Return to Transcripts main page
Names Released of Victims, Shooter in Virginia Tech Massacre; Survivor Shares Story; Sketchy Details Emerge on Blacksburg Gunman
Aired April 17, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Hello. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
BETTY NGUYEN, CO-HOST: Those pictures there just say so much. Hi there, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
One day after the deadliest shooting massacre in U.S. history, we now know who is behind it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: We have been able to confirm the identity of the gunman at Norris Hall. That person is Cho Seung-Hui. He was a 23-year-old South Korean here in the U.S. as a resident alien.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The gunman, senior English major Cho Seung-Hui. Police say he killed himself after killing at least 30 others.
NGUYEN: Yes. They died in Norris Hall, an engineering building. Now, earlier, two other people were killed in a dorm room.
LEMON: And Betty, so far, we know the names of six of those killed: engineering professor G.V. Loganathan and engineering professor, Liviu Librescu.
Freshman Matthew La Porte from Dumont, New Jersey; senior Ryan Clark from Martinez, Georgia; Ross Alameddine, a student from Saugus, Massachusetts; and just a short time ago, we confirmed the identity of a sixth victim, freshman Erin Peterson from Centreville, Virginia.
NGUYEN: And unfortunately, as you look at the list of those killed, we have a lot more names to go, which is a sad, sad part of today.
But coming up at 2 Eastern, CNN brings you live coverage of a convocation service at Virginia Tech. President and Mrs. Bush will be there.
All classes are canceled for the week, and Norris Hall, where the majority of those students and professors died, well, that hall will be closed for the rest of the semester.
LEMON: We'll be following the president in that convocation. We're learning more about the victims and also more about the gunman. Cho Seung-Hui's family lives in Centreville, Virginia. And that's where our Bob Franken is now. He talked with neighbors and joins us now by telephone.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Centreville, Virginia, is a suburb of Washington near Dulles Airport. It is where he grew up. It's where the family has lived for several years. And now the place is crawling -- this is a homeowner's association -- crawling with news reporters, that kind of thing, to the point that the police acting on the owners of the homeowners' association, have just asked cameras to leave the development, which explains why I'm on the telephone right now.
But it is also a neighborhood where most of the people did not know the Chos very well. One who did have some contact with them was the postal worker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: OK. Tell me -- tell me what you can tell me about them.
ROD WELLS, POSTMAN FOR SUSPECT'S FAMILY: Well, there's not much I can tell you. I've been their mailman since they've lived there. And every time I delivered packages to them, they're always nice and smiling. They're not home that much, because I guess they both work.
But I didn't meet any -- I never met any of the kids. So I wasn't sure how many there even was. But I know the family are sweethearts. They're always smiling, always -- they seem very polite and just -- it's just breaking my heart. I can't believe -- no parent deserves that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: Now, this family, of course, has been so disrupted, as have been so many families at Virginia Tech.
The investigation continues. They say that last night, police authorities came. That includes local. It included state police, and we're told federal authorities came and searched the house. By that time, the Chos had left. We don't know where they are.
But this is a neighborhood that is very much in shock and now having to deal with this onslaught of media.
He went, apparently, to Westfield High School, which is the high school in nearby Chantilly. The sad irony is that just last year, there was another shooting -- you might remember it -- a substation of the Fairfax police, two died. And the person who was accused of that was a young man named Michael Kennedy. He, too, had gone to the same high school -- Don.
LEMON: Bob Franken on the ground where Cho Seung-Hui lived, in Centreville, Virginia. Thank you so much for that, Bob.
And South Korea says it is stunned that one of its nationals is suspected of committing the atrocity. A foreign ministry official says, "We are in shock beyond description. We convey deep condolences to victims, families, and the American people."
The ministry also says it hopes the shootings won't stir up racial prejudice or confrontation. South Korean diplomats are on their way to Virginia Tech now.
NGUYEN: Meanwhile, though, Don, 17 people remain hospitalized after the shootings. Doctors say they are just stunned by how the brutal the gunman was.
Let's get you on the ground now to CNN's John Zarrella, who is at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Talk to us about the wounds and how many of them were located in just one person, as these victims would come in one after another.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Betty.
What happened here yesterday was they received the first two victims very early on. May have been from the dormitory, they're not clear on that.
Then when they got word of the mass casualties coming, they declared what's called a Code Green, which is their disaster plan was put into effect. They called in some extra doctors.
But the team here, for the most part, was able to handle all of the injuries, and they were extensive. The one emergency room doctor we spoke to very early today was telling CNN that he had seen no less than three gunshot wounds in all of the victims that he attended to.
And we talked with a couple of students who had come in to see some friends. They were saying that one of their friends was shot twice in the leg and once in the arm. Another young man was coming to see his girlfriend, who had been shot in the wrist.
