VT Slaughter: Unanswered Questions

With all of the media interest in the Virginia Tech massacre, you would think our understanding of what transpired there would be relatively thorough.

Yet, I find there are dozens of unanswered questions — maybe even unasked questions.

Following the double homicide in the dormitory that began the slaughter, we know the administration waited two hours before sending out an e-mail to students and faculty members warning them of potential danger in the most muted terms imaginable. But I’m still waiting to find out what else the administration and police did with regard to their unfounded assumption the murderer had fled the campus. Can anyone answer this question? Since last Monday I’ve been raising this legitimate and important question that goes to the heart of their competence. Still there are no answers, and I’m stunned that no other news agencies seem the least bit interested.

Did police put out an all-points-bulletin for this attacker they assumed had left campus? If so, what kind of description did they provide? How did they warn the outside world a killer was on the loose? Who was this phantom they believed wrongly was guilty of double murder? Is there another potentially dangerous person in the midst of the Virginia Tech community?

Why did the administration and police investigators assume the murderer had fled? What information did they consider to arrive at this erroneous and deadly assumption?

Exactly how long did the shooting in Norris Hall last? To the best of my ability, sorting through on-the-record contemporaneous reports from students and faculty members on campus that day, I have concluded the shooting lasted around 35 minutes. Yet, there is still no official word from police and administration authorities who, you would think, would want to know for the purposes of their review and subsequent investigation. There is some recent evidence to suggest mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui may have continued his rampage in Norris Hall for up to an hour unmolested and uncontested by police, who, as we now know, never engaged the armed killer. Katelyn Carney, wounded in the attack while in her German class, recalls "playing dead" for nearly an hour before help arrived.

What prompted Cho to stop shooting? Did he run out of ammunition? This is what I strongly suspect. He was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound by the time police arrived. How many shots were fired? Had he brought several hundred rounds with him, would everyone in Norris Hall have been killed before police arrived?

Nearly everyone in the media seems focused on the two-hour gap between the double murder in the dormitory and the siege in Norris Hall. I’m very troubled about that, too. We should never stop demanding answers.

But I am equally disturbed and concerned about the 35-minute to one-hour gap between the start of gunfire in Norris Hall and the arrival of police inside the building. This is the time period no one seems to be interested in discussing — and it raises even more troubling issues.

Generally speaking, I like police officers. From my own experience, they tend to be among the finest people. They are usually salt of the earth folks who are willing to risk their lives for their fellow man.

However, there is unmistakably a new ethos developing within the rules of engagement for police officers. In situations like Columbine, and perhaps at Virginia Tech, heavily armed officers wearing bulletproof vests, equipped with the best communications gear and trained to protect the public have flat-out failed to stop massive carnage among unarmed, innocent members of the public.

Let me put it simply: I want to know if police broke down the chained doors of Norris Hall before the shooting stopped or after. This is the most important question that needs to be answered, because Americans need to know what they can expect from law enforcement in such situations.

As forces in our society continue to push disarmament of the public and total reliance on police for protection, just what should Americans know about the willingness of police to put their own lives on the line to stop the slaughter of innocents?