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Virginia Tech Gunman Sends Message to NBC

Aired April 18, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, tonight, we remember them all.
Good evening, everyone, live from the campus of Virginia Tech.

Tonight, for the first time, we hear the words of a mass murderer.


CHO SEUNG-HUI, VIRGINIA TECH GUNMAN: You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.


COOPER: Cho Seung-Hui's rambling message of hate and sound, and still pictures, gun barrel pictures, the way his victims must have seen him.

We are seeing these images today for the first time, sent by Cho to NBC News in New York -- the postmark, chilling, 9:01 a.m. Monday morning, right in the middle of his killing spree.

And, perhaps in a sign how it all would end, we see pictures he sent to NBC, a knife at his neck, a gun poised at his head.

Also, tonight, new revelations about Cho's mental state, a court ruling that he was an imminent threat to himself, a roommate tonight telling us that some of the rantings on his tape were similar to things he wrote on the walls of their dorm.

And, if that weren't enough, a 360 exclusive tonight: his terrifying poetry. All of it is new information, most of it utterly horrifying, some of it terribly sad, all the more so because, even with all the warning signs, the stalking, the imaginary friends, the grisly writings, none of it was enough to get Cho Seung-Hui the help he so desperately needed or to provide the people here with the safety they so desperately deserved.

We will look at why not in the program tonight and at all the missed signals over the years.

With begin, however, with Cho's own words and pictures compiled and sent out by a young man who had already taken two young lives.

Gary Tuchman reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cho Seung-Hui is dead. But he has now spoken as if from the grave.


CHO: When the time came, I did it. I had to.


TUCHMAN: It's now evident this bloodshed was elaborately planned. A package was sent by the gunman to NBC's headquarters in New York the day of the mayhem. What is being called a multimedia manifesto includes 27 video files.


CHO: You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.


TUCHMAN: The package is not addressed to anyone in particular, but it's full of venom and hatred from a man who believes the world has done him wrong.


CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have your throat slashed from ear to ear?

Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled -- impaled upon on a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement?

You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and Cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.


TUCHMAN: Cho included 43 still photos in the package. The first two show him as a normal looking college student. The rest are troubling and disturbing.


CHO: You sadistic snobs, I may be nothing but a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul, and tortured my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die, like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.


TUCHMAN: The package's postmark indeed indicates it was mailed the day of the killings. In fact, the 9:01 a.m. time that is written shows he mailed it between the two murder sprees at the dorm and at the classroom building.


CHO: You just love to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart, and raping my soul all this time.


TUCHMAN: And, in the package, a chilling note -- he praises the -- quote -- "martyrs like Eric and Dylan," a reference to the Columbine High School killers.

It is evident that this man, who has single-handedly ruined so many lives, considers himself a martyr, too.


CHO: I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But, no, I will no longer run. It's not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I did it for them.


TUCHMAN: What he did was cause misery. And, in this high-tech multimedia age, he goes down as a calculated, cold-blooded killer.


COOPER: Now, Gary, we know that he sent this to NBC in between the killings, between the time of the morning and the later killing. We don't know how much of this he actually taped, though, at that time.

TUCHMAN: There's no way to know how much he taped at that time. There's no way to know how long it took. That's a lot of work that that guy did. It's amazing that nobody noticed it.

COOPER: Yes. And had anyone -- I mean, in all these pictures, we see him with -- with these pistols and with this knife. Did anyone ever see him with any weapons?

TUCHMAN: We have talked to a lot of people on campus since we have been here. A lot of people saw him, never saw him with guns.

We talked to his two roommates yesterday from last year. They spent the whole year in the same dorm suite with him. They said he had a pocketknife, but they said they never saw a gun and never heard him talk about guns.

COOPER: It's also interesting. In so many of these pictures, and in the video when he's talking, he doesn't have that hat. We have heard so much from Nikki Giovanni, the professor, and others on the campus, about him always wearing the hat. We see in some of the pictures a turned-back baseball cap.

But it's almost as if, in this video, he wants to reveal himself, and he's willing to sort of expose himself.

TUCHMAN: It's so surreal and sad and pitiful, watching this. And it makes me so sad, especially when we just saw that picture with the hammer.

What is this guy doing? I mean, the horror and terror that he's left here on this campus will never be forgotten. This is just making it worse. You know, it's an important story for us to tell. But you can imagine, for the parents at home who lost their children, watching this, this has to be so painful.

COOPER: Well, even for his parents, it has got to be just a nightmare to sort of try to comprehend the scope of this.

TUCHMAN: I think that's something we forget, is that his parents and his sister, a graduate of Princeton University, by the way, they are victims, too.


TUCHMAN: They have lost their son and brother.

COOPER: Maybe, some day, we will hear from them.