Another young couple that we spoke with was coming to see their friend, who was actually in pretty good shape. He had jumped out of that second story window to escape the gun fire and managed to save himself that way.
Now the CEO of the hospital did tell us -- was able to tell us that everyone here, and at the other hospital they're responsible for, are all in stable condition now. And that is good news, because there were three here last night who were in critical condition.
And finally, they carried out six surgeries here, none today. Four major surgeries yesterday and two minor surgeries. But, again, at least that's some bit of good news here, that everyone here is in stable condition -- Betty.
NGUYEN: That is good news, John. But let's clarify a little bit. Because about this time yesterday, we were learning that there were some 29 people injured in this shooting. We're looking at 17 still in the hospital. Was that number correct? Or does that simply mean that many of them were already released?
ZARRELLA: Right, some are already released. Now, can't give you an actual firm number. We know that the number here are nine. And they were all in stable condition.
There were at least five or six that were released from this hospital already. And then there were a couple that were transferred to other hospitals because of the severity of their wounds. And then there were a couple that were already released from other hospitals.
So the number continues to fluctuate. I think we're about to get an update in just a little bit. So hopefully, within the next 30 or 45 minutes, I should have some more good information for you on the status here at the hospital -- Betty.
NGUYEN: And just very quickly, as you talked to these students who were coming to meet with their fellow friends and the students, did they say anything about that conversation with those victims who were inside the classrooms where the shooting took place? Have they provided any additional information?
ZARRELLA: You know what? What they're telling us is the -- one of the couples in particular said, "Look, we tried to keep our distance. We didn't want to press him about what had happened." It's still so fresh and so raw on all of their minds. And how these people are trying to recover from these wounds that nobody who wanted to see them wanted to press them.
If they volunteered information, the students went in to see them said, you know, then we listened. But for the most part, we were just there to offer our sympathies and condolences and express the feelings of the entire college campus that everybody is behind them, hoping for their swift recoveries.
NGUYEN: Which is completely understandable. Thank you, John Zarrella.
LEMON: And most of the victims yesterday were just about to begin their adult and professional lives. And one of the victims from yesterday's shooting was just a month away from graduation.
His name was Ryan Clark. He's 22. He studied psychology, biology, and English. He was from Georgia and a resident assistant in a dorm where the shooting rampage began.
Clark's twin brother and his sister spoke about their grief today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN CLARK, RYAN CLARK'S TWIN BROTHER: I guess there's a point where the initial thing is devastation. There's a point that you say to yourself that there's -- he's in a better place. And that's all you can do is just know that he went doing something he loved, being an R.A. and enjoying life.
NADIA CLARK, RYAN CLARK'S OLDER SISTER: He was a great person. And he wanted all of the families to, you know, stay upbeat you know, to know that Virginia Tech was a great school. That's where he wanted to go. We found out -- all you saw was he's going to Virginia Tech.
So, he lived a full -- he lived a full life for his young age. He was happy. He was doing what he wanted to do. So we just want to tell all of the other families, you know, we send your condolences. And we're sorry. So we know what you're going through, and you know, we'll get through it all together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Clark was one of the first victims in the shootings at Virginia Tech.
NGUYEN: And there is a lot going on today especially with that convocation which will take place in less than an hour from now at the Cassell Coliseum on the campus of Virginia Tech.
We do want to let you know that the president will be speaking at that convocation. In fact, we have some video of him just arriving in Roanoke, Virginia. You see there, Air Force One about to land.
The president and the first lady, Laura Bush, will, as I mentioned, be on hand for this convocation ceremony.
I want to give you a little more information from Virginia Tech's web site about what we're expecting to see at 2 p.m. Eastern today. Along with the president and first lady, Governor Tim Kaine and his wife will be in attendance. Also, members of the clergy, students, of course, will be there.
And that they're going to do is they're going to be sharing messages of condolence to the family and friends of the victims. And they're also going to provide words of hope to the entire nation as we all recoup from what is happening today, the worst mass shooting in our nation's history.
So as soon as that gets under way, of course, we'll have it live right here on CNN.
LEMON: And we're going to talk to someone now, and I want to hear from her what she wants to hear at this convocation. She thought she had just moments to live. She used them to say good-bye to those she loved the most.
It turned out, Stacey Fuller survived the Virginia Tech massacre, and she joins us next with her story. CNN NEWSROOM continues.
LEMON: Let's get back to the gunman now. Let's talk about him. Survivors say he was calm, cool, and knew what he was doing. Let's go straight to the Virginia Tech campus and CNN's Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Don.
We still don't know much about the why, but we do know more about who the gunman was here at Virginia Tech. Twenty-three-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, a South -- pardon me, a Korean national, a resident alien, who had established his residency in Centreville, Virginia. That's a suburb of Washington, D.C., very close to Dulles Airport there.
