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CNN: SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
Special Investigations Unit: Campus Rage
Aired April 11, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On a peaceful college campus, a quiet Korean American math major was unraveling.
WILLIAM KIM, FATHER OF DANIEL KIM: When he came home, he mentioned that he didn't go out from his dorm room for two weeks.
BOUDREAU: This 21-year-old senior confided to friends online that he was deeply depressed and feeling isolated. He talked about a gun.
SHAUN PRIBUSH, FRIEND OF DANIEL KIM: He's like, I'm serious. I actually bought a gun.
BOUDREAU: That friend sent this emergency e-mail, alerting the school that Daniel was threatening suicide. But what was done about it?
PRIBUSH: I said, this is really serious. This is not a joke.
BOUDREAU: The family of Daniel Kim wants answers.
JEANNETTE KIM, SISTER OF DANIEL KIM: My brother, he is not a violent person, but what if there was somebody that was violent, and they got the warning signs, and they did a massive shooting spree again?
BOUDREAU (on-camera): Warning signs, massive shooting, a troubled student with a gun. If any school should have recognized the danger, you would think it would be this one.
You see, this all took place at Virginia Tech, just months after what's become known as the Virginia Tech massacre.
(voice-over): Monday morning, April 16, 2007.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang out in the hallway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were brought in with gunshots or other injuries.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The agents based out of Roanoke are on the scene. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. And I saw everyone running across the drill field.
BOUDREAU: In all, 33 people dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Including the gunman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been able to confirm the identity of the gunman at Norris Hall, Cho Seung-Hui.
BOUDREAU: Cho, a Virginia Tech senior, a loner, depressed, and angry.
Just how angry became clear when this videotape was made public.
CHO SEUNG-HUI, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTER: You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood.
It is not for me. For my children and my brothers and sisters that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I did it for them.
BOUDREAU: Why would this young man, so obviously disturbed, plot the murder of his fellow students? For almost a decade, there were warning signs.
In 1999, after the murder spree at Columbine High School in Colorado, Cho, then an eighth-grader, wrote that he wanted to -- quote -- "repeat Columbine." At Virginia Tech, the 23-year-old wore mirrored glasses in class, took secret photos of other students. Even more alarming was his writing, violent scenes about rape, torture, and murder.
Cho's writing professor, poet Nikki Giovanni, told her boss it was too much to handle.
NIKKI GIOVANNI, VIRGINIA TECH PROFESSOR: I just was very clear that this gentleman has to come out of my class or I'm going to resign.
BOUDREAU: The head of the department agreed to tutor him, but soon she, too, became alarmed at what she saw.
LUCINDA ROY, CHAIRMAN, VIRGINIA TECH ENGLISH DEPARTMENT: I would go to the police and to counselors and to student affairs and everywhere else, and they would say, but there's nothing explicit here. He's not actually saying he's going to kill someone.
BOUDREAU: And, still, the warning bells kept going off, reports of stalking, campus police at Cho's door. The girl didn't press charges, and the officers left, warning Cho to leave her alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then he went over there. He was using the name question mark. He says, hey, I'm question mark. And that really freaked the girl out.
BOUDREAU: After a second stalking incident, Cho told his roommate he wanted to kill himself. They called the police and Cho spent the night here at this mental hospital. A judge signed a court order declaring him mentally ill, a threat to himself or others.
But the judge set Cho free, on condition he see a therapist at Virginia Tech. Cho attended one session and never went back.
WILLIAM POLLOCK, HARVARD PSYCHOLOGIST: It happened all over the country.
BOUDREAU: Harvard Psychologist William Pollock studies the minds of school shooters. He's convinced that suicide threats are a red flag for violence.
POLLOCK: You have to call it self-murder. When you start calling it that, you get the point. And some people who want to self- murder also want other-murder. They want to kill others as well.
BOUDREAU: But even after the judge ruled that Cho was a danger, no one followed up, not once. The rest is history.
Cho grabbed two pistols and walked out his door for the last time. It's clear from a state-commissioned report that Cho had significant mental illness going back to childhood. But according to Chris Flynn, the head of Virginia Tech's counseling center, the school did all it could legally. And no one connected the dots, all those warning signs.
CHRIS FLYNN, DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA TECH COUNSELING CENTER: And I think he really would have benefited by focused, concerted, intensive treatment. And so there are a lot of places where he could have come forward and we could have connected, and that didn't happen.
