One year later students and faculty at Virginia Tech University pay tribute at the memorial on campus for those killed in the Virginia Tech massacre.
On Monday morning, April 16th, 2007 at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, one of the most horrific episodes of violence in collegiate history happened within the span of hours. The end result, to what many call “The Virginia Tech Massacre,” was 32 people dead from the helm of a lone psychopathic gunman who in the end turned his gun on himself and committed suicide.
The mentally disturbed 23-year-old gunman was Cho Seung-Hui. Cho Seung-Hui’s 9mm Glock 19 and .22-caliber Walther pistol claimed the lives of 32 students and teachers and caused injuries of many other students and, today, the university community gathered in the center of the campus where the memorial to the 32 students and teachers who died was covered in flowers.
Though Virginia Tech is remembering, as they prepared for a day of ceremonies on the 2,600 acre campus, many hope this will help them move on with their lives.
“We’ve worked to try to have an event that’s respectful … to remember the lives that were lost,” said Larry Hincker, associate vice-president for university relations. “The one-year point marks the turning point.”
Classes at the university have been cancelled for the day and a series of events have been planned to help students come together and mark their loss, including a memorial slide show and photo exhibition including a candle-lit vigil.
Since the Virginia Tech killings, Hincker said security has been notably tightened in the past year, with improvements to the system that alerts students and staff of an emergency, a new lockdown on buildings and reinforcements added to the campus police force.
The university has also hired three new counselors and a new case manager to ensure that troubled students — like Cho Seung-Hui, who was briefly admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 2005 — do not fall between the cracks.
Hincker did, however, reject any notion that the shooting should change Virginia Tech’s policy against carrying guns for self-protection.
“Our position is crystal clear. Guns don’t belong in classrooms. We’ve seen what happens,” he said.