Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The latest on the Virginia Tech massacre

I'm not sure why the Virignia Tech massacre grabbed hold of me to the extent that it did yesterday -- it's not as though any blogger on my side of the country could ever hope to "break" new information.

What got to me were these factors: The astonishing refusal to warn students after the initial bursts of gunfire, with an unidentified killer still on the loose...the ability of the gunman to make his way across campus unimpeded and unseen by surveillance cameras, while wearing an "ungodly" amount of ammo...the odd reports of a black pick-up truck with farm plates being involved...the initial reports of an arrest at the dorm...and the official refusal to rule out a second shooter.

As you no doubt know by now, the killer has been identified as a 23 year old Korean-born student named Cho Seung-Hui, a resident alien who has been in this country since 1992. Originally, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter offered very specific information, which now appears to be wrong, that the killer was a 25 year old recently arrived from China on a student visa. That report even offered the flight number, the arrival date, the city of exit and the city of entrance.

Such a recent arrival would not have been able to purchase weapons. Seung-Hui, as a resident alien, could do so legally.

Sueng-Hui had the words "Ismail Ax" printed in red on his arm. Many internet armchair sleuths are now trying to puzzle out the meaning of that detail, but googling reveals few clues. According to this writer, "there's a well-known taboo in Korean culture against writing a person's name in red — [a] color of death sort of thing." I'd like to see confirmation for that.

This blogger claims that a passage in the Koran depicts Ibrahim (Abraham, father of Ismail) destroying the statuary in a pagan temple with an ax. That fits, in a grimly poetic way, with the descriptions we have of the note he left behind, in which he rails against "rich kids" and "debauchery." Right-wingers are already using this clue to trot out the "Muslim extremist" meme.

The student newspaper has the most complete description available at present of Cho Seung-Hui's writings.

Do I think all mysteries have been resolved? Hardly. For one thing, the dorm crime and the Norris Hall killing spree really do seem to be two very different events.

We are told that the gunman killed 18 year old Emily Hilscher in a fit of jealousy. But we also have indications that, all along, his target was the Engineering building. After all, he brought chains to block the doors -- and I think there is validity to the initial police theory that the earlier bomb threats against that building were intended to test its security.

Incidentally, the killer may have left a brief warning message on an internet site less than three hours before the first killing. See here.

Many media sources have reported that warning emails did not go out to students until after 9:00. Actually, one warning email went out not long after 8:00 a.m.; it was issued by "D," a Resident Advisor in the dorm -- who was strangely reticent to mention that a fellow RA had been murdered. (Scroll down if you want to see the exact wording.) I question whether emailing is an effective warning system when dealing with a killer on the loose.

The school did have a public address system in place.

By the way, did you notice the emotional dichotomy between the newscasters and direct eyewitnesses? The students who were there -- including Erin Sheehan, survivor of one of the shooting rampages -- seemed eerily calm during interviews. So calm were they, I could not help being reminded of that disturbing 1980s film, The River's Edge, which was based on a true story. By contrast, the cable news-shouters were hysterical -- at times they seemed on the verge of a mass nervous breakdown.

Remember how everyone would make fun of Dan Rather for showing emotion during times of national crisis? Well, Dan at his worst looked like he was on Xanax when compared to Geraldo Rivera.
I'm waiting for the Moonie connection...
News report have people who knew the gunman describing him as a "troubled loner." Funny how the well-adjusted popular kids never seem to commit mass murder.
if i'm not mistaken, the ballistics from one of the weapons owned by this shooter matched for both sites. there were no surviving witnesses to the first crime, so the assumption of much of those details is questionable. for instance, the results discovered after may have looked like a romantic dispute, misleading both the security officials and the press. as far as i know, it's now assumed the guy may have had a crush on the young student who was first murdered, and the RA just happened to interrupt. the word that this shooter was white and driving a black van may have come from someone near the scene who saw someone leaving the vicinity with that description, but didn't have anything to do with the crime. the fact that this one detail misled everyone involved, even to the extent to assume that the murderer had left campus, proves quite the caution against accepting and acting on data without corroboration.

officials are now saying the shooter then went back to his dorm, penned the note, and went on with his spree. a deeply troubled young man, to be sure, who apparently may have been a victim of pedophilia, if his artistic offerings suggest inner truths.