Gary, appreciate your reporting. Thanks very much, Gary.

Even before this came out, so many here on campus had stories to tell about a young man who rarely spoke. And, when he did, he either creeped the people out or terrified them.

Now, we heard last night in Gary's report from his roommates about Cho harassed and stalked women, in their opinion.

Now the women are telling their stories.

We have more on that tonight from CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was sent out of the blue, an instant message from the would-be killer's computer. The female student who received the message from Cho Seung-Hui long ago would not talk on camera, still too shaken from the shooting.

But she shared it exclusively with CNN: "By a name, I know not how to tell who I am. My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word."

How could someone described as quiet until now create this much fear?

At least two female students were so disturbed by Cho's actions towards them, they contacted police. Neither, in the end, pressed charges. Still, police recommended a medical evaluation because Cho appeared suicidal. The result? A Virginia court found Cho mentally ill and an imminent threat to himself. He was ordered to be treated as an outpatient, released, and returned to campus.

CHRIS FLYNN, DIRECTOR, COOK COUNSELING CENTER: On release, they are given a plan or a protocol to follow.

KAYE: But Cho had other plans, which may have included making a name for himself. That became even more clear when NBC News received a package from him. It included an 1,800-word manifesto and dozens of videos, Cho talking directly to the camera about religion and his hatred for the wealthy, and showing off his guns.


CHO: You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These individuals feel out of control. They feel like they're victims. And they want to get even by -- by taking charge, taking control. And, indeed, how much more control and power can you imagine than someone who goes on a rampage at a college campus, killing dozens, and makes national news as someone who's perpetrated the largest mass shooting in American history?

KAYE: The package appears to have been mailed between the two campus shootings.

COLONEL STEVEN FLAHERTY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: This may be a very new, critical component of this investigation. We're in the process right now of attempting to analyze and evaluate its worth.

KAYE (on camera): Investigators are also analyzing two notes left by Cho. He describes what he perceived as injustices against him, including bullying.

The Associated Press says the notes contain rants against the rich who have Mercedes, gold and trust funds, and democratic terrorists. The notes end with, "We will soon be together."

(voice-over): Cho also left behind a laundry list of bizarre behavior, late-night bike rides, waking before dawn, an imaginary girlfriend named Jelly. His roommates say he insisted on calling himself Question Mark.

ANDY, FORMER SUITE MATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: I finally just got completely tired of it.

And I'm like, Seung, the act's up. You know, you need to stop this.

And he's like: This isn't Seung. This is Question Mark.

KAYE: But his professors had other names for him, like creepy and mean.

NIKKI GIOVANNI, POETRY PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: I just didn't think he was disturbed as we would normally think of a kid as disturbed. I thought he was mean.

KAYE: Poetry professor Nikki Giovanni says Cho took pictures of girls in class with his cell phone, and his poems were so disturbing, she threatened to quit.

In one play by Cho, a student, angry over detention, writes this about his teacher: "I want to kill him. I want to watch him bleed." In another, Cho writes about a young man killing his stepfather: "I hate him. Just kill Dick. Dick must die."

If only the answers had come sooner about the man called Question Mark.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: So many questions about this young man.

Joining me now from Tampa, Florida, is Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI profiler, and, in Washington, forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie, who has interviewed many mass murderers.

Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.

Gregg, I want to play more of what we have just heard from this tape that Cho mailed to NBC on the day of the killings. He talks about sacrificing himself for others.

Let's listen.


CHO: I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But, no, I will no longer run. It's not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I did it for them.


COOPER: He talks about for his children. I don't know if that's metaphoric, because, assuming he knew he was going to die on this day, it seems like he is portraying himself as a martyr of some sort. GREGG MCCRARY, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, he certainly is, because, if you look at what he's done, he has identified himself with Jesus Christ and all of that. And that is this sort of delusional, this paranoid delusional, system and the persecutory delusions that he has, and the sense of grandiosity. And it's all -- it's all sort of woven together.

And what we see typically in individuals that perpetrate mass murders.

COOPER: When you say paranoid delusional, what does that mean exactly?

MCCRARY: Well, that the world is -- to him, is a very threatening place, that, as you see, he has a very elaborate blaming system. Everybody has done this to him. Everybody has created all these problems, whether they are real or perceived problems, that he has.

So, this is his way of getting even. This is his way of acting out. And he's striving for the power that he knows that he doesn't have. And this is how he's -- how he's gone about doing it.

COOPER: Gregg -- Gregg mentioned the -- the comparison to Jesus Christ. Let's play that bit of the tape.

And, then, Kris, talk about that.



CHO: You sadistic snobs, I may be nothing but a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul, and tortured my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die, like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.


COOPER: We know he has a Christian background with his family. Why do you think he is making this tape? Why make these messages?

