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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
The Latest on the Virginia Tech Massacre
Aired April 18, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a stunning new look at the Virginia Tech killer, in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO SEUNG-HUI: When the time came, I did it. I had to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Video, photos and writings from the gunman sent to NBC News, apparently mailed in between Monday's two bloody shootings.
And new revelations that the killer was put in a mental hospital two years ago and that a Virginia court order declared him mentally ill and a danger himself or others.
We've got all the latest and we'll go inside the killer's twisted mind. One of his apartment mates tells what it was like living with him everyday. And his poetry teacher, who spoke at yesterday's convocation, tells why the gunman and his writings upset her so much. She threatened to quit because of it, if he wasn't removed from her class. Also, the owner of the store that sold the killer a gun. Plus, victims, families and friends who put a heartbreaking human face on the terrible toll at Virginia Tech.
That's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
The big story tonight, the package that Virginia Tech killer, Cho Seung-Hui, apparently mailed to NBC's New York newsroom some time after the first murders at a dormitory Monday morning and before the bloodbath he later unleashed in a classroom building.
That package, which NBC got today and turned over to the FBI, included video of Cho talking about what he'd done and would do.
Let's take a look at a clip from that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But no, I will no longer run, if not for me, for my children, for my brothers and sister that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I did it for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: John Roberts joins us from Virginia Tech's Alumni Center, the co-anchor of CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING" -- now, among the strange stories you have covered in your life, where does this rank?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN "AMERICAN MORNING" ANCHOR: This was sort of like if you put the Columbine killings and the Unabomber all together, Larry, and gave him a computer and said go crazy. I mean here -- here was a guy who glorified Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. He mentioned them in the series of materials that he sent off to NBC News, calling them martyrs.
He delivered an 1,800-page manifesto. You'll remember that Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, did the same thing.
He highly produced this. Apparently it was an electronic document and in between the paragraphs of this document were interspersed 23 Quick Time videos. Now, they were shot in a room -- most of them -- some of them were shot in a car, but most of them were shot in a room with a plain, concrete block background painted an off white color, which was described to me by a student here at Virginia Tech as typically what the inside of a dormitory room looks like.
So there is a good possibility, Larry, that he was inside his dormitory while his fellow students, who he has as suitemates, were in other rooms, putting all of this -- this -- this murderous and terrible language down on record, so that he could send it off.
I mean it really does seem to speak, Larry -- and I'm sure that the psychologists will be able to ring in on this better than me -- but it really does speak to this idea that has been described to us by survivors of this mass killing on Monday of Cho as a cold, calculating murderer.
KING: There was another NBC package, part of a package sent today.
Let's show that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be stood on your face and have trash shoved down your throat?
Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave?
Do you know what it feels like to have your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) slashed from year to year?
Do you know what it feels like be torched alive?
Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement?
You have never felt a single ounce of pain in your whole life. Yet you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can, just because you can. You've had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you slobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs.
You've had everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John, apparently there were a lot of photographs or pictures shown, as well?
ROBERTS: There were a number of photographs, Larry. You have shown them, with him holding those two weapons. He's got the Glock 19, actually, in his right hand right there, holding it up to his head. In other pictures you see him with two weapons. There it is -- the Glock 19 in the right hand, which is on the left hand side of your screen. That Walther .22 caliber in his left hand.
And, again, this is a page out of the Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris book. He's also wearing that vest that was described by some eyewitnesses as making him look like a Boy Scout. That's an ammunition vest. He had a number of clips in -- in that vest when he walked into Norris Hall.
If it is a 15 round Glock 19, it means that he could put fully 16 rounds into the gun for the first time around -- one in the chamber and 15 in the clip. He had to reload at least three or four times, counting the number of bullets. He killed 30 people in Norris Hall and then there were a number of survivors who were shot at least three times apiece, Larry.
So that's -- that's 30 bullets and then three times, probably 12...
ROBERTS: ... so another 36 bullets. So he had to reload a number of times.
And eyewitnesses said that he looked like he was an expert at doing that.
ROBERTS: He was very practiced. He was ready for this -- Larry.
