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Retracing Virginia Tech Killer's Steps; Gates Visits Baghdad

Aired April 19, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, eerie accounts of victims and retracing a killer's last trail. We're getting new details of the frenzy that unfolded in the Virginia Tech massacre and clues about the bloodbath he was planning.

Public service or giving a mass killer a platform?

There's outrage against the news media over the showing of those pictures and words from the shooter that are oh so disturbing.

And flying right into a killing field. Defense Secretary Robert Gates makes a surprise trip to Baghdad amid a very bloody 24 hours that's seen hundreds dead.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Shot amid the shooting spree. One of the injured said of the gunman: "I saw Satan at work."

Right now, firsthand accounts like these, and other details, are emerging from the massacre at Virginia Tech.

Our Brian Todd is in Blacksburg on the campus for us -- Brian, what are you learning about the timing of these shootings?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, critical new information about the killer's path in the weeks, days and even minutes before the massacre.


TODD (voice-over): New details about those crucial moments between shootings. About 9:00 Monday morning, gunman Cho Seung-Hui stops at a busy post office on Main Street in Blacksburg. Postal officials won't comment on his behavior, but one detail stood out.

DAVID MCGINNIS, U.S. POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE: The clerk recalls the parcel being presented and noticed that there were six digits in the zip code and corrected that by removing one of the digits. Apparently there were other difficulties with the address on the label and it was delayed in delivery in New York. TODD: Did Cho work out so he would be physically fit for those images he mailed to NBC News and the killings at Norris Hall?

His former suite mate tells CNN he saw Cho going to the gym at McComas Hall this past Saturday. He says it was part of a pattern.

KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S FORMER SUITEMATE: He usually started going to the gym, taking care of his skin, really -- maybe just to make these videos. I just thought it was a normal person trying to take care of himself. But he was probably planning this entire year.

TODD: By mid-March, Cho had purchased two handguns. We asked the head of Virginia's state police about information CNN received from a law enforcement source that Cho rented a vehicle from this Enterprise lot at Roanoke Airport some time in March.

His response implies a vehicle that might have been used in the making of Cho's videos.

COLONEL. STEVE FLAHERTY, SUPERINTENDENT, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: The vehicles you saw portrayed last night, we -- we had known about since the first day. I'm not at -- I'm not going to speak to where it was or what it was.

TODD: CNN has obtained a speeding ticket Cho was issued March 30th on a stretch of highway about five miles east of Blacksburg. The citation indicates he was driving 19 miles an hour over the limit, in a maroon Kia van.

The day before, CNN has learned, Cho checked out of Room 422 of the MainStay Suits in Roanoke. He'd stayed one night under his own name.


TODD: Was Cho preparing then for that deadly morning two-and-a- half weeks later?

Investigators tell us they are sifting through every piece of this evidence, using every technique they can, and they are still combing through that material from NBC News -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, any other details we're getting about that package he sent to NBC?

TODD: Well, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police said today that that disk and those videos, the pictures, provide very little clues to them about the motive of the killing. The superintendent added he was very disappointed, actually, in NBC's airing of it.

But NBC defended that decision, saying they took the gravity of this into account. They felt it was the responsible thing to do.

But the -- what was revealing about it was no motive revealed for those killings, according to the Virginia police superintendent. BLITZER: Brian Todd on the campus for us.

We're going to get back to you.

Meanwhile, there's a lot of anger over those chilling videos and pictures that Cho sent to NBC News.

Carol Costello is also live on the Virginia Tech campus -- what are the students saying to you about those horrible images we saw of this killing?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, Wolf, most of the students I talk with are angry at Cho for making this video, for taking pictures of himself with guns and for putting part of the blame for what happened on them.


COSTELLO (voice-over): After days of grieving, these students have had enough.

LEIGH HILL, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Just a heavy weight of just suffering and pain.

CHO SEUNG-HUI: I didn't have to do this.

COSTELLO: Seeing the killer on TV justifying his actions, blaming them, reignited that pain. They're leaving campus for a few days to talk about how their sorrow has turned to anger.

