August 21, 2006 - On the first day of classes, Virginia Tech put on lockdown after an escaped prison inmate accused of killing a security guard is spotted on campus. The night before, 24-year-old WilliamFull Story
Officials at Virginia Tech say 33 people are dead and more were wounded in shootings on campus Monday morning. Authorities say the gunman killed himself.
The shootings took place at a dormitory and an academic building on opposite ends of the 2,600 acre campus. According to officials, the first shooting took place at West Ambler Johnston Hall at around 7:15 a.m. West Ambler Johnson Hall is a co-ed dorm that houses nearly 900 students. The other shootings occurred aproximately two hours later in Norris Hall, an engineering building.
Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum told reporters that two weapons were recovered, but he did not describe them.
In a press conference shortly after noon Monday, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger stated, “At about 7:15 this morning, a 911 call came to the university police department concerning an event in West Ambler Johnston Hall. There were multiple shooting victims. While in the process of investigating, about two hours later, the university received reports of a shooting in Norris Hall. The police immediately responded. The shooter in Norris Hall is deceased. There are multiple fatalities. The number of fatalities has not been confirmed. Victims have been transported to various hospitals in the immediate area in the region to receive emergency treatment. We will proceed to contact the next of kin as the victims' identities are available."
The Associated Press has reported witnesses saw students jumping out of windows of a classroom building to escape gunfire. Some students and faculty members carried out the wounded themselves before ambulances arrived.
SWAT team members with helmets and assault rifles were also seen on campus.
The university set up a meeting place for families to reunite with their children at the Inn at Virginia Tech. It also made counselors available and planned a convocation for Tuesday at noon at the Cassell Coliseum basketball arena.
Classes were canceled for the rest of the day Monday and all day Tuesday. The incident marks the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history since the shootings at the University of Texas 40 years ago.
Steger stated, "Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider monumental proportion...the university is shocked and indeed horrified that what this would befall us. I want to extend by deepest and most sincere and profound sympathies to the families of these victims which include our students."
In a statement, Governor Tim Kaine called the shooting "difficult to comprehend senseless violence on this scale." Kaine is returning from Tokyo, where he was set to begin an Asian trade mission. He has declared a state of emergency.
The shooting incident was the second at Virginia Tech in less than one year. Last August, the opening day of classes was canceled and the campus closed when an escaped jail inmate allegedly killed a hospital guard and a sheriff's deputy involved in a massive manhunt. Click here for more information on the August 21, 2006 shooting.
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