A 'Frightening Reminder' at Virginia Tech - NBC4 Washington

A 'Frightening Reminder' at Virginia Tech



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    The day before the first anniversary of the worst school shooting in U.S. history, student Kelly Baccus grieved at a memorial of 32 granite blocks representing each of the people killed by Cho Seung-Hui at Virginia Tech on April 15, 2008.

    When the Virginia Tech campus went into lockdown after the report of a possible gunman, reactions began pouring in -- many people remained calm throughout. And as minutes turned into hours, the campus stayed quiet. Officials lifted the lockdown shortly before 3 p.m.

    "We're in a new era," Larry Hincker, a Virginia Tech spokesman, said earlier in the day. "Obviously this campus experienced something pretty terrible four years ago... Regardless of what your intuition and your experience as a public safety officer tells you, you are really forced to issue an alert, and that's where we believe we are right now."

    On Twitter, @jdavidgoodman brought up what he called an "important point" in The New York Times' The Lede: "The university was fined by the Department of Education earlier this year for waiting too long to notify students after the April 16, 2007 campus shooting."

    One Virginia Tech parent, Terri Connell, emailed us to report that she felt the system was efficient today.

    "I just got a call from my daughter who is taking summer classes," Connell wrote. "She said that the alert system was working well. They got e-mails and text messages. They were kept in their classrooms. Everyone is calm and following the directions given by the campus security."

    In late morning, Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell released a statement that read in part:

    Of course, this report is a frightening reminder of the events that took place four years ago on the Tech campus. Virginia Tech has correctly taken all precautions to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and the Blacksburg community while law enforcement, Virginia Tech officials and the administration work diligently to ensure that this incident is investigated thoroughly.

    During the lockdown, Kate Gregorash wrote on NBC Washington's Facebook page, "I'd rather they jump to conclusions than not. Better safe than sorry."

    Teresa Guyett posted on our story and brought up a point about Virginia's gun laws."Is it just a person carrying a gun on them or do they look like they are up to no good?" she asked.

    The open carrying of weapons is legal in the Commonwealth -- although under current Virginia law, a public university generally cannot prohibit open or concealed carry of a firearm on campus grounds -- but they may prohibit open carry in campus buildings and at campus events.

    "People carry guns on their persons every day," Guyett wrote. "For the sake of everyone I hope that is it. No more craziness. Be safe, all."

    Not everyone was feeling so calm, though. "There were no mass shootings in the wild west when everyone had a six shooter!" Langston Malin wrote on our Facebook page.

    "Not the time nor the place, Langston," RaeAnn Roca replied.