Victims' Names Emerge in University Shooting
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
I'm Madeleine Brand.
In a few minutes, we'll remember a few of the 33 lives lost yesterday in Virginia.
CHADWICK: First, to the campus of Virginia Tech where people are still trying to recover from the shooting rampage. NPR's David Greene is there. He joins us now. David, what are you finding on the campus today?
DAVID GREENE: Well, there's still a lot of shock and it varies from one student to another. Some students who might not have known anyone personally involved in this tragedy are trying to move on and try to get some meaning in this, and try to find some semblance of normalcy. And you know, the campus at sunrise this morning, there were joggers out on the empty streets as the sun was coming up and it felt like any college campus. But as the day's gone on, there are more and more students milling around, kind of looking curiously.
And there are other students who did know people who were very involved in this. I just met a 19-year-old sociology major out on the street and asked her what she was feeling. And she said, well, she got back from the hospital in Roanoke where her friend, who was recovering from a gunshot wound to her head, was with her family and ready to go home. And so she was having more trouble moving on. So it really varies, depending on who you're talking to here.
BRAND: And David, there will be a campus-wide convocation later today. What can we expect?
GREENE: Well, it's, you know, so far it seems like there are just crowds of students going. There's a steady stream. There were some questions about whether some students - some people in this community would be a little uncomfortable gathering in a large group setting after such violence yesterday. But looks like people are going and everyone is wearing school colors - maroon and orange. And I asked some students, you know, was that a directive from the administration? And everyone said no, it's just spontaneous. No one is wearing the colors from their sororities or fraternities, they just wanted to look Tech and show that they had the Tech spirit and solidarity on a tough day like this.
So the governor is going to be here. President Bush is going to be here. And that's supposed to last a little more than an hour. And the president of Virginia Tech described it as the first time that the university can really come together and share in some of the sorrow.
CHADWICK: How are people reacting to this news that the president is going to show up for this convocation beginning in, well, pretty soon here?
GREENE: So far I haven't heard complaints. And the president said that he welcomes President Bush. It certainly changed the dynamic of the event. We were talking to one university official who was describing some of the press logistics for the convocation and he said, well, the White House tells us that it's going to be expanded pool coverage, which means that only a few cameras, only a few print photographers and some limitations on who can cover it. But clearly the White House was now controlling the event and who would be part of it. There will surely be metal detectors since the president will be here.
So logistically, it certainly changes things. But people seem interested in the message. And of course, you know, presidents in the past, there have been some memorable presidential moments in times of tragedy - the Challenger disaster and Ronald Reagan, Oklahoma City and Bill Clinton. So it'll be interesting to see what George W. Bush has to say and how he handles it today.
BRAND: David, yesterday sorrow quickly gave way to mounting anger on the part of the students when they found out that the university did not warn them after the first shooting. It took nearly two hours to warn them. Is that anger still there today?
GREENE: There's a real range of opinions. And some people feel like if the university had acted faster, they might have saved lives. But a lot of people, even if they're frustrated with the response, seem to say, look, you know, we never fathomed something like this happening. And so our police officers on this campus did the best they could and we want to leave it at that. So there seems to be some frustration, but people not feeling totally comfortable in criticizing at this point.
CHADWICK: And David, what about news about the shooter? Have you heard from anyone who knew him? Have they established anything more about whether Seung-hui Cho lived there on campus? And what about him?
GREENE: Well, as we understand it, he was a permanent resident alien who had residence in the United States in Centreville, Virginia. But he did actually live on campus, in a dorm. It was not the dorm where the early shooting took place. But we don't know much more, and certainly hopefully some more details will come out later. But we know that they believe he was the gunman in the second shooting, the more deadly one, and they're assuming but not willing to say with certainty that he was the shooter in the earlier gunfire at the dormitory.
CHADWICK: NPR's David Greene from the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where a convocation over yesterday's shootings is about to begin. David, thank you.
GREENE: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.