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THE SITUATION ROOM
Did Mental Health System Fail Virginia Tech Gunman?
Aired April 19, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, sorrow turns to anger on the campus of Virginia Tech, students say they've had enough seeing and hearing the campus killer's final rantings.
Also this hour, did the mental health system fail Cho Seung-Hui and all the people he killed and wounded? We'll walk you through the process and the missteps. And we get new insight into the gunman's life and death by going inside his dorm room.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
There's growing distress tonight and in some cases outrage over those chilling video clips and pictures left behind by Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui. They're a source of new anguish for many students and faculty still struggling to come to terms with the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY HINCKER, VA TECH UNIV. RELATIONS DIR.: We have got to move forward. As you can imagine, we cannot let this horror define Virginia Tech. We are going to do whatever we can to try to get this place on its feet again while we remember what took place and to do what we can do to ever prevent anything like that happening again in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now from the campus of Virginia Tech. Carol, what are you hearing from students who are trying to move forward about those chilling pictures, those chilling video images?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, Wolf, students are very frustrated. In fact, they're tired of being asked questions by the media. They want the media gone. In fact, they're passing out flyers saying just that. But when they saw that Cho video, the Cho pictures on NBC News at 6:30 Eastern Time, they were shocked and they became angry. Angry that they were -- that Cho was in part blaming them.
COSTELLO (voice-over): After days of grieving, these students have had enough. LEIGH HILL, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Just a heavyweight of just suffering and pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 as Mercedes and kids as gold chains, it was just really judgmental.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think it's the last window there.
COSTELLO: The last window?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, second floor.
COSTELLO: For Karan Grewal, emotions run from sorrow to anger to confusion. He shared a suite with Cho in 2006.
KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S SUITEMATE: It's just scary to think that 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 total opposite of the person I knew. The person I saw every day 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 had some confidence in what he was saying. He really believed in it.
COSTELLO (voice-over): And that's what bothers Karan and the other students I talked with. Cho's cockiness as he showed off his fire power 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's just put fear in our hearts and the only thing that can take that way is facing God.
COSTELLO: And they're keeping their faith in God, Wolf, to try to get over this any which way they can. You know graduation is in just three weeks. And in fact Cho's roommate is going to graduate, he's a senior. And he says you know I just want to forget about Cho. I want to forget about him. And remember the happy times and graduate with a smile on my face.
BLITZER: If only that were possible -- thank you, Carol Costello, for that -- Carol Costello reporting from the scene.
Every news media outlet including CNN have had to carefully weigh what to show, how much of it to show, much of those are videos and pictures, but not everyone is happy with the decisions reached.
CNN's Mary Snow is joining us from New York where some people are extremely angry about how this is unfolding -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you're right. There are a lot of people who are very angry but opinion is divided. Others say there is something to be learned. It does raise questions though of 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 acknowledged 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 CTR.: The line, however, should be drawn here at the point at which one can no longer say what you're 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: Psychiatrists we spoke with also echoed those concerns about copycats. Today news organizations have been limiting the use of that video -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York.
And also tonight we're trying to understand much more about the Virginia Tech killer. And for the first time, we're seeing some new pictures of that dorm room he shared with others.
Our chief national correspondent John King is joining us now from the campus with some of those images -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, we want to give you what we believe is an exclusive look of the dorm room where police believe this gruesome plot was hatched here on the Virginia Tech campus. It is inside Harper Hall, and we believe we are the first ones to see inside the suite where Cho lived before this was carried out.
You see the hallway there. You see the door. You see room 2121 and the name plate saying Joseph and Seung-Hui. That was his roommate, his room there in that suite. You also see a common area. That is where the six suite mates including Cho could sit around.
His roommates though say he never spoke to them, not at all. They stopped months ago trying to even have small talk with him. But one of the suite mates I talked to today said he saw that NBC video, the parts of it taped inside with the cinder blocks behind the gunman and he thought, wow he had to shoot that in our suite while we were at class.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: I don't think he could have done that without -- if he were in the room, not hearing my roommates right next to the living area. the other two rooms have a little hallway that lead to the doors, but my room just opens right into the living area. So I don't think he could have done that with 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 solid being alone?
