At 7:15am on April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, wielding two pistols, opened fire at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory on the campus of Virginia Tech, then stormed Norris Hall, chaining the doors behind him to keep anyone from escaping. Two people died in a dorm room – students Emily J. Hilscher and Ryan Clark – and 31 others were killed in Norris Hall, including the gunman Cho, who put a bullet in his head. At least 26 more were hurt.
After the killings at West Ambler Johnston, Cho returned to his room to re-arm. He mailed a package to NBC News that contained pictures, digital video files and documents. At 9:45 a.m., Cho went to Norris Hall to continue his rampage, killing 30 people within 10 minutes, before committing suicide. The police later identified Cho by matching the fingerprints on the guns he used with immigration records.
The weapons used in the attack were a Walther P22 semi-automatic pistol and a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol. Cho also used hollow-point bullets. (NBC news got a photo of them with a message that said “All the shit you’ve given me, right back at you with hollow points.”)
Cho was a resident alien of the United States, a South Korean national and a Virginia Tech senior with a history of mental health problems. Cops would find a note where Cho railed against “rich kids”, “debauchery” and “deceitful charlatans”. In a video, he makes references to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, from the Columbine High School massacre.
The incident reignited the gun politics debate in the United States, with proponents of gun control legislation arguing that guns are too accessible, citing that Cho, a mentally unsound individual, was able to purchase two semi-automatic pistols despite state laws which should have prevented such purchase. Opponents of gun control argued that Virginia Tech’s gun-free “safe zone” policy ensured that none of the other students or faculty would be armed and that as a result they were unable to stop Cho.
Because of gaps between federal and Virginia state laws, the state did not report Cho’s mental health history to the NICS, which would have prevented him from purchasing guns. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine issued an executive order intended to close those reporting gaps.
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