KING: One wonders what tomorrow will bring.
Get some rest.
John co-anchors CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."
We'll see you tomorrow morning.
ROBERTS: All right.
Thanks very much, Larry.
See you then.
KING: Joining us now in Virginia Tech's Alumni Center is Karan Grewal.
He has shared a dorm suite with the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui.
What do you make of what you've just seen, Karan?
KARAN GREWAL, LIVED IN SAME DORM SUITE WITH VIRGINIA TECH GUNMAN: I was totally surprised by the new videos that came out. Until now, what I've seen and tried to talk to him, he never showed any interest in having a conversation with anybody. He never showed anger or disgust or hatred ever.
He -- he just seemed like a shy person.
KING: How long did you room with him?
GREWAL: Since last year in August. So about nine months.
KING: You said that -- you said that you steered clear of him, even though you shared the dorm suite.
GREWAL: I tried talking to him many times at the beginning of the semester. But he would pretend as if -- if you tried to talk to him, he would pretend as if he didn't hear you. If you pass him by in the hallway, he would look down on the ground and walk and not stare you in the eye when you passed by him, and just pretend that he's the only one in the room, if you're sitting right next to him.
KING: He rants about rich kids.
Did he ever discuss that with you?
GREWAL: He actually never had a conversation with me. Like I said before, he -- he just never spoke a word when he was around any of us in the suite.
KING: We understand somebody said there were changes in his behavior lately, changes in his sleep pattern.
Did you notice anything?
GREWAL: Well, he did wake up really early in the morning, most of the times around 7:00. If I got up to go to class, he -- I saw him up in the bathroom or sitting in the common area. But recently he started getting up pretty early. He started going to the gym late at night, also. And on Monday morning I just -- I was up studying all night. I saw him in the bathroom at five in the morning when I went in to freshen up.
KING: When all of this broke, Karan, were you shocked that it was him or not shocked?
GREWAL: When I heard about -- about the shootings, there was no information in my mind that it was him, because he did not seem like an aggressive person. He seemed calm and just private.
When I found out it was him by the police when they were there Monday evening with us, there was still a little doubt in my mind, maybe they're wrong. But when I saw his picture on TV the next day, it was a scary feeling.
Karan Grewal, who shared a dorm suite with the Virginia Tech shooter.
Up next, more chilling revelations on the Virginia Tech gunman from one of his teachers, a renowned poet who brought down the house at yesterday's convocation.
That's when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't friendly by any means. He was quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not actually saying he's going to kill someone and my argument was he seemed so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had told me that he might as well kill himself and so I told the cops that and they took him away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really felt very strongly that he was suicidal and there was an absence in the room when he entered that everything emptied out and just seemed very dark.
KING: Joining us now in Boston is Bill Gavin, the former assistant director of the New York Bureau of the FBI and president of The Gavin Group.
And in Peoria, Illinois is Nikki Giovanni, the Virginia Tech distinguished professor and poet activist. She taught Cho in poetry class.
Before we talk with Bill and then Nikki, here's another part of that NBC package.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bill Gavin, what do you make of this whole thing?
BILL GAVIN, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, NEW YORK FBI: Larry, he was just a seething cauldron of emotional hatred and it turned out to be murder. And when he finally had that emotional eruption, it was like a tsunami of carnage there on the campus.
And what's even worse, Larry, is what he did after the -- after the shooting in the dorm, and that is mailing that package. Now he's reaching out from the grave to increase the misery in the lives of the poor people whose -- whose relatives, friends, sons, daughters, husbands and wives were killed by him.
This is just atrocious. I can't believe a mind can be this sick.
KING: Would you not show it?
GAVIN: I think the -- there's a demand to show it. I think there's a risk of not showing it and also some emotional anguish in showing it. But I think that people have to understand maybe what it is they can recognize the next time -- and earlier -- in order to bring about a result that's much less than -- than this.
This is just horrible.
KING: Isn't a lot of it kind of gibberish?
GAVIN: Yes, it is. And, you know, when you heard him, when you read that 1,800-word -- I don't even want to call it a manifesto, I want to just call it a document -- that he's written, it doesn't make sense.
