April 16, 2007

"The deadliest shooting rampage in American history."

The NYT reports:
At least 31 people were killed today on the campus of Virginia Tech in what appears to be the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, according to federal law-enforcement officials. Many of the victims were students shot in a dorm and a classroom building....

Up until today, the deadliest campus shooting in United States history was in 1966 at the University of Texas, where Charles Whitman climbed to the 28th-floor observation deck of a clock tower and opened fire, killing 16 people before he was gunned down by police. In the Columbine High attack in 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves.

117 comments:

ada47 said...

NPR says police are leaving open the possibility that the shootings are separate incidents?
Jeez

Roger said...

Condolences to the VPI family writ large. A terrible tragedy.

David53 said...

Incomprehensible.

MadisonMan said...

Words cannot adequately express how dreadful this is. I wish strength for the VT family in adjusting.

We recently had a disaster preparedness lecture here at work, covering topics like nuclear leaks, chemical spills, suicidal terrorist attacks. Roaming gunmen weren't addressed for some reason, but apparently they should have been.

Daryl said...

I'm sure by now you've imagined what would happen if a gunman stepped into your class during a lecture.

You would be defenseless and your students would be defenseless. The only limitation on the number of people he could kill would be his state of mind.

Roger said...

MM (and Ann and other academics): Have you in the professoriate ever received any kind of training on dealing with these situations? MM cites his experience with other forms of emergency preparedness but not this kind of lone gunman incident.

Pete the Streak said...

A tragedy that takes my breath away, especially with me having 2 daughters in college. My worst nightmare visited upon those poor kids and their families.

I read this, and immediately wondered: might the final result have been a little different?

www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/wb/xp-50658

Kevin Lomax said...

Having lost a family member to a similar shooting spree, I can only tell you that words can not express what it is like to learn about a death from the television news coverage.

MadisonMan said...

We've received little training for this. I would know to close and lock the door (which I can do in the classroom in which I teach this semester, but not in a room I've taught previously -- the door was permanently unlocked, a little alarming in the light of today's news), and turn out the lights and have the students move to the side of the room that is not visible from the door window. I have no clue how the presence of a gunman would be communicated to me, however, other than by the sound of gunfire -- and I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, so I know what gunfire sounds like. But I have no cell phone so on one can alert me that way. I think there's a building-wide intercom, but I've never heard it used.

Of course, if the gunman is your student, there's not much to do. I'm hopeful that I'm not that antagonistic and heartless in class that a student would be driven to such extreme measures. But if they're gripped by mental disease (something I'm not trained to identify), what can you really do?

paul a'barge said...

But if they're gripped by mental disease (something I'm not trained to identify), what can you really do?

Each morning, put in your pocket a small, very powerful hand gun, such as the Colt Defender 90. And when trouble comes, shoot a lot.

Daryl said...

I would know to close and lock the door (which I can do in the classroom in which I teach this semester, but not in a room I've taught previously -- the door was permanently unlocked, a little alarming in the light of today's news)

Where I'm at, the doors don't lock and we can't block them with desks like some of the VT students apparently did.

Of course, if the gunman is your student, there's not much to do.

Or if he starts his rampage inside your classroom.

Or, apparently, if he starts his rampage hours earlier in the dorms, and then shows up at your classroom.

Revenant said...

Each morning, put in your pocket a small, very powerful hand gun, such as the Colt Defender 90.

You don't necessarily need to carry it on your person, but having one handy (say, in a briefcase) should be fine. Of course, that's illegal on most campuses, so you'd be out of luck there.

Joan said...

I thought of Glenn Reynolds "pack not herd" distinction when I first heard this story. It is impossible to know what happened at this early date, but it seems that no one tried to take the gunman down. Most classrooms are full of things that can easily be thrown by people of reasonable fitness: books, chairs, even desks. I have to wonder what would the outcome have been if several people had attacked the gunman by bombarding him with whatever was available. Could it possibly have been worse than what actually happened? I don't think so.

I hope this incident wakes people up a bit, that we need to respond to all kinds of threats actively, and not just try to survive by not being noticed. As this situation shows, along with others of recent memory (esp. Beslan), students and staff are targets that need hardening.

I participated in a lock-down drill as a substitute teacher at my kids' elementary a few months ago. I kept thinking about what I would do if there was an actual crisis situation, trying to run possible scenarios. Throughout I was acutely aware of how unprepared I was for a real emergency.

MadisonMan said...

Joan, the available missiles in my classrooms are limited, although backpacks would work. Tables are bolted down, and I've been in plenty of classrooms that had chair/desk units bolted to the floor as well. Many many classrooms are devoid of things that you can pick up and take away. So there's a limit to thing to be thrown.

I think when confronted with an insane screaming person with a gun in my classroom, my first temptation would be to reason with him. Of course, you can't at that point. You need to be trained to attack, and I've not had that kind of training. My subconscious might be saying Attack! You have no other chance! But would my conscious mind listen? I don't know.

reader_iam said...

If anyone's interested, I've been following this off and on all day, and I put up a second post a little bit ago with notes from the press conference, which I watched with my laptop at hand.

Here.

johnstodder said...

My heart bleeds for the parents of the victims who were students. All deaths like this are tragic, but there is something that really gets to me losing your child after you've sent him or her off to college. They made it through all the perils of childhood, and succeeded well enough to go to this fine school, only to have their lives snuffed out in seconds by a mental case/guy with a petty grudge. The pain.

Kirby Olson said...

I think about this all the time. Most people going to college are doing something positive and are looking forward to a good outcome, so that this kind of thing is probably less likely to happen on a campus than in a dead-end job like a post office.

But with 6000 campuses it seems likely that it will happen. Probability. And some people are really really angry.

My guess however is that this wasn't a college student. It's someone from outside.

Wasn't that the case in Texas, too?

It's an awful mess. You can only count on the good nature of those going to college to try to learn together. That's why I think it must have been someone from outside the campus, rather than a student.

Ernie Fazio said...

When tragedies such as this touch our country, I and many others ask whether the second amendment was adopted to enable such terrible events to occur? If we could turn back the clock, would we learn that the framers would be shocked to hear of the license given Colt, Winchester, Remington, Glock, et al to shape national policy? In the next few hours we will learn more of the type of automatic weapon, the relative instability of the shooter, and the loose and simple means for him to acquire it. I know that I am a minority voice on this blog, but am I the only anti-gun person who visits l'Althouse? I hope not.

Susan said...

David53 says this was incomprehensible. But it's not anymore is it?

In 1966 I was in college when Richard Speck murdered 8 nursing students in Chicago and the next month Charles Whitman killed those 16 people at the University of Texas. Up until then these things really were incomprehensible. Oh sure, there were things like the St Valentine's Day Massacre, but that was gangsters killing other gangsters. Nobody thought of killing innocent students. Really. Not a thought. Those two things changed everything. Since then it's been one massacre after another. No longer incomprehensible.

And it's weird that you should mention the "pack not herd", Joan, because for 40 years I've been haunted by the thought that those nurses together could have overwhelmed Speck. He didn't even have a gun as I remember. But I'm sure part of why they didn't act was because what was about to happen to them was, to them, incomprehensible.