JESSICA OAKLEY, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: It felt like a personal attack on all of us, just him specifying kids with Mercedes and kids with gold chains. It was just really judgmental.

GREWAL: Yes, I think it's the last one over there, just one window...

COSTELLO (on camera): The last window?

GREWAL: Yes. The second floor.

COSTELLO (voice-over): For Karan Grewal, emotions run from sorrow to anger to confusion. He shared a suite with Cho in 2006.

GREWAL: It's just scary to think that he -- he was planning this in there.

COSTELLO: Karan told me Cho acted shy and timid last year, completely unlike the creepy, intimidating way students described him in 2005. It was as, if he said, Cho went below the radar in 2006 to plan his deadly attack.

(on camera): When you saw those images on NBC, was that the person you knew?

GREWAL: That was just the total opposite of the person I knew. The person I saw everyday was not confrontational. He never talked to anybody. He never had any confidence. He never looked me in the eye

. But he was staring right into the camera. He -- he was -- he had some confidence in what he was saying. He really believed in it.

COSTELLO: And that's what bothers Karan and the other students I talked with -- Cho's cockiness as he showed off his firepower, knowing they were probably the same guns he used at Norris Hall.

OAKLEY: It's really disturbing. I know I have friends that have chosen not to even look at it just because he's pointing a gun at the camera and I can't imagine the people that actually had to look at that in person.

COSTELLO: Still, Jessica will watch for more pictures of Cho to emerge. She and others I spoke with want to understand why -- why he profoundly changed all of their lives.

OAKLEY: He's just put fear in our hearts and like the only thing that can take that away is faith in god.


COSTELLO: And they're putting their faith in god. When they return to the classroom on Monday, Wolf, many students say they will be really nervous when they're sitting in class. Most of them will probably glance at the door, pay attention to who comes through the door of that classroom for as long as they're in it.

BLITZER: And, Carol, I take it a lot of the students have simply left campus, either their parents wanted them to leave or they just left given what's been going on.

But are there still plenty of students walking around?

COSTELLO: Not very many students walking around any longer. Most students have left campus. They've -- most of them told me they stayed for a few days so that they could draw together, show love and support for one another. Most of them left in groups today to go somewhere -- either to their parents' homes or to maybe vacation spots, so that they could talk about this video that they saw, so they can talk about this guy Cho, to try to figure out why.

BLITZER: What a question that is. We're all trying to figure that out.

Thank you, Carol.

We're going to get back to you, as well.

And as we just reported a little -- a while ago -- we have some new pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from Virginia Tech, inside Cho Seung-Hui's dorm room.

Let's go back to John King.

He's on the campus in Blacksburg -- John, walk us through what these pictures are all about.

KING: Wolf, we believe this is a CNN exclusive, the first pictures of inside Cho Seung-Hui's suite since the shooting.

It is Room 2121 in Harper Hall, a dormitory here, and it is down the end of a narrow hall. There's a door on the right, a door on the left. The door at the end is Cho's suite, 2121. It is now under lock and seal after being searched by the police the other night.

But you see his name plate, Joseph and Seung-Hui on the wall. Joseph was his bunkmate in that small room. You also see a sitting room, a common area for the six students who lived in that suite. It is in that room one of his suite mates who I talked to earlier today believes that Cho shot at least some of the disturbing video he sent to NBC, that disturbing rambling manifesto.

The suite mate says he was watching that on television last night, saw the cinderblock wall behind Cho in some of the pictures and thought that must have been shot while we were out at class.


GREWAL: I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that if you were in the room not hearing, my room is right next to the living area. The other two rooms have a hallway that leads to their doors. But my room just opens right into the living area.

So I don't think he could have done that without any of us there. He spent a lot of time in the living area throughout the year. Maybe he just figured out our schedules.

KING: So there are times when he could have known I have an hour. I'm here and they're not going to come back. I'm here for an hour and I'm -- I'm solid being alone.

GREWAL: Possibly. Our classes stay the same throughout the semester and now we all are out at a certain point -- point of the day.


