Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

PAULA ZAHN NOW

33 Killed in Virginia Tech Massacre

Aired April 16, 2007 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, including CNN International viewers joining us for tonight's breaking news.
I want you to hear this first. It is the sound of the deadliest shooting rampage at a U.S. school in history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNSHOTS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: These incredible pictures are from a cell phone camera that belonged to a student at Virginia Tech. He will be joining us in just a couple of minutes to describe exactly what he saw and what else he heard.

Now, it isn't clear tonight if all the shots are from a gunman or police or both. What we do know is that, when the shooting finally ended, 33 people were dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Again, we don't know if all the shots you just heard were fired by a gunman or by police, but authorities have confirmed that the gunman is among the 33 tonight.

They say he killed himself. At least 15 other people are wounded. We are devoting this entire hour to the terrible events that took place on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

Our team coverage begins with CNN's Brianna Keilar. She is on the Virginia Tech campus, where authorities have just wrapped up another news conference.

I don't know about you, but, to me, it opened up more questions than answers. And I think the bottom line tonight is that they don't seem to want to confirm, nor do they say they can, that these 33 people were killed by the same man.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that's exactly right, Paula.

That's the confusion that was opened up by this press conference. And that's because the first shooting, which occurred at 7:15 a.m. Eastern this morning, approximately, police identified what they're calling a person of interest.

And, then, in the second shooting, where they first received a 911 call about 9:45 this morning, they preliminarily have identified the gunman. They aren't telling us who he is, that gunman, of course, who killed himself in Norris Hall, the second location.

And the problem, Paula, is, they say the descriptions of the two people do not match. So, the question, of course, being, was there a second person involved? Was there a second gunman?

Now, if you listened very carefully to Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum, a few hours ago, during a news conference, he said, no, there is no one else out there. But, if you listened during this last press conference, he was not so sure. He did not commit to that answer.

So, obviously at this point, they have not been able -- police have not been able to connect the two crime scenes by either evidence or eyewitness accounts. That seems to be what they're telling us.

And, officially, they're not releasing information about the weapons that were used. They say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is helping with ballistic information, trying to match those two crime scenes. But, again, they haven't linked them.

Of course, students here, Paula, are linking these two shootings. And they're very enraged. They're enraged because, as I said, that first shooting at the dorm occurred at 7:15 a.m. -- a man and a woman killed. It wasn't until 9:26, more than two hours later, when the first e-mail went out, an e-mail about that first shooting. And it was less than 20 minutes after that when the first 911 call about the second shooting came in -- students very enraged, saying they should have been notified.

They would have been more on alert, or maybe the campus should have been shut down, and perhaps this whole thing could have been averted -- the second shooting, that is.

Now, I do want to point out something that we heard in the news conference. And that was whether -- pardon me, Paula -- I think you were talking about whether police engaged -- whether any of the shots were coming from police.

We did hear in this news conference that, apparently, what happened, police entered the building. They found it to be chained from the inside. They managed to get past that.

When they went up the second floor, they were still hearing gunshots. But that stopped. And, when they entered the room, the gunman had already killed himself. We understand there was no exchange between police and the gunman in Norris Hall -- Paula. ZAHN: Well, here's where it gets really confusing, Brianna.

And maybe you can some shed light on this. The head of security for the campus police said that the police are, in fact, questioning a person of interest in the dorm shootings -- or they were at the time of the Norris Hall -- at the time, then, that you had the second round of shootings.

Now, he -- he was asked, is it possible you were going after the wrong guy, chasing the wrong guy? And he says: I can't confirm, nor deny that.

So, what does that mean?

KEILAR: You know what? It's really hard to tell at this point.

And there's a lot of that, neither confirming, nor denying at this point. They're definitely being more careful during this news conference. And my understanding was, there was a person of interest. And they have preliminarily identified this second -- well, the shooter at the -- at Norris Hall. And, at this point, there is a question as to whether or not they are one in the same or if they are two different people.

ZAHN: And I guess the other thing that...

KEILAR: Paula.

