have to try that again.
QUESTION: Has the family of the student been contacted? And if so, can you tell us anything about it?
FLAHERTY: The family of?
FLAHERTY: The state police are not involved in dealing with the family in northern Virginia. The FBI has assisted us in that role.
QUESTION: What about school...
FLAHERTY: Yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: You said that the initial incident was thought to be a domestic incident, and that the campus reacted properly according to the information that they had. Would it be fair to say that because you had this person of interest and you were questioning him, that you believed that the shooter had been apprehended and that's why the campus-wide notifications were so slow?
FLAHERTY: We weren't involved in that incident. The state police was not involved in that incident, nor did we play a role in making a decision about the campus.
QUESTION: I understand. But you said that the campus police action and the campus security notifications...
FLAHERTY: Well, we certainly feel like, from our review, in the course of doing our portion of the investigation, that the reaction that -- of the local police, the Blacksburg Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, and Virginia Tech Police Department was a proper approach.
QUESTION: But is that because they thought they had the shooter from the first incident in for questioning?
FLAHERTY: Well, there was no certainly no evidence or no reason to think that there was anyone else at that particular point in time. (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. That's enough. The governor needs to continue on.
Thank you very much, sir.
You guys want to go ahead and...
I also want to...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Folks, I wanted to let you know there has been, apparently, published report that Cho's parents committed suicide. Not true.
All right? Absolutely unconfirmed. So, just -- it's not true. It's not true, period. OK?
QUESTION: Do you know where they are?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are still alive, yes.
QUESTION: Where are they?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not -- I'm not going to release their location. I'm simply telling you that they are still alive. They have committed suicide, as reported erroneously by somebody.
I want to let you know that tomorrow morning we will conduct a briefing at 9:00 a.m. here, once again. And we'll also conduct a briefing at 4:00 p.m. here, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Depending on the information we can reveal at this time. This is very much an active, ongoing investigation, and we can only release so much information as we proceed for fear that we may jeopardize the progress of this investigation.
QUESTION: Are there any updates on school cancellations for next week or the rest of the semester?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll have that information tomorrow morning from the president himself. I'm sure they'll make a statement about that, as well as concerning the football game on Saturday which I know there have been some questions on.
Thank you guys very much.
BLITZER: And so there is the latest information coming from the university, law enforcement. The governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, who just got back from Japan, announcing there would be an independent investigation, a review, in his words, an after-action review, to see what exactly happened, to see if everyone responded as they should have responded to the initial warnings, the initial killing early yesterday morning here on the campus of Virginia Tech, at that dorm, and then two hours and 15 minutes or so later. A much more -- the largest shooting spree in U.S. history.
The governor announcing there would be a full, in his words, after-action review.
An apparently disturbed man armed with two guns and determined to kill over and over again. It's a familiar and gut-wrenching story. On an unprecedented scale, though, this time. Will it change anything?
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us.
Is the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bill, likely to put the issue of gun control on the political agenda once again?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, I wouldn't bet on it.
In recent years, gun control has been an issue most politicians prefer to stay away from.
SCHNEIDER (voice over): The last significant gun control measures to make it through Congress were the Brady Bill in 1993 and the assault weapons ban in 1994. And what happened? Democrats lost control of Congress for 12 years. President Clinton blamed the gun lobby.
Democrats have been gun shy ever since. Al Gore rarely talked about gun control in 2000.
AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of my proposals would have any effect on hunters, or sportsman, or people who use rifles.
SCHNEIDER: John Kerry went hunting in 2004.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I will protect the Second Amendment. I always have, and I will.
SCHNEIDER: Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association ran this ad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry, you are not fooling America's gun owners. They know you voted against their gun rights for 20 years. So, now you are running away from your record. Just like Al Gore did.
SCHNEIDER: This year, Rudy Giuliani, a long-time supporter of gun control, says the matter should be left to the states.
Polls show the public supports gun control. Why don't the politicians get with the people? Public support for stricter gun laws has been declining since the 1990s. In January, the number was 49 percent, less than a majority for the first time since at least 1990. Why? The decline seems related to the drop in the violent crime rate since 1994.