He was an undergrad, a senior majoring in English, and he lived in Harper Hall, a dorm very close to West Ambler Johnston, the dorm where the first shooting yesterday took place.
Police say they found two weapons at Norris Hall, the site of the second shooting, and ballistics tests have provided perhaps the first link between the two crime scenes.
LEMON: All right. Brianna Keilar on the ground for that. We'll find out much more, I'm sure, in the coming days. And you said at 5 p.m. again, that is the only scheduled update from police, correct, Brianna?
KEILAR: Yes. We're expecting an update today at 5 p.m. And we're hoping to learn even more, Don. As you -- as you know, we learned a lot this morning compared to what we knew yesterday. And we're hoping that continues to be the case.
LEMON: Brianna Keilar. Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: Well, for many young people who grew up with the Internet, it serves as an alternate community. And in the hours after these awful attacks, students have taken advantage of that, logging on to check on people, or assure friends that they're OK, and also to share their stories.
With more now, CNN Internet correspondent Jacki Schechner joins us from Washington.
I imagine we're learning so much about those involved and those victims, too, through the Internet.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's instantaneous, Betty. I want to give you first another i-report that we got in here to CNN today. This came in from someone named Casey Clark. He is a freshman. If I can get that to play for you.
I want to give you the view through the peephole in his dorm room. He lived on the seventh floor of something called Lee Hall. If that will play for you. And you see the police go by there. He says they were screaming get in the rooms, lock your door. He says this was the scariest part of the whole day. He's now left campus. He's home with the parents.
What we are finding out are some of the names and faces to go along with those who were victims of yesterday's shooting. And unfortunately, we are getting more and more of these as the day go on. They give you some personal insight.
From FaceBook, the social networking site, this is Reema Samaha. She is from Centreville, Virginia. She says in her FaceBook profile she likes to dance and theater, and she has a sense of humor, saying that at this age she still has a blankie.
I have to tell you, people are using her profile to reach out and tell her, surprisingly, how much they miss her. They're posting photographs of her online.
We also just got confirmation of the passing of Emily Hilscher. She was a freshman. She writes on her MySpace profile she likes snowboarding and music. She was from Woodville, Virginia.
Also, Daniel Alejandro Perez Cueva from Woodbridge, Virginia.
Also want to show you pictures from FaceBook of Matt La Porte, a sophomore. He was into Poli Sci and leadership from Dumont, New Jersey. He says he aspired to be commissioned in the Air Force and work in intel.
Also, Erin Peterson, an 18-year-old from Centreville, Virginia.
All day we've been telling you about Ryan "Stack" Clark. There's now a FaceBook profile set up remembering him and people are putting their photographs to remember Ryan. What they say is that he was witty. He was kind. He was the kind of guy who knew everyone.
And one more for you. Ross Alameddine. He was intelligent, they say, funny, easy-going. Obviously, like all of these kids, going to be missed tremendously.
People posting online, FaceBook, MySpace, not only telling each other they're OK in the wake of all of this, but also commiserating and remembering their friends -- Betty.
NGUYEN: You know, just looking at some of those pictures, Jacki, I get chills. Because especially for those who had died in this awful shooting, not only do you see their pictures, but you also see them describe themselves in their own words. I mean, that's what sites like this do -- FaceBook and these other sites -- they allow them to set up their own profiles.
SCHECHNER: We hear the slew of numbers, but when you go on to a site like this, you get some real insight into their actual lives. I mean, this is the way that kids are communicating on campus. They're using these social networking sites the same way they would meet up in a cafeteria or in a dorm room. It's really their virtual community. So this, unfortunately, now is where they have to grieve, Betty.
NGUYEN: Jacki Schechner, thank you so much for bringing us that --Don.
LEMON: Imagine thinking that you only have moments to live. Well, she thought she just had a few moments to live. She used them to say good-bye to those she loved the most. In turned out Stacey Fuller survived the Virginia Tech massacre. And she joins us with her story, straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: First, though, the shock. Now the second guessing. Virginia Tech's campus police take it on the chin from many observers. But is the criticism fair? Well, CNN's security analyst Mike Brooks is going to delve into that. He's up here in the NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: There are still so many questions and lots of opinions about how the university handled this crisis as it unfolded. So joining us now with more on that is security analyst Mike Brooks.
And let's talk about this piece-by-piece. Because when we look at investigators talk about the two different shootings...
MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Right.
NGUYEN: ... they're very cautious in saying that this was related. So, I want you to take a listen to what was said earlier by the Virginia state police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. STEVE FLAHERY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: What has just been reported to you is that the ballistics tests says that one of the weapons used in Norris Hall was also used in the AJW shooting. We have not -- the evidence has not led us to where we can say with all certainty that the same shooter was involved at -- at both instances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: OK, Mike. So if the same weapon was used in both shootings...