KING: Again, we believe this is the first glimpse anyone has had of inside his actual suite. Some have walked the halls of Harper Hall dormitory. We believe these are exclusive pictures of inside the suite, Cho Seung-Hui's room at the very end of that corridor. It is Room 2121. It was searched by the police the other night. It is now under lock and seal.

This is the search warrant they used to search it. There is an inventory after saying that inside that room, they took out a desktop, a laptop, a digital camera, notebooks, CDs, other documentary evidence.

They are hoping, Wolf, from that evidence, from the e-mail records, from any of the pictures on the camera, from any of the writings that could be in that room, they are hoping to answer the biggest question on this campus still, some three days after the massacre, that question, of course, why.

BLITZER: And, John, I know you've been there since almost the very, very beginning of this week.

What's the reaction you're getting from people on the campus to the decision made by NBC and all the other major television networks, the news media, the newspapers, to give such exposure to those really awful pictures, the sound we heard from this killer?

KING: There are certainly a number of students who have approached me, Wolf, and complained, saying why did NBC air this and why are CNN and any of the other networks then airing those pictures and Defense distributing them, as well?

Many of the students say they feel that it just increases the pain on this campus, that it gives this killer a platform, glorifies him.

But at the same time, many of them also concede that they have been gripped by the stories; that they, too, are watching the images; they, too, are reading the newspaper articles about this, watching the television coverage of it. Because as horrified as they are by this crime, and as angry as they are at this gunman, one of their own fellow students, who created such a heinous massacre on this campus, they, too, Wolf, are looking for clues.

They are trying to come to grips with this, trying to understand it, trying to decide what will this place be like when classes resume on Monday?

They would like to know why, as well.

BLITZER: All right, John, thank you.

John King doing some good reporting for us, as usual.

We have, also, some other new video today coming in from the morning of the massacre at Virginia Tech. It shows the commotion immediately following the second round of shootings.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, why are we just getting this I-Report video today?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 19-year-old sophomore Vy Lee tells us that she was so shaken by the events this week, that she completely forgot that she recorded these images as she ran from an academic building around 11:00 a.m. on Monday morning.

Let's take a listen to what Vy Lee was hearing.


TATTON: That's the campus alert system there. You can hear it in the background. This is an emergency, take shelter, it says.

Vy says she was running from the McBride Building. This is close by, almost adjacent to the Norris Building. This was at around 11:00 a.m. She had been there about 10:00, when police had said for her and fellow students to stay put.

She said later on they were directed to leave. She said at this point, she and her fellow students didn't have a clue what was happening. Vy Lee tells CNN that she is still on campus right now, even though other students have left. She describes the campus now as empty -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chilling video.

Thank you, Abbi, for that.

Up ahead, the gunman's parents in seclusion, staying silent. Now we're learning there are some serious concerns about their safety.

Also, he was declared mentally ill more than a year ago.

How did Cho Seung-Hui fall through the cracks of the system?

Plus, the defense secretary, Robert Gates, making a surprise visit to Baghdad, as spiraling violence claims hundreds of lives.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There's other additional information coming in on the Virginia Tech massacre today.

Doctors treating some of the wounded talked about the victims' current conditions.

Our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is over at the Montgomery Regional Hospital.

You have some news on what's happening as far as these other victims, those who survived.

What's the latest -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest here at Montgomery Regional is that two students have been discharged today. Now, this is the hospital, Wolf, where the bulk of the patients were treated. So now there are six patients left inside this hospital. Four are in the intensive care unit. In all, there are three females and three males and all of them are in stable condition.

Now, Wolf, there was a lovely, lovely moment here on this rainy, cold afternoon, where the Virginia Tech marching band came in and serenaded these students. Some of these students were outside the window waving. And the band waved right back at them.

And the students looked terrific. I yelled up to one of them, "Are you getting out soon?"

And she said, "Yes, soon. I'm getting out very soon."

BLITZER: Those -- the music from the Hokies, it must be inspirational to a lot of these students.

What other updates are you getting from some of the patients?