MOHANDIE: Well, because he -- he wants to be remembered. He wants it to be clear as to the reasons why he did what he did.

He thinks what he's done is very important and special. And it goes along with the grandiosity that Gregg just mentioned. This is a guy who is trying to make up for a lot of likely imagined mistreatment at the hand of other people. And, you know, he's trying to punish society for what they have done to him, in his own mind. He's an injustice collector.

COOPER: And he talks a lot about these enemies he has, real or imagined. Let's listen to him railing again kids with money.

Let's listen.


CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled -- impaled upon on a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement?

You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life. Did you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can, just because you can?

You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and Cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.


COOPER: He clearly appears -- appears to be reading there, Gregg.


COOPER: How long do you think this was building up inside him? I mean, we now know about his mental history in 2005. Would there have been signs earlier than that?


Typically, this goes on for a period of years, where there's a long period of devolution, where they are in a downward spiral for a number of years. And the risk markers are there. They're there for a long time.

No one is perfectly normal one day and then get up the next day and shoot 20 or 30 people. It just doesn't happen. So, this -- there's a myth that -- the idea that somebody just snapped is a myth. That -- that doesn't happen. There's a long period.

It's sort of the good news/bad news. The good news is that there's lots of times for intervention, the potential for intervention is there, because it is such a long period to reach this -- this violence. But the bad news is, many times, these risk markers and warning signs are either ignored, mishandled, or handled provocatively.

COOPER: Kris, it's interesting to me that, you know, we have heard so much from people on the campus about how he wore this hat all the time pulled down low. Nikki Giovanni, his poetry professor, kept every day having to ask him to remove it.

And, yet, in these pictures that we're looking at, he's hatless. It seems almost he wants people to see him fully.

MOHANDIE: It does appear that he's moved to the private world that he lived in, his fantasy world. He has developed this violent fantasy to -- violent fantasy life to compensate for his feelings of inferiority that obviously he suffered from for an awful long time.

And now he's revealing himself. He's revealing himself in his violent -- you know, his violent manner. And he wants people to see him for who he really is.

This is a guy who's been bathing in his violent fantasies for an awful long time and just obsessing about it. And now was the time for him to let the world know, because he's so important. He's believing completely his violent script that he's been writing for years.

COOPER: He also rails in this video that he sent to NBC about being rejected and repeatedly humiliated. Let's listen to that.

MCCRARY: Well, a lot of this stuff is -- again, it's paranoid. It's -- it's not happening in reality. This is a guy that -- that withdrew from other people.

This was a guy that was a loner, like most of these people are that do these things. Twenty-six out of the 30 that we looked at in a research study some years ago were just like him, loners. And what they will do is, they are so hypersensitive, they are so brittle that normal events that are affecting other people, they deeply personalize it, and they put it in the basket of resentments that they carry around with them, and add it to the list of reasons why they're going to do what they do.

So, this is pretty typical of what we see.


COOPER: Let's play that -- that clip, just so folks at home who haven't seen it yet can hear what Kris is talking about.


CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have your throat slashed from ear to ear?


COOPER: Gregg, you know, we see this picture of -- of -- not only of him threatening the camera with a gun, but also holding a knife to his throat, holding the gun to his head.

Do you have any doubts that he -- that he thought he would die in this incident?

MCCRARY: No. This is an act of suicide. Mass murders are typically best thought of as being acts of suicide.

And, to go along with what Kris was just saying a moment ago, these persecutory delusions are really delusional. He talks there about having his throat -- do you know what it's like to have your throat slit -- slashed ear to ear? Well, he never experienced that. Torched alive -- he was never torched alive.

But these are the persecutory and the paranoid delusions that -- that he's having. And, to him, they're -- they're sort of his reality.

MOHANDIE: And not only is it his reality.


MOHANDIE: But he's putting it out there and doing it to other people in reality. He's the one that's hurting other people.

MCCRARY: That's exactly right.

COOPER: And that's an -- an important point to keep in mind.

We are going to talk to you gentlemen throughout these next two hours, Gregg McCrary and Kris Mohandie.

Also, one thing we didn't talk about, which we will get to next time we talk, his references to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris of Columbine, the Columbine killers, clearly seeing some sort of association with them.

We will talk more about that ahead. We will also have more on the mixed signals that added up to this massacre.

Also ahead tonight on the 360: the Cho that his roommates knew, sinister and strange, by their accounts, a stalker.


JOHN, FORMER ROOMMATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: He found where she lived, started talking to her on AIM. Then he went over there. He was using the name Question Mark, said, hey, I'm Question Mark. And that really freaked the girl out.




GIOVANNI: I don't care what happens to him. This is what cannot happen. He may not come back into my classroom. He was creepy.