NGUYEN: ... why doesn't it seem obvious that it's the same shooter?
BROOKS: They want to make sure, because there was such a long gap in between. What I'm saying...
NGUYEN: Two hours.
BROOKS: Two hours. As a former investigator, I want to -- they're going to make sure they cross all their "T's" and dot all their "I's". Because he said earlier today they have one chance to get it right. They want to make sure they get it right.
Now, he said it's also reasonable to conclude that it was the same shooter. But they want to make sure. There's a lot of other forensics they're doing, working on right now.
NGUYEN: And there was that person of interest. Remember, we heard a lot about that yesterday. BROOKS: Right. That was -- they filled in a lot of gaps today, Betty. And the person of interest, apparently, was the acquaintance of the female victim in the dorm room. And he apparently -- they pulled him over on the traffic stop. And they were talking to him about his involvement, if any.
But apparently, he is now talking with police and law enforcement officials, and they're trying to fill in some of the other gaps. You know, what they're going to go back -- they're going to go back and say, "OK, where's this piece of this puzzle? How does it all fit together?"
So maybe this guy -- they're trying to figure out if this person knew this woman, if there was any relationship, any you know, stalking behavior, anything at all that could be involved with this guy.
But, again, he was not under arrest last night. He's still not under arrest. And he's now cooperating with police. But you know, I don't even like the term person of interest. I call it suspect lite. You know, either you're a suspect or you're not.
BROOKS: But he was someone who is apparently now cooperating with law enforcement.
NGUYEN: Well, let's go back to that two-hour gap.
NGUYEN: And the fact that the same gun was used in both shootings. There is some speculation that in that two hours maybe the shooter went back to his dorm and reloaded, got some more ammunition.
BROOKS: That's speculation. But early on yesterday, when things were unfolding, one of the things I said, just by looking at this, this is someone that knows the campus, knows what -- knows what he's doing, knows where he's going.
And now we find out he was a student living there on campus, a senior, English major, 23 years old, and knew that area very well. So in the early commotion of the shooting at the dormitory, he could have gotten -- just kind of mingled in with everybody on the crowd -- on the campus, went across the drill field, went back to his dorm, and then reloaded, thought about this. Because this is not something he did spur of the moment. This was a planned out thing.
NGUYEN: OK. But that very point there leads to the anger that's being expressed and the criticism that's being expressed. Because you have a two-hour gap here.
NGUYEN: We even heard from students on this very show that said, "Look, I did not get notified..."
NGUYEN: ... "until minutes before the shooting that another shooting had occurred two hours later. Why weren't we told that?"
BROOKS: That's a good question. And questions do need to be asked. And I think after all of this is said and done and all the students are buried, they're going to go back, and they're going to say, "OK, what did we do well and what did we not do well?"
And you know, you learn from our best practices and sometimes by your worst practices. We go back to Columbine in 1999. We're coming up on the anniversary of that, 20th of this month. And we learned a lot. Law enforcement learned a lot about Columbine. Now, they're going about their training and things that they do differently today.
Are we going to learn differently from this? Probably so.
NGUYEN: Well, let me ask you this very, very quickly.
NGUYEN: Because when you look at the two guns that the shooter used -- this being a South Korean national -- you've got a .22 and .9 millimeter Glock.
NGUYEN: How easy is it for a national, a foreign national, to get guns like this?
BROOKS: You know, it's very easy for anyone, whether a foreign national or not, to get guns like this. They're sold all over in gun stores across the country.
You know the first thing I thought of? When you hear this many people shot, high-capacity magazine. That's what all the talking heads are talking about yesterday.
But I heard from a source late yesterday that it was a Model 19 9mm Glock. And other sources were telling me that today, and last night, that it was a Glock and also this .22 Walther that we see right there. It's .22 caliber, 10-round magazine capacity on the Walther and a 15-round magazine capacity on the Glock 19.
NGUYEN: So much damage.
BROOKS: There really is.
NGUYEN: All right. Mike Brooks, CNN legal analyst. We appreciate your time today. Thank you.
BROOKS: Thank you, Betty.
LEMON: Betty, Mike, Stacey Fuller is a senior at Virginia Tech. She was in Norris Hall when that shooting started. And she joins us now.
And Stacey, just over 24 hours out of this. How are you doing today?
STACEY FULLER, SURVIVED SHOOTING: To be honest, I was better yesterday when I was in shock and just felt completely numb. And today I actually just can't stop crying.
LEMON: Can't stop crying. Tell me why. I mean, it's obvious, but why can't you stop crying?
FULLER: Yes, I just -- I guess I feel swamped with emotions from, you know, happiness that I'm alive, to sadness for my fellow students and wondering why I wasn't chosen, why I wasn't in that room. Why did he choose the second floor over the third floor?