After a shocking incident like the one at Virginia Tech, public anger over gun violence rises. Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a statement saying, "I believe this will re-ignite the dormant effort to pass common sense gun regulations in this nation."
But public anger is not usually sustained very long, whereas gun owners remember every gun control vote as a threat to their rights.
SCHNEIDER: Gun owners vote the issue. Supporters of gun control typically don't. So politicians believe they will pay a price at the polls if they support new gun laws, even when most voters agree with them. When it comes to public opinion, intensity matters, not just numbers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Bill. Thank you for that report.
BLITZER: We've been trying to bring you information about the victims as it comes out. CNN's Carol Costello, she's here on the campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg.
Carol, I know you've been talking to friends of Daniel Perez. What's going on?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daniel Perez was quite a young man. He was 21 years old, he was killed in Norris Hall while he was in French class.
Now, when I say he was an amazing young man, he indeed was. Originally from Peru, he lived in D.C. for a time, and he was there near the Pentagon when the plane crashed into the Pentagon, and he witnessed the carnage and the sorrow. And that's why he decided to go into international studies here at Virginia Tech. He wanted to save the world.
With me now, his roommate, Donald Smith.
Tell me about your friend and what you will miss about him.
DONALD SMITH, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: We actually signed a lease for next year. I was going to be his roommate next year. But I'll just miss his smile and his laughter.
He was just so smart, and he spoke four different languages. And he was just so impressive. And he loved soccer and swimming, and just spending the time, the precious moments with him. COSTELLO: You're going to go to a vigil tonight. There's a vigil scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the heart of this university, in the commons area, and you are going to meet up with his family.
What will you say to them?
SMITH: I'll just wish them everything, and just let them know that Daniel was loved by so many people, and just let them know that how great a guy he was. And that, you know, here at Virginia Tech, he had a lot of friends, and we consider us, you know, part of family to him.
COSTELLO: You said before that -- what the university should do next as far as a memorial is concerned. Can you tell me about that again?
SMITH: I just think that maybe the university should have some kind of memorial as far as something permanent on campus, something grand that will constitute as far as our buildings. Something that will go with the rest of campus and just commemorate our losses.
COSTELLO: Something that will live on forever.
COSTELLO: Thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Again, there's going to be a vigil at 7:00 p.m. at the heart of this university. There are already candles set up.
Megan (ph), hi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
COSTELLO: Megan (ph) was Daniel's best friend.
And I just want you to say a few words about Daniel because I know that you want to. Tell me again how studious he was. I know he made the dean's list.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very studious. He was in the honor society, and he just had become a Hokie ambassador last week. He had just found. And we had three classes together, and he was pushing me to study and go to class, and we always went to the library every day and studied together and did our homework.
COSTELLO: And you also are going to meet with his family. His sister and his mother are coming to the vigil tonight, and what will you say to them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly, I really don't know. I'm just going to try to be there for them. All that I can be, and let them know if there's anything I can do, I truly will do it with all my heart. Anything I can do to help them.
COSTELLO: And I know how much you miss him. We thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Again, Wolf, we'll be at the vigil later. Actually, we'll rejoin our viewers in THE SITUATION ROOM at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Back to you.
BLITZER: I know, Carol, you've been speaking with family members, relatives of some of the victims. And it's amazing these stories that we're hearing. But give us a little -- I know you're going to have more on this coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here in our special coverage in THE SITUATION ROOM, but give us a little flavor of what they are saying to you.
COSTELLO: Well, you know, oddly enough, when I flew in this morning to the Roanoke, Virginia, airport, I met Daniel's sister. She was on her way to meet her mother who lives in D.C.
And she was telling me, you know, her husband is serving in Iraq now. He was just called out for an extended stay. And she's really concerned that her husband won't be able to get home for her brother's funeral.
This family is in crisis every which way. It's just -- you know, you hear one story after another just like that.