though the timing and the circumstances were indeed most bizarre (and how convenient for the gonzo), this appears to be a case of 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'

meanwhile, what i find most reprehensible about the entire affair, even more reprehensible than the fact that ANYONE can get a gun in VA, it seems, is the unbelievably ironic statement made by our obfuscator in chief. i could hear and smell the blood dripping from his lips as he uttered those words about the innocent victims and on and on.

his words and his presence shamed us all in this profoundly horrifying experience. pity the dead, pity the wounded, pity the poor murderer, for pity's sake; but impeach this godforsaken excuse for a human who persists in leading us all toward the deepest levels of hell.
gary, i hope you see the logic in that fact. what would it mean for a well-adjusted individual to commit such an act??

though he didn't commit mass murder, i do know of one fellow from my freshman year in HS who was a senior then, and very popular, quite the hunk, though slightly awkward in an endearing sort of way. twenty years later i just happened to read that he had brutally slashed his wife in a clearly premeditated slaughter, then tried to claim the infamous 'black intruder' (damn, that black guy keeps busy, don't he?).

i suspect he still serves time in the state pen, where i once did work with death row inmates. i sometimes think i should try to find out. after all, we were in play together that fall of my freshman year, and there was this romantic stage kiss that was one of my first. in fact, our first stab at it was interrupted by perhaps the first horrifying announcement i ever experienced:
jfk had just been killed in dallas.

sorry for the stream of csc there, but one thing led to another, and there you are. life's kinda like that.
Not that I didn't anticipate this all consuming media over-coverage of this horrible-sensless tragedy,but enough already!
Like the Imus event, everyone is talking about appearances and not about the underlying causes or what can we learn or what can we do in the future( BTW I am not attacking this blog).
Thank you dr elsewhere for steering the conversation back to our Prez (by far the bigger tragedy in our nation)-talk about one troubled dude who doesn't have just a couple of guns, but many many bombs. AND he is still alive and directing the killing spree and he dares to go to the scene of this crime and pretend to be sad about a bunch of kids who died senslessly(he would have prefered that they had died in Iraq).
sofla said...

'Sources' say, in a media report I just read, that the alleged shooter's Glock 9 mm's receipt showed a purchase c. 3/21, and the Walther 22 was purchased early April (not specified that a second receipt existed there, or how they knew when he purchased it).

However, both guns had their serial numbers filed off (!?!?!).

COULD a gun be legally purchased/purchasable with a filed off serial number? If not, then the alleged perp would have done it... uh, for what reason, exactly?
could this whole gory tragedy have behind it the delay of the Gonzales congressional inquiry?
The next two days may reveal something akin to that.
Then Friday is Hitlers birthday and it seems to inspire very disturbing traumas to our culture..ie Columbine..Oklahoma bombing..Waco (awfully close).
I think there's something very strange going on at Virginia Tech, but I can't (yet) take it as far as a "it's all a ruse to distract us from Gonzales." But I agree with those who've said, "we'll see."

I really appreciated Joseph's observation about how strangely calm the eye-witnesses looked. Yes, I know it could have just been shell-shock, which is, of course, totally understandable, but still. Their eerily sedate manner may be significant somehow.
"Our first stab at it"...stop, you're killing me here.

something is up this week. Last night Blackberry's entire nationwide network was down for nearly 9 hours. I have no doubts that our off the books Christian nightmare private mercenary armies are getting geared up for something big: something like "operation apple pie" but this is taking place here on US soil in preparation for the big move over to a police dictatorship state where the bill of rights becomes the 10 commandments.

someone is also messing with the weather which is unseasonably and incredibly cold (it's like winter out here in the West Coast and earlier this week when there were snow storms in virginia!) for mid-april, the wireless transmissions, probably other stuff we haven't figured out yet.

I don't have much faith in what has been going on since the Bushies took office.

someone is getting ready to do something really big.

Cheney barked about how the US is getting ready to experience a nuclear catastrophe, i.e. that it could happen anytime in any american city. this means that the more these rats get exposed for who and what they are, the more desparate they are to take desparate measures, no matter how many innocents die in their quest to take and keep power.
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