COHEN: Well, actually, we spoke with a patient yesterday who was probably one of the more severely wounded patients who is in the hospital. He was shot three times and doctors were very concerned about his leg. A bullet went in one end and out -- in the top of his leg and out of his knee.

He had a rod put in his leg. We are told the surgery is a success and they hope that he will be out by this weekend.

Another patient who hopes to be out this weekend will be going -- will be the maid of honor in her sister's wedding.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us.

Thank you and good luck to all those -- all those patients right now. We wish them only a very, very speedy recovery.

The losses at Virginia Tech are hard to comprehend. The victims include people's children, students' friends, and for many of the faculty, their very close colleagues.

Richard Shryock is the chairman of the department of foreign languages and literature at Virginia Tech.

He was a friend and co-worker of two professors who died. That's on top of 15 students killed inside French and German classes in his department.

Professor, my deepest condolences. Our heart goes out to -- our hearts go out to all of the families, all of the friends.

How are you dealing? How are you coping, because you knew so many of these students and at least two of these professors.


Thank you.

If I may, though, before responding to your remark, I would -- I would like to encourage CNN to reconsider its decision to air the audio, video and -- and photographs of Cho, especially those that depict him holding guns and engaging in other violent acts, because it's something that has really caused a great deal of distress among people here and has made victims of many of us a second time.

And so I think that I would encourage the network to reconsider that.

BLITZER: All right, well, thank you...

SHRYOCK: To answer your...

BLITZER: Thanks for sharing that, because we're hearing a lot of that.


BLITZER: A lot of the students, though, some of the students are telling our reporters that they are interested, they want to try to learn more about this individual.

But you make a fair point that certainly is one that we are considering very, very seriously.

But talk a little bit about your friends, your students, because I really think we -- we need to focus more on these -- the victims of this horrific, horrific crime.

SHRYOCK: Yes. Yes. Yes, indeed.


And, yes, our university was hit very, very bad and our -- and the department of foreign languages and literature was particularly affected by this. We lost two very valued instructors, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak in French and Jamie Bishop in German. Also, 15 of their students died on Monday in their classes.

Both of these instructors were just delightful people. They were great colleagues. They were both highly appreciated by their students, well liked and also very effective as instructors in their classes.

BLITZER: Is there any indication he deliberately sought out these language classes?

He was an English major, but he went after a French class and a German class.

Is there anything in his background, anything -- I'm sure you have been trying to come up with some explanation of why these two classes were targeted.

SHRYOCK: Yes, I don't know the answer to that anymore than anyone else, because if you also take in mind that the other two classes that -- where he shot people, they -- again, if you look at all four of those classes, none of them really have anything to do with -- with each other.

The only thing that's in common is that they were in -- each classroom in proximity with the other. And I think this is just a more random event than anything else. And I think whatever kind of logic that this individual had is -- in his mind -- is not something that any of us would really consider to be logic.

BLITZER: And what about the students?

Because you knew some of these students. I know the professors were -- the French professor, the German professor -- were beloved.

But what about the kids?

Tell us a little bit about them.

SHRYOCK: OK. Well, I actually don't know the students who were killed or injured very well. Most of them were in some of the lower level language courses. I myself an a professor of French and in terms of the German students, I'm not familiar with any of them. And I'm only somewhat acquainted with some of the French students.

I tend to teach more the advanced level classes and right now, as the department chair, I'm not teaching that many classes.

But in general, it's -- we, you know, do care so much about our students. And it was very clear that both Jamie Bishop and Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, you know, cared deeply, deeply about the students they were teaching. You could tell that when you talked to them in the hallways and what they would say about the students in informal contexts, as well.

BLITZER: I was there the last couple of days and every -- everyone I spoke to who knew these two professors only spoke in glowing terms how beloved they were...

SHRYOCK: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: ... how wonderful they were, how the students loved listening to them, taking their classes. It was a pleasure...


BLITZER: It was a pleasure hearing these kinds of words and obviously their...


BLITZER: ... senseless death...

SHRYOCK: ... lost the audio on this.

BLITZER: ... their senseless death makes, obviously, no -- can you still hear me?

SHRYOCK: Yes. I just -- just lost part of the audio there on your question -- your statement.