BOUDREAU: Just this week, Virginia Tech agreed to pay $11 million to the victims' families. Since the massacre, Virginia Tech has made changes to improve campus safety: a new alert system to warn students via text message, more security guards. Most important, the school says it has improved communication among teachers, counselors, administrators, and the police.
So, troubled students like Cho are less likely to slip through the cracks. But is it a false sense of security? When we come back, the story of another Virginia Tech student with a gun, and later, a young man who plotted a shooting spree at his high school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to get as much revenge as I could.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): At Virginia Tech, this was a school year for healing. All was quiet. The problems were worked out. Campus was safer.
But one Virginia Tech family tells a very different story.
KIM: They just treated it like some kind of a joke.
BOUDREAU: Some kind of joke. To William Kim, his son Daniel's safety was no joke. After the school massacre, Daniel, a senior at Virginia Tech, sank into a deep depression. He worried that he could be mistaken for the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho.
KIM: He was like, everyone is going to think that I look like him, the shooter. And I was like, you don't look anything like him. I can tell the difference. Other people can tell the difference.
BOUDREAU: By September, Daniel had become more reclusive, wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap. Then he stopped going to class.
W. KIM: He just don't go to classes. That doesn't even make sense. That's not like him.
BOUDREAU: He seldom left his off-campus apartment, online, playing games, living as a character in a virtual world, where, unlike in real life, he made friends easily.
PRIBUSH: Dan, he was actually -- I thought he was really funny. He told all these like great jokes. And everything just made people laugh.
BOUDREAU: Shaun Pribush is a recent graduate of RPI, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in New York. He met Daniel online in the "World of Warcraft." After about four or five months, Shaun noticed a change in Daniel.
PRIBUSH: He was saying he was Asian, and he didn't really have too many friends in real life. And then, later on, I started to realize that, I guess, all the depressions are adding up and putting a lot of pressure on him.
BOUDREAU: Then, in late October, Daniel revealed his darker thoughts.
PRIBUSH: He actually talked about purchasing a gun and planning to kill himself, like, soon. I'm like, Dan, is that like a joke? Is that something funny? I don't think that's funny. You shouldn't joke about having a gun. He's like: "I'm serious. I actually bought a gun."
BOUDREAU: Several days later, Daniel Kim threatened suicide again by swallowing pills and getting into a car accident. Finally, he wrote he was going to go through with it. His online friend, Shaun Pribush, decided to take action and e-mailed the Virginia Tech counseling center.
PRIBUSH: This is the e-mail that I sent.
BOUDREAU: It was about 4:00 a.m. The subject line, "Emergency about suicidal student."
PRIBUSH: "Dear health center, this is a serious e-mail. This is not a joke. Daniel has been acting very suicidal recently, purchasing a $200 pistol and claiming he will go through with it."
BOUDREAU: Shaun also wrote of Daniel's past suicide attempts, downing 22 pills. He wrote again: "This is very serious. This is not a joke."
University protocol states a suicidal person needs to see the psychologist on call. But that didn't happen. Instead, Virginia Tech passed on the information to Blacksburg City Police, who, at 11:45 a.m., showed up at Daniel's doorstep for a quote -- "welfare check."
Chris Crumpler (ph) was Daniel's roommate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All did they did was just knock on the door and asked me if Dan was here. And I got Dan, that was pretty much it. And 30 seconds later, the door was closed.
BOUDREAU: Within that short time, police asked Daniel if he knew a Shaun from RPI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he didn't even know what RPI was or what it was.
BOUDREAU: Police records show Daniel was classified C4, code for OK. And they drove off.
W. KIM: This is the receipt that he purchased the gun with.
BOUDREAU: Three weeks later, Daniel bought a pistol for $400 with his dad's credit card at JND pawn shop, the very same place Seung-Hui Cho picked up his gun.
Daniel's father says he had no idea about the purchase at the time. Then, on December 9, one month after police checked on Daniel, his sister Jeannette got an urgent call from home. Something was wrong with Daniel.
J. KIM: So, I texted him. And I was like, hey, Opa. Opa means older brother in Korean. And I said, you know, it's Jeannette. Where are you? I'm really worried about you.