COOPER: That was more from Virginia Tech professor Nikki Giovanni.

We heard from her in Randi Kaye's report earlier. She says that Cho showed clear signs of emotional disturbance long before Monday's massacre, like the time he read one of his poems in her creative writing class over a year ago. She said his work was sinister and it was threatening enough to scare nearly 70 students into skipping her class a few days later. A lot of them said, also, because he was taking photographs of them under the desk -- just one of the missed signals that should have sent up red flags.

Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Portrait of a killer: pictures Cho Seung- Hui sent to NBC News. On this campus, those who knew him describe Cho, however, as a shadow. No one fully comprehended the darkness in his mind.

ANDY, FORMER SUITE MATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: I thought he was just really quiet and shy. I didn't think he was weird initially.

COOPER: In hindsight, however, the warning signs were everywhere. Cho's roommates say they started to get worried when, in their words, he started stalking girls.

JOHN, FORMER ROOMMATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: He said that he wanted to go up there and look her in the eyes to see how cool she was. And, when he looked in her eyes, he saw that -- he saw promiscuity.

COOPER: Two of the girls reported Cho to campus police, but refused to press charges.

ANDY: Seung became upset about that. And he had told me that he might as well kill himself. And, so, I told the cops that. And they took him away to the counseling center.

COOPER: Cho was given a temporary detention order and treated by counselors at this off-campus mental health facility. A judge also found Cho -- quote -- "an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness."

Because of privacy rules, we don't yet know what happened as a result of the judge's ruling. We do know, however, at some point in 2005, he was treated at this hospital. Cho was released, however, and went back to classes. It's not clear whether the university was ever even told.


COOPER: Cho's strange behavior also raised a red flag with his teachers. His poetry professor, Nikki Giovanni, even threatened to quit if Cho wasn't removed from her class. The administration offered her a security guard, which she refused. Cho was taken out of the class.

GIOVANNI: He was very intimidating student to -- to my other students.

COOPER: English professor Lucinda Roy was so disturbed by the explicit violence in Cho's writing, that she begged him to get counseling. He told her he was.

LUCINDA ROY, ENGLISH PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: I really felt very strongly that he was suicidal, that he was so depressed, that he had a negativity about him. It was really like talking to a hole sometimes, as though the person wasn't really there.

COOPER: Roy also reported Cho's behavior to campus police and the administration. Still, university officials now say there was little they could do about Cho.

WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF: The writings do not express any threatening intentions or allude to any criminal activity. No criminal violation had taken place.

COOPER: These violent plays Cho wrote last fall also give a window into the rage behind his blank stare. He writes of chain saws, murder, and sexual molestation.

HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: This is an individual who was blatantly paranoid. He was also blatantly psychotic, out of touch with reality. But that's the absolute problem with someone who is a paranoid psychotic. They are so quiet. They are so under the radar.

COOPER: Danger under the radar, until it erupted into unprecedented violence.


COOPER: Well, dangerously disturbed and flying under the radar.

Joining us again to talk about Cho's mental state, forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie, and Daniel Gotlin, a criminal defense attorney. He joins us from New York.

Daniel, we have now seen these 2005 records for Cho, which state that he -- quote -- "presents an imminent danger to himself" as a result of mental illness. He was treated at this off-campus mental health facility, later at a hospital, but not involuntarily committed.

What does it take to get someone to be held in a case like this?

DANIEL GOTLIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you have to be a lot sicker.

Merely because you're a danger to yourself or somebody believes you're a danger to yourself is never going to be sufficient to have somebody civilly committed, which would -- in this case, it would have been a civil commitment. Doctors have to say he has to have reached the threshold where he -- he couldn't function in society. And that clearly wasn't the case here, although it probably should have been.

COOPER: Kris, it does seem like this guy Cho sort of lived and existed in a gray area, not writing anything directly violent to any particular person, not making any direct threats, or truly stalking people in a very obvious way, and, yet, clearly raising red flags with many people he had interactions with. MOHANDIE: Yes and no.

I mean, clearly, there was a lot of what we refer to as leakage, the evidence that there's an underlying violent fantasy life that is likely an antidote for his feelings of inadequacy.

But, yes, it is true that you have to reach a certain threshold in most states in order to be committed against your will. Nonetheless, there was a lot of information there that there was a pretty detailed violent fantasy life that should have kept him on the radar screen for a long time, with a lot of attention.

These are very unusual plays that he was writing, unusual poems, unusual behavior. And the fact that he was so obsessed with violence is what we see in these kinds of cases.

COOPER: Daniel, Kris talks about that he should have been kept on the radar screen. On the radar screen of whom? If it's not a police matter, should the university have -- have taken more steps, or could his parents have been notified?