The important thing is, though, Larry -- not important to us, perhaps, but it made sense to him in that horrible state of mind, that insane state of mind that he was in, that it all made sense to him.
GAVIN: He did what he did and it made sense. It's just -- it's just atrocious.
KING: Do you think that this is going to affect security on all campuses?
GAVIN: I think everybody will be taking a look at their security protocols on the campuses, sure, Larry. That's the -- it's a natural thing for anybody to do right now.
How could we have done it?
They'll probably have some more tabletop exercises, red cell exercises, practice a little bit more, and maybe introduce a new protocol, maybe a reverse 911 for the kids' telephones when they're -- when they're on campus so they can just immediately hit a button and everybody gets a call on their cell phone if they register it with...
GAVIN: ... with the college.
KING: Thanks, Bill.
Bill Gavin, the former assistant director of New York FBI, president of The Gavin Group.
Now to Nik...
GAVIN: My pleasure, Larry.
KING: Now to Nikki Giovanni, who's back in Peoria, Illinois, the distinguished professor of poetry, who taught Cho in poetry class. What do you make when you see these things?
NIKKI GIOVANNI, POET, VIRGINIA TECH PROFESSOR: I think that the main thing that I think Larry said it was not obvious. This is all hindsight. And I think that Virginia Tech has taken a hit that we don't deserve right now because if we -- if we could have known that -- that this -- to me he was a mean boy, but I'm not a psychiatrist.
But if we -- if we could have known that he could have -- that he could or would have done this, don't you know we would have gotten rid of him?
I have four colleagues who are dead trying to stop him. One of my favorite students, Matt Laporte -- and I know that Matty died a hero because he was a great kid.
I've lost people that I care about.
Don't you think we would have stopped it if we had known it?
GIOVANNI: It wasn't obvious. And people are saying obvious. It wasn't obvious. It was a boy who -- who tried to intimidate people. He did ugly things. And I did, I thought he was a mean kid and I didn't want to be around him. And I did what I should do, which was tell my supervisor he's got to go or I'm going to resign.
KING: All right...
GIOVANNI: And I did that because I wanted people to know it was serious. I wanted Tech to know that it was serious.
KING: And the...
GIOVANNI: But it still wasn't obvious.
KING: In the package he sent to NBC, he put the name Ax Ishmael in the return address area.
Does that mean anything to you?
GIOVANNI: No, it does not.
KING: He never used that name...
KING: ... in class or anything?
GIOVANNI: No, you know, he was monosyllabic. It was a constant battle. The reason that I decided I couldn't deal with him any longer and that I was not going to be of help to this boy is that every -- every class -- I teach the Tuesday/Thursday. He would come in with his sunglasses, come in with a cap, come in with the thing. And, you know, Einstein said that, that doing the same thing all over again and expecting different results is a sign of insanity.
And I found myself every Tuesday and Thursday doing the same thing over again...
KING: Did you...
GIOVANNI: ... and expecting a different result. So I figured one of us is nuts and it wasn't going to be me, you know?
KING: Did you fail him?
GIOVANNI: No, I did not. Actually, he -- I asked that he be taken out of my class. And I wrote a letter to my supervisor, to my department head, Lucinda Roy. And you've spoken to Lucinda. I think you spoke to him last night.
GIOVANNI: And I sent his -- his letters. I sent what he was writing, the -- what he called poetry, which was not. It was -- it was nowhere near it. It was a diatribe. And I sent all of that to Lucinda. And I said he's got to get out of my class or I've got to resign, because I cannot ask students to come into a classroom that clearly I'm not controlling.
And if I had left Seung in my class, he would have been controlling it.
KING: How, Nikki, did he get to be a senior?
GIOVANNI: I don't know, because, again, it's not obvious. We -- we are 26,000 students. There are students who commit suicide. There are students who have other problems. You can't just go plucking them out because they may do something. Some people get all right. And he obviously got under some radar -- we are learning. I am learning things now. I am a poet and so I just went on my instinct.
I don't want to be around him. I don't want...
GIOVANNI: I don't want him near me. And...
KING: You made a smart move.