ZAHN: ... is worth talking about is the amount of controversy you can feel growing tonight about that almost two-hour-and-20 minute period that went by where the students weren't even alerted to the first shooting. The...

KEILAR: That is certain...

ZAHN: This -- the...

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: That is certainly something that students are raising.

ZAHN: And the university has got to be very concerned about any liability they may face down the road.

KEILAR: Well, they're certainly -- what they did say in response to that -- because this is the question that reporters were hammering them on.

They said, what they did was, they made a decision based on the information they had from the first shooting. They believed that it was an isolated incident. They said they believed it was domestic in nature. And they believed that the suspect in that case was leaving campus.

So, at that point, they say they alerted everyone who was in that dorm building, or at least reached out, trying to do so. But they say they didn't alert the entire campus, based on the information they had.

ZAHN: Brianna, we're going to come back to you as soon as you get more information, and try to clear up so many of these conflicting facts that are flying our way tonight.

Thanks so much.

Just wanted to quickly add some other facts that came out of that news conference now, as the community tries to come to grips with the 33 people dead, including the gunman himself -- the university saying that they are still in the process of notifying family members, and the crime scene has not been, in their words, cleaned up.

Tonight, one student says she was in a classroom with the shooter, and pretended to be dead to save her life.

Jeanne Meserve just talked with that student.

And Jeanne now will tell us her story -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Paula, her name is Erin Sheehan. She's a freshman here at Virginia Tech majoring in mechanical engineering. She was in her German class in Norris Hall. She thought it was just another day. But, of course, it was not.

Here's part of her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN SHEEHAN, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: He was, I would say, about a little bit under 6 feet tall, young-looking, Asian, dressed sort of strangely, almost like a Boy Scout, with very short-sleeved light tan shirt and some sort of ammo vest. It was black over it.

MESERVE: What kind of weapon did he have?

SHEEHAN: I would say a handgun. It was not a large rifle at all. It was black and it was plastic. I don't know much about guns, though.

MESERVE: Describe how he came into the classroom.

SHEEHAN: He peaked in twice earlier in the class, which was sort of sketchy.

But then he came in eventually later. And he just stepped within five feet of the door and just started firing. He seemed very thorough about it, getting almost everyone down, or I -- I pretended to be dead, just on the ground. And then he -- he left for about 30 seconds, came back in, did almost exactly the same thing, because I guess he heard us still talking.

And, then, we forced ourselves against the door so he couldn't come in again, because the door would not lock. And, so, he -- he came and tried to force himself in another three times, and then started shooting through the door. It was a solid, wooden door with no windows, though.

MESERVE: How many students were wounded or killed?

SHEEHAN: At least when we left, only four of us left, and two of them were minorly injured. And everyone else was unconscious, either dead or wounded seriously.

MESERVE: And how many of them were there?

SHEEHAN: It was about a 25-person German class. And the professor was down, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: What an amazing story.

And to have that presence of mind is extraordinary as well.

Did Erin know about the shootings a couple hours earlier?

MESERVE: Paula, she did not know about those shootings. And she wishes she had. She reaches -- she wishes that somebody on campus had reached out and informed students about what was going on. She believes, if that had happened, that some lives might have been saved today -- Paula.

ZAHN: And, of course, we just heard the administration, chiefly the president, defend its policy of notifying people by e-mail, saying that, if they had attempted to leave text messages on some 26,000 cell phones, that the system simply would have been overloaded -- a lot of questions being asked tonight about the actions of the university.

Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much.

Now, not every student had a cell phone camera handy, but, tonight, more and more students are coming forward with dramatic stories of what they saw and what they heard.

We will listen to some of those stories next.

Also, what turns people into monsters? I will ask an expert what mass killers have in common?

You can also see more pictures from Virginia Tech and find the latest news updates on CNN.com.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard some loud banging. We wasn't sure -- we weren't sure if there was construction or not.

And then we heard people screaming. So, everybody in the class huddled in the back. And we were going to go out the front door. And someone opened the door. And it sounded like the shots were being fired down the hallway, so we all jumped out of the window.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: We're back with tonight's breaking news: the shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, where 33 people died today, 31, including a gunman in a rampage in a classroom building. Two more were killed earlier in a dorm. Investigators are still not sure whether the two shootings are connected.

