April 18, 2007 in Nation/World

Handling of slayings at VT will be studied

Michael D. Shear and Alec Macgillis Washington Post
 

Virginia Democratic Gov. Timothy Kaine on Tuesday ordered an independent review of Virginia Tech’s handling of Monday’s massacre after 24 hours of criticism that the university waited too long to inform students and faculty of a potential danger.

Kaine’s announcement came in response to a request from the school’s president and board of visitors that the governor take the lead in finding a group of credible, experienced outside examiners. He said the investigation will cover actions taken Monday as well as questions about whether university officials were warned earlier that the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, was troubled.

“There will be a very thorough after-action report,” Kaine pledged. “Before we talk about any policy changes, we have to get an assessment of what occurred.”

Among the questions was why it took campus police more than two hours after the initial shooting at a dormitory to inform students of danger. The delay could have exposed some students and faculty to danger, critics said.

Many parents of Virginia Tech students continued to question the decisions made by university administrators and police – notably, the decision not to send out an e-mail about the morning shooting until 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first attack was reported, and not to cancel classes or shut down the campus until after the classroom shootings.

“These students had the right to know there was an incident in the morning, that there was a murder and a gunman on the loose, and for them to make a decision based on that about whether to go to class or not,” said Carl Ruggiero, of Stafford, Va., whose daughter Sarah is a freshman. “That opportunity was not given to them. … These kids were sitting ducks.”

State and law enforcement sources said the ongoing investigation has not allowed them to fully explain some of their actions Monday, and they expressed the belief that an independent review will show their actions were proper. One official said, for example, that the decision to treat the first shooting as a domestic dispute was a common-sense policing decision that made sense at the time.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email