GIOVANNI: And I'm not saying that I was right.
What if he had graduated and become something really wonderful and all of a sudden he's got a Nobel Prize and it's like yes, and Dr. Giovanni kicked me out of class?
Boom. Then I've got egg on my face. I'm willing to have egg on my face.
GIOVANNI: I am. Because all I know is that something -- to me, the term would be evil, Larry. Something evil came in.
Thank you, dear.
Earlier, Bill Gavin.
When we return, three sisters and daughters caught in the crossfire of a senseless slaughter. But while wounded, they survived. Meet their families next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Joining us now in Blacksburg is Patrick Strollo. His 19-year-old sister Hilary was seriously wounded in the shooting rampage at Norris Hall. Hilary was shot three times, once in the stomach, once in the back, and one bullet grazed her head.
And with him is Dr. Patrick Strollo, Hilary's father. He's a pulmonologist and he works in with ICU patients.
Patrick, how is Hilary doing?
PATRICK STROLLO: She's doing great. She's making phenomenal progress and we're just so happy that she's safe and OK.
KING: So she is past any danger point?
PATRICK STROLLO: Excuse me?
KING: Is she past any danger point?
PATRICK STROLLO: Yes, for the most part. She's listed as stable now in the ICU and we should be expecting to see a significant amount of progress in the coming days.
KING: Dr. Strollo, what will be the after effects of this injury?
DR. PATRICK STROLLO: Well, Larry, we're very fortunate Hilary should make a very full physical recovery and she's been, obviously, through an incredibly devastating experience. And I'm hoping that the long-term will be very favorable.
She's in very good spirits. We're very grateful to all the friends and colleagues from Blacksburg and Pittsburgh and throughout the world that have been very supportive of her. She's...
DR. PATRICK STROLLO: ... had outstanding care.
KING: Younger Patrick, what's her -- how's her attitude?
PATRICK STROLLO: You know, right now she's doing her best. She's very peppy. She's excited to see all her friends.
Here in Blacksburg we have so many great friends who have come to wish her well and, you know, she just is nothing but happy and happy to be alive right now.
KING: You're a doctor, Dr. Strollo.
How would you assess the care she's getting?
DR. PATRICK STROLLO: Larry, she's received outstanding care. The personnel at Montgomery Regional Hospital have really done a great job. One of the most moving things that I encountered was today she met one of the officers that took her out of Norris Hall and it was just an incredible overwhelming emotion -- the amount of caring that these individuals, they expressed toward Hilary, and, really, the first rate care.
As someone who works in a major medical center, I have nothing but the, you know, the highest degree of praise for everything that's gone on. And it's really allowed me to function as a dad rather than second-guess any of the management.
KING: Very well said.
Dr. Patrick Strollo and son Patrick, about their sister and daughter, Hilary.
Going to make it well.
PATRICK STROLLO: Thank you.
KING: Also in Blacksburg is Danny Carney, the brother of Katie Carney, who was wounded and is recovering at a local hospital.
How is Katie?
DANNY CARNEY: Katie is doing very well, Larry. She's -- she's feeling all right. She's resting up. She just started moving around today for the first time, taking her first steps. And she's got plenty of support down there.
KING: Are you a student at the school, Danny?
CARNEY: I am not, no. I went to the University of New Hampshire.
KING: Were you close by? Where were you when this happened?
CARNEY: I'm actually -- I live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I'm in -- I'm in Boston right now. So I was...
CARNEY: ... I was up in New England when -- when the incident happened.
KING: Have you spoken to her?
CARNEY: I have many times. I've been in constant contact, or as much as I'll be allowed. Understandably, she's extremely busy. I've spoken with her every day since it happened and she seems to be doing really well and I couldn't be more proud of her.
KING: She's a beautiful girl.
Now, she was in the German class, right?
CARNEY: That's right.
KING: So that's where Jamie Bishop, her friend, was killed?
CARNEY: Yes, her instructor of the course, German, he was -- he was killed.
KING: How is she dealing -- does she have any survivor's guilt? You know, like why me?