BLITZER: All right, Carol. I know that you are going to have more on this coming up. Thank you.
Carol Costello on the campus of Virginia Tech.
Your e-mail and what other states can learn from yesterday's terrible massacre here in Virginia, that's coming up when Jack Cafferty joins us.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: For one recent Virginia Tech grad the horror was compounded when he found himself briefly a suspect in the massacre. He talked to CNN's Kathleen Koch. She's joining us now live.
What were the police interested in -- why were they interested in him, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it wasn't exactly the police. It was people on the Internet. And one look at his live Internet journal, and you do wonder about 23-year-old Wayne Chiang.
He attended Virginia Tech, and he has quite a lot of guns.
WAYNE CHIANG, VIRGINIA TECH ALUMNUS: I just had this massive shipment of firearms come in, and I just thought it was funny if I just take a goofy picture. KOCH (voice over): Twenty-three-year-Wayne Chiang posted the photo on a Facebook group for his freshman dormitory, West Ambler Johnston. So people scanning the Internet thought they had found the killer.
CHIANG: And I fit the profile exactly. You could easily I was Chinese and I like firearms, and I used to live in West Ambler Johnson.
KOCH: His weapons-packed Internet live journal revealed he had just broken up with his girlfriend.
CHIANG: Yesterday I had 22,000 hits. And as of today, I have 297,000 hits.
KOCH: Questions and threats started pouring in. Finally, Monday night, Wayne tried to stop the rumors.
CHIANG: I said, you know, this is going out of control. I'm not the shooter.
KOCH: The 2006 Virginia Tech graduate lives with his parents and sister in northern Virginia. He doesn't believe he's in danger now, and hopes the mix-up helped people vent.
CHIANG: So many people are just looking for answers, and it's -- I totally understand that. It's human nature to find a scapegoat for this situation. It's our way of coping with a really stressful situation. And people found me, and I accepted that position.
KOCH: The owner of 21 guns, Wayne thinks Virginia Tech students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. He believes if just one victim Monday had had a gun, the outcome might have been different -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story. Thank you, Kathleen, for that.
Let's check back with Jack Cafferty in New York -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Following up on that same subject, the question we asked is: What can other states learn from the mass murders in Virginia? And we talked about the fact that guns are not permitted on most of Virginia's campuses.
Brain writes, "I'm a graduate student at Virginia Tech and a long-time Virginia resident. I'm a firm believer that gun laws only keep guns away from the innocent. Bad people can get guns easily. The good components of society are the only ones that abide by the laws. If the requirements were different, one of my fellow students could have defended himself and shot back."
Evan writes, "Yes, the solution is that all the students should have been armed. Sensible gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of psychos couldn't possibly be the answer. Do you honestly believe allowing guns on campus would lower campus violence? How do people as stupid as you get on television?"
David writes, "Jack, I thought you were a lefty liberal, but you're exactly right. I guarantee this would not happen in Texas. He would have shot two or three, and three or four people would have shot him. End of story."
Ted in Edmonton, Kentucky, "What other states should learn from the Virginia Tech shooting is that it's long past time for the country to pass federal law to restrict gun ownership. Guns should be controlled at least to the extent that automobiles are."
Andrea, Illinois, "The states need to have a strict screening process which prevents many people from getting these weapons, but they also need to figure out a way that school officials will be allowed to carry concealed weapons just in case this happens again. That could deter a lot of preps, because they will know that these people are not as helpless as they think they are."
And Jen writes in Culver, Indiana, "I think the media's focus on guns rights, while important, misses the larger, more troubling issues pertaining to the male culture in the United States, a culture which encourages violence and which tells men that the only emotion they should express is anger needs to take some responsibility for the shootings such as the ones at Virginia Tech. The availability of guns makes it easier for shooters to act out, but the reasons they go on these rampages surely start in our definitions of masculinity."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online, and we also have clips there of "The Cafferty File" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.
We're going to be back here in one hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We're on the campus of Virginia Tech University. Lots more of our special coverage.
Lou Dobbs is going to pick up our coverage right now in New York.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com