GOTLIN: Well, he was an adult at this point. So, I don't think they could notify the parents, even if they wanted to.

The second point is, the doctors that -- that had him in the hospital obviously didn't know of all these different things that now we're first learning about him from the different sources, from the teachers, from the other students, from his writings.

Perhaps, if they knew about it then, he would have been more than just on the radar screen; he would have been committed civilly. But you didn't know that. And it's virtually impossible, really, in our society for -- for these things to come to the forefront, unless something tragically like this happens

COOPER: So, Daniel, how does something like this get prevented in the future? Is there -- are there steps -- should some law change? Should -- should there be some interim group that can monitor a person like this?

GOTLIN: Well, it seems to me the only logical -- or the easiest way to monitor things like this is to not make guns so easily available to individuals with -- with problems.

He didn't even have to take a test in order to get the gun in -- in the state that he was residing in, Virginia. Virginia has one of the easiest gun -- gun qualification laws in the whole United States.

You go in. You show your I.D., if you don't have a criminal record, and -- and you're qualified. And that's what's tragic. Perhaps, if he had the test to take, like you take when you get a driver's permit or a driver's license, you know, more people wouldn't be given guns so readily as they are in the state of Virginia. And that's the -- that's really sad.

(CROSSTALK) GOTLIN: And that can be prevented.

COOPER: But, short -- short of that, Kris, though, if you have a guy on a college campus who, you know, a professor says is so creepy, I don't want him in my class, and his roommates are concerned that he's suicidal and have called police, and he has pinged the radar of police at least twice for alleged stalking incidents, I mean, if you have a paranoid delusional person on campus, is there anything a university can and/or should do anything about it?

MOHANDIE: Well, actually, universities do, do things about this. That's why they have mental health centers that -- that address these kinds of problems.

But, beyond that, one of the things many schools are starting to do is establish what are called threat assessment teams that are usually comprised of educators from the -- from the campus, mental health professionals, and sometimes campus-based security and law enforcement, who can assemble this information and seek it out as -- as it comes forward, because what will often happen is as what happens here.

You have pieces of information in one spot, you know, with the students that are his roommates, pieces of information from mental health. And what you really need are people that can oversee the assembling of this information, bring it together to see what they really do have.

And that's a common practice that is becoming more common on both high school, junior high school campuses, and colleges throughout America. And we call it, you know, a team approach to managing people that are of concern.

COOPER: And of course, part of the problem right now here was that the two young women who were involved in this, who were scared by him, did not go ahead and press charges, obviously not thinking it would go any further than this.

Guys, we will talk to you later on in the program. I appreciate your perspective.


COOPER: We'll also talk about the gun issue a little bit later on tonight.

But coming up next, two people who had unique insight into Cho's troubled mind: his former roommates, from his odd behavior to his imaginary girlfriend named Jelly. They described what it was like to live with a fellow student who would become a mass murderer. The 360 exclusive interview is next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S SUITEMATE: It was just -- it was really shocking. You know, scenarios go through my head, because I saw him that morning. And you know, I thought, what if I had said something to him through the semester that would have made him angry at me?


COOPER: You can only imagine what he is going through, one of Cho's roommates, who also said the killer never made eye contact and rarely spoke.

Tonight, after the tapes of Cho, we heard from a former roommate named John. He e-mailed us, and he said this, quote, "I've been watching it, and it's really wild. The rumblings on the video are similar to what he would write on the desk and the walls. It is very sinister. We didn't really see this side of him when I lived with him, but I'm not surprised."

John and another former roommate, Andy, had much more to tell us on camera about living with a man who'd become a mass murderer. John and Andy sat down with CNN's Gary Tuchman last night for an exclusive and extraordinary interview.


JOHN, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: I went back to my room one night. And there was a policeman in there. And apparently, what happened was he's gone -- he started talking to her online first. He found where she lived, started talking to her on AIM. Then he went over there, using the name Question Mark. Said, "Hey, I'm Question Mark." And that really freaked the girl out.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So he was stalking her?

JOHN: Yes. He found out everything about her first.

TUCHMAN: Like, he told this girl all the things he learned about her?

JOHN: I don't know if he told her that. He thought they were playing some kind of game or something.

TUCHMAN: Did you know the girl?

JOHN: No. I...

TUCHMAN: Was she freaked out about it? Did you hear later?

JOHN: Freaked out enough about it to call the police.

TUCHMAN: Did this happen with any other girls, Andy?

ANDY, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: There were two other instances that we know of. One was of our friends. He started bothering her. And another was down the hall.

TUCHMAN: And what happened in those cases?

ANDY: The one down the hall, I got the girl's screen name and kind of told her. I IM'd her and told her this guy, you know, he's messing around with you. Here's his name. And you should try and ignore him and just stay away from him.

