Uh oh, Stevi wrote something related to a current event. And it’s longer than a sentence. The good new is that it’s not my opinion (breathe a sigh of relief). It’s mostly some facts that have gotten obscured and confused in the media. I know I should have kept track of my sources & listed them. But most of them can be found either in the source section of Wikipedia’s article about the event, or by Googling the names of the people involved.
The question that so many people are asking is “Why wasn’t the Virginia Tech campus locked down after the first shooting incident in the dorm?”
The answer, though not entirely satisfying, makes sense in regards to what police and campus officials knew at the time.
From articles I’ve read, I gather that Emily Hilscher and her roommate, Heather Haugh, usually spend the weekends off campus with their boyfriends, and meet on Monday morning in their dorm room before heading to class together at 9:00am. Emily’s boyfriend, Karl Thornhill, usually drops her off outside the dorm between 7:00 and 7:30am, and Heather arrives around 8:00am.
On Monday, when Heather arrived at West Ambler Johnston Hall, there were police cars and she was stopped by police before she even entered the building. They told her that there had been an incident on the fourth floor.
“I noticed all these police cars outside. They told me something happened on the fourth floor. I asked if I could call my roommate, and they said no, that they would have a detective come talk to me.”
The police asked about Emily’s relationships, and Heather told them about Karl Thornhill. They asked her if he owned any guns. She told them that he did, and that he’d taken her and Emily to a shooting range recently. But she also told them that the couple was happy and had no problems.
The police let her go without giving her a straight answer about her roommate’s status.
At this point, the police believed that the shooting of Emily Hilscher and Ryan Clark was the result of a domestic dispute of some sort, and they set off to find Karl Thornhill, their “person of interest” who they believed had left campus.
No one knows why Cho Seung-hui started his rampage on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston. Heather Haugh wonders if for some reason he followed Emily as she returned to her room after Karl dropped her off.
Ryan Clark, a hall advisor, lived only a few doors down from Heather and Emily. Whether he confronted Cho, knowing he wasn’t a resident, or whether he showed up to help in response to hearing the gunshot, isn’t known. Maybe he was simply walking down the hall, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Unfortunately, due to the confusion over the police calling the first shooting a possible “domestic dispute,” some tabloids have reported that Cho Seung-hui and Emily Hilscher were romantically involved, and that Emily was cheating on Cho with Ryan Clark, sparking Cho’s anger. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support this idea, or even to suggest that Emily and Seung-hui had ever met prior to the shooting. Heather Haugh didn’t know Cho either, “I’ve never seen him,” she said. “I don’t know his name. Emily didn’t know him, as far as I know.”
But now we understand why Cho Seung-hui was able to avoid detection after the first shooting. The police were focused on another suspect, off campus, allowing Cho to roam freely and follow through on his violent plans.
Ironically, the police were in the middle of interviewing Karl Thornhill when they received the first reports of gunfire in Norris Hall.