You know, part of me feels guilty we didn't call the police sooner, didn't realize, you know, what was going on, that it wasn't construction, that it was, in fact, gunshots. You know, there's just -- I've got a lot of emotions.
LEMON: And Stacey, it's quite common, anyone will tell you. It's called survivor's guilt or survivor's remorse, that you're dealing with today.
You were inside of the hall, as we said, when all of that happened. You actually called your fiance and you called your family. What did you say to them?
FULLER: I did. You know, I called my fiance. And I told him -- I said I was taking the exam. And now I don't know what's going on, but I think there's gun shooting. And I don't know what's going to happen but I love you.
And I called my mom and I told her the same thing, and I told my sister the same thing. And I couldn't get in touch with my dad. But I wanted them to at least know if I never talked to them again, how I felt.
LEMON: If she never talked to them again, how I felt. That's amazing.
As I understand, and I'm not sure of this, Zach Petkowicz (ph), who is a student. Our Kiran Chetry interviewed him earlier this morning. And people are calling him a hero, how he tried to put himself between the door and the gunman from coming into the school.
LEMON: Was this the same ROTC cadet that was in the class with you, or is that someone different?
FULLER: No, he was in the class with us.
LEMON: He was? OK, so he tried to help save you.
LEMON: Are you crediting him as well today as being a hero in all this? Do you think he helped out?
FULLER: Absolutely. And I'm also very thankful to the girl that came back upstairs after the exam and told us that it was, in fact, gun firing that we heard. You know, because that's when we suddenly realized what was going on. And that's when everybody decided to act. And that's when the professor and the cadet decided that maybe we should go across the hall for safety.
LEMON: Yes, we were just talking to our security expert, Mike Brooks. Betty Nguyen here was talking to him about sort of the anger that some of the students are telling us about today that, you know, between the two hours there should have been more notification. And we don't know exactly what went down. But how are you feeling today? Is there some anger or are you just sort of still numb?
STACEY FULLER, VIRGINIA TECH SENIOR: You know, I am angry and I don't know -- I'm angry at the guy who did it. And I understand why campus didn't shut down. I understand they felt they caught the guy and I understand that they thought it was an isolated incident, but I am kind of angry that I was in class that day. I remember we were sitting in the room and we were calling people and that's when we found out that actually there had been a shooting earlier and we all looked at each other and said why are we here? Why are we even on campus? It was hard to comprehend that.
LEMON: And of course hindsight is 20/20. So we don't know. We can look back 24 hours later from our armchairs and say what should have been done and what shouldn't but an investigation will probably indicate if proper steps were taken. I want to ask you this before we leave you. You're going to that convocation today where the president is going to speak, correct?
FULLER: I am.
LEMON: What do you want to hear and what do you hope to get from this?
FULLER: Maybe I hope -- gosh, I don't know, maybe just closure, some kind of closure so that I can feel that I can move on with my life now. And I don't want to be afraid to go back to class and maybe we'll hear something. Maybe they're going to have some sort of new campus safety or something. But I just don't want to be afraid to go to class.
LEMON: Stacey Fuller, thank you for joining us. We're glad to see that you're OK and we wish you and your fellow students, classmates, family and friends, we wish you all the best. Thank you.
FULLER: Thank you very much.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: As you heard Stacey, she is going to be attending that convocation. Virginia Tech today is gathering to mourn this stunning loss. You want to stay with the NEWSROOM for the latest developments including live coverage of that memorial service which takes place at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, less than half an hour from now. Also, cnn.com has a special report on the Virginia Tech shootings, view a photo gallery of CNN I-reporters. You can also read witness accounts and even watch video captured of the scene. That and so much more, all of it in a special report at cnn.com/virginiatech. CNN NEWSROOM continues in a moment.
LEMON: Hello everyone. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. We are just about 25 minutes away from a memorial service at Virginia Tech, the scene of the deadliest shooting massacre in U.S. history.
LEMON: And today Betty, we're finding out who is behind the gun. Senior English major Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old South Korean national. Police say he killed himself after killing at least 30 others.
NGUYEN: Those 30 died at Norris Hall in the engineering building, most of those 30. And earlier, two other people were killed in a dorm.
LEMON: So far, we know the names of the nine victims. It's engineering professor G.V. Loganathan, engineering professor Liviu Librescu. And among the students Betty those killed, Matthew Laporte, Ryan Clark, Ross Alameddine, Erin Peterson, also, Emily Hilscher, Reema Samaha and Daniel Cueva.
NGUYEN: Just some of the more than 30 names that we'll be hearing. And coming up at 2:00 Eastern, CNN will bring you live coverage of the convocation service at Virginia Tech. As you know, President and Mrs. Bush are attending that.
LEMON: As we wait for the president in the convocation, we want to get back now to the gunman.