And the other time, the cops responded again, and Seung became upset about that, and he had told me that he might as well kill himself. And so I told the cops that, and they took him away to the counseling center for a night or two.

TUCHMAN: And when he told you that he might kill himself, did you think he might be serious?

ANDY: It's -- it was more out of -- I could kind of see him doing it. It was about -- it was before a break, is what I remember. So -- and he never went home. So he would have been there over break by himself if he was serious about it.

TUCHMAN: How many different girls do you know that he stalked?

JOHN: I think three.

ANDY: Three.

TUCHMAN: And you were telling me about one of the girls whose door he went to and talked to her. Tell me about that and what he said.

ANDY: You know more about that.

JOHN: He said that he walked in and what he told me one night, which was really strange, because he never talked to me. He never got up and closed the door himself, and he never turned off the lights when he was going to bed.

So it was really strange when he closed the door and he turned to me and he said, "Hey, you want to know why I went up to that girl's dorm room the other night?"

And I said, "Sure, why?"

He said that he wanted to go up there and look her in the eyes to see how cool she was. That's the only way he could tell how cool she was, by looking her in the eyes. And when he looked in her why eyes, he saw -- he saw promiscuity.

TUCHMAN: What is the strangest thing you remember him doing, now that you look back at it? Is there anything that you told other friends about or told your parents about?

ANDY: I'm trying to think of the craziest incident with him. I guess it was his Facebook profile. He had called it Question Mark. And he told me that that was his brother.

And he had gotten my cell phone number from when we used to invite him to dinner and stuff. So he called me on a couple of instances, talking, and saying he was Question Mark.

And I remember one night, I finally just got completely tired of it and I'm like, "Seung, you act up. You need to stop this."

And he's like, "This isn't Seung. This is Question Mark," being real insistent on that. So I knew he had to be in Cochran. I went through all the lounges in Cochran, not that many, but I finally found him on the -- I think it was...

TUCHMAN: Cochran is your residence hall?

ANDY: Yes. I found him in the third floor of one of the study lounges and the lights were off. And the moment I walked in, he hung the phone up and acted like everything was normal and denied that he had been on the phone with me.


COOPER: Well, police and reporters, of course right now, trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together. Your interview yesterday, that was significant. We learned a lot of information on that. It corresponds with some of the things we heard in the videotapes today that were sent by Cho.

TUCHMAN: Right. In the videotape today Cho condemns, quote, "hedonistic needs." So when you just heard the young men talking about the -- looking in the eyes and seeing promiscuity and he was very turned off by that, that has some correlation.

There were other things yesterday, Anderson, that were just so weird and disturbing when we heard them. For example, Andy was a suit mate, wasn't in the same room. He was in the room right next to him.

Andy said he went to his room and he looked and saw flashbulbs. He goes what was that? And it turns out that Cho was taking a picture of him. He said, "What are you doing that for?" And he didn't answer. It was very strange.

But I will tell you one thing, that John and Andy did everything right to be heroes. And they should be heroes right now. They were the ones that told this university that he wanted to kill himself.

Cho sent them an instant message, an IM that said, "I want to kill myself." They called the university. That's what got Cho for counseling in the first place. If they didn't call, he never would have been taken away at all. As we see, he ended up coming back.

COOPER: Because the women didn't press charges. The police talked to him, but that was it. But until they actually contacted them and said he was thinking about killing himself, that's when they brought him in.

TUCHMAN: There was potential because of what these guys did, that Cho could have never come back here.

COOPER: It was a great interview, Gary. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.

And of course, we know how this story ended. All day today, more names of the victims became public, along with their stories.

Brian Bluhm loved the Detroit Tigers we're told. He was at a game just last weekend. The Tigers won. Brian was 25 years old.

Austin Cloyd was just 18, a freshman. She and her mother helped rehab homes for the disadvantaged.

Henry Lee had nine brothers and sisters. He was the second youngest. His family came from this country -- came to this country from Vietnam, settling in Roanoke in 1994. Henry Lee was just 20 years old.

So sad, so young lives.

Up next, why police were focusing on another young man while Cho was preparing for the second shooting. That shooting was a massacre, students and teachers methodically gunned down inside classrooms. Tonight, we have some new information about how it happened, room by deadly room, ahead on 360.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rest of our life is going to be to celebrate his life, to say what he did good, you know, and to say, that Jeremy was a good boy, a good man, and we're going to love him forever. That's what we're going to do. We're going to love him.


COOPER: No parent should ever have to bury a child. That was the father of shooting victim, Jeremy Herbstritt, remembering his son.

The questions continue tonight of how the police responded to the shootings, both to the first incident in the dorm and the second that left 30 people and the gunman dead.