Raymondv said...

Based on the number of dead/wounded, the shooter had to be somewhat methodical. It takes time to kill that many people and I wonder if he was taking the time to finish off those he just wounded.

This isn't a nice thing to say, but I smell cowardice on the part of the students. I'm a combat vet and was a cop for a while.

Am I blaming the dead? Kinda. I sense that nobody bothered trying to intervene, that they died like sheep, that others watched them die and did nothing. It was one guy.

I can see our european sisters dying meekly, like sheep. Just kinda wondering how this thing played out, I could be wrong of course...

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"Of course, ... [carrying firearms is] illegal on most campuses, so you'd be out of luck there."

Including the campus on which these shootings took place.

David53 said...

This isn't a nice thing to say, but I smell cowardice on the part of the students. I'm a combat vet and was a cop for a while.

I would like to think if I were in a similar situation I would give my life trying to protect others and/or subdue the murderer. But you don't really know until it happens to you.

If just one student or teacher had had a gun I wonder what the outcome would have been?

MadisonMan said...

From a phone call in the near future.

Hello, Mrs. Smith? My name is Raymondv, and I'm an combat veteran and an ex-cop. I'm very sorry to hear that your daughter was shot and killed at Virginia Tech, but really, it sounds like she was pretty cowardly during the whole thing anyway. I just thought you should know that. Have a nice day.

It sounds ghastly no matter how you write it.

save_the_rustbelt said...

The first rule of survival is there are no rules except to survive.

Many years ago when I taught night classes at an urban university I slipped a Jennings .22 in my briefcase. I could stand being fired, but not being dead.

save_the_rustbelt said...

raymondv:

I'm not certain many 20 years old civilians would do much better.

Me, I'm gonna throw my pen, a chair, my briefcase, charge and probably die trying, but I'm a lot older and know the consequences.

As a parent, I'm not certain I could live through that awful phone call. My children are supposed to bury me.

Simon said...

Raymondv said...
"Based on the number of dead/wounded, the shooter had to be somewhat methodical. It takes time to kill that many people and I wonder if he was taking the time to finish off those he just wounded. This isn't a nice thing to say, but I smell cowardice on the part of the students. I'm a combat vet and was a cop for a while. Am I blaming the dead? Kinda. I sense that nobody bothered trying to intervene, that they died like sheep, that others watched them die and did nothing."

That isn't fair. I join David53's 5:35 PM comment above: You know what helps when trying to take down someone with a gun? Having a gun. Which, per my previous comment, none of the students did - at least in part as a consequence of University regulations. As usual, gun control regulations had the effect of disarming those who might need to defend themselves and doing nothing at all to prevent someone with ill intentions from using one. If anyone's to blame aside from the guy who pulled the trigger, it was the folks who disarmed the students and the lecturer.

Eli Blake said...

Paul a'barge

Each morning, put in your pocket a small, very powerful hand gun, such as the Colt Defender 90. And when trouble comes, shoot a lot.

I say the following as a full defender of second amendment rights, and also as a believer that there is some value in having CCW laws and an armed citizenry:

I hope you don't work or study on my campus.

The first and foremost thing about being armed is knowing when and how not to use it. If trouble comes, then be prepared to defend yourself and those around you, but if you just randomly go peeling off shots (I guess to deter the shooter from coming in your area) then some consequences are likely to include any of a) you shoot innocent people, b) you get indicted for murder later, c) the police assume you are the original shooter or working with the original shooter and shoot you, d) you confuse the police and allow the original shooter to shoot more people, and/or e) you run out of ammunition and then do get shot.

daryl:

I'm sure by now you've imagined what would happen if a gunman stepped into your class during a lecture.

Actually that happened at a psych class that one of my profs once taught. Except he set it up as a 'reality based test' in which a student he had paid was supposed to step in, scream something at the prof about how he had screwed him over, fire a cap gun and take off. The prof was then going to ask the class how much they remembered about the guy. Only it backfired-- there were three football players sitting near the door and they tackled the guy before he could escape and roughed him up pretty good.

Simon said...

Eli Blake said...
"The first and foremost thing about being armed is knowing when and how not to use it."

With all due respect, Eli, when someone has opened fire and is shooting your classmates, it doesn't seem to require much subtlety of thought to place that situation into the category of "right time, right place" does it not?

save_the_rustbelt said...

Apparently after the dormitory shooting the campus police ASSUMED the gunman had left campus.

ASSUMED?!?!?!

ASSUMED??????

25000 people in a small area and they assumed the gunman was gone.

The second shootings could have and should have been prevented.

ASSUMED!!!!!

Raymondv said...

I've seen men and women in stress situations and I'm making a rather distasteful point here.

For this many to die, there had to be a lot of cowardice. Its not about training, its about the will to live.

If this be the case, that many of these students died meekly, that many more died because nobody would act, then it needs to be said.

One guy with a gun.

I simply feel it should be noted that this kind of body count requires a special kind of effort on the part of the victims.

MadisonMan said...

Simon, I can see Eli's point with respect to the police -- if all are armed, how are the police to know which armed person is the original instigator?

Steven said...

Ernie,

Even fully-automatic weapons are relatively simple devices, easily made with modern metalworking tools you can buy at Home Depot. If guns are utterly outlawed, with household raids and the like to find caches and manufactories, guns will be as hard to buy as, oh, marijuana today, or alcohol during Prohibition.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Part of reason/blame of the inconceivable becoming reality I lie directly at the feet of the news media. The 24/7 hype and breathless coverage of each and every event like this over the years only serves to encourage some, who are marginally connected to reality in the first place, to copy cat actions.

Every year since Columbine we drag the event out and go over it in excruciating detail. It is excruciating to me, I can't imagine how horrible it is to the people who lived through it and who have dead children. The losers who identify with the killers get new ideas and encouragment. You too can be famous, here's how.

I don't think we should hide or avoid coverage of these types of horrible events, but we should use some perspective. Glamorizing the event (even inadvertently) gives people ideas. Face it, as a society, we are desensitized by the never ending repetitions of violence on the television in the news, in movies and in television shows.

Internet Ronin said...

Why is it so important to you to keep reiterating that this is about cowardice, Raymondv? Fine, its about cowardice - lots of people are cowards Raymondv. For all I know, you could be. But a hearty F*** *** for talking about such things when the dead corpses are still littered about the campus.

You used to be a cop, Raymondv? Well,your bretheren have lots of blood on their hands thanks to their incompetence today, don't they Raymondv?

What an appalling thing to write. What an appalling person you must be in real life. Proof positive of the coarseining effect of the interent.

Simon said...

MadisonMan - I suppose the glib response is that by the time the police arrive, it'll all be over, obviating the need for them to know who to take down.

Eli Blake said...

simon:

I would agree that would be a situation in which being armed would make sense but you seem to have missed the point of my original statement.