Survivors say he was calm. He was cool and he certainly knew what he was doing. Let's get straight to the Virginia Tech campus and CNN's Brianna Keilar. What do you have for us now, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, the gunman, 23-year old Cho Seung-Hui, a Korean national who had been in the United States for years as a resident alien. He established his residency in Centreville, Virginia. That's a suburb of Washington, D.C. near Dulles airport and he attended high school there, Westfield High School in the area and he was an undergrad here in Virginia Tech, a senior majoring in English and he was a resident of Harper Hall. That is a dorm short distance from West Ambler Johnston where that first shooting took place.
And police say they found two weapons at the Norris Hall shooting, the second shooting yesterday. Ballistics tests have provided what appears to be one of the first links between the two crime scenes. You'll recall yesterday, there was some confusion over that. But Virginia state police chief Steven Flaherty said today it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that the two crime scenes are linked, but they haven't gone as far as to do that because they're being diligent. They're really connecting all of the dots here before they make sure that they say that, Don. Another thing, authorities describing Cho as a loner -- perhaps not a big surprise here, Don.
LEMON: All right, Brianna Keilar, thank you there on the ground for us at the campus. Also on the ground at the campus, our very own John Roberts and Kiran Chetry, our "AMERICAN MORNING" team. They have been covering this story through the morning and will continue for us this afternoon starting with that presidential, the convocation that the president will attend. Hi, John, Kiran.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey good afternoon, Don. Hi there, Betty. It's really one of those days here that you just can't believe happened -- the fact that 32 people on this campus were killed yesterday and the outpouring of grief and emotion, the anxiety, the stress, the lack of being able to understand what happened yesterday still pervades the entire atmosphere here today at Virginia Tech.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's true and just the sheer exhaustion of all of those emotions. We heard from many of these survivors throughout the morning on "AMERICAN MORNING" today and we talked to many of them and a lot of them said that they were going to do whatever they could to attend this ceremony today that's coming up in just 30 minutes because of the fact that they felt the need to share this fellowship with others and to get together and remember and honor and just pause to -- to take in the enormity of what happened.
ROBERTS: We talked to a lot of students yesterday who were still trying to absorb -- still trying to understand what was going on. And the one thing that we heard repeatedly was this idea that Virginia Tech really is a -- is a community. And it's been made even more so by what happened yesterday, that students are relying on each other. They're getting together. They're talking about the situation. Many of them, including some students who we talked to who were actually in Norris Hall yesterday, one of whom was shot, are still trying to come to grips with the situation. This one fellow, Derek O'Dell that we talked to, had been shot through the upper arm, was talking about it in very matter of fact terms. I said to him, do you yet have any idea of what happened to you? He said, you know, I'm probably in shock, but it will probably settle in sometime in the next few days and I'm not looking forward to what happens when it does.
CHETRY: A range of emotions as well, there were some we talked to who just couldn't wait for the three weeks until graduation happened and they could just be done with it. And others who said they can't even imagine returning to classes. I mean there were plans and I don't know if this is still going to happen, to reopen perhaps on Wednesday, as early as tomorrow. And there are others who said I just can't imagine having to return to those classrooms. We do know that Norris Hall will not be reopened for the remainder of the semester.
We do want to give you a quick preview of what's coming up in this convocation that's taking place in just about 25 minutes from now at Cassell Coliseum. As we know, the president of the university, as well as the board of visitors, the governing body of the university, will be giving some opening statements there. They're actually going to be the faiths of all communities, Muslims represented, as well as Buddhists, Jewish and a Lutheran minister to preside over some of the ceremonies.
ROBERTS: And President Bush will be here as well. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of debate at the White House over whether or not the president should attend. As you can imagine, the logistics in bringing the president anywhere are pretty extraordinary to try to bring him in to the middle of this situation might present what the White House was concerned might be just a little bit of too much of an onerous situation. But after a lot of discussions with the board of visitors and the president of Virginia Tech, the White House decided it would be a good idea to bring the president here. He will be speaking at this convocation this afternoon, expected now to start in about 20 minutes' time, Don, Betty?
LEMON: You know what I have to ask you, Kiran, because it was a very stunning moment on television this morning. I saw you interviewing Kiran, Zach Petkewicz, who is an ROTC student and he was credited as being a hero. He broke down when you were interviewing him. And I just wonder if that shock had worn off and this was the moment that he realized the magnitude of what was going on?
CHETRY: Yeah, it was one of those moments where you're glad that you can bring a story like Zach's out so people can understand, because I think it was really at that moment it crystallized for all of us just how emotional this was. We were down here and sometimes the logistics in racing around to get to a story like this and report it and then when you just feel and get to hear the raw emotion that was coming out of Zach as he said, I was petrified, I was cowering in the corner. And then something came over me and I thought, I have to do something. And then as he recounted that and refused to take credit or be called a hero, his only words after those tears were simply I'm glad I could be there. And, boy, he really brought it home to us.