There are nearly 25,000 students at Virginia Tech. Eight percent come from outside of the United States, including Jamal Albarghouti, a Palestinian graduate student who captured the unforgettable pictures and sounds of this morning's rampage at Norris Hall.

Thanks so much for being with us, Jamal.

I want to share with our audience who hasn't had a chance to see what you captured on your cell phone exactly what you witnessed. Let's listen together.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So, Jamal, at the time the shooting started, were you actually in Norris Hall and then you ran into this area where we see you shooting from now?

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: No, actually I was passing by Norris Hall. I never -- I was never in it, but I saw some cops drawing their guns and rushing toward Norris Hall, so I started filming that.

ZAHN: It had to be the scariest thing anybody could ever have to confront. Were you able to distinguish who was firing the shots?

ALBARGHOUTI: No. I really thought they were -- I didn't think they were from Norris Hall. I thought they were way far from there. But then I figured out that they were not. They were actually from inside the building, but they sounded as though they were far. I did not see who -- I did not have the chance to know who took the -- who started shooting.

ZAHN: You must have been terrified to be taking these pictures not knowing whether you were safe or not. Did it ever occur to you maybe you should be running away from this area?

ALBARGHOUTI: Well, I think it was worth it to give a chance for the world to see it. So I just stood there and started filming it. When the cops tried going into Norris Hall, I tried to follow them for a little bit, but there was a cop behind me who insisted that I should leave, so I left.

ZAHN: And how long was it after that you finally got confirmation from anybody on campus that the shootings had taken place?

ALBARGHOUTI: You know, my day has been so busy today. I did not get any confirmation. I just went back and -- as soon as I went back, I went to Virginia Tech's vt.edu and I read on the main page -- Web page, telling us to stay on campus and that there are shootings on campus.

ZAHN: So, Jamal, how outraged are students tonight that almost two hours and 20 minutes passed from the first shooting where police now admit tonight they thought it was contained, they thought it was a domestic disturbance, they actually were questioning someone they thought was potentially involved in the dorm shooting when the Norris shooting came down?

So you guys had no warning that this gunman could potentially be on campus.

ALBARGHOUTI: Well, we are angry about that. I can't talk about -- on the behalf of other students. Personally I think the Virginia Tech police did a good job. Unfortunately, many people have died. It's really easy to come after the accident and say, we should have done something.

I believe that they -- the Virginia Tech police did -- or took the decision they thought was the best for them or best at that time. Many people are angry, but more than being angry, they are really sad for the high casualties that Virginia Tech took today.

We are all sad and our condolences go to the families of those missing or dead.

ZAHN: And the saddest thing that the police chief just confirmed for us is that they're still in the process of notifying family members about those who have died. Jamal Albarghouti, thank you.

ALBARGHOUTI: Paula...

ZAHN: Yes?

ALBARGHOUTI: OK. Thank you. No, I just wanted to tell you that here I was talking to the -- to some of my friends who until now do not know the fate of their cousins and it's really a terrible thing in there. Seeing people almost about to cry or that's really shocking.

They are really tough people. I know that, but this situation is really, really tough. You can't imagine how much people are sad. They just want to know what's happened to their friends and relatives. These people are really -- it's a really big problem.

ZAHN: Yes, you're right. It's horrible all the way around. Some families who have the certainty, some families who are still waiting for word tonight. Jamal Albarghouti, thank so much for your time tonight.

I want to turn now to someone who is devoted to making college campuses safer. Catherine Bath (ph) is the executive director of Security on Campus.

Catherine, I know you were listening in on both of the news conferences today. And you know, some stunning information came out. We heard the college president basically defend his decision to e-mail the students some two hours after the first shooting because they, in fact, thought it was a domestic disturbance and in fact were questioning someone at the time that the Norris, the mass killings came down.

What did you read into that?

CATHERINE BATH, SECURITYONCAMPUS.ORG: Well, I got my first call from the media at about a quarter of 10:00 this morning when I arrived at work. At that time, they knew about the first shooting and other students had also been injured in that shooting.