I was responding to paul's statement of 'and then shoot a lot.' This seems to imply that shooting a lot will do more good than shooting a little (if you are a good enough marksman and have a good line of sight, then you'd only have to shoot once.) As I said, I support the idea of CCW, but maybe I shouldn't if the response of people is going to be to start spraying bullets around and turn the whole place into a shooting gallery. Even in a situation like what we are talking about, if you have a gun it might come out, but you'd better be darn sure you know what you are shooting at before you just start peeling off shots. Besides, if you have a Colt Defender .90 (as Paul suggested) and the defender has a full automatic, then guess who is more likely to come out ahead if your strategy is just 'shoot a lot?' I'm not saying 'don't shoot' (as you seem to be implying, apparently knowing I'm a liberal about other things and falsely assuming I'd be against it,) I'm pointing out that before you fire a gun you'd better know where the target is, be sure it's the right target, be aware of what (who) is behind the target and then take the time to aim, instead of relying on 'shoot a lot.'

Revenant said...

Simon, I can see Eli's point with respect to the police -- if all are armed, how are the police to know which armed person is the original instigator?

If all are armed, the original instigator will be dead long before the police even hear about the shootings. If there's confusion afterwards, ballistics tests can prove who killed who.

Eli's right that "spray and pray" is not a good way to shoot, although this is one of the rare circumstances where it might still be better than not shooting at all.

Kirk said...

Daryl,

"The only limitation on the number of people he could kill would be his state of mind."

Not really, the mindset of the victim(s) would also have a significant contribution to the outcome. Do you just stand there or lie down and await your fate? Do you fight back like the passengers on United 93? Do you respond like one patron at Luby's Restaurant who saw the truck come through the window, thought "I'm not gonna wait to find out if this is innocuous", picked up his chair, heaved it through the nearest window, and exited the place?

Ernie, I certainly do hope you are alone in that counterproductive viewpoint.

Daniel DiRito said...

A Symptom of our "Chain Letter Society"?

Read an analysis of the influences in our "Chain Letter Society" that may be precipitating events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech and how our focus on winning and being number one may be fostering a generation of children with fully inadequate coping skills who have a misguided sense of self-worth...here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Mom said...

It must be comforting for some people to blame the victims by tossing around words like "cowardice." That way, you can kid yourself that it couldn't happen to you. But kidding yourself is all you are accomplishing. And actually, blaming other people's dead children for their deaths is about as cowardly as blog commentary gets.

We do not know yet what happened. There are stories we may never hear about what these teachers and students -- unarmed, unwarned, unprepared -- did to try to defend themselves and others. Those who could have told us those stories are dead. From those who survived, there are already reports of students dragging furniture to barricade classroom doors while other students tended the wounded. What more would you have done?

It would be really great if everybody -- the gun-control proponents, the gun-control opponents, and most of all, the blamers -- would drop the idea of using this tragedy as a chance to puff themselves up. Believe it or not, this is not about you.

Revenant said...

25000 people in a small area and they assumed the gunman was gone.

First of all, 2600 acres is not "a small area". That's over four square miles.

Secondly, you keep harping on the word "assumed". I haven't seen any police officials quoted using that word. The quotes from campus police officials use terms like "determined" and "had some reason to believe" in relation to the theory that the shooter had left campus and that the original shooting was a domestic dispute.

Thirdly, *you* are apparently assuming -- based on no evidence that I've seen -- that the police were WRONG in thinking the gunman had left campus. Hours passed between the first and second shooting incidents, and I kind of doubt a heavily-armed gunman was just strolling around campus taking in the sights that whole time. He may very well might have left campus and come back later, for all we know.

The second shootings could have and should have been prevented.

You're assuming the gunman would have been caught in the intervening time even if police had known he was on campus. We don'tknow enough at this point to support the accusation.

You're looking for someone to blame for this, which is a natural response. But it is way too early to blame the police. You might as well blame the people who made the school a "gun-free zone", or the students who fled instead of trying to fight back, or any of a host of other people. Me, I'd recommend just blaming the gunman for now.

johnstodder said...

I would agree about backing off the blame game if it weren't for the flabbergasting idiocy of the police in this instance.

I'm ambivalent about guns and gun control, but knowing the police are so feckless pushes millions into the "It's up to me to defend myself" mindset.

P.S. I love it that Raymondv has already done a complete crime scene investigation and thus can confidently educate all of us as to the circumstances of each death, including factors like the meekness or cowardice of the victims.

Geez, guy, even the fictional cops on TV have to walk behind the yellow tape before they figure everything out. You know shit about what happened there.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If we could turn back the clock, would we learn that the framers would be shocked to hear of the license given Colt, Winchester, Remington, Glock, et al to shape national policy?

I do believe these are the same guys who put in the bit about having the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. They might not be all that surprised.

Revenant said...

I would agree about backing off the blame game if it weren't for the flabbergasting idiocy of the police in this instance.

What was idiotic about their behavior?

I love it that Raymondv has already done a complete crime scene investigation and thus can confidently educate all of us as to the circumstances of each death, including factors like the meekness or cowardice of the victims.

I am equally impressed at the speed with which you have conducted a review of all the facts available to police and the decisions made in response to them, such that you were able to conclusively find that they deserve to be called idiots. Fast work! I especially like how you accomplished all of the above before actual professional journalists were able to root out any of the details your analysis must have been based on.

More realistically, of course, you're just using the same sort of reasoning-from-insufficient-data that Raymond is -- students didn't fight ergo they're cowards, police didn't catch the guy ergo they're idiots.

Revenant said...

If we could turn back the clock, would we learn that the framers would be shocked to hear of the license given Colt, Winchester, Remington, Glock, et al to shape national policy?

Given that among them and their peers it was not uncommon to own their own cannon, warships, and military-grade firearms -- with which they had quite recently "shaped national policy" by fighting and winning a revolution? Obviously not.

They would, however, be horrified at the modern liberal notion that the ideal State consists of an armed government and an unarmed citizenry.

Downtown said...

Yup. This tragedy took place in Virginia. Columbine took place in Colorodo. And the biggest massacre at a university before this took place in Texas.

And the conservative meme today. The tragedy was an obvious result of TOO much gun control. Because we all know how strict gun control is in Virginia, Colorodo, and Texas.

Sorry - but do conservatives realize how foolish they sound? Even if there were no restrictions about guns on campuses, how many people would have been packing heat on a Tech campus at 10 am.? Give me a freaking break.

The solution to school shootings, according to the dumbass Republicans, is to obviously require every high schooler to carry a semi-automatic weapon to school.

Looks like the shooter was from China. I give it all of about five minutes until they start blaming immigrants as well.

Meade said...

johnstodder said...
...All deaths like this are tragic, but there is something that really gets to me losing your child after you've sent him or her off to college. They made it through all the perils of childhood, and succeeded well enough to go to this fine school, only to have their lives snuffed out in seconds by a mental case/guy with a petty grudge. The pain.

The child you've sent off to college has a greater chance of dying due to a car accident, binge drinking, or suicide. Even high blood pressure is a greater cause of mortality in college students than is a random shooting spree.

MadisonMan said...

What mom said: Believe it or not, this is not about you.

Now we get to see National News Anchors covering this. Ugh.

johnstodder said...

Revenant, I'm just going on what the police themselves say. Like this, from MSNBC:

The first e-mail warning to students and employees did not go out to students, faculty and staff until 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the shooting at the dormitory, according to the time stamps on copies obtained by NBC News. By then, the classroom shooting was under way. The message warned students to be cautious but did not warn them not to go to class.