BOUDREAU: It was too late; 21-year-old Daniel Kim was dead. He shot himself in the family car in a parking lot seven miles from campus. Daniel Kim never said he planned to kill others, but he was willing to pull the trigger on himself.
Today, Daniel's father still drives that car. He still calls his son's cell phone just to hear his voice.
W. KIM: Then I can hear his name. He... BOUDREAU: He clings to the clues that Daniel left behind, feeling cheated out of a chance to save his only son's life.
W. KIM: What did they do? I mean, what did they do?
BOUDREAU (on camera): Did Virginia Tech let you down?
W. KIM: I feel like it, yes, especially after the shooting.
J. KIM: I thought my brother would be safe there. And nobody saved him.
W. KIM: "I am Shaun Pribush."
BOUDREAU (voice-over): And remember that emergency e-mail? Turns out Virginia Tech never shared it with Daniel's family until it was too late.
(on camera): What would you say to Virginia Tech officials?
J. KIM: Virginia Tech is lucky this time that only my brother died. And to me, my brother was everything. So -- I'm sorry, I keep crying.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Coming up, why didn't Virginia Tech do more to help Daniel Kim?
DR. ZENOBIA LAWRENCE HIKES, VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS, VIRGINIA TECH: Human behavior is very difficult to predict. And one...
BOUDREAU (on camera): Do you think that mistakes were made in this case?
HIKES: I think the correct protocol was followed.
BOUDREAU: It's been four months since Daniel Kim killed himself.
J. KIM: I wake up every morning to my mom crying out for my brother, and I know my dad cries alone.
BOUDREAU: There were clear warnings. A depressed, shy Daniel Kim stopped attending class. Virginia Tech's counseling center received an e-mail from Daniel's online friend, Shaun Pribush, saying Daniel has been acting suicidal and is going to go through with it.
PRIBUSH: I said, this is really serious. This is not a joke. My friend, Dan Kim, at your school sent me these exact quotes.
W. KIM: I am really angry. I am really angry how they handled the things.
BOUDREAU: The only messages William Kim got from Virginia Tech were letters about class rings and graduation, nothing at all about that e-mail spelling out his son's suicidal threats. Virginia Tech's written policy on suicidal students is clearly stated in the care team manual. Students showing any suicidal tendency get seen by the school's on-call psychologist.
(on-camera): The protocol is, if the school is aware of a threat, of someone who is threatening suicide, that person must be seen by counselor or psychologist. Why didn't that happen?
HIKES: Well, I don't want to speak to his individual case, but that is correct. That is what is the appropriate protocol. And the appropriate measures were taken in his case.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Zenobia Hikes, vice president for student affairs.
(on-camera): If that's the appropriate...
HIKES: I think it is inappropriate. And I respect your question, first of all. I respect your question, but it is inappropriate to talk about his individual case on camera.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Daniel Kim never saw the psychologist. Instead, when the school received Shaun Pribush's e-mail warning, they sent the local police.
HIKES: Two-thirds of our students live off campus, and the protocol is for the police to go and -- and do a wellness check if an individual lives off campus.
BOUDREAU: The university later told CNN Hikes was describing an unwritten policy for off-campus students. Officers who Blacksburg police say are trained to do wellness checks visited two Daniel Kims living off campus. Chris Crumpler (ph) is the roommate of the Daniel who threatened suicide.
Thirty seconds later, the door is closed and Dan is going back upstairs.
BOUDREAU: We tracked down the other Daniel Kim.
In an e-mail to CNN, he said officers did ask him about Shaun Pribush, but said -- quote -- "They didn't seem very interested. They didn't ask me if I was feeling depressed or suicidal."
Hours after the police made their house calls, Shaun Pribush received an e-mail from a campus police officer. The e-mail made it clear officers didn't know which Daniel Kim they were looking for. They didn't realize they had already talked to him.
PRIBUSH: I gave them the cell phone number, his major, his name, and I might have given the age. I can't remember.
BOUDREAU: But, armed with this new information, the police never went back.
HIKES: I don't want to give you the impression that -- where it ends with the police once they have seen that individual.
BOUDREAU (on-camera): It did in that case.
HIKES: No, it did not end there, because the dean of students office and the care team did -- were aware of that particular case. And, so, that was one of the cases on their docket. So, they were aware of that.
BOUDREAU: If they were aware of the case, then why didn't this particular student see a psychologist or a counselor?