I'm sorry.

BLITZER: Well, I was going to say how beloved they...

SHRYOCK: You were talking about how much they were loved, yes.

BLITZER: How beloved they were and what great teachers, individually, they were.

SHRYOCK: Yes, indeed.

BLITZER: What do you do now?

I mean you've got a semester that you've got the wrap up. You've got papers. You've got tests.

What happens in your department?

SHRYOCK: Well, things are very complicated in our department. The -- just this afternoon, the university released some guidelines on how to proceed through the rest of the semester and to be honest, those -- those just came out a couple of hours ago and I have not had a chance to look at them carefully.

But essentially we are going to be very flexible with students and trying to adapt to their needs and do what is in the best interests of the students, both in terms of their emotional well being as well as their academic success, to the extent possible.

We have -- in our department, I'm faced with the particular challenge of I've got two classes and I'm not sure how many students in there are left. I don't think that any of them are -- well, I'll see. I'm going to try to be in touch with those who have survived.

But I'm not sure if...

BLITZER: All right...

SHRYOCK: ... what they will want to do. But we'll adapt to whatever it is that is best for them.

BLITZER: Professor Shryock, our deepest condolences once again to everyone on the campus.

SHRYOCK: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks for spending a few moments speaking about these young people and your colleagues.

SHRYOCK: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks to Professor Shryock.

And coming up, how did Cho slip by all the checks when it came to his mental health status?

Our Tom Foreman is looking into that.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, relatives of the Virginia Tech gunman speaking out. Cho Seung-Hui's parents are in seclusion, with new concerns about their safety. But relatives in South Korea are talking, with one describing Cho as quiet and very cold, saying his mother was deeply worried about her son.

Also, where the killer lived. These are believed to be the first pictures of Cho Seung-Hui's dorm room. And one of his suite mates says it looks like Cho may have recorded some of his video diatribe in the dorm's common room.

And doctors opting to keep New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine on a ventilator. They say it could be removed within days, but until then, he'll remain listed in critical condition. Corzine suffered serious injuries and broke multiple bones last week when the car he was riding in at a high speed crashed. We wish him a speedy recovery.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A gunman plans his killing spree and brings death to an unsuspecting college campus.

What would drive a person to commit such acts of terror?

That's what many people are asking right now.

And were there any warning signs?

Our Tom Foreman is joining us -- Tom, people who knew this gunman, what are they actually saying about him?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're mainly saying is that there were lots and lots of warning signs that can lead to explosive violence. There was extreme isolation, stalking, violent writing, suicidal thoughts.

So the question is why wasn't he locked up or forced into a mental hospital?

Because that can be very hard to do.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Many of America's 16 million college students exhibit some signs of mental stress or illness. The American College Health Association found that one in 10 has seriously considered suicide. Counselors say students often report acute feelings of depression, victimization, loneliness -- some of Cho's apparent problems.

But they say with help, the vast majority will find non-violent ways to cope.

DR. GREGORY EELLS, DIRECTOR, CORNELL STUDENT COUNSELING: If someone is really struggling and seeking help, you don't want to take their rights away. You don't want to do something that's going to keep people from seeking help and getting the help that they need.

FOREMAN: Counselors and legal analysts agree Cho could have been forced into a mental hospital if he were deemed an immediate threat to others and if he were involuntarily committed, he could not have then legally purchased those guns.

But remember, that judge found Cho an imminent danger to himself and such determinations are tricky for any school or university to deal with.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The core problem with this whole issue is that there is no good test to determine who's going to be dangerous in the future, either to themselves or to other people. And the trend in recent years has been to get people out of custody, out of hospitals and back into civilized society as soon as possible.


FOREMAN: It comes down to, quite simply, an impossible situation for universities. Not one of them has enough resources to watch every student that closely. Yet every school administrator knows this -- if they lock up someone to prevent him from possibly killing in the future, the school can possibly be sued, because, after all, he didn't kill anyone. And if they don't lock him up and he does kill, then they can possibly be sued because they did not do enough to protect others.