CARNEY: Not that I can tell thus far. When I speak with her, I really haven't been pressing her on too many details. But I do know that the death of her instructor has -- has been a tragic blow for her. She was very close with him and she thought extremely highly of him. And it's -- it's been hard for her.
KING: That horrific scene is going to be in her for life, isn't it?
CARNEY: I would assume so. I mean I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since Monday morning when I heard. I can't even imagine what it would be like to -- to have witnessed it firsthand. And I know she'll deal with it all right. But it's going to be tough to forget about.
KING: How do you think she'll cope long-term?
CARNEY: I think she'll be fine. She's extremely resilient. She's a tough kid. You know, she grew up under my wing, so she's got to be tough. And, you know, she'll -- she'll move beyond it and she'll be a strong woman.
KING: She's going to finish school?
CARNEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm not sure if she plans on returning to Tech or not. I have not asked her. But I wouldn't be surprised to see her right back there next semester.
KING: Thanks, Danny.
Danny Carney up in New Hampshire.
And that's this segment of LARRY KING LIVE.
Up next, their son was torn from them before his time in Monday's massacre. His mom and dad will remember him, right after this.
As we go to break, we remember another victim, Matt Laporte.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I've lost a brother and it's -- it's extremely painful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His whole life lived ahead of him. I mean, and I know he would have accomplished so much because he was so bright. Such a waste of a beautiful life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That handsome young man you saw in many pictures is the late Jeremy Herbstritt who lost his life in Norris Hall on Monday. He was a 27-year-old graduate student.
Joining us now at the Alumni Center is Mike Herbstritt, Jeremy's father; Peggy Herbstritt, Jeremy's mother; and Ken Stanton, a student and friend of Jeremy's.
Mike, how did you hear about all of this? MIKE HERBSTRITT, SON MURDERED IN MONDAY'S MASSACRE: Well, we heard about this on Monday at 11:30 from the state police. We watched it on TV while we were in Boston all day and we really don't want to talk about much else about that.
KING: Peggy, how do you live with this?
PEGGY HERBSTRITT, SON MURDERED IN MONDAY'S MASSACRE: Larry, right now, I'm trying to focus on the positive things, the wonderful people at Virginia Tech who have been there comforting my husband and I and my family, the people who are his friends who have gone out of their way to help us through this tragic time. That's all I can say.
KING: All right, Ken, what kind of guy was Jeremy?
KEN STANTON, FRIEND MURDERED IN MONDAY'S MASSACRE: Jeremy was an extraordinary guy. When he moved into my building at the beginning of this academic year, you know, I didn't really know him yet but I invited all of the new people in the building to come down, you know, for a night to get to know each other. And you know instantly, he just starts talking and you get to know him quickly. He was very open, exciting, energetic and a very passionate guy.
KING: Mike, your boy was in graduate school. Did he go to undergraduate at Virginia Tech?
M. HERBSTRITT: No, Jeremy went to undergraduate at Penn State University. He had three majors: biochemistry, biomolecular biology and civil engineering.
KING: And a great school. Why did he go to Virginia Tech for graduate?
M. HERBSTRITT: He wanted go to a different school. It was his preference and he just fell in love with this area down here. He said, on the way down the first trip we took, he said, "Hey, Dad," he said, "Look at those fields on the way down the Interstate 81. He said there's Black Angus out there," he says. He says, "This is the kind of country we like."
KING: How far, Peggy, was he from a degree?
P. HERBSTRITT: He had been in school almost a year.
STANTON: Yes, it's typically a two-year program for his masters, Larry.
KING: Wow! He was such a beautiful boy.
Ken, from the pictures, he looks like a great guy.
STANTON: Definitely no doubt, no doubt.
KING: You know some people you can look at and say, "That is a great guy." Good luck to all of you and thank you for coming on with us. P. HERBSTRITT: Can I say one thing, Larry?
P. HERBSTRITT: Yes, I would ask for prayers not only for our family but for the families of the other students who were killed here at Virginia Tech. And Jeremy has -- at home we have three other children. He has two sisters and a brother and he was a great brother to him, a great role model not just academically but he had so much energy and passion for life. Wherever he went, the room was just lit up. You saw Jeremy's smile and if you were having a horrible day, you just can't imagine what that did for you whether you knew him or not.