HIKES: That, again, is a particular that I won't speak to as it relates to that individual.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): One month after the so-called wellness check on Daniel Kim, he took his own life.
(on-camera): Should the police have been the first people out there assessing this person?
POLLOCK: My personal opinion, my professional opinion, no. Perhaps the police should be with someone who is in a mental health condition in case they are needed. But they shouldn't be out there alone.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Harvard psychologist William Pollock.
POLLOCK: If colleges don't get the warning signs, don't get the wakeup call to prepare for kids with emotional disturbance, we are going to see more and more kids on a continuum in college dropping out from depression that's untreated up to and killing themselves and killing others.
BOUDREAU: But campuses nationwide are struggling to keep up. Growing numbers of students are seeking counseling. More students than ever come to college already taking prescription psychiatric drugs.
Chris Flynn runs Virginia Tech's counseling center. He's seen a 35 to 40 percent increase in students seeking counseling since last year's shooting.
FLYNN: I have a staff of about 18 altogether. With a staff of 18, how do you reach out to 28,000 students? We see over 10 percent of the student body in a given year. Does that -- what about the other 90 percent? Are they in need of resources?
BOUDREAU: In the wake of Kim's death, Virginia Tech is reexamining its protocol for suicidal students. Still, Hikes insist the university acted appropriately in the case of Daniel Kim.
HIKES: If the institution determined that Mr. Kim was threatening suicide or was suicidal, then he would have been -- he would have gone through the protocol for students that we were concerned about who were a danger to themselves.
BOUDREAU (on-camera): So, an e-mail to the care team is not enough, is what we are saying?
HIKES: We will close that conversation, because I have spoken to that already. We followed the protocol for Daniel Kim in following all the procedures that we were scheduled to do based on the information that we had in the e-mail. And we pursued the information in the e-mail, followed the protocol, and acted appropriately.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): The Kim family believes the school could have prevented Daniel from taking his life, if only they were told of the warning signs. Though colleges are not required to alert parents in cases like this, there's nothing legally stopping them.
Meanwhile, those letters to the families of graduating seniors continue to pile up.
J. KIM: When I see that they are still sending us letters, it is like, wow, you really don't care? Like, you care that much to keep sending us letters when my brother has passed away.
BOUDREAU: Just ahead, beyond Virginia Tech, from a family that didn't see the warning signs, to one that did.
(on-camera): You hated these people enough, That you put them on a hit list?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): And then the gunman who seemingly just snapped -- the clues he left for his girlfriend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were the best (INAUDIBLE) You have done so much for me. And I truly do love you.
ABBIE BODREAU, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Greencreek, Idaho. A tiny town surrounded by snow-capped mountains. This is where Richard Sonnen plotted his killing spree nearly three years ago.
RICHARD SONNEN, PLANNING A COLUMBINE-STYLE ATTACK: I wanted to get as much revenge as I could.
BODREAU (on camera): And you were prepared to shoot them?
BOURDREAU: And you were prepared to shoot yourself?
BOUDREAU: And end it all?
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Richard wanted another Columbine, a fitting pay back to his high school classmates, who he says relentlessly bullied him. And like the killers at Columbine, nothing would stop him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, mama?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I love you, mama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAINE SONNEN, RICHARD'S MOTHER: In public, he was this beautiful, wonderful child. He gave people a hug.
BOUDREAU: Elaine Sonnen and her husband adopted Richard when he was just four years old from this Bulgarian orphanage.
SONNEN: I was a Christmas present to my mom and dad.
E. SONNEN: People thought he was just the greatest kid in the world, very polite, well mannered, caring. At home, he could be anywhere from just a really helpful great kid to a monster. A terrified monster.
BOUDREAU: After only a couple of months in his new home, Richard became angry and unpredictable. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he was on anti-psychotic medication. In junior high, his classmates began picking on him.
SONNEN: I hated myself, I hated them, I hated everybody. I was a sick -- I was a sick man.
SONNEN: A sick boy, yes.
BOUDREAU: Now, almost 19, he says the bullying got so bad he couldn't take it anymore.
SONNEN: It was always like, I wanted to get revenge. I always wanted to get back to them. I always wanted to strangle them, you know? I was always mad. I was always angry.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Would they have considered you a loner? Or --
SONNEN: Loner, odd ball, freak.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): In high school, Richard was secretly reading books about Columbine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYLAN KLEBOLD, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTER: Do not mess with that freaking kid.