Wolf, it's a difficult situation. There is no easy solution to this. And with 16 million college students, you can spend more money on mental health, but you won't catch everyone.

BLITZER: I assume university presidents all across the country are wracking their brains trying to figure this one out. What their best strategy should be, Tom.

Thank you very much.

Was the Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, inspired, inspired to carry out his massacre in part by an ultra-violent South Korean film?

CNN's Jason Carroll is joining us from New York.

Jason, the similarities between the film and Cho's rampage, there are similarities. But you are doing some deeper investigation. What's going on?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are a few similarities. There are, in fact, a few pictures that Cho took of himself that appear to be similar to some of the ads from the film. But at this point, Wolf, there's no official word that he was actually influenced by this movie.


CARROLL (voice over): The images are chilling. As investigators review 28 video clips, and the 43 photos Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC before he set out to commit mass murder, comparisons are already being drawn between some of Cho's photos and a popular South Korean film called "Old Boy".

The award-winning film made in 2003 is about a man unjustly imprisoned who seeks vengeance on those who held him captive. There are stylized images of violence and suicide. An ad for the film shows the main character wielding a hammer.

This is Cho's photo posing with one. This is another ad from the film. And this is another one of Cho's disturbing self-portraits.

Cho's roommates don't recall him watching "Old Boy," and police would not say if they have any evidence suggesting Cho watched the film. A film professor at Virginia Tech noticed similarities between Cho's photos and "Old Boy". He spoke to "The New York Times" about it.

But, in an e-mail to CNN, Professor Paul Harold (ph) says, "I made a suggestion between the two images. That is all."

What is clear, Cho was partly influenced by a video of another kind. He praised Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in his video manifesto, calling them martyrs. One criminal psychologist says many mass murderers leave messages behind because they want people to know what influenced them.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: This becomes extremely important, that they leave a mark on society to explain their anger and their rage. Their writings or their rantings, their journals, their videotapes, it may not make a whole lot of sense to us as rational people, but in the final countdown of their hours, the emotions usual related to great pain and anguish spill out in that final statement.

CARROLL: In "Old Boy," the character becomes totally alienated from people, so he learns to befriend something else. Cho, too, was isolated and without friends. His final message sent to a television network.


CARROLL: And those who say that Cho was not influenced by this film point out that he did not use a hammer in his attacks, and that there are dozens of other films out there where one could probably find similar comparisons -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll reporting for us.

Jason, thanks for that.

And this is just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. We're learning more about where Cho Seung-Hui obtained one of the handguns used in Monday's rampage.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, we know he bought one of the guns at a Roanoke firearms store. He picked the other one up at a pawnshop. But what are we learning about where he ordered all that from? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is the second gun the Walther .22. We are now hearing that Cho bought that online, online from this Internet gun store,, where it's listed today around $270, and listed as a top seller.

The operator of this Web site is a federally licensed firearms dealer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We have just received a statement from the president of TGS Combat (ph) company, Eric Thompson (ph).

Eric Thompson (ph) says that they learned that Cho had purchased this gun from their Web site after receiving a call from the ATF. They say that Cho used his credit card to purchase this firearm on February 2, 2007 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you for that.

Abbi Tatton reporting.

Up ahead, we know a lot more now than we may want to know about the Virginia Tech killer. But what about his parents? Our Zain Verjee is picking up some new information she's going to be sharing with us when we come back.

Also, the defense secretary, Robert Gates, visits Baghdad today as the capital once again gripped by bloody violence. Our Kyra Phillips is on the scene for us.



BLITZER: Welcome back.

We're learning some very serious concerns about the safety of the parents of the Virginia Tech gunman. The parents of this gunman, some new information is just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to -- our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, who's been tracking all this, speaking with diplomatic sources.

What are you learning about this, the family of Cho?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, diplomats from the Korean Embassy in Washington are telling CNN that a Korean official met with U.S. authorities and has verified Cho Seung- Hui's parents and his sister are doing OK. Now, the source says that they've been really worried about the safety of Cho's family.

So far, Korean officials haven't been able to contact the family directly, but they say they're working with the U.S. government to meet them. Though they have lived in the U.S. for a really long time, the parents still old Korean citizenship. Korean officials are saying that their government is legally obligated to make sure that the family is safe. Now, Korean officials we talked to also expressed some concern that there could be a backlash on the entire Korean-American community -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you will stay on top of this story, Zain. Thank you very much.

Each new detail we learn about Cho just adds color to the portrait of an extremely troubled young man.

We are joined now from New York by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Helen Morrison.

Dr. Morrison, thanks very much for coming in.

Have you been able to make any sense of what happened there from a psychiatric point of view?

DR. HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: In the context of doing a psychological autopsy, because we've not seen him, yes, you can make a lot of sense out of him. He is a very classic paranoid psychotic individual, someone who is highly suspicious and out of contact with reality, who was unable to control the building rage that he had inside of him for either real or his own perceived slights, and who was clearly and able to be methodical, was able to plan over a long period of time, and was able to continue the executions of the entire world that he felt was against him.

BLITZER: The Associated Press has a story saying -- and quoting -- several of his former classmates, Dr. Morrison, is saying "He had been bullied by fellow students at school who mocked his shyness and the strange way that he talked."

Can bullying and mocking create a monster like this?

MORRISON: No, it cannot. And I think that's a very important point of your part.

Bullying does not make someone paranoid and psychotic. We don't know what does, but it's a process. It's not something that happens overnight.

It's not something that you can point to and say, oh, this is what did it. But as you know, if you are looking at how someone begins to disintegrate, just like a building disintegrates, it's one piece at a time, until finally you have an impression, which is what happened at VT.

BLITZER: Some are suggesting he was, in fact, a copycat, copying Columbine, or other events that he built up in his own mind.

Do you see evidence of that?

MORRISON: No. There are not a copycat in any of the paranoid psychotics. It is the only way that they know to end the misery and the absolute sense of lack of safety that they think they have because the world is against them, the world is responsible for everything that they have done. And so they take it on the world that they know. But it is not a copycat.

BLITZER: When we saw those statements that he made, the video, he seemed so methodical.

Is this -- is this what people like this are, what they do?

MORRISON: It's one of the hallmarks of someone who is a paranoid psychotic, which is why most often they are not diagnosed correctly. They are so together, they are so organized, they are so capable of justifying their actions, of explaining what's happening, that even the most experienced mental health professionals often miss the diagnosis.

BLITZER: One final question, Dr. Morrison, before I let you go. When he speaks about the "you," "you" made me do this, "you," he doesn't define who "you" is. What is he referring to?

MORRISON: "You" is what we call a paranoid pseudo community. It includes everyone and everything that he has ever seen as making some type of reference against him which is a negative reference.

It doesn't even have to be bullying. It's like this teacher who tried to help him. She thought she was helping him. He saw that as another insult.

BLITZER: Dr. Helen Morrison, a forensic psychiatrist.

Thank you for your insight.

MORRISON: Thank you.

BLITZER: And coming up, the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, under fire for the firing of federal prosecutors. And on Capitol Hill, a surprising call for his resignation.

Plus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates makes a surprise visit to Baghdad amid spiraling violence.

Much more of our coverage coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Let's get back to the news here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

They were fired, treated badly, and they deserve better from the attorney general. That admission from the attorney general himself.

Today, Alberto Gonzales faced tough questioning from some angry senators over the firings of those eight U.S. attorneys.

Joining us now, Kelli Arena.

A lot of people think this was make-or-break hearing today, Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I agree with then. I mean, his job and his credibility are on the line, and things did not go very well.


ARENA (voice over): With friends like these, who needs Democrats?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was handled incompetently. The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent.

It's generous to say that there were misstatements. That's a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. And I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation.

ARENA: But Alberto Gonzales is not ready to throw in the towel.

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I know the mistakes that were made here. And I am committed to fix those mistakes.

ARENA: His testimony was unconvincing to many of the senators. At one point, saying he couldn't remember attending a key meeting just 10 days before the U.S. attorney dismissals, even though several Justice officials said he was there.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I guess I'm concerned about your recollection, really, because it's not that long ago. It was an important issue, and that's troubling to me.

ARENA: Gonzales admitted he didn't know why two of the prosecutors were being fired when he gave the OK to fire them. Still, he says he stands behind the dismissals, which some senators found astonishing.

SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Looking at all the information we now know, you still stand by the decision that this was the right thing to do, the dismissal of these attorneys?

GONZALES: I do, Senator. I do.


ARENA: After the hearing, Wolf, we heard from several Republican senators. They all say that Gonzales still has a lot of damage to repair, and has not shed a lot of light on what happened, but none of them besides Senator Coburn called for him to resign today.

BLITZER: A tough day for the attorney general.

Kelli, thanks very much. The secretary of defense, Robert Gates, made an unannounced visit to Baghdad today. He held talks with U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials. The visit comes on the heels of a bloody 24-hour stretch that left more than 200 people dead in various parts of the Iraqi capital.

Up ahead, serving a public good or causing even more public pain? Is it right for the news media to air and show those disturbing images, planned and promoted by that Virginia Tech shooter?

And a special honor is being planned for the victims of Monday's massacre. We're going to tell you all about that.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: As we've been showing you, understandably, there's a considerable backlash, a huge debate over those chilling videos and pictures from the Virginia Tech gunman. Every outlet, including CNN, has had to carefully weigh what to show and how much, but not everyone is happy with the decisions reached.

CNN's Mary Snow is joining us from New York.

Mary, some people are very angry that these images are being aired at all.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they really are, Wolf. But others are saying there is something to be learned. However, it does call into question just where the line is drawn.


SNOW (voice over): The decision to broadcast the images and messages of a murderer drew immediate criticism.

COL. STEVE FLAHERTY, SUPT., VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: We're rather disappointed in the editorial decision to broadcast these disturbing images.

SNOW: Those images were mailed to NBC by Cho Seung-Hui. The network turned them over to authorities, but also became the first to broadcast some of the materials. NBC says it put careful consideration into its decision, but acknowledges on the "Today Show" there were consequences for the network.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-ANCHOR, "TODAY SHOW": In fact, I will tell you that we had planned to speak to some family members of victims this morning, but they canceled their appearances because they were very upset with NBC for airing the images.

SNOW: NBC said in a statement, "We believe it provides some answers to the critical question, 'Why did this man carry out these awful murders?' The decision to run this video was reached by virtually every news organization in the world..." CNN was no exception.

Journalism experts we spoke with say they don't fault news organizations because the tape is newsworthy.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, ANNENBERG PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: The line, however, should be drawn here, at the point at which one can no longer say, what you are seeing is helping advance our understanding. One should stop the airing.

SNOW: Brigitte Nacos studies how terrorists use the media. She says there is a real danger of copycat crimes.

BRIGITTE NACOS, BARNARD COLLEGE: My concern is that as much as we see that terrorists all around the world embrace these new means of getting publicity, that we might see more criminals to resort to these same means.


SNOW: Now, psychiatrists we also spoke with echoed those concerns about copycats, and today, news organizations have been limiting the use of that video -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting.

Thank you.

Just ahead, the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, talks in his first TV interview since his wife announced she's running for the top job. We'll have that when we come back.


BLITZER: In his first TV interview since his wife Hillary Clinton announced she's running for president, President Bill Clinton is talking with our own Larry King.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Are you concerned for your wife?


I think that, you know, I -- I believe she would be the best president, by a good long stretch, for all kinds of obvious reasons. At least they are obvious to me. But she also genuinely loves her job in the Senate.

You know, she's not -- some people who run for president can't wait to get out of the Senate, or out of whatever job she's got. She loves it. She's still doing it.

She's still going to her committee meetings, going to upstate New York, and trying to run for president as well. So, for her personally, she's going to be fine, regardless.

I think it would be best for the country if she were elected president. But if voters make another choice, she's a great senator, and she loves her job, and we'll have a good life.


BLITZER: The full interview airs 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

Let's go to Lou Dobbs in New York.


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