ROBERTS: I think what happens in situations like that is, you get survivor's complex. You've done all you can to try to save other people and to think in the next room there are dozens of people who are dead. Survivors in situations like that start to question, well, why did I make it out and other people didn't? I would expect that Zach went through a little bit of that today when he was talking to us. That's the way that I think we're going to see it hit these students in the coming days and weeks is that they'll sit back, those that are very close to the tragedy yet survived and managed to get out and live through the ordeal will probably come to that realization that, hey, I made it out, but other people didn't. What does that mean for my life? And why did that happen? And what does it mean to the rest of my life here on earth. So people will be asking themselves a lot of questions. And that's why the university is making available counseling because they know that there are these hallmark developments of post traumatic stress which a lot of these students will be going through because of this. NGUYEN: That's a very good point -- I was going say because we spoke to someone earlier, Don did, to Stacey Fuller who really expressed in no uncertain terms that survivor's guilt that she felt of being allowed to survive such a thing as this. You were saying, Kiran?
CHETRY: I was just reading through some of the latest information that all of our reporters have been gathering around. And as we find out more about the suspect, it is also alarming to read that there were perhaps some warning signs, that there was some disturbing writings that he had penned, apparently, in some of his classes, that he was described as a loner. And, in fact, it's being reported that he was perhaps recommended to get some counseling. And those are all of the things that will be mulled over as well as many who survived through this and even those who were not necessarily there ask themselves, could we have done something -- could this have been prevented?
ROBERTS: Remember back to Columbine when people were wondering, what happened? How could something like that happen at that high school. And then as we began to peel back the layers of the onion on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's lives and their psyches, it became very obvious that there was some real trouble there. These are still preliminary reports about Cho Seung-Hui on what he may or may not have been writing about, what his state of mind may or may not have been. But as the days progress here, we're going to learn a lot more about him and it may in fact become clear that there were warning signs there, Don and Betty.
LEMON: John Roberts, Kiran Chetry, we look forward to your commentary on this convocation. We'll see you in just a bit. Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: In the meantime, Virginia Tech gathers to mourn this just stunning loss. You want to stay with the NEWSROOM for the latest including live coverage of today's memorial service at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
NGUYEN: The convocation on the campus of Virginia Tech today is set to take place in about 11 minutes from now.
LEMON: "AMERICAN MORNING's" John Roberts and Kiran Chetry picks up our coverage from here.
ROBERTS: Good afternoon to you. I'm John Roberts here on the campus of Virginia Tech where we have been here since late yesterday after hearing about this tragedy, broadcasting "American Morning" to you from here today and again tomorrow morning as well.
CHETRY: That's right and I'm Kiran Chetry and we are just minutes away now from the memorial service that's taking place here at Virginia Tech, as we know, the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. ROBERTS: And today we learned who is behind it. The gunman is a senior English major, Cho Seung-Hui. He's a 23-year-old South Korean national. Police say that he killed himself after killing at least 30 other people. They died at Norris Hall. It's an engineering building, but it's a building that's used for other classes, finance classes, language classes as well, so not strictly engineering. Earlier, two people were killed in a dormitory known as West AJ. So far we know the names of nine of these victims, engineering professor GV Loganathan and engineering professor Liviu Librescu. Interesting story with Liviu Librescu. He's an Israeli who came to Israel from Romania. He's a holocaust survivor and he died on holocaust remembrance day.
Among the students killed, Matthew Laporte, Ryan Clark, Ross Alameddine and Erin Peterson, also Emily Hilscher and Reema Samaha and Daniel Cueva.
CHETRY: Coming up at 2:00 Eastern, CNN brings you live coverage of that convocation service that's taking place at Virginia Tech. Many will be attending that today, including the president and the first lady, Laura Bush. They are both attending as well.
As the Virginia Tech campus mourns, police are pursuing a very active investigation and there are some new details that are surfacing today. Our Brianna Keilar has been following all of that and she joins us now with more on that. Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kiran. The first details have to do with who Cho Seung-Hui is, 23-year-old who authorities describe as a loner, as you said, a Korean national. He had been in the United States for several years as a resident alien. He had established his residency in Centreville, Virginia. That's a suburb outside of DC. Now he was an undergraduate here at Virginia Tech, a senior majoring in English. He was a resident in a dorm called Harper Hall, a dorm not fall from West AJ as John called it just a couple buildings away. Now police say that they found two weapons at Norris Hall. That was the site of the second shooting, of course and ballistics tests have confirmed what is perhaps one of the first links between these two crime scenes. You recall, there was some confusion yesterday over that. But Virginia state police chief Steve Flaherty saying it would be reasonable to assume now that these two crime scenes were linked. They're not going on a limb and saying that outright. But he said they're being diligent and they're connecting all of the dots here, Kiran.