GREWAL: Possibly. Our classes stay the same throughout the semester AND We all are out at a certain point of the day. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The actual door where Cho slept is locked and under seal. Police searched that room the other night. They took from that room a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a digital camera, some CDs, some notebooks and some writings. The suite mates who have seen inside say it was a very normal dorm room, the computers, the writing materials, no posters on the wall, no disturbing materials inside there.
We got a glimpse inside the bathroom, nothing disturbing in there either, Wolf, but that room is under lock and seal. But you see the narrow hallway there and you see his name on the suite room. Again, we believe this is the first time anyone has been inside this suite where the gunman lived. His suite mates say what is most striking about it Wolf, they lived with him for nine months.
He never spoke a word to them. They thought he was strange. They did not think he was capable of this violent behavior. Police are hoping, Wolf, seized from that room help them answer the biggest question on this campus. That question of course is why?
BLITZER: Let's hope it helps -- John King reporting for us from the campus.
Three days after America's deadliest shooting rampage, it's now very clear that Cho Seung-Hui did not suddenly explode in a violent range. Instead he was a long, simmering cauldron of mental illness and hatred who had been planning his final, horrific acts for some time.
Our Brian Todd has been following the investigation at each step of the way. He's on the campus of Virginia Tech tonight. Brian, what more have you learned about Cho's trail?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some critical, new information, Wolf, about Cho's movements in the days and weeks leading up to the killings. What we've just found out on CNN is that he purchased one of the handguns that he used, the Walther P22 from an online gun dealership on February 2. That gun dealership, TGS Com Incorporated (ph) in Green Bay, Wisconsin, used a credit card, purchased that on February 2. He picked the gun up at a pawnshop in Blacksburg a couple of days later.
Also new details, law enforcement source tells CNN that Cho rented a car, a vehicle, some kind of vehicle from an Enterprise lot at the airport at Roanoke. We were told that he returned that some time in April. Presumably with that vehicle Cho got a speeding ticket March 30, driving 74 miles an hour in a 55-zone, about five miles east of Blacksburg here. The day before he got issued that ticket, we're told that Cho checked out of a hotel, the Mainstay Suites in Roanoke. He stayed there one night under his own name, Wolf, so drips and drabs of information about this killer's movements in the days and crucial moments leading up to these killings.
BLITZER: Investigators trying to piece together everything that led up to this horrific, horrific event -- Brian Todd on the scene for us. And coming up, the attorney general of the United States faces senators and one Republican drops a bombshell. Could it be a final straw that forces Alberto Gonzales out?
Plus, disturbing similarities or eerie coincidence? We have a closer look at a movie that may have influenced Cho Seung-Hui and a closer look at the victims. We'll speak to the head of the Foreign Language Department where so many of the students and teachers lost their lives. Our special coverage continues right after this.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're going to try to get into the mind of Cho Seung-Hui. We're going to try to go, learn what motivated, what may have played a role in leading up to his killing spree. We'll speak to a top forensic psychiatrist. That's coming up, but there's other important news that we're following here in Washington today.
They were fired. They were treated badly and they deserved better from the attorney general of the United States -- that admission from the attorney general himself. Today, Alberto Gonzales faced some tough questioning from some very angry senators over the firings of those eight federal prosecutors.
Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena has details -- Kelli.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Gonzales knew it was going to be tough going. I'm just not sure he knew how tough. The attorney general confronted a fresh call for his resignation today from a fellow Republican.
ARENA (voice-over): With friends like these who needs Democrats?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: 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 of 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 we heard from several Republican senators and they all said that Gonzales still has a lot of damage to repair. But none of them besides Senator Coburn called for him to resign today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kelli Arena reporting for us -- thank you, Kelli.
Let's get the latest now from the White House on Gonzales' future, the testimony today on Capitol Hill. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- what are they saying publicly and what are they saying privately, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, publicly they are saying, of course, the president stands by Gonzales. That he did a terrific job today. That he explained himself. He answered those questions and it showed that there was no wrongdoing from the attorney general.
Now, privately, there was a lot of concern here from folks here in this building behind me, talking to other prominent Republicans, sources involved in those discussions saying, even two senior White House aides describing Gonzales' testimony as going down in flames, not doing himself any favors. One prominent Republican source saying the testimony was watching a clubbing of baby seal here.
