Analyzing the VA Tech Shooting
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
The April 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting still weighs heavy on the minds of hundreds of people across the US. While it was over ten years ago, this was one of the earth-shattering incidents that made people wake up and realize that active shooter events are a real problem. Before Virginia Tech, the idea of an active shooter seemed far-fetched and almost movie-like in its nearness to our minds. However, after Virginia Tech, people began to realize that this is a problem, and we began to look for ways to combat it. This blog is a sort of tribute to the fallen at Virginia Tech as well as an analysis of the shooting for educational purposes. As much as people hate to dwell on negative events, sometimes it is necessary to learn from them and grow stronger.
In order to properly analyze the shooting, we need a timeline of the events leading up to it. .
December 13, 2005- The future shooter is ordered by a judge to seek outpatient care after making suicidal remarks to his roommates. He was evaluated at a mental health facility.
February 9, 2007- Future shooter acquires his first gun- a 22-caliber pistol
March 2007- Future shooter acquires a second gun- a 9mm pistol
April 16, 2007(day of shooting)-
7:15 am- Shooter kills two victims in the dorm
9:01 am- Shooter mails package to NBC News in New York
9:26 am- Virginia Tech issues a notice of the dorm shootings earlier that day. Did not mention that shooter was still at large. Police assumed it was a domestic violence case.
9:45 am- Police receive 911 calls that there is shooting in classrooms of Norris Hall
9:50 am- School sends out a “Please stay put” email notifying students about the active shooter loose on campus
9:55 am- School sends out a third message about the shooter
10:16 am- classes are canceled
10:53 am- School emails that police have found the gunman
12:42 pm- VA Tech President issues statement about the incident
Total minutes of event: 11
Number of Wounded: 17
Number of Killed: 31
That comes to one person killed every 15-20 seconds.
Two days later, NBC received the package the gunman sent on April 16. The video inside featured the shooter ranting about “wealthy brats” who are entitled and treated him poorly.
What can we learn from the timeline events?
1. Long before the Shooter became a shooter, he was known to have mental health issues.
2. Shootings are NOT “he just snapped” events. This shooter was planning the attack for at least two months (based on when the first gun was acquired). Odds are, he had been planning for much longer.
3. Communication is vital. The vague emails and text messages the administration sent to students did not truly inform them of what was going on.
4. Seconds are lives, literally. Every 15-20 seconds, someone was shot. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if people had the “seconds are lives” mentality.
Image Credit to "Virginia Tech Crisis Christina Wisz Wendy Alinor Cristina Contreras" PPT Published by Darrell Hensley
On that note, let us look at each classroom on the second floor of Norris Hall.
The area we will be examining involves four classrooms on either side of a hallway.
1 killed in the hallway
Room 210- No Class
Room 206- Stayed Down When Ordered- 14 People, 10 Killed, 2 Wounded
Room 211- Stayed Down When Ordered/ Attempted to barricade with a desk- 19 People, 12 killed, 6 Wounded
Room 204-Jumped out the window/barricaded the door- 19 People, 10 Jumped, 2 Killed, 3 Wounded- one of these deaths was the professor, Dr. Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust
survivor who gave his life to barricade the door with his body to allow his students time
Room 207- 13 People, 5 Killed, 6 Wounded- after this they barricaded the door and suffered no more deaths.
Room 200- No Class
Room 205- 12 People, 0 Killed, 0 Wounded
As difficult as this is to discuss, what can we learn from the VA Tech shooting from the various rooms?
1. The rooms where the most people died are the rooms where people stayed down and did exactly as the shooter instructed.
2. The room where there was no loss of life simply barricaded the door effectively.
3. The rooms with less loss of life are the ones that thought outside the box. They jumped out the window or barricaded the door.
We cannot prevent active shooter situations completely, but we can prepare for them. Active shooters are after soft and easy targets. Their goal is to kill as many as possible in the five to ten minutes they have before law enforcement arrives. Anything you can do to prepare makes you a harder target and thus less attractive to an active shooter.