Virginia shootings stir anger, resignation among Columbine survivors
DENVER (AP) Usually when a reporter would call Tom Mauser about the latest school violence story, he could expect to hear a lecture about the need for gun control.Mausers son, Daniel, 15, was slain during the Columbine High bloodbath near Littleton on April 20, 1999, when two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives. Mauser became a national advocate of gun control.Resignation filled his voice Monday after hearing of the students shot and killed at Virginia Tech, but he offered some advice to victims and their families: Get counseling. Realize their child did nothing wrong. Realize that people grieve differently. That is one of the things that they are going to experience. It will put stress on people. In the long run, as tough as it will be, they need to try and do something positive.Mauser conceded he has become inured to a certain extent.I guess there is a little resignation there. I am not going to just say gun laws are going to take care of this, he said.I think my primary thought is about anger. Anger and suicide. Why do we have so many people who think they have to take others with them when they take their own? said Mauser.Other Columbine victims and experts on school violence expressed similar thoughts.Brooks Brown, a former Columbine student who repeatedly tried to warn authorities about teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, said he wasnt surprised about the Virginia slayings. Once youve reach the point where you have lost everything it is not hard to be pushed in any direction. Its not 10 steps removed.Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Danny, 15, also died at Columbine, blames it on a society that tolerates, even glorifies violence.We teach students that anything you want to do is up to you and you can decide whether anything is right or wrong, said Rohrbough.Rohrbough said the failure to fully investigate what happened at Columbine has left a gap in the nations knowledge of what prompted Harris and Klebold to act.It is known that they played violent games, made violent videos at school, threatened Brown and others on their Web site and were the victims of bullying because they befriended the Trench Coach Mafia, a group of students who clashed with the athletes who had tremendous influence at the school. It has never been exactly determined, partly because documents turned up missing, why the sheriffs office dropped an investigation of the teens a year before the shootings.Rohrbough and others have fought to make depositions given by the teens parents, Wayne and Kathy Harris and Tom and Susan Klebold, public because they provide information on what was going on in the homes of the two families. But a federal judge two weeks ago ordered the depositions sealed for 20 years.That is why we were fighting so hard to get that information because we need to know what was going on inside the heads of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, said Delbert Elliott, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado.Tom McIntyre, coordinator of the Graduate Program in Behavior Disorders at Hunter College, began studying school violence after Columbine. He said killing others before committing suicide is not a new phenomenon to health professionals, though the Virginia Tech numbers are shocking.Freud said homicide is just suicide turned inside out, said McIntyre. The main motive is revenge.The more it happens, the more it will happen again, because humans imitate humans, McIntyre said.Elliott said that in the past, when someone killed someone before committing suicide, it usually was a specific target like a husband finding his wife with a lover.The Columbine violence was not targeted violence, he said, adding of the Virginia Tech tragedy: The whole idea of it just being random is what is so frustrating about it.I dont know how many times we have to go through things like this before we can try to learn what is going on. I think there is an element of wanting to go out and creating a huge media effect, although that is only a part of what is going on, said Elliott.
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) A gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom across campus Monday, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.Students complained that there were no public-address announcements or other warnings on campus after the first burst of gunfire. They said the first word they received from the university was an e-mail more than two hours into the rampage around the time the gunman struck again.
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.”We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur,” he said.He defending the university’s handling of the tragedy, saying: “We can only make decisions based on the information you had on the time. You don’t have hours to reflect on it.”Steger said the university decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means of notifying members of the university, but with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out to everyone.Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum would not say how many weapons the gunman carried. But a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was incomplete, said the gunman had two pistols and multiple clips of ammunition.The shootings spread panic and confusion on campus, with witnesses reporting students jumping out the windows of a classroom building to escape the gunfire. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. Students and faculty members carried out some of the wounded themselves, without waiting for ambulances to arrive.The massacre took place at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory that houses 895 people, and continuing at least two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building about a half-mile away, authorities said.
The shootings spread panic and confusion on campus, with witnesses reporting students jumping out the windows of a classroom building to escape the gunfire. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. Students and faculty members carried out some of the wounded themselves, without waiting for ambulances to arrive.The massacre took place at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory that houses 895 people, and continuing at least two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building about a half-mile away, authorities said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User