As the two-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy approaches, newly released e-mails between faculty members shed some light on Seung Hui Cho long before he committed the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.
The e-mails, which were released to family members of the victims this week, express serious concern for Cho as a disturbed student who intimidated his classmates and professors.
Virginia Tech's student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, posted those e-mails Friday night. Some of the revelations eerily foreshadow the horror that would occur on April 16, 2007.
In the e-mails, which date back to October 2005, faculty members communicate their concern over Cho's behavior. One educator writes about a poem read aloud in an English class:
"In the poem he castigates all of the class, accusing them of genocide and cannibalism . . . he says he is disgusted with them, and tells them they will 'burn in Hell'."
In that same e-mail from October 18, 2005, the educator continues, "[Cho] has been taking photos of the class without permission . . . the students in Nikki's class have asked for assistance because they are intimidated by him. [The teacher] has requested security."
In addition to the e-mails, 13,000 pages of documents gathered by Virginia Tech administrators were released to family members of the victims. School officials say the release of the archives was meant to show transparency and provide full disclosure to the victims' families.
Included in those documents is a description given by a faculty member of a meeting with Cho on October 19, 2005:
"When I'm introduced and shake his hand, his hand is very sweaty and remains straight, does not clasp my hand . . . he hardly moves at all, his face or his body, either when listening or speaking . . . He wears a baseball cap pulled very low and reflective glasses."
School officials were going to publicly release the archive documents February 1, after family members of the victims had time to review the documents. The editor of the Collegiate Times has not said how the paper acquired the e-mails.