Monday, April 16, 2007

The 2nd VA Tech Press Conference [Update At Bottom]

[Posted by reader_iam]

I'm planning on following this one also (while making dinner; that'll be interesting, though, if there's not much new, less so). Meanwhile, here are my previous posts on this topic today, in order of posting them: Campus Carnage [Updating...] The VA Tech Press Conference and About The VA Tech Shooter's Ethnicity.

While waiting, I want to note one semi-amusing thing: Greta Van Susteren's cautioning of a colleague-anchor that it's important not to jump to conclusions about whether "there is one or two shooters in the case, while underneath her face was a "news summary" [not the exact words:] that a gunman had shot two people, and then gone to another location and shot more. (Apparently, Van Susteren has gone on scene, or something.)

Anyway, back soon.

Here we go. Let's see if there's anything new.



7:15 p.m. Tech police get 911 call. They respond in minutes and find a male and a female fictim in a room. Other students told to stay in their rooms, the building was secured, and people were interviewed.

7:30 a.m.. Police following up information on potential relationship of shooters.

8:? a.m. A meeting was held with officials to see what response should be, including notification of campus

9 a.m. Team is briefed.

9:26 VA Tech community were notified (36,000 e-mails) and asked to support suspicious information, press release posted, automated calls sent out, some sort of satellite photo capability was deployed.

9:45 911 call regarding Norris Hall shootings. Officials were in meeting related to the earlier shooting.

Officers went to Norris and found doors barricaded. Once they got in, they found the gunman dead on (I think they said) the second floor. There was no engagment with them.

9:55 VA Tech notified campus via same means and others were also informed.

There's another question about why no immediate lockdown following first incident because "a murder is a murder." Chief describes the acreage of the campus (I think he said something like 2600 acres), says there's more than 100 buildings, and that there are about 25,000 people connected with the campus, including many who would have been on their way to the campus at the time.


Two weapons recovered; no confirmation of type.


The preliminary investigation of the first shooting indicated an isolated incident, and a person of interest was identified. This took time. This person has been found.


Ballistics evidence is being compared from the two shooting scenes.


Still no one in custody.

Police chief says he is not saying there's someone out there, and he's not saying there's not.


Evidence of domestic dispute stemmed from witness interviews at the dormitory conducted by the first officers on the scene.


Chief is still refusing to give physical description(s).

[Somewhere in here or just before, the chief says that to his knowledge, no one has talked to the person of interest.] NOTE THIS, ADDED LATER: I misheard this, I think: See the bolded "Wait," below.

Chief just said that the descriptions given of the shooter(s) at the scenes ARE NOT the same.


Staff members are among the deceased, but the chief doesn't have the exact number.


Shouted: "Is the person out on the loose or not?" Answer: "We don't think so."


Murder/suicide has been ruled out as a possibility in the first shooting.


Not precise quote: "Did you consider just telling everyone to to get off campus, there's been a murder?" Chief again explains the logistics of the number of the people on the campus--tens of thousands, including all types of students, staff, part-time staff, and visitors.


Why is the person of interest, "of interest"? Because he knew one of the victims at the dorm. He is not a student.


Cable channels keep switching away. I'm getting read to switch to a third one.


Someone asks about a student arrested when he was taking pictures of crime scene. He has been released.

Most of the questions now are nuts and bolts, or variations on a theme, hoping that more information can be pried from the officials (or maybe that something will be let slip). That's how this sort of thing goes; part of the job.


Wait, I think I missed something earlier: The person of interest HAS been interviewed; and I believe the chief just said that person was being interviewed at the time of the second shooting. Did I hear that aright?


Since incident last August (the campus was closed due to a bomb scare or threat, I believe), the university has been looking into ways to transmit information/warnings via text messaging or cell-phone message, in addition to other means. There's some talk about cell-phone saturation/capacity (tower capability?).


Notifications etc. of families is ongoing. There are some religious issues with regard to how some of the fatal victims are being handled.

All of the victims have NOT been identified at this point. This work is ongoing.


The chief confirms that guns are not allowed on campus, as expected.


How has the chief been affected personally? He's spent his entire career at VA Tech; he cares deeply about the students and community. "... I cannot express in words my [regret] .... " (I think he used a slightly different and stronger word than "regret," but I got distracted for a moment.)


Still looking into connection with bomb threats ... .


Now CNN finally breaks away, to air a citizen (I believe) videotape so that we can hear the sound of repeated shooting on the campus this morning, and some yells and cries .... .

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, this is one of the more confusing "official" press conferences (related to a crime) I've witnessed, on TV or in person. Normally, I don't find them particularly hard to follow, but there are some marked areas in which this hasn't been so, today.

***Not part of the conference***

A student who was in Norris Hall at the time of the shooting--in fact, was in her German class and pretended she was dead--just went on camera and described the shooter. Tall, I think she said, young and Asian-looking--which I'll now say (see my previous post, linked above), because of this coverage, but we still need to know much more. What does that mean, exactly? And, of course--do I really need to say this--it doesn't make the shooter "a foreigner," all on its own.

Updated later, with some musings: I assume everyone who wants to is watching coverage by now, and I have to do other things. That said, just a few thoughts:

1) The initial shooting took place just a little over 14 hours ago. Fourteen hours. It may seem like an eternity, and an infinite of pain has resulted, but we're talking just over half of a day. Keep collecting information, and observations, and all of that: but also keep some perspective, about what we know, and what we don't know. How investigations really work, and what reasonable expectations are. How reporting (of the hard-news type, not to be confused with punditry and its cousins) works, and what reasonable expectations are. How running a campus works, and what reasonable expectations are.

2) Just a thought, but can I just note (as I've yet to see a cable news anchor note--which doesn't mean it hasn't been noted, just that I haven't seen it) that it's possible for both of the following to be true: No one is in custody AND no one's on the loose, and there's a possible explanation for that OTHER than death of the person in question.

3) Spare yourself and don't check in at Headline Prime at the other CNN (headline news), out of curiosity, a sense of wanting to compare coverage, or anything else. Consider it my gift to you.

4) I experienced a moment of amusement when I caught the start of Larry King's show (on real CNN), in which he said that today's tragic story meant that a one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey was being bumped. On the one hand, I do think that there are a significant number of people out there who, seeking relief, or out of sarcasm, or for whatever reason, let out an "awwwwww." On the other hand, I suppose this says something positive about CNN's priorities.

Then again, having watched the usuals all day on all of the channels, Oprah Winfrey might very well have been a breath of new air.

5) Amazing, some of the stuff that's already being brought up in connection with today's killings. Apart from the usual (guns [pro-con], video games, and etc.), I've heard links in conversations to Imus, to the shooting of the Amish girls in Callimachus' neck of the woods, and ... well, you get my drift.

Which brings me back to:

6) A reiteration from an early numbered point: It's been only a little more than 14 hours since the first shooting.

Note, later: I'm not sure how long this post, and possibly another, was down. While I do take down posts from time to time [in fact, I did just that within the past few days], it was absolutely not my intention to take down this one, or any other in the series, fwiw. Lots of updating today, to update and to crosslink, so I guess maybe it's understandable. Well, no, not really. It's just irritating.

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