We are learning that initially the first suspect wasn't Cho but someone else. CNN chief national correspondent John King joins me now.

John, one of the big questions, the young woman who was killed first, Emily, was there any relationship between her and Cho that we know about?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No relationship that we know about. And why was she first? Why was the first shooting in that dorm is one of the big defining questions in this investigation.

It was the dorm right across the street from Cho's dorm. There was one theory that perhaps he saw Emily when she came home that morning just before the shooting and went in. Maybe they exchanged glances or looks and for some reason he followed her in.

But it's theory. Because police say Cho was such a loner, they can't find anyone who knows anything about the motives. And because there were no eyewitnesses inside the dorm to the two shootings there, they don't know exactly what happened.

But what is crystal clear is that, when the police first responded, their belief was that Emily's killer was someone who knew her.


KING (voice-over): Karl Thornhill was the boyfriend of the first shooting victim and the suspect that had police focusing off-campus while a massacre was being carried out on campus.

Emily Hilscher was gunned down at 7:15 a.m. Monday morning, not long after Thornhill dropped her off here at Virginia Tech's Ambler Johnston dormitory. Police at the scene made a quick preliminary assumption it was a lover's quarrel.

That judgment is now under fire, because while police were looking for a boyfriend off-campus, we now know Cho Seung-Hui was on his way to mail his photos and angry manifesto to NBC before he continued with his deadly rampage on campus, a half mile from the first shooting.

CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: It was information we developed from witnesses on the scene.

KING (on camera): Police say in those hectic moments after the first shooting they thought they were following a solid lead. Emily's roommate told them her boyfriend owned guns and that as recently as two weeks ago they came to this shooting range near campus to shoot target practice.

Visit the range, and you will see scores and scores of spent shells from rifles and shotguns, even from .22 caliber guns, the type of weapon used in the shootings.

(voice-over) Monday morning, after dropping Emily at Virginia Tech, Thornhill went to class at nearby Radford University. What he didn't know is police were looking for him and would soon be at his home, looking for evidence.

(on camera) This is the affidavit filed by Virginia Tech detectives to support a search warrant here at Thornhill's house. This affidavit says the police wanted to come here to search for, quote, "firearms, ammunition, bloody clothing, footwear and other tangible evidence associated with the alleged murders."

(voice-over) The search turned up nothing. Thornhill was pulled over by Route 460 on his way home from class. He was handcuffed and questioned. At roughly the same time, Cho was methodically gunning down 30 victims at the Norris Hall engineering building back at Virginia Tech. Law enforcement sources believe Cho was the only shooter, although police still label Thornhill a person of interest in the case.

FLINCHUM: But we do believe he may have some information that will assist us in the investigation.

KING: No one answered at Thornhill's apartment. And the next door neighbor said she did not know him.

Because police initially suspected a domestic dispute and believed Hilscher's boyfriend had fled campus, they did not cancel classes or lock down the campus. They continue to defend that decision, saying in most cases assault and murder victims know the attacker.

Cho's guns were used in both campus shootings. Police say they have no information, though, linking Cho to Emily Hilscher or any of the 32 victims or to the buildings where the slayings took place.


COOPER: All this, of course, is going to be investigated. And it's easy with hindsight to say, oh, look, they should have sent out an e-mail. They should have locked down the campus.

It does make sense, though, if you look at statistics, to have focused on Emily's boyfriend.

KING: Absolutely. Call any police department around the country, and they will tell you the first instinct always is it's someone they know. Explore any relationship. The first police on the scene talked to Emily's roommate. She says, "The boyfriend owns guns. I went to the shooting range with him." So any law enforcement agency would say that was the right call at first to focus on him.

The question people are asking, though, is even as they went hunting for the boyfriend, if they didn't have him in custody, they didn't know exactly where he was, why did they trust that it was him? They shouldn't have just assumed it was him. Many are saying they should have locked down this campus, even though they didn't think he was on the campus. As an extra precaution, they canceled classes and tried to shut down the campus.

COOPER: You've got to feel for Karl Thornhill tonight. I mean, not only has he lost his girlfriend, he was, you know, believed to be a suspect early on. It's got to be a very difficult thing to deal with.

KING: I tried to reach him, tried to reach his family. A family friend is quoted in the "Washington Post" as saying the family is quite hurt about this, as to why he was made a suspect early on.

But again, any police department would have said, of course you would look there first. Their bigger question is should they have taken additional precautions on campus in the meantime? The police on campus, though, will tell you they had no idea about Cho. They had no idea there was a killer on campus.

COOPER: And the other big question which you talked about is why Emily? Why was she the first? Was there -- why did Cho focus on her? Was it just accidental or was it something else?

John, appreciate the reporting.

Still ahead, more from the chilling manifesto, as some are calling it, that Cho mailed off right in the middle of his killing spree.