KING: Yes, it shows.
P. HERBSTRITT: Yes. I know he's looking down watching over us. Thank you for letting us be on your show.
KING: Thank you, dear, God bless.
Now to Blacksburg, Virginia, where we're joined by Rochelle Low, the student friend of Caitlin Hammaren. She was supposed to room with her next year. And Kristen Wickham, a student friend of Caitlin, also supposed to room with her next year. Nineteen-year-old Caitlin of Wetown (ph), New York was a sophomore majoring in international studies. And two of her friends and college peers are here to talk about her.
Rochelle, what was Caitlin like?
ROCHELLE LOW, FRIEND MURDERED IN MONDAY'S MASSACRE: Caitlin was one of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. She was that type of person that would always come to you whenever you needed anything and she always put her homework last above anything else if you went to her. She would stay up until 4:00 in the morning not doing any of her work, helping you, and then would stay up the rest of night getting her work done, meeting a deadline that she totally brushed off because she wanted to help you out with your problem. She was an amazing person.
KING: Kristen, what was her major?
Her major was international studies and French. She was also majoring in French.
KING: The three of you became friends but now you were going to be roommates, right?
LOW: Actually, no.
KRISTEN WICKHAM, STUDENT, VIRGINIA TECH: I'm from Caitlin's hometown. We went to high school together and then I came to Virginia Tech through Caitlin because I knew she was here. And she was the one who had an influence on me applying here and coming.
LOW: I lived with her...
KING: Go ahead.
LOW: ... I lived with her as a freshman and I currently lived with her and I'm supposed to live with her next year as well.
KING: I see. Where was she killed, Rochelle?
LOW: In Norris Hall in her French class.
KING: How did you hear about it, Kristen?
WICKHAM: I heard about it through her parents on Monday night.
KING: You never get over this.
WICKHAM: No, you don't.
LOW: It's not going to go away any time soon. But as Hokies, we're going to stick together. We always will.
KING: During any part of this shooting, were you at all in touch with her or in contact at all?
LOW: The morning, I got the email about the first shootings in West A.J. and I texted her around 9:45 and it was more just along the lines of, you know, I hope you're OK. It was more along -- like a joking text message, like, what's going on at the school with all the bomb threats and everything? And then when I didn't hear from her about a half hour later, I realized that, you know, maybe something really is wrong.
So I text messaged her mom asking if she heard from Caitlin. And then her mom called about an hour later and said they were on their way down because they hadn't heard from Caitlin and nobody had and that's when we realized something was wrong.
KING: Wow! You never get over the loss of a friend. Thank you, Rochelle Low and Kristen Wickham.
When we come back, the owner of the gun shop that sold the killer one of the weapons he used in his rampage. And as we go to break, remembering another victim, Ross Alameddine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gave himself 110 percent to everybody around him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After French class, I think he came up and said, "Hey, you look like a nice person. Here's my screen name." We can chat online. He's really friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just always in a good mood. He was always optimistic, always smiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tomorrow night, former President Bill Clinton is our special guest.
Joining us in Roanoke, Virginia, is John Markell, the owner of Roanoke Firearms, where Cho Seung-Hui bought the guns that were apparently used in the shootings.
John, do you remember anything about that sale?
JOHN MARKELL, OWNER, ROANOKE FIREARMS: No, Larry, I wasn't even in the shop that day. I talked to the clerk who was there. It was such an uneventful sale. And it was five weeks ago. The ATF had to show us the picture so we actually knew who it was. I did not recognize him. I don't believe he's been in the shop before. The clerk barely remembered him because the sale went so smoothly.
KING: Any indication that he had ever had a problem with instability?
MARKELL: Oh, none at all. I mean we did the normal background check. We sent the paper work to the state police. They checked it out with the FBI and told us to approve the sale. And as far as his demeanor, he was just calm, collected, just a clean-cut college kid.
KING: Now, had you known he was described previously as mentally ill, is that a reason not to sell firearms?