CHETRY: All right, Brianna, finding out new details every minute. We'll check back with you for updates. Thanks so much.
ROBERTS: Seventeen people still remain hospitalized after the shootings. There is some good news though, all of those people are stable. Doctors say that they are stunned by how brutal, how methodical the gunman was. CNN's John Zarrella is in Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg where he's been following the condition of all of the people who went there for treatment yesterday. John, what's the latest from Montgomery? JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John, we expect another update at about 4:00 this afternoon where, in fact, a couple more surgeons will come out and talk to us about what they witnessed yesterday. One of the surgeons who was on your program of course this morning on "American Morning" talking about the brutality of the shootings, how he witnessed three gunshot wounds in just about everybody that he attended to. In all, there were six surgeries performed here, four major surgeries, two minor surgeries. None performed today or in the overnight hours. Those were all performed yesterday. There are nine people still here in the hospital, nine victims.
The good news -- they are all in good condition and three others in stable condition and three others also in stable condition at the sister hospital to Montgomery. We did have an opportunity to talk to a lot of the students who have been coming here today, many of them bringing in flowers to their friends. One we saw carrying in a stuffed teddy bear. We talked to -- we talked to one couple who said that their friend, in fact, he jumped out of the window -- one of those who jumped out of the window and broke one of his legs. Others that we talked to talked about their friend shot in the wrist. Another, two gunshot wounds to the leg and one to the arm. So the -- the extent of the injuries -- it's -- it's remarkable that so many of these people are in stable condition today and doing well and the doctors here and the CEO said that's a credit to the team here and how fast they mobilized in what they call a code green, which was their disaster plan. Put that right into effect as soon, John, as they knew they were getting mass casualties here at the hospital. John?
ROBERTS: John, it really is an extraordinary tribute to the men and women of that hospital, their ability to be able to react to situations like that, particularly when you consider that they're a level three trauma center, not a level one trauma center, very small town too, John. And the fact too, John, and I found this extraordinary this morning, I'm wondering what your thoughts are -- the fact that people who came in with gunshot wounds each had at least three wounds. There was nobody who had less than three wounds.
ZARRELLA: No, that's what's so phenomenal, at least three gunshot wounds. Most everyone who came in here and there were at least 17 yesterday. This is the hospital that attended to all of them. And as you pointed out, the majority of them, anyway, as you pointed out, the doctors performing such admiral work and in fact, they did it basically with the emergency room staff that was here, they did call in some additional doctors according to the CEO, but they handled all of this extreme trauma on their own. That's incredible. John?
ROBERTS: All right, John Zarrella for us live outside of Montgomery Hospital. John's going to continue to monitor the situation there. We'll keep coming back to him throughout the afternoon for updates.
CHETRY: That's right. Meantime, we're just about six minutes away now from the convocation ceremony, the remembrance taking place at the Cassell Coliseum here at Virginia Tech campus, President Bush as well as the first lady, as well as the governor of Virginia. I believe he came back from Japan correct?
ROBERTS: He was on a mission to Japan. It was supposed to be -- it was a trade mission. He literally got there, had to turn around and come right back.
CHETRY: He certainly saw the importance and wanted to be here today as well. We're going to bring that ceremony to you live. We're going to take a quick break and our coverage continues here at the Virginia Tech campus. Please stay with us.
CHETRY: And we are here again at the Virginia Tech campus where we are moments away from a memorial service that's going to be taking place. We want to get some information out though, some new information about that suspect, Cho Seung-Hui. And Jim Acosta has had a chance to talk to some unnamed officials who paint an interesting picture, a disturbing picture, if you will, about his past?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Kiran. Yes. We were just over at Shanks Hall, where is where the English department is located here on the campus of Virginia Tech and what we heard over there is disturbing. We understand that administration officials have some prior knowledge about some writings of Cho Seung-Hui's that was disturbing to them. Apparently about a year ago, some of his writings became an issue for some in the faculty here. This is according to this unnamed academic official that we talked to. And that information was brought to the then department chair who then turned the information over to the administration. And today we were over at Shanks Hall. There were various reporters talking to the current chair of the department, Carolyn Ruud (ph). But the time we got there, she was already escorted away and is now talking to the police about these writings. But apparently, the writings were described as troubling, nothing more said than that, except for that they are now trying to get those writings to investigators. They believe that they can access those writings and get them to investigators at some point today.
CHETRY: It really is some fascinating bit of information. We'll hear more from you about that. Jim, thanks so much.
Meantime again, let's try to get a live picture now from Cassell Coliseum. That is where just in a couple of minutes from now, the start of that remembrance ceremony is going to be taking place. There are going to be many dignitaries present, campus officials, as well as the president, who left Andrews Air Force base a couple of hours ago to make ...
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com