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BLACK STUDENT AMONG FIRST VA TECH VICTIMS: Plus, Blacksburg’s St. Paul AME open 72 hours to help students cope.

April 17, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(Akiit.com) Armed with two handguns and several clips of ammunition, a gunman went on a rampage at Virginia Tech early Monday killing 32 people on the campus before fatally shooting himself.

The campus newspaper confirmed what Akiit.com first reported this morning; one of the shooter’s first two victims, a resident advisor at West Ambler Johnston dormitory, was African American student Ryan Clark. He was described by the Collegiate Times as a student from Martinez, Ga. who had three majors and a 4.0 GPA.

According to police, the gunman was 23-year-old English major Cho Seung-Hui, a South Korean national whose family lives in Centerville, Va. His shooting spree began at about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of the high-rise coed dorm, killing the resident advisor and another student. About two hours later, the shooter was on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus storming into Norris Hall, a classroom building located about a half-mile away from West Ambler Johnston.

Thirty people were killed and 15 injured in Norris Hall. Police say at least two of the doors to the building were chained from the inside, most likely by the gunman. Some students escaped by jumping out of classroom windows in a panic. The gunman eventually committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Throughout the day, there were conflicting reports about whether the shooter at Norris Hall was the same killer from West Ambler Johnston. During one of the many press conferences held by school president Charles Steger, Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said the witness description of the gunman who killed himself at Norris Hall did not match the description of the shooter at the dorm.

Flinchum said police had interviewed a male who was a “person of interest” in the dorm shooting who knew one of the victims, but he declined to give details.

Several prayer services were held throughout Blacksburg on Monday night. St. Paul A.M.E. church, located just off of the campus, left its doors open over night and will keep them open for the next 48 hours straight to provide non-stop comfort and counsel for the community.

“People are walking around dazed, distraught and just numb,” a member of the church told Akkit.com Monday night. “It’s pretty bad. But the community is pulling together. A lot of the restaurants downtown have signs in the windows offering free food to EMS, fire and police workers.”

St. Paul parishioners were busy bringing breakfast foods and air mattresses to the church late Monday and early today for its 72-hour run. Some students went to their dorms and retrieved games and musical instruments to bring back to the church, perhaps as a way to endure what President Steger described early Monday as a “tragedy… of monumental proportions.”

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