ERIC HARRIS, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTER: I will freaking kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOUDREAU: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold became his heroes.
SONNEN: They planned it out so perfectly and so meticulously that I just -- it's wow. You know, they're my gods.
And my plan was to set around bombs around the school. I had pinpoints of where I wanted to go, where I wanted to do it. And then, you know, I was planning on going around shooting people and what not.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Did you ever think, well, what if while I'm shooting, I'm trying to shoot the kids that are on my hit list, what if you shot someone else?
SONNEN: I won't. I won't.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Things at home were getting worse.
E. SONNEN: He would shake with anger to the point he'd tell me and scream at me that he wanted to destroy me.
BOUDREAU: This box holds an unnerving collection. Years worth of red flags. Richard's dark poems, short stories about suicide, but for all that, Elaine had no idea that Richard was plotting murder until that day he told her.
E. SONNEN: The most awful thing that we could have ever thought of happening was happening.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Which was?
E. SONNEN: My son planning a school shooting.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): He would kill the bullies first, then his younger sister and mom. For his own reasons, he'd spare his father, but then turn the gun on himself. A plan so detailed it was complete with a hit list of targets. Eight kids, classmates, he wanted to kill.
BOUDREAU (on camera): You hated these people enough that you put them on a hit list?
SONNEN: Yes. All right. This is my sophomore year.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Over a high school yearbook, we get a glimpse into the mind of a young man plotting mayhem. SONNEN: She was another one of them that I wanted to kill.
BOUDREAU (on camera): She looks so nice.
SONNEN: I actually had a crush on her. She was also another one. It wasn't really the fact that I hated her. It's just more of the fact that she was always annoying. So --
BOUDREAU: Who else?
SONNEN: This guy right here.
BOUDREAU: He just looks like your average kid.
SONNEN: I do not like him.
Once I shoot everybody else, I'll do --
BOUDREAU (voice-over): We showed Richard's interview to Harvard psychologist William Pollack.
WILLIAM POLLACK, HARVARD PSYCHOLOGIST: We see a young man who obviously is telling us how depressed he was, how angry he was, and how much he looked up to people who we know are very disturbed and very dangerous, and how close he came to killing people.
BOUDREAU: Pollack was a consultant on a landmark study of school shooters.
POLLACK: We found that the school shooters were -- felt very alone, felt very isolated, were mercilessly bullied, and they have started to target people in that school whom they blame for their pain.
BOUDREAU: After Richard confessed his plans and hit list, his mother knew she had to take immediate action. She had him committed to a series of mental health centers where he was treated for various illnesses, including bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
SONNEN: There is nothing that I can do to change it, but I'm sorry.
BOUDREAU: After 16 months, Richard was finished with his treatment and he says ready for college.
E. SONNEN: They had done everything they could do for him. He was doing great. He could make it on his own. They had no question.
BOUDREAU: It looked like a happy ending. But before long, it all changed.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Randi Kaye. We'll return to the CNN SIU special "Campus Rage" in a moment. But first, the headlines.
Rough times for the airlines and their passengers. American Airlines has cancelled 200 flights scheduled for Saturday on top of the 3,000 or so cancelled flights over the past four days. American says government mandated safety inspections of its jet should be finished by tomorrow night.
Frontier Airlines says all its flight operations will continue despite its filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. The Denver- based airline is tangled up in a legal fight with the company that processes most of its credit card transactions.
In politics, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are sparring over money for this fall's campaign. Obama, who is setting records for fund raising in the primaries, is now dropping hints that he may back out of a written commitment to take public financing if he wins the nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The amount of money raised through the public financing system may be substantially lower than the amount of money that can be raised through small donations over the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Today John McCain, who's raised much less money than his Democratic opponent, accused Obama of flip-flopping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is that he's saying one thing, and he's doing another. I mean, that's indisputable. I'm the presumptive Republican nominee. I would take public financing. Keep your word to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: McCain also left the door open to opting out of public financing this fall if Obama does.
Finally, a rousing welcome for the Olympic torch. This was the scene today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Large, enthusiastic crowds, hardly any protesters except with Chinese record on human rights. That's a big change from what happened earlier this week in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Those are the headlines. The CNN SIU special "Campus Rage" continues in just a moment.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): At age 17, after nearly a year and a half in mental institutions, Richard Sonnen was beginning a new life.