And so my question is, why did they not warn the campus immediately? They knew they had a very serious emergency situation on their hands. And when the president says that he couldn't send an e- mail to all of the students at once, well, that's not true.

We have technology now in place that's available and that is not that expensive where campus security can type one simple text message saying, "warning, stay in your rooms, lock your doors, shooter on the loose." You know, students have died.

And they can push a button and it can go out simultaneously to all 26,000 phones. And at 7:30 in the morning when they knew about the first tragedy, that's what they should have -- it's a shame -- it's such a shame they did not have this technology in place.

ZAHN: But they said at the time they believed -- mistakenly believed that this was a lone event and they are still not making any linkage -- a definitive linkage between the first shooting and the second shooting. They say they have a bunch of ballistic tests to conduct and they actually have a person of interest they say they are talking to tonight who is cooperating.

BATH: Well, quite frankly, whether it was a lone event, whether it was linked, whether it was two separate events, the first event was serious enough to warrant immediate warning of the entire campus community and that should have been done after the first event.

They're saying they thought it was a domestic incident. I don't care. It was a double murder with other students injured in the process. That alone should have been sign enough to them, time to warn the entire campus. And the thing that's so upsetting is they had an incident in August on the first day of school where they also did not adequately warn the campus community.

So you know, they should have learned from their first mistake, I'm sorry to say, and now the whole country needs to learn from this incident and get these systems in place.

It's not so easy to secure a campus, but it is possible to warn the entire student body and faculty and workers if something like this is coming down the road. If is comes to their attention, they need to have a system in place to warn the campus community immediately.

ZAHN: Catherine Bath, thank you so much for your perspective tonight. Now, we know very little about the Norris Hall gunman tonight, but you might be surprised at how much we do know about what turns people into mass killers. Stay with us for two experts' insights. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY SENNESSY, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Walking across and I see the SWAT team swarmed around Norris. And I had no idea what was going on. And all of the sudden, I just hear these shoots -- like these fires going off and like all of these gunshots and like everyone just started screaming run and everyone ran across the Drillfield.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: We are back with tonight's breaking news, the campus shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, 33 people are dead, more than 15 wounded in two sets of shootings that police have not yet been able to link. And they say they might not be able to do so until they finish all of their ballistics testing.

Now many of the wounded were sent to Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg and that's exactly where we find our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She joins us from there tonight.

Is the hospital confirming anything about the condition of any of these patients?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula, they are confirming some of the conditions of the patients. The patients started rolling in at 7:30 this morning. One was dead on arrival. Three more than 12 hours later are in critical condition. Six are stable. Five have been discharged and two have been transferred. That's 17 patients in all. Four of whom needed surgery.

This hospital, which is a 146-bed hospital, it is not a major trauma center, it has set aside a room for family and friends of the wounded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT HILL, MONTGOMERY REGIONAL HOSPITAL: We're in the process of working with Virginia Tech to help make sure that these patients' families are notified as needed. And, you know, we're just trying to get through this tragic incident. We're in communication (INAUDIBLE) right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Another area hospital received five patients, two of whom have been discharged. Three of whom are in stable condition -- Paula.

ZAHN: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for that update. It's going to be a very, very long night ahead for those families. My next guest was in a building next door to Norris Hall where 30 died before the gunman took his own life. Brendan Quirk (ph) is a graduate student. He says he saw people jumping out windows, trying to escape the gunfire, among other things.

Thank you, Brendan, very much, for joining us tonight. So you were in Patton Hall right behind Norris Hall. What else did you see?

BRENDAN QUIRK, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Well, it was a normal day. We'd gone in. It was a 9:00 class. I mean, we pretty much got through most of it and we noticed out the window cops a long ways away, more towards McBride Hall. And the consensus to the rest of the class that it was another bomb threat like in the past weeks.

And then all of a sudden today, a police vehicle came flying up through the grass up this hill way off the road up towards Norris. And when everybody saw that, we knew something was up. Class ended and we went out into the central area where the stairs are in Patton Hall and there was a mass gathering of people.