MARKELL: Absolutely. There's a question on the form that asks that very question so he lied and put no.
KING: And of course, when someone lies, what can you do about it?
MARKELL: Well, in this case, the FBI should have determined that it was a lie but they didn't. There was really no way for me to get that information. Medical information is private and is not available to people like me.
KING: How long is the waiting period before you can pick up a gun?
MARKELL: There is no waiting period. We have to look at a lot of identification with a foreign national. So after I looked at all of that because that's a Virginia driver's license, a checkbook, an INS card and then we sent off the information to the state police. Normally, there's going to be a delay for someone who is not a citizen, so he probably walked out with the gun somewhere between half hour and an hour.
KING: Would you change any of the gun laws? MARKELL: I think somebody dropped the ball on his mental condition. As I understand it that is the only thing in his past that would have prevented him from buying a gun. If we have 20,000 gun laws, I don't think one more is going to make a difference. It wouldn't have stopped him. How many laws did he break when he killed all of those people?
KING: You told me today, we spoke a little earlier, that you're getting threatening mail?
MARKELL: We finally had to shut our website down after the 200th -- well, they weren't all death threats but most were, most threats -- many threatening bodily harm.
KING: So that's kind of ironic people opposed to guns are threatening you with bodily harm.
MARKELL: I have had two phone calls today calling me a murderer.
KING: Now, that's totally unfair, John. We're with you, and I thank you for sharing these moments with us.
MARKELL: Sure. My daughter went to Virginia Tech.
KING: Oh really?
MARKELL: She graduated in 1997.
KING: John Markell, the owner of Roanoke Firearms.
When we return, doctors and psychotherapists tell us all about disturbing behavior and how it can turn deadly and what science can do to stop it. We'll be right back with our panel. Don't go away.
KING: Let's meet our panel in Blacksburg, Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent; in Minneapolis, the criminal profiler, Pat Brown; here in New York, rather, Dr. Gail Saltz. She's the psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital School of Medicine. Dr. Robi Ludwig is with us, the psychotherapist, author of "Till Death to us Part;" and in Atlanta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon, author and CNN's chief medical correspondent.
Let's hear another clip from that NBC package.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: You sadistic snobs, I may be nothing but a piece of [EXPLETIVE DELETED]. You have terrorized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing, thanks to you, I died like Jesus Christ to inspire generations of weak and defenseless people.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: I know you're a reporter and not a professional, Ted Rollins, but what do you make of this?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unbelievable, Larry. Obviously, this individual wanted the world to know what he did. And this package that he sent to NBC is just amazing. It's heartbreaking.
And one of the things that one of the analysts who looked at this extensively at NBC said that he even made a reference to Columbine. And that really struck me because over the past week we were talking about the media effect on this. And boy, that really set me back.
KING: Pat brown, as a profiler, profile him.
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, he doesn't really care what the other people think, Larry. This is his ha, ha to them all. He's a vicious psychopath who might have been a nice person at one time in time when he was a little, little child but a cancer grew in him, he became to hate the world and he became a massive loser. And that's what he didn't want to be.
So he wanted lots of power and control. And he started working on how to get that. And he created quite a fantasy for himself; how he could feel the best, how he could one time show the world he was the prophet of the dispossessed. And he made up this thing to make himself essentially Jesus Christ, prophet, what his little mind decided to label himself.
And that to him -- he's, shall we say, the protagonist in his own drama. He's the hero to himself. Maybe the anti-hero to everybody else, but he doesn't really care how other people feel about this. All he wants to do is say to himself, "I am super important showing them."
KING: Dr. Gail Saltz, somewhere along the way was he curable?
You know to me this sounds very thought disordered. There are a lot of red flags here for some schizophrenia-like or psychotic disorders.
KING: He was chivalrous in his thoughts?
GAIL SALTZ: It's disordered. It's not consistent with reality. It's got religious overtones. It's got sexual overtones. It's got violent overtones. There's a lot of paranoia in it. It's tremendously grandiose.
He is the big player in his mind and he sends this thing afterwards so he'll live on afterwards. It's a lot of grandiosity, all consistent with some sort of psychotic disorder.