“I really thought they should have canceled classes sooner,” Sam Leake, a junior who lives in West Ambler Johnston, told the campus newspaper, The Collegiate Times. “If they had, maybe some of these deaths could have been prevented.”

Steger said administrators and police initially believed the first shooting was an isolated incident and did not see a need to close the university. He said they believed the gunman had fled the campus.

“We can only make decisions based on the information you had on the time. You don’t have hours to reflect on it,” he said.


So you had a double murderer who attacked in a dormitory at a college campus. He was still at large. They "believed" he had fled the campus, according to this story; I assume the reporters had some reason to use that word in paraphrasing what the police spokesperson told them. It seems to me that by acting, or in this case unacting based on this belief was, at a minimum, careless, given the proximity of so many potential victims.

If a couple had been murdered in the parking lot of an office building, you don't think the police might do something to protect the occupants of the office building itself? If the shooter went into the building to kill more, would the police be able to explain their actions by saying they believed the shooting was a "isolated incident" limited to the parking lot? Revenant, no matter how you slice it, the cops in this instance acting on some pretty flimsy assumptions that turned out, sadly, to be untrue.

If what happened here is standard police procedure -- if you can't find the shooter, assume in all cases the shooter has left the scene and poses no further danger -- then we really don't need to bother talking about gun control. The issue of appropriate police response should be the focus.

Two hours. Two hours!

johnstodder said...

The child you've sent off to college has a greater chance of dying due to a car accident, binge drinking, or suicide.

I'm sorry if I conveyed anything different from what you're saying. Of course, my response is inclusive of all these things. The agony of sending your kid off to school, and not being able to protect them -- that's what I was feeling.

Tribeca said...

Two hours. Two hours!

So what - I'm sure the guy who is supposed to send e-mails to students about important events had a good excuse.

Maybe he was reading a children's story to a bunch of kids for example.

johnstodder said...

Here's another choice comment from the U's president:

"We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur."

I know, just an education bureaucrat, but he was getting his advice from somebody.

Also:

Steger said the university decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means of notifying members of the university, but with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out to everyone.

The police couldn't stop traffic, or close the parking lots? Here in California, they close off the freeways for hours immediately after a drive-by shooting to allow collection of evidence, where they know the shooter is already far away.

Revenant maybe you know a lot more police procedure than I do, but I don't think it's too far off to say the police and university administration made a bunch of wrong choices -- not unlucky, wrong. Okay, nobody could have forseen 31 more murders. But two more? Four more?

reader_iam said...

The press conferences today--especially the second one, and watched and jotted notes online about both--were confusing things in certain aspects.

But one thing that seemed to emerge from the second (and this is one of the confusing things about that one)--and I use the word "seemed" deliberately--is that the campus police may have been interviewing the "person of interest" in the first shooting situation at the time that they were notified of the second shooting situation.

IF that's true, that puts a bit of a different light on certain things.

Jennifer said...

johnstodder - I have to wonder what you would be saying if the police recommended the University close down classes and students stay home. You know, in their dorms.

Separately, I find it fascinating that gun control (pro and anti) believers are jumping on this as absolute proof that they are RIGHT!

I've read they are not going to be able to identify all of the victims and notify families until at least tomorrow. The thought of families who haven't heard from their students yet is so sad.

Pete the Streak said...

Downtown 8:16: "And the conservative meme today. The tragedy was an obvious result of TOO much gun control. Because we all know how strict gun control is in Virginia, Colorodo, and Texas."

Brilliant, D! You didn't happen to notice that all the above massacres took place where gun control is absolute? 'Gun-free' zones my ass. 'Self defense-free' is more like it.

"Sorry - but do conservatives realize how foolish they sound?"

Do you?

Chas S. Clifton said...

Apparently the Virginia General Assembly squelched in committee a bill that would have let students and staff with valid concealed-carry permits be armed on campus.

A Virginia Tech spokesman was pleased:

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

... feel safe on our campus . . .

The Exalted said...

dismaying that the "blame game" has to happen immediately...any time someone is killed on a college campus the entire campus should be shut down? that's ridiculous -- we're talking about an operation with 26,000 students, and thousands more university employees. basically a small city. violent crimes take place on college campuses every day, i don't imagine many are followed by mass murder.

don't rush to blame the administrators and the police until you have legitimate reason to. (e.g., if witnesses to the dorm shootings described a heavily armed man boasting about future mayhem). perhaps the only person to blame here is...the degenerate murderer? radical idea in these times, i know.

and i guess it was inevitable that some here think the answer is for all college students to carry guns with them to class -- a truly brilliant idea. i think all high school students and office workers also. and all subway and train riders. perhaps all airline passengers? what could possibly go wrong? i don't know, rather than terrible tragedies every 8 years, we could have shootings every day!

and raymondv, your comments are the most pathetic i've ever read on any blog.

Revenant said...

So you had a double murderer who attacked in a dormitory at a college campus. He was still at large. They "believed" he had fled the campus, according to this story; I assume the reporters had some reason to use that word in paraphrasing what the police spokesperson told them.

You appear to be harboring the incorrect belief that saying "we believed X" implies "without good reason".

In reality, of course, we say "we believe that X is the case" when we have REASON to think that X is the case. Otherwise we say "assume", "guess", "speculate", or something similar. As in (to give a hypothetical example) "we believe the gunman has fled the campus, because two eyewitness saw him get into a car and speed away".

So no, your claim that the police are idiots is no more justified by the currently available evidence than Raymond's claim that the victims were cowards.

It seems to me that by acting, or in this case unacting based on this belief was, at a minimum, careless, given the proximity of so many potential victims.

It would only be careless if they had reason to believe that those people were in danger. If you have evidence that they should have believed such a thing, please share it with us.

If a couple had been murdered in the parking lot of an office building, you don't think the police might do something to protect the occupants of the office building itself?

That's an irrelevant question, since the second (much worse) round of shootings happened on the far side of a 2600 acre campus, not in an adjacent building. So what you should be asking is this:

"If a couple had been murdered in the parking lot of an office building, you don't think the police might do something to protect everyone within a two-mile radius?"

The obvious answer: OF COURSE NOT, especially if the evidence they have indicates the person has left the area. Christ, I work downtown. Dozens of people have probably been murdered within two miles of my office since I started working here. I've never seen a cop stationed outside our building, nor do I ever expect to -- unless the police have reason to think we're a target.


Revenant maybe you know a lot more police procedure than I do, but I don't think it's too far off to say the police and university administration made a bunch of wrong choices -- not unlucky, wrong. Okay, nobody could have forseen 31 more murders. But two more? Four more?


The reasonable number to "forsee" is zero, unless you have reason to think the suspect plans to kill more people.

I'll close by noting that if police behaved the way you believe they should, every city in America would be a police state replete with travel restrictions and rifle-toting guards on every streetcorner. Because apparently you think the rational response to a murder is to panic, assume it is the start of a mass-murder spree, and lock down everything within miles of the event. With tens of thousands of murders in American cities every year that doesn't leave freedom.

Downtown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine Weiss said...

