COMMENTS: The Other Shoe Dropped

Besides the sheer shock of the event, a major angle concerned the performance of campus security. Had they erred in relaxing for two hours after the initial killings, in the false belief that there was no follow-up yet to come? Should they have issued an alert? "Students want to know why all classes were not canceled immediately and the campus locked down," ABC's Pierre Thomas, a Virginia Tech alumnus, reported. When Wendell Flinchum, the university's police chief, explained that witnesses told his investigators that the gunman had fled campus, Thomas said simply: "They were wrong."

University president Charles Steger was interviewed by both CBS' Couric (no link) and NBC's Williams. On CBS, Steger explained that the dormitory was indeed locked down after the first shooting--but not the rest of the campus. He warned students by e-mail of the dormitory incident and "to be cautious" at around the same time the second incident started. With 9,000 resident students, 14,000 commuting students and 10,000 campus employees, "this is like shutting down a city," Steger told NBC. "You cannot do it instantaneously."

As for the preparedness of local emergency medical services, EMT volunteer Sarah Walker (no link) reassured NBC's Williams on that front: "Just a year ago we did practice for a massive casualty injury here in Blacksburg."


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