E. SONNEN: For the first time in 12 years, I was able to see my son. I knew he was on the road to being well.
BOUDREAU: As a freshman at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, Richard was functioning well on a cocktail of three anti-psychotic drugs.
SONNEN: I had to make sure that I took them myself. There weren't there to help me with the medication.
BOUDREAU: Finally, Elaine would no longer have to be afraid of her own son. But that wouldn't last. In April of last year, three days after the Virginia Tech massacre, Richard's mother got a call from police.
E. SONNEN: We have reports that your son has made four different threats to do a school shooting at Lewis-Clark State College and Lewiston High School.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The information was he was going to have a Columbine-type event.
E. SONNEN: My understanding was that he was going to come home, get some guns, go back, crawl up into the clock tower, and, basically, be a sniper.
BOUDREAU: Richard was stopped by police while walking on campus.
SONNEN: The cop slammed the door and said, get your hands up! Get your hands up!
BOUDREAU: Police took him to a hospital under protective custody. As police searched Richard's apartment for clues, Lewis- Clark State College, taking no chances, shut down for security reasons. So did the local high school.
But in the end, Richard was released from custody. Police told CNN they did not have enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
BOUDREAU (on camera): What did they think your plan was?
SONNEN: Apparently, to do a shooting, to do a bombing and shooting of the college.
BOUDREAU: Where would they get this information?
SONNEN: A lot of people ask me where I came from. I said, oh, well, I had a little problem with my high school, and I told them the whole story.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Richard says the whole incident was a big misunderstanding, that he was only telling people about his high school plot.
SONNEN: And a lot of people just heard about the guy that did the V. Tech, and so there were thinking, oh, shoot, he's going to do it here, too.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Is there any chance that you did make those threats?
BOUDREAU: You don't believe what he's saying?
E. SONNEN: I believe he made those threats. I still believe it. I believe it the morning after. You know, the day they took him into custody and we went to the hospital.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Richard signed an order that banned him from campus for one year. Today, he's living on his own in the state of Washington. Still on medication, but he's not seeing a psychiatrist. Because he's over 18, his mom can't force him to go.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Does this worry you?
E. SONNEN: Yes, he is not getting the help and the insight from a professional that could see the signs.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Richard wants other kids who are depressed and bullied, feeling like he did to understand they don't have to resort to violence. His mother wants people to know it's not always the parents' fault. There's only so much they can do once kids turn 18.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Are you still afraid of him?
E. SONNEN: Yes. At times, I'm very afraid.
E. SONNEN: Because he's still has a lot of anger towards me, because I draw the line. I tell him how it's going to be, and I don't go past that line.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): And so, when Richard visits home, she keeps an alarm on his bedroom door to protect the family.
SONNEN: My mom is the greatest person in the world, and she helped me through a lot. And she's always going to be my mom.
E. SONNEN: I've be there for every step, every tear, every heartache, and everything smile.
BOUDREAU: Coming up, the shooter that nobody expected.
BOUDREAU: It's almost like he had a double life.
JESSICA BATY, STEVEN KAZMIERCZAK'S GIRLFRIEND: I don't know how he could have had a double life. I was in his life all the time.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): In most cases, experts say the warning signs are clear, but sometimes even those closest to a killer never see it coming.
JESSICA BATY, STEVEN KAZMIERCZAK'S GIRLFRIEND: The Steven I know and love was not the man that walked into that building. He was not the same person.
BOUDREAU: Valentine's Day, 2008, nine months after Virginia Tech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no expression on his face whatsoever. He didn't say a word.
BOUDREAU: Steven Kazmierczak, a 27-year-old former student, entered a crowded lecture hall at Northern Illinois University.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just came in, pointed the gun, and opened fire.
BOUDREAU: Two minutes later, Kazmierczak shot himself leaving five students dead and 16 wounded. His girlfriend, Jessica Baty, was as shocked as anyone. That's what she said in this exclusive interview.
BOUDREAU (on camera): Was he that unhappy?
BATY: If he was, he didn't tell me. He didn't seem that unhappy. No, I would never, never imagined that it would have been Steven who walked out of that stage. I don't know why.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Kazmierczak couldn't have been more different from Seung-Hui Cho, the killer at Virginia Tech. Kazmierczak was popular, successful, in a committed relationship with plans for the future.