The students that had jumped out of the second story were down there. There was an individual who had -- his foot sprained or possibly broken. There was another girl that was upstairs who had the wind knocked out of her and everybody was crowded around the windows to see the action that was going on at Norris.

ZAHN: And tonight, unfortunately, families are just starting to get the very bad news, confirmation of the deaths. Did you know anybody that died?

QUIRK: Well, there is a student in my department who had a close, close family member who was in the -- one of the classrooms and I just learned not too long ago that he did not make it. There was another student of -- that I have a class with and I still have not gotten any news on how he is doing. But he was confirmed to be in the classroom.

ZAHN: I can't imagine how all of you are coping tonight, knowing that the crime scene hasn't been cleaned up, knowing that family members, not all of them, have even been called with the confirmation of the deaths. Describe to us what students are doing and how they're taking this horrible, horrible day.

QUIRK: Well, it's an extremely intense day. I can only speak for my roommates. We got back and we watched the television for a while. But after about an hour or so, we just couldn't take watching the news anymore. We just had to get out. We left to go out and have lunch. We just had to take time, our own, to talk about, discuss it amongst ourselves, not continue to watch the news and hear the same things repeated over again and to keep reminded about the situation. It just took for us to hang out together and to go through it on our own and discuss things. Other than that, I've -- that people that I have met on my way over here -- that I've found out about certain people, it's kind of in this little hysteric. There's just no words to describe the reactions that I've seen from others. And I'm still not sure, you know, how I'm taking it. I'm a little shaken. I have so much sympathy for other people. And it's just very hard to describe what other people could possibly be feeling.

ZAHN: And, Brendan, I guess what I understand from talking to you, who witnessed this carnage is that the shock in some cases is turning to anger. And a lot of students and their parents are outraged that the campus didn't go into a lock-down mode after the first shooting, earlier in the morning. Almost two hours and 20 minutes before the second shootings.

QUIRK: Yes, like I said, my class is at 9:00 and I got up like any regular day, left my apartment around 8:45, drove to campus and was in sitting down and we had a regular class all the way up until about 9:45. I had no idea that there was any incident over on the other side of campus.

I think the first e-mail went out about 9:26. And I can't speak for other people, but right now, I can't see myself getting too mad at anybody else except for the perpetrator, the gunman. I can't put blame on anybody except him.

But it is very unfortunate. I don't know the logistics behind the administrative e-mail system. It's just unfortunate.

ZAHN: So are you willing to say tonight that this might have been prevented if the communications were better, at least the second tragedy?

QUIRK: I -- it's definitely a possibility. It's definitely true. I don't know. I mean, it's still up to any other college student to wake up in the morning and decide to check their e-mail before going to class. Especially early in the morning, a lot of people may not have time.

But it seems like after the run that we had in the scare from the opening day of the Morva situation on the opening day of classes in the fall, that this is something that should have been planned for and that there should have been a routine set in place for any kind of drastic situation like this.

ZAHN: Well, the administration certainly on the defensive tonight as so many of those questions are being raised. Brendan Quirk, thank you so much. And our heart goes out to all of you in your community.

On everybody's mind tonight, what triggers someone to go on a rampage? Killing and wounding dozens of people? Joining me now, Casey Jordan (ph), a criminologist and professor at Western Connecticut State University.

Welcome.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: As you know, the campus police are not confirming, nor is the administration, that these two killings are -- two separate killings are related. But based on the facts that we know tonight, what -- let's talk about the Norris killing where we know that over two dozen people lost their lives. What could potentially drive someone to that kind of anger?

JORDAN: Well, since we have the updated information that apparently the gunman was not a student at the university, that puts a new spin on things. Because in most of these campus shootings, it's a very personal, it's not random. It's a revenge shooting to get back at specific students or professors or -- and even an institution that has done the person wrong in his perception.

ZAHN: But they don't seem to have very much information on the gunman who killed himself. He didn't have any identification on him.

JORDAN: Right.

ZAHN: They certainly didn't give us any information on what his potential motive might have been.