Hello, Knock Knock...anybody home?

Is Althouse going to make some sort of statement?

Does this hit home with her since she's on Campus and these are issues on campuses everywhere...

?????

Will this be the thing to bring Althouse to tears?

I'm waiting for an official Althouse statement, or condolensces or something....

Inspiration, words of wisdom, anything...

Peace, Maxine

Downtown said...

Pete wants all high schoolers in the most violent sections of D.C. to be able to bring a gun to class.

Does he realize how insane he sounds? I doubt it. But keep it up. Bush's approval is sure to break below 30% shortly if they do.

Maxine Weiss said...

Amazon's "Speedo Grey Sport Support".

Rather inappropriate at this time, doncha think?

Does Althouse bother to look at what's being advertised around here?

Tammy Bruce removed her offending sidebar smut, on my advice. But, Althouse refuses to be controlled, no matter how inappropriate and salacious that advertisement is. And, at the most inopportune of times.

Peace, Maxine

Simon said...

Maxine - contra MKH, I don't think it's incumbent upon absolutely every person with a blog or other website to make some kind of public statement whenever tragedy strikes. To make sympathy pro forma devalues it.

johnstodder said...

Christ, I work downtown. Dozens of people have probably been murdered within two miles of my office since I started working here. I've never seen a cop stationed outside our building, nor do I ever expect to -- unless the police have reason to think we're a target.

During the workday? In a similar office? Where the police have no idea who did it or where they are?

I'll close by noting that if police behaved the way you believe they should, every city in America would be a police state replete with travel restrictions and rifle-toting guards on every streetcorner. Because apparently you think the rational response to a murder is to panic, assume it is the start of a mass-murder spree, and lock down everything within miles of the event.

No, if the police behaved the way I think they should, every school campus would become a police state yada-yada, if there was a murder on campus and the suspect was armed and at large, for a few hours or at least until the police had a better handle on the situation, such as the identity of the suspect and some notion of his motive.

His first two victims were his girlfriend and a school counselor, and the idea behind the murders was he suspected his g.f. of cheating on him. Well, that leaves at least one possible target clearly at risk -- the guy in this triangle. I don't know where you live the "downtown" where you work -- Deadwood? -- but I worked in LA for a long time, including about 10 years downtown, and if a killer was at large, you sure as hell would have had streets blocked if the police thought that would help them control the situation -- just in the hope of saving that one life. Security at the large office buildings would have been notified, and quite possibly a lockdown would have resulted.

It's not that common a thing for two people to get gunned down in a college dorm. Extraordinary response typically would be expected.

One last point. Did no one else in the dorm become aware of the two murders this morning? Many police departments would have gone into action in minutes not hours, if for no other reason than rumor control.

We'll see, Rev. I'm open to the idea that the police acted appropriately, but so far it seems like everyone responsible for safety on this campus is on the defensive.

Maxine Weiss said...

Simon, I agree....

However, Althouse is a Campus guru of sorts. So it's reasonable that she might have something to say on this. I think it's reasonable to thing she may have a unique point of view on this.

I understand artful silence, and creative contrary-ness.

Still, must she be so...obvious about it?

Peace, Maxine

reader_iam said...

Did no one else in the dorm become aware of the two murders this morning?

Very early on today (not tonight, earlier today) that there were reports about two students jumping from out of dorm windows. This was attributed to a student, and his name was given at the time (if you want the link, I can provide it), who said he was in the dorm at the time.

So I suspect the answer to your question is yes (though not just for that reason).

Maxine Weiss said...

Can't we readers/commenters demand that Althouse say something on this?

I think Althouse should be forced to talk.

I really do. I think we should all boycott this site until Althouse knuckles under and says the magic words we all need to hear.

Peace, Maxine

Simon said...

Maxine Weiss said...
"[I]t's reasonable that she might have something to say on this. ... I understand artful silence, and creative contrary-ness. Still, must she be so...obvious about it?"

I think that it's best to avoid imputing any particular message into silence.

Simon said...

Maxine Weiss said...
"I think we should all boycott this site until Althouse knuckles under and says the magic words we all need to hear."

"Live from New York, it's Satuday Night"? Well, she is going to be in the neighbourhood, after all. ;)

Nobody ought to say anything unless they feel that they have something they want to say, and silence should not be construed as commentary.

peter hoh said...

Today was a gorgeous day, and I spent most of the afternoon outside, blissfully unaware of the day's events.

The survivors, the victims, and those they leave behind are all in my prayers. But a pox on all those who, when the facts are not yet in, choose to use this to bolster their positions on things like concealed carry and gun control. Both sides: shut up already.

I can't recall this happening so quickly into the news cycle in the past. What's the deal this time? I think the conceiled carry folks want to make sure that they get a toehold in this debate before the gun control side gets all the soundbites.

I don't mean to place all the blame on those who've spoken up in support of conceal carry. It takes two to tango, as they say, and like moving the primary dates up to make sure your state counts, too many people seem to want to get their opinions in early. While they still count, you know, 'cause we won't be talking about this a week from now.

Maxine Weiss said...

Simon don't you remember your contracts? In many instances, silence is acceptance.

To say nothing is to say quite a lot, actually.

I can only hope, in Althouse's case, the wheels are churning....and that's the reason we haven't heard from her.

We are all breathlessly waiting to hear her thoughts.

Peace, Maxine

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

peter hoh said...
"Today was a gorgeous day, and I spent most of the afternoon outside, blissfully unaware of the day's events."

On 9/11, I was doing a contractor job in a room with no internet connection or TV, and got done at about three in the afternoon, caught the train back to town, and walked over to a friend's house to see if he fancied a pint; his girlfriend opened the door - I guess this was about 10:30 New York time - and said "the world trade center just collapsed." Blissfully unaware, I chuckled and asked "uh, wha...?" whereupon I was ushered into the living room where CNN was running through its umpteenth action replay.

Sorry, OT.

Simon said...

Maxine Weiss said...
"Simon don't you remember your contracts? In many instances, silence is acceptance."

Be that as it may, I certainly remember that a lot of people want to hoist Ann by her commenter's petard's, on the theory that if she tolerates a comment she agrees with it, and that I reject that kind of viewpoint imputation. If or when she has something to say, I'm sure she will. But in the blogosphere, silence is not speech.

hdhouse said...

Raymondv said...
"This isn't a nice thing to say, but I smell cowardice on the part of the students. I'm a combat vet and was a cop for a while.

Am I blaming the dead? Kinda. I sense that nobody bothered trying to intervene, that they died like sheep, that others watched them die and did nothing. It was one guy. I can see our european sisters dying meekly, like sheep. Just kinda wondering how this thing played out, I could be wrong of course..."

I'm sorry to repost this almost in its entirety. But it is so blatant and so sad it should be held up for the primo example of "one sick puppy" of the month.

I'm glad the operative verb is "was" a combat vet and cop for a while. Thank god.

Beth said...

I can see our european sisters dying meekly, like sheep.

How do you see our European brothers dying?

Or by "sisters" do you mean girly men? Gay men? Insufficiently laden with testosterone men? That's a really sharp rhetorical technique I'd never thought of: insult people by calling them variations on names for women. Wow, thanks.