They were very troubled by what they heard. They also went on to say that they were shocked that he did not win over Democrats and perhaps that he lost Republicans as well. What does this mean? Well they say the White House is simply in a wait and see mode to see how the public responds, to see members of congress respond, specifically those Republicans.
But the White House, Wolf, today saying that the president very much has confidence in the attorney general and I spoke with a source familiar with the president's thinking who says, look, it is up to him and Gonzales is going to stay -- Wolf.
MALVEAUX: Suzanne, thank you -- Suzanne at the White House.
Former President Bill Clinton is offering some unsolicited advice to Alberto Gonzales. He spoke to CNN's Larry King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand why President Bush is reluctant to let him go. I don't think he ought to force the president to fire him. I think he ought -- he had a long and good run here. And if what I saw coming out of the Senator Specter today and others is right and there's a lot of opposition to him in the Congress, and these cases raise real troubling questions, these U.S. attorney firings, best thing he could do for this president that he serves so loyally is to step aside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You can catch the entire interview with Bill Clinton on "LARRY KING LIVE". That airs tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Up ahead tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, mental health care breakdown. We're going to have a closer look at the system that so clearly failed in the case of Cho Seung-Hui. He was locked up and released. We'll talk to one father who could not find help for his own son as he spiraled out of control.
Plus -- family fear. They haven't been heard or seen since the killing spree on campus. There's new information tonight about the relatives of the killer. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Was Cho Seung-Hui inspired to carry out his massacre in part by an ultra violent South Korean movie? Some suspect the answer is yes.
CNN'S Jason Carroll is in New York. Jason, what are the similarities between the film and Cho's rampage?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf I have seen this film in its entirety. There are a couple of pictures that Cho took of himself that appear to be similar to some of the ads from the film, but at this point, there's no official word that he was influenced by the 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 "Oldboy". 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 "Oldboy" 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 "Oldboy". 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 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 usually related to great pain and anguish spill out in that final statement.
CARROLL: In "Oldboy" the character becomes totally alienated from people so he learns to befriend something else. The narrator says my advice is that you make friends with television. Cho, too, was alienated 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 films out there where one could probably find similar comparisons -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jason. Thank you.
And just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, disturbing writings, harassment, even a judge deeming him mentally ill -- why was the Virginia Tech gunman left free to kill? Plus, two professors and 15 students gunned down in his department -- the chairman of foreign languages and literature joining us to talk about his loss.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, what happened and why, that's what a panel will probe in the Virginia Tech massacre -- Virginia Governor Tim Kane announcing formation of an independent panel today. Members are experts in education, law enforcement, and mental health.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates makes an unannounced visit to Baghdad. He held talks with U.S. commanders and top Iraqi officials. It comes after a bloody 24-hour stretch that left more than 200 people dead.
And guilty of voluntary manslaughter -- in Tennessee that's a jury's verdict for Mary Winkler regarding the 2006 slaying of her preacher husband. The jury rejected the more serious charge of murder.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. 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 are asking right now. And were there any warning signs?
Our Tom Foreman has been looking into this. Tom, people who knew this gunman, what are they saying?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they're saying the same thing I've heard after every one of these giant, violent shooting events I've covered. Why, if there were so many warning signs, why did people not stop him ahead of time -- extreme isolation, stalking, violent writing, suicidal thoughts. People knew about all these with this young man, so why wasn't he locked up or forced into a mental hospital? The answer is 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 nonviolent ways to cope.
GREGORY EELLS, DIR., CORNELL STUDENT COUNSELING: If someone's 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 analyst 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 SR. 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: There will, no doubt, be more discussions about patient privacy laws and whether or not those need to be changed when you have somebody that presents a real threat. But it comes down to a simple thing, Wolf, sometimes the difference between disturbed and dangerous are very hard to figure out -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Tom Foreman, reporting, thank you.
My next guest is an author of a powerful book. It's entitled, "Crazy: A Father's Search through America's Mental Health Madness." Pete Earley is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Pete, this is an important book that you've written, very personal book. You lived in Virginia, your son had some serious problems, still does. Briefly tell our viewers why you wrote this book, because it sets the stage for what's happening now at Virginia Tech.