Plus, the other major stories making news tonight, including the bloodiest day in Iraq since the U.S. troop increase began more than two months ago. Stay tuned. More 360 ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back.

We are -- this is new video of Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech, showing the police and the chaos. We're going to have much more of these new images later. We'll talk to the two young men who shot them.

Tonight, we want to take a close look now at Cho Seung-Hui's second attack, the one that took so many lives. We do not know the exact time or how long it lasted. But we do know it took place in a few classrooms, a controlled area. And people had no idea what was about to happen.

CNN's David Mattingly investigates.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Made of gray and brown limestone, the Virginia Tech engineering hall has the signature look of early 20th century campus buildings. Inside, on the second floor, basic classrooms are fitted with chalk boards and simple no frills desks. And to a gunman intent on killing, there is a clear advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just stepped within five feet of the door and just started firing.

MATTINGLY: When Cho Seung-Hui, seen here in photos he sent to NBC, stepped inside a German class and opened fire, he blocked the only entrance to the room. Students had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

DEREK O'DELL, WOUNDED STUDENT: He entered our classroom and shot somebody almost instantly, as soon as he entered. At that point, he started shooting multiple people, a lot of them in the front row. And then lots of us panicked and went under our desks and tried to take cover.

MATTINGLY: When he stepped out of the first classroom, Cho was only about ten steps away from any of five other doors. He moved freely in the hallway with a clear shot at anyone who could have tried to escape.

Carrying the two pistols he posed with in this photo, if Cho was looking for a place on campus where he could trap entire rooms of potential victims, he found it.

(on camera) The killer could pick any classroom he wanted. People familiar with that wing of the building say that the doors are made of solid wood. The students weren't able to look outside. They couldn't see where Cho was going next.

To make the situation even worse, the doors have no locks.

(voice-over) That left only two options for survival. Zach Petkewicz and a classmate grabbed a table and blocked the door to their classroom. Cho couldn't get in, even when he fired rounds through the door.

ZACH PETKEWICZ, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: You know, we're just trying to hold that -- hold that table against that door. And thankfully, we weren't in front of it when he did shoot through it.

MATTINGLY: The last hope for some was to jump through the building's small windows, not built to accommodate a mass escape and no easy feat to squeeze through, not to mention the sheer drop from the second floor, an easy choice for some, when it seemed like the only alternative was death.


COOPER: He clearly seemed to have staked this out, because he brought a chain and chained the door from the inside.

MATTINGLY: Obviously, he was very familiar with this building. He chained that door. He wanted to make sure that the police could not get in quickly. He wanted to make sure the students could not get out.

He completely controlled that corridor, that hallway. Anyone who tried to come out of those classrooms had to go past him. Once he stood in the door of those classrooms, the students had nowhere to go.

COOPER: Yes. When you see from that computer animation, you really get a sense of what a confined space it was and how much he was in control.

MATTINGLY: Absolutely.

COOPER: David, thanks.

You can also watch our coverage of the story on 360's daily podcast. Go to download it on or go to iTunes, where it's the No. 1 news and information download right now.

Still to come tonight, more of the killer's message. The chilling tape that we got, that we saw earlier today, sent by the killer to NBC. As we mentioned, Cho sent the video, more than two dozen photos and an 1,800-word manifesto to NBC. He sent it out on Monday. It wasn't opened until today. More of his chilling words just ahead.

But first, let's go back to Randi Kaye. She joins us now with a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.


We're also covering some of the day's other headlines, and there's a big one out of Iraq tonight, a bloody day in Baghdad. At least 198 people killed in a string of bombings across the capital city. One hundred forty of the deaths were in one explosion at a marketplace.

Later, an Iraqi army commander was arrested. The Iraqi government said the officer was weak on security measures.

Here in the U.S., a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the justices upheld a ban on a procedure critics called partial birth abortion. The ban was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2003.

Some say this could signal a move by the high court to some day revisit a woman's right to an abortion guaranteed in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade case.

In Tennessee, the woman accused of killing her preacher husband takes the stand. Mary Winkler told the jury she accidentally shot her husband last year after he tried to suffocate their infant daughter. She said he wanted a son. She also said her husband forced her to watch porn and wear slutty clothes.

And look at the damage this past weekend's Nor'easter did in coastal Maine. This is new video showing homes left in ruins blown right off their foundations. Anderson, it really looks like a hurricane hit there.

COOPER: Yes, it certainly does. Terrible.

Randi, thanks.

Up next, a mass murderer's disturbing message from beyond the grave. See and hear the manifesto that Cho sent to a major news network and hear what some of his would-be victims are saying about the new images.

Plus, the young man who may have been Cho's final target. What he saw before the killer committed suicide, when 360 continues.



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