Revenant said...

During the workday?

Obviously. What, you think people only get killed in cities during off hours?

In a similar office?

Irrelevant -- the parking lot of a dorm is not similar to the inside of a lecture hall a mile or two away. Nor would it be sane to lock them down even if they were -- for example, according to what I shall laughingly call "your reasoning" the police should have locked down every parking lot and residence hall the shooter could potentially have gotten to... which, as of two and a half hours after the shooting, would have been every parking lot and residence hall within a hundred and fifty miles of campus. Woo hoo, go go police state.

Where the police have no idea who did it or where they are?

Yes, obviously. Police usually, in the immediate aftermath of a shooting, have no idea who the killer is or where he's gone. That's why police have invented this nifty thing called "the homicide detective".

No, if the police behaved the way I think they should, every school campus would become a police state yada-yada, if there was a murder on campus and the suspect was armed and at large,

Because a campus is a magical fairyland, and crimes committed on it affect (a) everyone on it, no matter how many miles away, but not (b) the rest of the world outside of the campus.

I am in any case deeply amused that your idea of "non-idiotic" police behavior is "when you think a shooter has fled the campus and you have no reason to think he plans to return, immediately assume he is secretly ON campus planning a mass murder spree hours later and waste all your police resources locking down the one place you believe the killer ISN'T". Funny how that bears a suspicious resemblance to the single stupidest fucking way police could choose to react to shootings.

Anyway, I'm bored with trying to reason you out of a position you didn't reason yourself into, so I'll end it at that. If you want to lump yourself in with Raymondv and the other scapegoat-hungry nitwits, you go right on ahead and do it.

Daryl said...

Will this be the thing to bring Althouse to tears?

No, because she knows both sides in this care about the students, we just disagree about what would provide the best protection.

What would? Maybe a smug, smirking partisan who said that massacres were the price of freedom. Then the partisan hack would make a strange analogy where the shooter is a black man and the victims are KKK members, and ask Ann if she's in favor of the KKK. That would probably upset her.

Maxine Weiss said...

Remember when Althouse went to Washington for the 2006 Elections, and brought us absolutely nothing! No inside scoops, no secrets or election-night scandals. The agony of defeat etc.. She even refused to go to the after-parties!

It's the same thing now, everyone is expects that Althouse, with all her Campus connections is on top of this story....

And, once again, no breaking news, no scoops etc.

I don't how she can realistically consider herself "in the arena" and stay silent at a time like this.

Good grief, I'm glad she wasn't blogging during 9/11...her silence would have be so deafening....thousands more probably would have died from it.

Ooops, that was nasty.

Love, Maxine

Seven Machos said...

What is there really to say?

Maxine Weiss said...

There's never been a woman like Althouse ---who uses silence to manipulate and create even more swirling attention around herself.

She's really baiting us. She's trying to goad us all with this silence thing.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

Garbo

Internet Ronin said...

They closed the campus a few months ago because there was an escaped convict somewhere in the area. Today they had a double-murder on the campus, no one in custody, no idea where their original suspect went, and it still took them over two hours to let the campus community know about it.

I think that was unconscionable in this age of email communication. At least inform the students & staff promptly, not 2 hours later, and let them make their decision on whether to attend class.

When I was in college, in the Dark Ages, we were informed within a half an hour that an attempted murder had taken place on the other side of the campus (a 3,000 acre one BTW).

(Originally posted to Reader_Iam's thread at Done with Mirrors.)

Maxine Weiss said...

"It's Easter. (Happy Easter.)" --Althouse 4/8/07

"My readers are abandoning me"--
Althouse 2/2/07

Maxine Weiss said...

We live in a very blase society where nobody cares about anything anymore.

Everyone's on their cell phone, and can't be bothered to evacuate a building.

Althouse is doing her taxes and can't be bothered to make a statement, even though it could have been her, and her students.

Oh well. Ha Ha. On to the next blogpost.

Love Maxine

Internet Ronin said...

Maxine is like the Energizer bunny: she goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on ....

Maxine Weiss said...

I've only just begun.

Maybe if I wasn't forced to look at that guy in the Speedo...is there anything more wildly inappropriate during this time of mourning?

The "Speedo" sidebar advertisment.

Twisted.

Peace, Maxine

Austin said...

In terms of "shoot alot" the point is that you shoot the perp until the gun is empty. That's standard advice from ALL self-defence classes. The law says that you're only allowed to use the minimal force necessary. In real life you use as much force as possible, since you can never be sure, especially if you don't use force much.

When defending yourself in this kind of situation you will be nervous, scared, and unlikely to instantaneously incapacitate with the first shot. This is why you keep shooting until your gun is empty, rather than shooting once and checking to see what happened.

Tactics for the military or police who are facing many targets for an undefined period are very different. With one clip and one perp, you just make sure that he is down.

As to what happened, these are kids who are taught by all authority figures not to resist. Horrible advice for survival in an extreme situation, and we need to change the socialisation. A horrible experience, as was 9/11, where we see the dangers of passivity and relying on the police to defend you. The police only arrive in time to count the bodies and run ballistics.

If someone is threatening your life with any weapon, you're likely going to die. Much better to try to resist by any available means. You might succeed, or distract the perp so that another can succeed or escape. Accept that you're already dead and write your own epitaph. Fabrizzio Quattrochi spit defiance even when he knew his head was going to be cut off. Any and all resistance is useful.

Maxine Weiss said...

Tick tock, tick tock.

I'm counting the minutes, to the exact second ---that Althouse has refused to speak.

And no, she hasn't gone to bed. Althouse, as we all know, doesn't sleep.

Of course she's scared. She's had unhinged students herself. There are obviously going to be copycat scenarios. (Chilling)

This obviously hits close to home for Althouse. But, staying silent isn't the way to deal with your fears, Ann. And you must be scared, given the highly-charged, pressure-cooker environment of a law school....

Althouse: tell us what your concerns are. Let's address your fears openly. No need to hide out at a time like this.

Peace, Maxine

johnstodder said...

Because a campus is a magical fairyland,

No, because the school or university is acting in loco parentis, and is responsible for the safety and well-being of all the students, in a way that a local police department is not responsible for what happens to the general public.

This point was fundamental to the rest of my point of view.

Apparently, you have a bit of a beef with the notion of these students as children to be protected. But that's the role schools have been assigned for centuries -- in law as well as in the culture. They're not just a bunch of education consumers herded together to receive knowledge from teachers. The job is bigger than that.

Maxine Weiss said...

" the University has never given me any training on what to do in a mass shooting situation, and I'd be surprised if very many universities train their professors in that sort of thing. These events are, of course, very rare, but in fact I haven't had any disaster or attack training from the University at all, though I've had some from other sources."---Glenn Reynolds

(Cue Althouse.....)

peter hoh said...

Austin wrote As to what happened, these are kids who are taught by all authority figures not to resist.

Huh? Early reports have it that some students built barricades and saved themselves. Is that not a form of resistance?

Maxine, what do you hope to accomplish by raising the bar on annoying behavior?

Maxine Weiss said...

