Posted by Curt on 18 April, 2007 at 9:25 am. 1 comment.


Now we understand why the cops we’re not able to identify the shooter in the first incident prior to the second.  It appears that based on the statements from witnesses at the first shooting the best information they had was that it was a lovers quarrel:

According to search warrants and statements from the police, campus investigators had been busy pursuing what appears to have been a fruitless lead in the first of two shooting episodes Monday.

After two people, Emily Jane Hilscher, a freshman, and Ryan Clark, the resident adviser whose room was nearby in the dormitory, were shot dead, the campus police began searching for Karl D. Thornhill, who was described in Internet memorials as Ms. Hilscher’s boyfriend.

According to a search warrant filed by the police, Ms. Hilscher’s roommate had told the police that Mr. Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his town house. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Mr. Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman.

But as they were questioning Mr. Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in, making it clear that they had not contained the threat on campus. Mr. Thornhill was not arrested, although he continues to be an important witness in the case, the police said.

While this lead turned out to be wrong it was all they had to go on at the time.  Speaking from experience these murders almost always turn out to have a connection to a romantic relationship, unless of course we’re talking about a gang retailation murder which is mostly what I deal with.  But I highly doubt that would have been suspected on the Virginia Tech campus. 

So the cops get some witness statements that seem to pin the blame on a boyfriend, and they pursue that angle, which they most certainly should have.  If they believed it was jilted boyfriend should they then have locked down the whole 2600 acre facility?

Of course not.  They would have been wrung through the ringer if they did that over a jealous boyfriend killing his girlfriend.

It also appears the killer was well known in certain circles as being a complete nut:

The police said that in November, 2005, Mr. Cho contacted a fellow female student who notified the campus police. She declined to press charges. In December, a second female student also complained to the police. While no threats were made, he was asked to have no further contact with her after the “annoying” messages.

“That’s the way the victim characterized it,” a police spokesman said.

The police later were concerned that Mr. Cho might be suicidal. Officers met with him and suggested that he speak to a counselor. Mr. Cho was later seen at a local mental health facility, then transported to another facility.

Neither of the female students who complained about Mr. Cho were among the victims, and the police were not aware if they were in the vicinity.

Also in 2005, Lucinda Roy, an English professor, shared her concerns with the authorities, but no official report was filed. The writings did not express threatening intentions.

[…]Ms. Roy said Mr. Cho’s writing, laced with anger, profanity and violence, concerned several faculty members. In 2005, she sent examples to the campus police, the campus counseling service and other officials. All were worried, but little could be done, she said.

Ms. Roy said she would offer to go with Mr. Cho to counseling, just to talk. “But he wouldn’t say yes, and unfortunately I couldn’t force him to do it,” she said. Students were also alarmed that Mr. Cho was taking inappropriate pictures of women under desks, she said.

He also appears to have been taken to a mental hospital at the request of his parents for possible suicidal reasons.  At the scene they found prescription bottles with medicine for a unspecified mental illness which seems to point to his mental condition being diagnosed.  This angle will be the one most people will challenge the school on ,I believe, rather then the police response.  If the school knew about his condition but did nothing to get him away from the students then they may indeed have some problems.

To be fair, we know nothing about his diagnosis, whether it was severe or a mild case, but there seems to be many clues that this was a somewhat violent man with some kind of mental condition. 

Not a good person to be allowed to stay on a college campus.

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