Yes, psychosis is treatable. That is the sad thing. Schizophrenia is treatable. Other psychotic disorders are treatable.
KING: Violence is a byproduct of this disorder? SALTZ: Potentially so. And you know people talked about what happened and were there red flags and why wasn't it stopped? You know in this country, if we understand more about mental illness, what the red flags were and then how to get someone into treatment, people like this potentially could be helped.
KING: Dr. Ludwig, what's your read?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSY.D., PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I agree. I think that this student was seeing life through a very paranoid lens where he really believed that the other students were somehow taunting him and interfering with him having the life that he thought he should have.
So I think he could have been delusional. He had false ideas about who these students were in relation to him. He was not getting the help that he needed. He didn't talk to anybody, so that had to have an impact.
There was clearly a neurological disorder that got him to operate without a social conscience. And so what I -- what's so striking here, when I look at the video, the degree of rage is even frightening for me to watch. There was no love. There was no empathy. There was no connection to anyone to balance out the anger that this kid was experiencing.
KING: Dr. Gupta, you did a very interesting piece on CNN today about organic causes. There's a study of Texas death row inmates, the study of their brains, 40 percent of them had damaged brains. Could this be chemical?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, perhaps, certainly. And even more than that, and the study that you're talking about actually talked about actual physical lesions or changes in the brain. You know there was a lot of interest in this after Charles Whitman in 1966 massacred so many people at the...
GUPTA: ...University of Texas, exactly. He was found in autopsy, Larry, you probably know this, to have a large brain tumor actually pushing on his frontal lobes. The reason that's important is that's the part of the brain that's responsibility for judgment.
And it's unclear. We'll never know for sure if that actually somehow caused him to act that way back in 1966. But that's something that can happen.
Twenty out 31 killers in this one study actually had some sort of brain abnormality, a physical brain abnormality. That's two-thirds of the people, Larry, so that's sort of an interesting finding.
KING: More with our outstanding panel right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But I will no longer run. That's not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you've [ bleep ], I did it for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back, somewhat limited on time.
Pat Brown, do we learn from something like this?
BROWN: I hope we learn something, Larry. I think we need to learn that we have to raise our standards about behavior so when people act in a dangerous and bad manner, as the case on the campus, all of the bad behavior that this man showed, it wasn't a private matter. He made it public and he could have been removed as a student. We need higher standards to say we cannot allow this behavior around us.
KING: Dr. Gail Saltz, could these kinds of people be spotted and stopped?
SALTZ: I think that -- yes, if the public were more educated about signs of symptoms of depression and psychosis and so on, and if there was left sigma and shame associated with mental illness as there are with other illnesses, then actually there could be more intervention.
KING: Dr. Ludwig, it's frightening to think that there may be a lot of people like this walking around.
LUDWIG: Yes. And I think we should assume that there are a lot of people like this walking around. And let's be safe rather than sorry. And I agree with Dr. Gail Saltz. Let's not make mental illness so stigmatized. And also there are certain cultures that have a hard time embracing treatment. So let's try to allow people to safety to get the treatment they need so this does not have to happen because it doesn't have to.
KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, can we expect tragically copycats?
GUPTA: Yes. You know well, I don't know. I mean we were talking about that same thing. I was very concerned about that and I think something like that could happen.
You know the thing that we were talking about a lot today is, is the system really in place to be able to take care of people who, you know, you sort of notice as being a little bit off? What do you do with people like that? You'd like to think that the system is going to work and be able to identify those people early. But -- and people lived with him, Larry. You had his roommates on your show. They lived with him and did not notice or predict that something like this would happen. How do you sort of parse these people out?
KING: Ted Rowlands, where do you think the story goes now? ROWLANDS: Well, this videotape or package is sent to NBC, of course, is going to bring the focus back to him, which is unfortunate. I tell you, being on this college campus and reading these names in the stories of these young people and every person that was tragically killed here, the focus should be on them. Unfortunately, for the next day or two, it'll probably be on him again, which is what he wanted.
KING: Thanks, Ted.
Thanks, to the whole panel.
Before we go tonight, we remember the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre.
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