Glenn is living in Fantasyland. There's nothing rare about this at all. 65 % of all college students in the U.S. are here on expired Visas. Campuses throw open the doors to these thugs.

They're calling the shooter "Asian". Ha! He's Oriental. He carried chains and locked up the Norris building, then lined 'em all up and shot 'em one-by-one.

Glenn's another one. Too macho to admit he's scared.

Distance learning. College campuses are deathtraps, and they'll never abolish the Visa program.

Peace, Maxine

F15C said...

First, the thoughts and prayers of my family and I are with the wounded, families, friends, and staff of VT. I just talked with my 14 year old son about what happened. It was made slightly worse by the fact that we are planning to visit Stanford and USC this summer to give him some idea of what a university is really like. He is having a hard time dealing the the VT situation as we've been talking about college quite a bit recently and he relates to these unfortunate people who were hurt and killed.

On a sickeningly related note, I had a free minute and was looking at CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC for updates on the VT situation. I came across Keith Olberman and thought I would see what he knew about the matter. He was talking over stock footage of M16s about.. gun control and how the VT massacre would effect the presidential election…

I was stunned.. no, I was disgusted.

The dead are quite literally not even cold yet and Mr. Olberman is coldly, crassly politicizing the massacre of over 30 people. Times like this can bring out the essence of a person and reveal a great deal about their very worth. In my opinion, what I saw and heard from Olberman tonight is beneath contempt.

Internet Ronin said...

Peter: Re:

Maxine, what do you hope to accomplish by raising the bar on annoying behavior?

What she always hopes for, apparently, rendering impossible any attempt by others to have a discussion.

Maxine Weiss said...

How do we have a discussion when one of the key players is missing-in-action intentionally.

Ann, I don't believe you are sleeping, either.

The whole blogosphere, facebook etc.. is exploding, but Althouse finds it too inconvient to be bothered.

Peace, Maxine

Joan said...

How do we have a discussion when one of the key players is missing-in-action intentionally.

Oh, for heaven's sake, we've had plenty of conversations sparked by Ann's posts, with little to no input afterwards. Why should this topic be any different? While I am interested in what Ann thinks, it's certainly not a requirement for continuing the conversation here.

So please Maxine, quit pestering Ann. It's tedious. Ann will post/comment when she has something to say, as you well know.

I'm not willing to tag the victims as cowards as Raymond has done, but I will mourn that they were all so wholly unprepared to do something, anything, to try and stop what happened today. That much at least seems obvious.

Kirk said...

Maxine,

"I think we should all boycott this site"

OK. You go first. Please, please, please show us how it's done!

Austin,

"The law says that you're only allowed to use the minimal force necessary. "

Really? In what state? Can you provide some references? (That's certainly not the case in Washington State.)

Internet Ronin said...

Tell me Joan: What would YOU have done? Shooter standing in the doorway with one or two automatic pistols. Doors are usually in corners of rooms. Going to rush him, Joan? Bang, your dead. You and three others going to rush him, Joan? Bang.Bang.Bang.Bang. Quicker than it took for me to write that all four of you are lying on the floor dead or wounded, Joan.

Those that could barricaded the doors of other classrooms, or jumped out windows, but it was too late for some because there wasn't time to respond before the shooter was gone, Joan. And someone needed to care for the wounded and dying, Joan. How many do you think died in the first classroom, Joan? The one where no one had an inkling what was about to happen? How many died running for the exits, normally a smart thing to do unless you have a gun, Joan?

Maybe someone could have come up on him from behind. Maybe he wouldn't notice them as he was busy firing from the doorway. Maybe not. Hallways must have been silent and empty once he started, Joan. Not much chance of a surprise, Joan.

Some people around here seem to think opportunities to overtake him abounded. Given the circumstances, they didn't.

So, tell us, Joan, how would you have heroicly saved the day?

Seven Machos said...

Ronin -- Joan's heart is in the right place here. It would probably be better if we could have conceal-and-carry laws, for one thing. Obviously, the loony crazies don't seem to have a problem packing.

Another thing we could do is educate people: if there's a lone attacker and there are several victims, a good strategy might be to try to overwhelm the attacker. That's not remotely part of the script people have internalized right now. And by we as a society creating an internalized script, I mean: what do you do if you catch on fire? What do you do if you start choking on food? Who do you call if there's an emergency? Etc.

Internet Ronin said...

Joan: I'm truly sorry my reply was so strident. I apologize for the tone. It seems to me a lot of people are engaging in "Flight 93 fantasies" when real life events such as this do not afford either time or opportunity.

Seven: I think you have to agree that overwhelming someone in the middle of a room full of people is very different than overwhelming an shooter with automatic weapons in a strategic corner of a room.

Internet Ronin said...

Seven: Meant to add, in almost every instance I know of a gunman being overwhelmed, he was overwhelmed from behind. It is pretty damn hard to tackle someone from behind when he is standing in a doorway and everyone else is inside the room.

Seven Machos said...

I hear you, Ronin. It's an emotionally raw thing.

But I note that we Americans aren't a que sera, sera society. When something bad happens, our steely response is always: never again. And so we try to figure out ways to prevent this crap. Maybe it's as simple as a law mandating that the number of lifeboats should equal or exceed the number of passengers (brilliant! -- and an American invention). Maybe there's no solution. But trying to prevent bad shit from happening is really an American characteristic, and it's definitely not as prevalent in other cultures.

Finn Kristiansen said...

This just about broke my heart. I was watching ABC news around 10pm or so, and they were interviewing a guy who was in a room with about 20 people.

The student said that eventually one guy jumped out the window and several others followed, some breaking legs or hurting their backs upon landing.

The reporter asked him what happened to those who were left. The student stood their rather calmly and stated that he believes the 5 or so were shot.

My question is, could you imagine jumping out a window and leaving behind someone who is too afraid to jump?

Someone suggested that you cannot rush someone entering a room with a door in the corner. But how about before the guy gets to your classroom?

You heard the shots a mile a way, and did nothing. You heard the shots over on the first floor, and did nothing. And finally, death is at your door, coming for you.

Do you jump and live, leaving others to die? Or do you stay and attempt to stop the gunman, with a small possibility of success, but more likely almost certain death.

And the hard part is not knowing what you would actually do in those circumstances. Or even, would I jump if I didn't necessarily like the people too afraid to jump, but stay if it was someone I cared about?

As for Ann commenting, or not, sometimes there is nothing to add, and silence is wisdom.

Seven Machos said...

For myself, what I appreciate about this blog is, of course, what Ann Althouse says. But, also, that there is a core group of commenters here that can take topics and run with them. And also, that Althouse gives wide latitude to people to say what they want.

I also believe that she sometimes starts threads about things on which she has nothing really substantive to comment solely so that others can do so. That's really a pretty generous thing to do.

Steven said...

Do we know for certain that the first killing was linked to the second? Coincidences happen.

Internet Ronin said...

I appreciate what you are saying, Finn. But, remember, you have to be quick! You only have so much time, not nearly as much as people link to think. First your mind has to register exactly what is happening. Panic & terror have to be suppressed.