JORDAN: Well, if he is indeed the same shooter in the early dorm shootings, I would link those two in terms of the fact that it was, perhaps, what Jack Levin (ph) is going to call a love killing, out of a perverse sense of possessive love, if I can't have her, no one can, a gunman may kill his estranged girlfriend or wife, and then develop and attitude of complete downward spiral, a kind of whatever factor.

There's no reason to continue living. You're probably not going to get away with it, so you might as well wreak as much havoc as possible.

ZAHN: But I think we're jumping too far ahead here. Because the only thing we've heard was a reference earlier today in a news conference when they thought that they just had a domestic disturbance on their hand. They thought it was an isolated incident.

JORDAN: Correct, and that is the natural thing to think. I think people are --naturally emotionally they want to blame the campus for not doing more, but I don't know of anything, any case that's similar on a campus where you have two completely different shootings in different locations two hours apart.

If it was indeed the same gunman, there was no reason to expect the massacre at Norris Hall. We have no case that has been similar to this. In most cases, mass murders have killed family members or loved ones prior to doing a mass murder, do it in a completely different location unrelated to their domestic situation.

So that's the unusual thing about this particular situation.

ZAHN: But it's so confusing in listening to this news conference. They were saying the description given of the gunman who killed two this morning and wounded others did not match the description of the gunman who killed himself.

JORDAN: Right.

ZAHN: Now that description could have been off, right?

JORDAN: It could be. Because we know that when people witness these sorts of situations, their perceptions are very skewed. They talk about how time slows down to nothing and we don't know if there was a disguise, is there was different clothing worn. We have to get the answer to that. The idea that they're completely unrelated really strikes me as far-fetched.

ZAHN: If it turns out that there is a ballistics match and law enforcement is able to make the link between the two, what would describe why this guy would wait for a couple of hours to come back and kill more?

JORDAN: Well, a few things. They aren't sure whether or not he's linked to the bomb warnings that happened a few days prior. If that turns out to be true, then that actually changes the analysis as well. If, indeed, he had not planned to do a mass murder today, had actually killed these people in the dorms and then had time to go home, get weapons, get chains, get padlocks, that would indicate -- the time lapse would indicate that perhaps massacre at Norris Hall was not part of the original plan.

ZAHN: Well, we are trying to get into all of these details tonight as law enforcement is struggling to get this information as well.

Casey, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

JORDAN: Great to be here.

ZAHN: After today's massacre, things will never be the same again. Of course, on the campus of Virginia Tech, the student body is still in a state of shock tonight, and tonight the president of the Student Government Association is calling for a time of healing, Adeel Khan joins me now.

Adeel, thanks so much for being with us.

ADEEL KHAN, PRESIDENT, STUDENT GOVT. ASSOC.: Thank you for having me.

ZAHN: If you would, describe some of the conflicting emotions people are feeling tonight, the tremendous sense of loss, the grieving, and some of the anger people have talked about that perhaps the second group of murders could have been prevented.

KHAN: As far as the anger goes, I'd say the anger was an immediate -- just an immediate thing for each student. More than the anger, though, beyond that, that is just an immediate reaction. What we're looking to do is definitely take a step toward healing. Already immediately -- I'll tell you this right now, what the students did immediately -- I received a call from another member of the Student Government Association and what we did is we mobilized students.

We held a meeting right when we were allowed to come out of lockdown. We held a meeting amongst the student government leaders and we organized this -- the meeting to take action.

We're not looking to place blame on anyone. We're looking to start the healing process. And we started that today at 5:00 p.m. We've already planned a candlelight vigil for tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m., again, that's tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. on the Drillfield. And that's the center point on campus.

And the candlelight vigil, we expect over 40,000 students, faculty and staff to attend. And once again, we're just -- we're trying to build a healing process here. We're not looking to blame anyone, we're not looking to dwell on things in the past. We're definitely just trying to repair whatever damage was done today by the shooter.

ZAHN: The sad reality is, Adeel, you may very end up knowing one of the victims. How do you prepare yourself for that and your fellow students as law enforcement now and the university is just beginning to confirm those dead with family members?