PETE EARLEY, AUTHOR: Actually, I live in the same neighborhood as the shooter from Virginia Tech. My son was in college. He developed a mental illness, bipolar disorder, which is a chemical imbalance. He was in college. I raced to New York to get him. I hurried back to Fairfax Hospital. I took him in thinking the doctors would help him. The doctor came in with his hands up and said basically, I can't help your son.
My son had told him that he thought pills were poison. He said, you're not in imminent danger. I said, he's been threatening to kill himself. He turned to my son, he said, are you going to kill yourself? And my son said no. He said do you know who I am? He says, you're the witch doctor. He said bring him back when he tries to kill you or he tries to kill someone else.
BLITZER: So you can identify to a certain degree with what has happened at Virginia Tech?
EARLEY: It's very hard to get a person mental health services until they hurt someone or someone else and that's just wrong. I live in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the most richest counties in Virginia. There's a two-month wait to get someone into a treatment program, a six-month wait to get a case manager, 18-year wait to get someone into housing. That's how bad our mental health services are. They're just not funded.
BLITZER: Could this, based on all the research, the investigation that you conducted for your book and you're a top-notch journalist, could what happened in Virginia Tech have been avoided?
EARLEY: I think so, absolutely. We don't know if he was a psychopath or if he had a chemical imbalance like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or major depression, but 80 percent of people with mental illnesses can be helped with medication. And almost all can be helped with medication therapy, some kind of treatment if the treatment's there. If it's not, it doesn't do any good to declare someone imminent danger and then turn them loose again.
BLITZER: What does the state of Virginia, indeed all states around the country, what do they need to do most important right now?
EARLEY: Well, we need to change the laws so we can get people services quicker and we need to start providing community mental health services. When you starve the mental health system, when you close all the hospitals, when you shut down the psychiatric beds these are the kinds of things that are going to happen because you can't help people who are sick. BLITZER: Is there any way that this killer's parents, family, friends, loved ones, could have seen what was going on? Should have seen what was going on?
EARLEY: Look, there are all kind of warning signs according to the press reports. You had professors, you had him once committed on imminent danger. And still, you could not get him the kind of help he need. And that's a sad comment on Virginia and the rest of the country.
BLITZER: How's your son doing?
EARLEY: My son's doing better. He had a second breakdown. And even with everything I've learned when I did my book, Wolf, all my years of experience, all of my connections, all my money, I ended up -- he ended up being tasered by the police because I couldn't prove that he was dangerous until it was too late.
BLITZER: Pete Earley, good luck with the family. Good luck with your fight, thanks for writing this powerful, powerful book.
And still ahead tonight, much more of our coverage. Many of the victims killed in the Virginia Tech massacre were in German or French class. Were foreign language students targeted? My interview with the head of the department. That's coming up, and brand new video from the day of the shooting. We're going to tell you why it's just coming out right now. Stick around. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: This note on the Virginia Tech tragedy. The university provost today announced that the 27 student victims will receive posthumous degrees at school's commencement ceremonies next month. Five faculty members also died in the massacre.
Richard Shryock is the chairman of the department of foreign languages and literature at the university. He was a friend and co- worker of two professors who died.
BLITZER: Professor, my deepest condolences, 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?
RICHARD SHRYOCK, VIRGINIA TECH PROFESSOR: Yes, yes, I did, Wolf.
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: 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: And a note on CNN's own policy. When the video and the photographs first surfaced, they were pertinent as new information. With this information now part of the larger story, and given its sensitive nature, CNN will air it very judiciously.
New video from the morning of the massacre at Virginia Tech. Let's bring in Abbi Tatton. Abbi, why are we just getting these new i-reports coming in now?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, 19-year-old sophomore Vy Lee says she's been so shaken by 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 she was hearing.
That's the campus alert system saying this is an emergency, telling students to take shelter. Vy Lee says students were running from the McBryde academic building. It's adjacent to the Norris Building. At around 10:00 a.m. they had been directed by police to stay inside. About an hour later, she says they were told to leave. She said at this point they were running, they didn't have a clue what was happening. Vy Lee tells CNN that she's still on campus, a campus she now describes as empty -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. Still ahead tonight -- there's new information coming out that the Virginia Tech shooter may have been bullied in high school. Could have that have led him to kill? Jeanne Moos look at the reaction to those disturbing photos released last night. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, we're learning about some very serious concerns for the safety of the gunman's parents. Our state department correspondent Zain Verjee has been talking to diplomatic sources. Zain, what are they telling you about the Cho family?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a Korean Embassy source in Washington tells CNN that a Korean official met with U.S. authorities and has verified Cho Seung-hui's parents and his sister are doing OK. The source says that they have been really worried about the safe of Cho's family.
So far Korean officials haven't really been able to contact the family directly, but they say to us they are working with the U.S. government to meet them and though they have lived in the U.S. for a long time, the parents themselves still hold Korean citizenship. Korean officials say their government is obligated to make sure that the family stays safe.
BLITZER: How's the reaction been from the Korean community?
VERJEE: Well, the Korean-American community, as you can imagine, Wolf, has been really shocked. They're really worried, too, there could be a major backlash on the entire community in the U.S. A Korean Embassy source says that's the last thing we want. Many remember the riots in Los Angeles back in 1992 when more than 2,000 Korean businesses were destroyed. The Korean-American community leaders, Wolf, are reaching out to all groups. They say it's imperative to maintain good relations.
BLITZER: And they're right about that. Thank you, Zain, for that report.
And there are new details emerging about the gunman, Cho Seung- hui, including some accounts Cho was bullied in high school.
BLITZER: We're joined 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 implosion, 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: Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula standing by, hi, Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi wolf, thanks so much. Tonight we are devoting most of our program to the investigation into the Virginia Tech massacre. Police are starting to learn more than ever about Cho Seung-hui's cold-blooded planning and all of his preparations. We're going to have the latest information for you on that.
Plus, is there any backlash against South Korean students? Some aren't waiting to find out as I found out on campus when I talked to them. They are leaving the Virginia Tech campus. Others are committed to staying. And we will hear about their hopes and their fears, coming up at the top of the hour, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Paula, thank you. Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the disturbing pictures, the troubling parallels. Has it been enlightening or just too much? We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Now to those disturbing photos of the Virginia Tech shooter. Should they have been aired at all? Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would be hard not to stare into the face of evil, since the face of evil was everywhere, whether you were up to facing it or not. Staring out of newspapers, spitting in the corner of your TV screen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just really quiet.
MOOS: Teasing you to get...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside the mind of the guy who posed for this picture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at this nonsense with the hammer. He's got one with a knife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure he was getting a kick out of it, you know? This was his sawn song. I think he was probably really getting off on it. Probably the highlight of his served life. More so than even the killings probably was all of the prep and the dancing around and the videos.
MOOS: There was something about all of this that reminded folks of this -- Robert de Niro in "Taxi Driver" losing his grip.
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Are you talking to me?
MOOS: Everyone's talking about this...
CHO SEUNG-HUI, KILLER: I didn't have to do this.
MOOS: Networks were sensitive to criticism. NBC limited its usage to an actual percentage of its air time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten percent of an hour to showing these video clips.
MOOS: And if you carefully watch an hour of MSNBC's programming, you'll see they're pretty much sticking to their promise. Some relatives and friends of victims refuse to even discuss the shooter's multimedia presentation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really sensitive topic and I'd really rather not get into it.
MOOS: And folks with no connection to the massacre were divided.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost glamorizes it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sells papers. It makes the news. It makes the money and that's why it's there.
MOOS: But don't you want to see it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
MOOS: I think there should be a Web site that you can go to, and see it in its entirety unedited. You know the media. You guys know, right? Edit things the way you want it, right.
MOOS: Uh-huh. On MSNBC's Web site, a few unedited pages from the shooter were posted, preceded by warnings, they included some doodle-like sketches with undecipherable captions and lots of expletives deleted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently he was nuts. My quote for the day.
MOOS: Actually the quote of the day may have come from the shooter's great-aunt.
KIM YANG-SOON, CHO SEUNG-HUI'S GREAT AUNT: Who would have known he would cause such trouble? The idiot!
MOOS: Just like in "Taxi Driver," there was the shot many thought was creepiest of all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one where he has the gun pointed towards the camera. It's like at you, America.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: And once again, a note on CNN's policy. When the video and photographs surfaced they were pertinent as new information. With this information now part of the larger story and given its sensitive nature, CNN will air it very judiciously.
Let's go to Paula in New York -- Paula?
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