BOUDREAU: It's almost like he had a double life.
BATY: I don't know how he could have had a double life. I was in his life all the time. I didn't -- I can't believe that he didn't tell me or give me some indication that something was wrong.
BOUDREAU: Kazmierczak did have difficult moments in his past. A stay at a boy's group home, a bout of depression, an early dismissal from the army. As a teenager, he would cut himself.
BATY: You know, he was kind of a troubled kid. And, you know, everybody -- everybody has a past, and everybody goes through hard times and he felt so bad about his. He was on medication, and he did stop taking it.
And he stopped taking it because he said that it made him feel like a zombie and that he was just, you know, was lazy. That's why he stopped taking it. He didn't behave erratically.
BOUDREAU: It would be rare if there were truly no warning signs according to Harvard's William Pollack.
WILLIAM POLLACK, HARVARD PSYCHOLOGIST: School shootings, at least to date are not impulsive. It isn't like a student goes home and says, I'm coming back in a minute, I'm going to kill someone. Usually, there are warning signs and in retrospect, unfortunately, the warning signs are found if they aren't seen beforehand.
BOUDREAU: Kazmierczak's rampage through NIU left many wishing for answers. He left a note, shocking, and how much it left unsaid.
BATY: It says, "You are the best, Jessica. You've done so much for me, and I truly do love you. You will make an excellent psychologist or social worker someday. Don't forget about me. Love, Steven."
BOUDREAU: Since it's not always possible to spot a killer in advance, some students say they need a last line of defense. Since the Virginia Tech shooting, thousands of people across the country, mostly college students, are joining a group that supports the idea of carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.
KEN STANTON, VIRGINIA TECH: This is a national group, 23,270 members.
BOUDREAU: Ken Stanton leads the chapter at Virginia Tech. Since starting the group in February, they already have 150 members. School rules stop them from carrying guns onto campus. Stanton says that leaves him defenseless.
STANTON: I choose not to carry it on campus because I follow the rules. If my life is now threatened while I'm on campus, and I'm obeying the rules, I've now just made a choice between my education and my life.
BOUDREAU: Stanton is fighting for laws that would change that. Today, 10 states allow students to carry guns at public colleges. The idea is controversial, to say the least.
ZENOBIA HIKES, VICE PRESIDENT, STUDENT AFFAIRS: That would be horrible. That would be -- it would be irresponsible. As far as legislation, that would be very difficult for us to have students in residents halls who are 18 and have guns in their closets, carrying them on their purse. That would be a recipe for disaster.
BOUDREAU: Many survivors and victims' families agree, and are pushing for stricter gun laws. The students we talked to on Virginia Tech's campus are split.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me, it's all about self-protection. It's about being a 120-pound female who can't fight off an attacker like a big guy could possibly. I see firearms as the great equalizer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, I'm against guns on campus. I feel like, you know, it's safe here and it's just going to add -- I would feel more worried about it if I was walking around knowing people could have firearms on them.
BOUDREAU: Could a gun have stopped Cho sooner and saved lives? Where did he hit you?
DEREK O'DELL, VIRGINIA TECH VICTIM: In my upper arm.
BOUDREAU: At Virginia Tech, Derek O'Dell took a bullet in the arm last year, but he says more guns are not the answer.
BOUDREAU (on camera): At that moment though, when Cho had entered the room, did you -- a gun might have helped you. A gun might have stopped him.
O'DELL: It might have stopped him, but in the same way, it might have -- like if I have had a gun in that situation, somebody else might have been caught in the crossfire.
BOUDREAU: Ken Stanton also lost a friend to one of Cho's bullets.
STANTON: Losing Jeremy (ph) really hurt me, and I feel really bad that neither he nor anyone else in this classroom has had a way to stop their attacker. I don't ever want to see that happen again to anyone.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): Virginia Tech, NIU, 37 murdered on college campuses in less than a year, and countless more left behind without answers.
BATY: Yes, I just need to know why. I need to know what happened that made him think that that was the only thing he could do.
BOUDREAU (on camera): There may never be an answer for survivors of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other school shootings, but what we do know is most of these school shooters don't just snap. There are usually warning signs that show up over time. But on college campuses, the burden is often on mental health centers that are underfunded and understaffed. And that has got to change. I'm Abbie Boudreau.
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