People did barricade doorways. That seems a sensible thing to do when it is not apparent how many people are shooting or why, and whether outside the building is more dangerous than inside the building. Only with 20/20 hindsight do you know that outside was safer. How did the people in the building know it wasn't the police firing at yet another escaped convict? They didn't, until some of their options were foreclosed. Remember, their information was quite limited. There wasn't time. (This wasn't some leisurely walk in the park.)

Others chose to flee in what they thought was the opposite direction from the gunman. that seems a smart thing to do, don't you think? But, it is said the exits were chained shut (we shall find out soon enough) which means anyone trapped in the hallway would be sitting ducks for an armed gunman 20-30' away, don't you agree?

As for jumping out the window once the situation is understood, it sure sounds like a lot of people did that, and some are saying that others died waiting for their turn to do the same (we shall see if that hold up to examination). Obviously, 20, 30, 40 people in a room cannot all jump out a window at the same time.

Have you ever been in such a situation, Finn? Ever been awakened at 1AM by a housemate saying, "Someone's trying to kill me?" Ever been trapped with the would-be murderer between you and the only door out? And the only phone in the apartment? Ever had the murderer try to break the door to your room down? Ever been face-to-face with an angry crazed murderer armed with a very large knife? Ever jumped off a third floor balcony as the murderer, discovering your escape plan, rushes out to finish the job, Finn?

It happens fast, Finn. So fast, that there is incredibly little time to think (although, strangely, it also seems like forever). You react, Finn. At least I did, when I was 22 and living in one of the safest countries on Earth (not USA).

Thus, I can't criticize those who did or did not do this or that. I've been there. I know what it is like. I can relive it vividly almost three decades later. My heart goes out to the dead, the wounded, and the traumatized.

Revenant said...

Shooter standing in the doorway with one or two automatic pistols. Doors are usually in corners of rooms. Going to rush him, Joan? Bang, your dead

Maybe. Perhaps probably. But not always -- shooters DO miss, they DO fail to get a kill shot, and they DO need to reload. Would-be spree killers have been subdued before.

Besides, the alternatives when the gunman's standing in the doorway? Beg for mercy? Bang, you're dead. Run for it? Bang, you're dead. Cower in fear? Bang, you're dead. Basically you're completely fucked -- the only question is, do you hope to survive the bullet you take running *from* the gunman, or *at* the gunman?

Realistically, of course, you haven't got time to run through these options in your mind when the shit hits the fan, and the default human instinct is to panic and run. That's why it is important to think through the proper response ahead of time and hope you remember it when the time comes. That's why it is incredibly offensive to call these people "cowards". They didn't wake up that morning expecting to get shot at; they didn't have time to consider the odds.

johnstodder said...

Interestingly, "Flight 93" was just on an HBO channel, and I just watched it for the first time, with this discussion in my mind.

The heroes of Flight 93 had time to gather themselves for their legendary assault on the cockpit. Their first reaction was, however, to flee for their own safety, and to let the man with the fake bomb and the tiny knife order them around in hopes that he was telling them the truth that if they didn't resist, they'd be safe.

At least as this screenwriter tells it, only when the passengers knew about the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, and only when the majority had convinced themselves that the bomb wasn't real, and only when they had identified a possible pilot, did they agree to coordinate an attack. They made a series of rational calculations, risk v. reward, "we're dead either way" type of analysis, not in 20 seconds, but in 20 minutes.

I think that's a pretty accurate depiction of how normal people would respond to a situation like this. It's too bad this asshole in Virginia didn't run into a bunch of Navy Seals or cold-blooded assassins. Instead, he attacked normal people who weren't given any time to do anything but try to survive one more second. I'm sure most of them acted as bravely as they could in the few seconds they had.

Internet Ronin said...

I agree the potential targets are screwed no matter what they do, Revenant. And your last paragraph was worth repeating:

That's why it is incredibly offensive to call these people "cowards". They didn't wake up that morning expecting to get shot at; they didn't have time to consider the odds.


I'll just note that my friends in law enforcement have told me that most people who suffer a gunshot wound crumple - unlike what most people think (based on the movies and tv shows), wounded people rarely do more than collapse due to impact and wound.

Roger said...

For those of you who have never been in combat, or been deliberately shot at, none of you know how you will react until that time comes. And even worse in this case is that the assailant was not the kind of rational person upon which our societal interactions are structured.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Theo Boehm said:

and what i want to know is
how do you like your second amendment
Mister Death


Quite well coming from someone who stopped a home intruder using a handgun. Held him at bay until the police arrived 20 minutes after I called them.

As tragic as this is, I will be intrerested to know where he obtained his weaponry from. If he was a foreign student on a Visa as has been reported, I would be amazed if he just purchased them right off the shelf from the local gun store.

Here is another thing to put into perspective for those who will clamor that this is another clarion call for banning guns.

Many of those who think that only the cops and military should have the guns are also terrified that the government is listening to their phone conversations, checking on their bank accounts or otherwise turning this country into the Fourth Reich.

Some people may think that steet cameras and phone taps are the sign of fascism but I'll get worried when they come for my gun.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

To say nothing is to say quite a lot, actually.

Really? Try it sometime then.

Ann has no obligation to make timely remarks on a subject that YOU demand she remark on in a timely manner. Maybe she was working or had other things to do than monitor her website all day long.

And to those who want to blame the school administration for not locking down the campus, you do realize that there are about 25,000 students, not all of whom live on campus. Even if they sent out an E-mail immediately many students would have been in route commuting. Many would not have checked their E-mails.

To expect the officials to be mind readers and psychically predict that what looked like a "domestic dispute" would turn into an inconceivable rampage is ludicrous. They could have stopped all classes and prohibited people from entering the campus. Had they done so and nothing happened, then they would be accused of hysterical over reaction. You can't win in this scenario.

peter hoh said...

I really object to labeling this as a "domestic dispute." Had the shooter and the woman he killed set up a household? Otherwise, "domestic dispute" makes no sense as a label for the initial incident. I'm reminded of lazy writers who use "urban" to mean "African-American."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That's why I used the scare quotes.

Austin said...

Revenant gets it.

Barricading works, but as for the kids shot in job lots in a room, I was trying to get into what was in their heads, and why we need to talk about what to do in these situations. Our overall conditioning is not to resist. The old hijacking instructions, how police always say to not resist a robbery, especially in a story of someone who was successful at fighting off or subduing an attacker. It makes their job easier, but reduces your chance of living.

Self defense studies that are used to build guidelines for police, soldiers, and others have noted how much ground you can cover in the time it takes to unholster and shoot and also in the time it takes to make a decision to shoot. You are very unlikely to be completely incapacitate when rushing a perp. There's a decent chance he'll kill you, but not stop you before you get to him and disarm or help others disarm him.

As to self defence laws: Florida's make my day law was specifically enacted in reaction to the common law duty to retreat. This common law doctrine imposes a requirement that you only use the minimal amount of force so that you can flee. It's part of English common law and is part of the tradition of the legal system of all english speaking countries except where countermanded by law. Asking for a cite is like asking for a cite that murder is illegal.

peter hoh said...

Dust Bunny Queen: I noticed your use of quote marks. I should have made it clear that I was directing my complaint at the media outlets (and others) who are using the term, domestic dispute, to identify the first shooting incident.