KHAN: And you don't prepare for that. I couldn't -- I was an emotional wreck at first. And I've gotten a little bit better throughout the day, but just a moment ago I saw one of my closest friends crying, and I just didn't want to ask. Because I -- whenever I see that list of students, I know that even if I didn't know any of them closely, if I see their faces -- they're faces that I've seen around this campus.

And just a loss of another Hokie student, you'll see in people that the Hokie community is just very close. We all care about each other, whether we know these people our not, we do care. And we are -- you're going to see that outpour tomorrow at that vigil. You're definitely going to see the outpour of support. And it's just -- it's a terrible situation and it just -- it shouldn't have happened.

ZAHN: It is so terribly sad. I'm just curious if Virginia Tech has told you what kind of counseling they might provide for all of you as you try to heal.

KHAN: They've -- Virginia Tech has already taken active steps, the administration has, in setting up counseling centers. They've set up counseling centers in residence halls. And they have also set up -- we already have a counseling center in existence called Cook Counseling Center, which any student can go to to receive counseling.

And they've been working all day and night. And I know they're doing their best possible job. And I'll tell you right now, these students are uniting and you're going to see that. The student leaders here, students here are uniting and they're going to -- they're going to show you what kind of student body is here at Virginia Tech.

And speak to any alumni -- I've said this throughout the day in interviews I've had. Speak to any alumni and any student who goes here and they'll tell you that Virginia Tech is probably the best place they have ever been. The students here care about each other. People here in this town care about the students. It's just -- it's a great place.

It's a beautiful place. And this is just something that you could never expect.

ZAHN: Well, you certainly have to depend on each other in these dark hours ahead. Adeel Khan, thank you so much for your time.

I have just been handed a bulletin that now is confirming the fact that Governor Kaine has declared a state of emergency in the state as they try to coordinate response to the shootings. I'm not sure exactly what that means because law enforcement just told us in a news conference just about an hour ago that they are actively pursuing all leads. That a person of interest is not on the loose. It is a person, in fact, that has been cooperating and talking to them. So we'll get a better sense of what this state of emergency actually means down the road.

Let's quickly go to Deborah Feyerick who is also at Virginia Tech tonight. She has been talking with students and joins us right now.

What have students been telling you, Deborah?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, there's a great sense of fear and also worry. Students were locked inside their dorms today, glued to the television sets listening to the reports on the news. They were desperately calling friends who had gone out to classes and also frantically trying to get in touch with friends who had not yet returned even after the lockdown went into place.

Now authorities are running the lists of tests on the two guns that were found to try to connect these two shooting incidents, but most troubling to the students that we spoke with is that one, in the first shooting, the gunman seems to have gotten into a dorm that requires a swipe card, meaning that that person is affiliated somehow with the university or was let into the dorm.

Now in the case of the second shooting, what was most troubling to those we spoke with is the fact that that shooter may have put chains on the doors to keep students from getting out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: When you heard that chains had been put on the doors of Norris Hall, what did you think?

ZACHARY BORGERDING, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I just was amazed that that could happen, just shocked. Just to imagine someone carrying chains with them to shut people inside and do what he did is -- can't even comprehend. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Now there are dozens of police cars on campus this evening. Also, when we were driving here, we saw dozens of police cars on the highways. And in many cases there were ambulances. We must have seen at least half a dozen of them presumably carrying the wounded and the dead -- Paula.

ZAHN: It is just so hard to watch these pictures over and over again. I wanted to add one little thing, Deborah, that came out of the news conference, when you describe how chilling that was that these students learned the gunman had barricaded himself and chain himself inside the dorm (sic).

When we heard that round of fire at the top of the show, there seemed to some speculation there might have been some fire from police as well. But it has just been confirmed that there never was a shoot- out.

So, Deborah Feyerick, thank you so much. We will be live at the scene tomorrow night from Virginia Tech. We hope you will stay with CNN throughout the night. Once again, this is deadliest school shooting on record in the United States, 33 dead, including the gunman. Larry King will have in the next hour. Thanks for joining us.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines