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The Gunman; Gunman's Roommates; The Response; Minding Your Business
Aired April 18, 2007 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, from loner to killer.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was never with anyone. A professor. Another guy, girl.
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CHETRY: Roommates and teachers of the suspected Virginia Tech gunmen speaking out.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed like a very depressed person.
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CHETRY: Was it depression, anger? What set him off?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: While across campus, pain, grief and strength in numbers. Thousands leaning on each other. A show of unity on this AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: And good morning, once again. Thanks so much for joining us today. We are still here on the Blacksburg -- on the campus here in Blacksburg, Virginia, of Virginia Tech. And, of course, it is another day as people here just try to and grasp the enormity of the tragedy that has unfolded here Monday morning.
I'm Kiran Chetry.
ROBERTS: And good morning. I'm John Roberts.
Situated behind us, it's probably about 200 or 300 yards away, just up that hill and a little bit to the left, is Norris Hall, the scene where all that carnage took place on Monday morning. Last night the drill field, right in front of Norris Hall, an incredible scene of people trying to repair the damage, trying to come to grips with what happened. This amazing candlelight vigil where the sense of community, really that is always apparent at Virginia Tech, really sort of, you know, came to bear in one place last night.
CHETRY: You can hear them chanting "Hokies, Hokies" over and over and over again. There was that sense of unity. There's no one on this campus who this tragedy hasn't touched in one way, shape or form. And as we continue to update you today with news about the suspect, his mental history, with news about the people that are recovering and also the families remembering the victims, we want to bring in our Sanjay Gupta, who is with us as well.
Dr. Sanjay, great to see you.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning.
CHETRY: And a lot -- you were at the hospital yesterday, at Montgomery Regional, with more about the recovery from the physical wounds, but we're going to be talking about the emotional toll, as well, throughout the morning.
GUPTA: Yes. And much harder to sort of predict how that's going to turn, you know, in terms of emotional healing. A lot of people offered opinions on how best to treat that. A couple of absolutes that we do hear. One is that it's important to lean on people who have actually experienced this with you.
It was interesting, Jonathan, you brought up that -- a lot of the campus has become a ghost town. People sort of leaving and families sort of struggling with, well, how do I talk to my kid about this? What do I ask them? Do I ask them about it or not ask them about it?
ROBERTS: Yes, I mean, the primary thought that I got from a lot of these parents was just, I want my kid close to me. I'll figure out what to say to them later, but right now I just want them close.
CHETRY: Which is why a lot of people have actually left this campus. And when you look around, it's much more desolate than it was even yesterday.
GUPTA: Exactly. And so asking those open-ended questions so important. But also some good news from the hospitals. You know, patients actually stabilized, more so than the day before. So fewer critical patients. Just one now in one of the four hospitals. We'll keep an eye on that (INAUDIBLE).
ROBERTS: That's all good. And we'll keep checking back with you throughout the morning, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).
CHETRY: And we're going to get you updated right now on the latest and the newest developments this morning.
A portrait of the suspected gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, or as he liked to call himself Seung Cho. It's emerging now from roommates, teachers and others who knew him. The investigators looking through notes. In fact, two, three-page notes found in Cho's dorm room, apparently one of them included a bomb threat. None of them, though, explained why he did what he did. We're going to talk with the campus and state police in our next hour. Also, we are learning more names and seeing more faces of the 32 innocent lives lost on Monday. The medical examiner says it will be days before all of the victims are postally identified.
There are also 14 people still in hospitals. As Dr. Gupta just told us, one in critical, one in serious. The rest, though, have been considered stable at this point. Montgomery Regional Hospital will update conditions at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
And also we're expecting to hear a little bit more about Virginia's governor ordering an investigation of utmost interest, that two-hour delay between the first shooting that took place at the dorms and the Virginia Tech e-mail warnings to students.
ROBERTS: Yes, we talked with one student, who you'll see a little bit later on, who's very angry about the fact that he wasn't given the opportunity to change his routine that morning. He came to me and he said, had I have known, I probably would have stayed inside my dorm. He got close to the action, not inside, thankfully.
Now to the people who knew the gunman. Twenty-three-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, otherwise known as Seung Cho. His one-time poetry teacher spoke at the convocation yesterday. Nikki Giovanni tells "The Washington Post" that some fellow students were so afraid of Cho that they refused to come to class with him. She took her concerns to the head of the department. CNN's Jim Acosta has talked with here.
And, Jim, both professors say that even teachers were afraid of Cho. So you have to wonder immediately, why wasn't a greater red flag raised about this whole thing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John.
One of the few people to gain some insight into the mind of this killer, the former head of the English department here at Virginia Tech, says she tried to warn university officials about Cho, saying there were plenty of cause for alarm in his school work.
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LUCINDA ROY, PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: There seemed to be along anger.
ACOSTA, (voice over): Lucinda Roy may know gunmen Cho Seung-Hui better than anybody at Virginia Tech. She was the head of the English department during the fall of 2005 when one of Cho's professors came to her frantic about the student's disturbing writings. When confronted, Cho's responses were only more troubling.
ROY: For the most part, he wouldn't speak to people. So if you asked him something, he would -- there would be sometimes as long as a 20 second pause before he would respond.
ACOSTA: One of those writings, a play called "Richard McBeef," is laced with violate and perverted sexual references. In one passage, one of Cho's characters says, "why am I so angry with you? Because you murdered my father." Roy took the material to university officials. She wanted him out of the department. But she says she got nowhere.
ROY: I would go to the police and to counselors and to student affairs and everywhere else and they would say, but there's nothing explicit here. 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.
ACOSTA: So worried that Cho posed a danger to her students and faculty, Roy says she decided to teach the Korean student one-on-one herself. During their sessions together, Roy says, she urged Cho to seek counseling, but he rarely opened up.
ROY: In the end, I felt -- I was so uncomfortable that I didn't feel I could leave him in the classroom because some of the other students seemed to be uncomfortable.
ACOSTA: And school officials have yet to comment on Lucinda Roy's story. But in response to her comments yesterday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said, now is a time to look forward, not back.
ROBERTS: Jim, "The Washington Post" today says that Lucinda Roy was so concern and had raised such concerns about Cho's state of mind and also the threats against these other students, or the way that the students felt threatened by him, that university officials offered her protection?
ACOSTA: That's right. She mentioned that during the interview yesterday. She said that at one point during these sessions that she had with the student, a workshop she called it, she had campus security provide a security guard during some of those sessions. She was very concerned about this student and was so concerned that he was a threat to the students, to the faculty, she decided to take it upon herself to pull this young man out of his classes and conduct that one-on-one workshop.
ROBERTS: Well, this idea, Jim, I think that they were so concerned that they offered her protection raises a whole new set of issues that we'll have to delve into today.
Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
We're also hearing from Cho's roommates who call him a troubled loaner with imaginary friends who stalked his classmates. They talked with CNN's Gary Tuchman. Here's some of that.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Then something happened that you say he started harassing women at school here, right?
JOHN, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: Yes.
TUCHMAN: Tell me about that, John.
JOHN: I walked back to my room one night and there was a policeman in there. And apparently what had happened was he had gone up -- or he started talking to her online first. He found where she lived. Started talking to her on AIM. Then he went over there. He was using the name question mark. He said, hey, I'm question mark, and that really freaked the girl out.
TUCHMAN: So he was stalking her?
JOHN: Yes. He found out everything about her first.
TUCHMAN: And like he told this girl all the things he learned about her?
JOHN: I don't know if he told her that. But he thought they were playing some kind of game or something.
TUCHMAN: Did you know the girl?
JOHN: No. I didn't . . .
TUCHMAN: Was she freaked out about it? Did you hear later?
JOHN: Freaked out enough about it to call the police.
ANDY, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: There were two other instances that we know of. One was, one of our friends, he started following -- bothering her and another was down the hall.
TUCHMAN: And what happened in those cases?
ANDY: The one down the hall, I got the girl's screen name and kind of told her -- I IMed her and told her, this guy, you know, he's messing around with you. Here's his name and you should kind of ignore him and just stay away from him. And then the other time the cops responded again and Seung became upset about that and he had told me that he might as well kill himself. And so I told the cops that and they took him away to the counseling center for a night or two.
ROBERTS: The roommates said that Hui once admitted to having a fantasy girlfriend whom he referred to as "jelly" and who he says called him "spanky." We're going to hear much more from the roommates coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.
Boy, the portrait of this guy that's emerging, it just making you wonder why somebody didn't see the giant red flag that was being run up the pole.
CHETRY: I know. And there's just a lot of talk about what could have been done. Now that we see the outcome, it seems crystal clear. But beforehand, was there any preventative measures that could have happened?
Well, what do all of these accounts, by the way, say about the gunman's mental state? "The Washington Post" is reporting this morning that Hoi was treated actually for mental health problems. At the same time, this entire community is also reeling under its grief and pain. We saw that at the vigil here last night. And joining us more to talk about that is Sanjay Gupta. He is here with both sides of that this morning.
And first to the gunman. And we were talking about this, as well, out here this morning. Can you do anything when someone just seems weird or a loaner?
GUPTA: That's the thing that struck me the most, as well. I don't think that we have a system in place -- and, you know, we talked to lots of experts about this last night, but people who are just sort of strange. It's hard to say, well, based on their writings, they're absolutely going to do x, y or z or they're going to act in some sort of erratic behavior.
A couple of things. One is that he talked about suicide. And even with suicide, there's some things -- did he have a plan specifically to carry out the suicide or to carry out a homicide? Was he giving away prize possessions? Things that made you think that he wasn't going to be around any longer? Those sorts of things.
And with regards to the treatment, as well, I was really thinking about this a lot last night, being treated for these bizarre behaviors, being treated for depression. In very rare situations, sometimes right after you're treated, it sort of raises your energy level enough where you're not done with your depression, you still have it, but now you have enough energy to actually carry out some of these things that you've been thinking about for a long time. It's awful to think about, but sometimes it happens as well.
CHETRY: It is. Do you ever hear people say things like, I just knew, you know, right before I was attacked or right before something bad happened, I just had this feeling. That feeling that you get inside. And many people describe being made to feel so uncomfortable around him that they wanted him removed from his classroom.
GUPTA: Yes. And, you know, and it's interesting because, again, there's no -- so what do you do then?
GUPTA: I mean, he hasn't committed a crime. You can't institutionalize the guy. So what do you do? And I think that this is going to raise that question I think probably more than ever. We all know people like this. Maybe not quite like him, not quite like Cho Hui, but the people who have just acted erratically and you think, I wonder if this is going to be a guy who's going to do something extremely bizarre, extremely dangerous and what do you do. It's an interesting question. CHETRY: (INAUDIBLE), there's no easy answers to for sure, but we're going to be continuing to talk about it throughout the morning.
Dr. Gupta, thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: People looking back at this now, some people are saying, I wondered if he could have been a shooter. Is that just sort of arm chair quarterbacking?
GUPTA: I think so. You know, and they maybe even said it ahead of time. But then the question is, do you call the police? And, if so, what are the police going to do? He was treated or at least evaluated for possible suicide. But even then, you know, someone who's -- he's obviously a smart guy at a big university. So hard to say.
ROBERTS: All right. We'll keep checking back on that.
We'll talk with Governor Tim Kaine from Virginia, by the way, coming up. He has ordered an investigation into what happened here at Virginia Tech.
And all morning long we're going to introduce you to the victims through the eyes of their families.
You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING live from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
ROBERTS: Virginia Governor Tim Kaine had just arrived in Japan when he got news of the shooting here at Virginia Tech. Yesterday, the president of the university, Charles Steger, asked him if he would put together a panel to investigate the shootings at Virginia Tech and the school's response to them. Governor Kaine joins us now.
Governor Kaine, you've got a little bit of news to make this morning. You can announce who you're appointing to head up that panel?
GOV. TIM KAINE, VIRGINIA: Right. Yes. The president of the university and the board have decided to appoint a panel. They've asked me to appoint independent law enforcement expertise to assist in their efforts. Gerald Massengill, the former colonel, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, I've asked him to come back and serve on this panel. He was a state policemen for 37 years. He was the chief of our state police during both the 9/11 incident at the Pentagon and the snipers a couple years later and has great experience and he'll add this independent expertise that is needed to do the appropriate after review of this incident.
ROBERTS: A clearer picture of who the shooter was is beginning to emerge. And there are some troubling red flags, it seems, that -- I don't know if they were missed or they just weren't raised high enough or there's nothing that can be done about them. We were talking about them just a moment ago, the fact that he was taken out of a class. Nikki Giovanni, the famous poet, who is a professor here at Virginia Tech, said this kid's too much of a threat of my student. I don't want him in my class. Lucinda Roy, who was the head of the English department back then, tutored him personally, brought those complaints to the attention of school officials and yet not much was done. Was there a ball dropped here?
KAINE: Well, that's what the investigation -- you know, one of the things the investigation will look at.
ROBERTS: Well, what's your sense?
KAINE: We've got to get all the answers to these questions. And certainly, when you get good law enforcement expertise around the table, they can look at these items and decide, you know, what happened. Circumstances about the individual, circumstances about the shooting and the response are all on the table for this team to examine.
ROBERTS: And another issue that a lot of students have complained to us about, some say that they're down right angry about it, is this idea that the first shooting took place at West AJ Hall at 7:15. An e-mail alert did not go out until two hours and 10 minutes later. And these students said, had we had known, had we have had the choice, we could have altered our routines and we probably would have altered our routines. Was there a problem here with the university's response?
KAINE: Well, John, again, that's what the team is going to look at. And those questions are very important and they're very natural questions. The university was dealing with a very difficult situation and I know they dealt with it in the way that they felt was best. It is appropriate in a circumstance like this to put together a team in the cold light of day to look at everything that happened and . . .
ROBERTS: But let me ask you this question. You're the head of campus security. You have a murder on campus. Two people dead in a. residential hall. You haven't had a murder in at least three years, and probably longer than that. Would you have raised a larger red flag?
KAINE: You know, John, I'm not a law enforcement guy and I'm not here to secondguess the law enforcement folks. But that's why I've appointed the person that I consider really the individual with the most significant expertise in law enforcement, in the commonwealth, to be on this panel, to look at all these incidents.
ROBERTS: Right. How long is this going to take?
KAINE: Well, they're going to start immediately. You know, the idea is not to rush it. They want to be thorough. But I know that they feel a sense of urgency about getting about their business and then answering these questions.
ROBERTS: Another quick question for you governor. Virginia's gun laws, according to the Brady campaign, make it very easy for someone to purchase a handgun in this state. I'm a resident of this state, as well, so I know that quite well. But every time something like this happens, the gun control debate erupts again. Do you believe that there was anything that could have been done to keep guns out of the hands of this fellow?
KAINE: We'll see. I mean (ph) Virginia does have some gun laws that I think are models for the nation. The one handgun a month law began in Virginia, and that's something that other states have copied to limit purchases to one gun a month. How the individual obtained the guns, whether they were legal. Were the guns ones that would have been subject, for example, to the assault weapons ban had it been continued federally. Those are all questions that will emerge as we examine the circumstances.
ROBERTS: Well, Governor Kaine, I know that you've got a lot of work ahead of you on this. Thanks very much for spending some time with us this morning. Appreciate it.
KAINE: Good to be with you, John. Thanks.
ROBERTS: Good luck.
Coming up, the mind of a killer. It turns out that there really is something different about the brains of killers like Cho Seung-Hui. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to show us what it is coming up on this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, live from the campus of Virginia Tech.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the campus of Virginia Tech this morning. We are continuing to cover the aftermath of that massacre. We just heard from Governor Tim Kaine. And coming up, we're going to talk with campus and state police as well to find out more, not only about the lag time between the notification of the first incident and when the e-mails went out, but also how they responded to Norris Hall and to everything that went on there yesterday.
But first, we're going to talk more about the rest of the day's news. We have Alina Cho. She is holding down the fort for us in New York.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran, good morning.
And good morning, everyone.
President Bush will be meeting with top lawmakers at the White House today. It's an effort to end the stalemate over legislation to pay for the war in Iraq. Democrats want that legislation to include deadlines for bringing the troops home, something the president promises to veto.
Meanwhile, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll is out this morning. It finds 60 percent of Americans support Democrats and their push for a withdraw deadline. About a third, 37 percent, back the president.
Well, we knew he wasn't wearing a seat belt. Now we know the SUV carrying New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was speeding, too, going 91 in a 65 mile an hour zone when it crashed last week. That's from state police. Corzine was badly hurt with many broken bones. He is still in serious condition. At the time of a crash, a state trooper was driving Corzine to a meeting between former radio host Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team.
A grim, new discovery near Ground Zero here in New York City. Search teams have recovered 17 human bone fragments from a service road close to where the twin towers stood. DNA will likely confirm or rule out a connection to 9/11.
And more dog and cat food is being pulled off store shelves. Natural Balance pet foods is recalling its venison & brown rice dog foot and venison & green pea dry cat food. Kidney problems have apparently been reported in some animals that have eaten those products.
All right, about 24 minutes after the hour. Let's go to Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center. He's watching the remnants of that big nor'easter, which is still hanging around.
So more rain for the Northeast and that could mean more flooding, right, Chad?
CHO: Well, those massive storms earlier this week in the Northeast affected taxpayers trying to meet the tax filing deadline. Twenty-five minutes after the hour, Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business."
Well, I'm lucky, I filed mine on Friday, but we're getting a couple extra days.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People actually got into trouble because it was hard to get to places, they couldn't file as easily. So the IRS has extended the tax filing deadline. It was supposed to be the 17th at midnight for federal taxes. It's now been extended to the 19th at midnight for federal taxes.
And in most of the states in the Northeast, in fact, specifically New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, all of them have extended their state tax deadlines. Remember, you have two sets of taxes to file. So if you're in these Northeast states, you've got until, what is it, the 19th, which is tomorrow at midnight. Thursday night, 11:59 is when you've got that.
CHO: Tomorrow at 11:59, got it. OK.
VELSHI: In Virginia, in light of the tragedy, just to remind people in Virginia, state taxes in Virginia had been extended until the end of April, not as a result of what happened at Virginia Tech. But for those people in Virginia, just to remind you, you do have until the end of the month for your state taxes.
CHO: All right, Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business."
Ali, we'll check back with you later. Thank you very much.
All right. We're going to send it back to Kiran now.
CHETRY: Alina, thanks a lot.
Well, he freaked out fellow students, he alarmed his professor. Some of them actually fearing that he would hurt them. Could anyone have predicted that Cho Seung-Hui would do what he did? Science may actually have the answer to that. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us how many people's brains may be wired to kill. And if that's the case, what sets them off? Next on a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: A live picture right now. This is a vigil and a memorial, a make-shift memorial that's been set up there outside. They call that the drill field outside of one of the entrances here to the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.
And good morning once again. We are here live for a second morning on a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. It is Wednesday, April 18th.
I'm Kiran Chetry.
ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.
Just to give you just a little bit of the geography of this place, that vigil and that building is right next to Norris Hall, where all of those people were killed on Monday morning.
CHETRY: Well, just a little while ago, you had a chance to talk to Governor Tim Kaine.
ROBERTS: We did, yes. Governor Tim Kaine dropped by. He is, at the request of the president of the university, initiating an investigation into what happened. He's striking a committee.
He said that a former law enforcement officer who ran a post 9/11 investigation is going to be looking into that, as well. The results of that will probably take some weeks. But he's going to look into the response that the university had to all of this, also whether or not any warning signs about Cho Seung-Hui were missed, because we're learning an awful lot about the gunman now, 23-three-year-old Cho Seung-Hui.
His one-time poetry professor spoke at the convocation yesterday. Nikki Giovanni is her name. She tells "The Washington Post" that some fellow students were so afraid of Cho that they refused to come to class with him.
CNN's Jim Acosta has talked with another professor, who at that point was the -- at least during the time when Nikki Giovanni was having problems with Cho Seung-Hui, she was the chair of the English Department.
What did she tell you about her concerns? This is Lucinda Roy, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. She said she was so concerned about this young man that she went to university officials and said, look, I have professors and students coming to me saying that this young man is disturbed. If you look at his writings, they're filled with violence and other disturbing images. And she said that, you know, she needed help. "What should I do with this young man?"
And she says the university basically told her that because he has the right to write about whatever he wants in these -- in these poetry passages, in these plays, that basically that nothing could be done. And so she decided, Lucinda Roy, to teach this young man one on one, pull him out of these classes with the other students and faculty and teach him one on one.
ROBERTS: That was because Nikki Giovanni said, I have got students who are afraid of this guy?
ACOSTA: That's right. And I have to tell you, when we talked to Lucinda Roy yesterday, this was in the middle of the afternoon, and I think as she's done other interviews throughout the day, she's revealed more about this.
But when I talked to her at the time, she was very guarded about what she was saying. And she said, look, I'm in the middle of an investigation here talking to the authorities. I don't want to jeopardize the investigation. So she -- we didn't even hear about Nikki Giovanni during our encounter with Lucinda Roy yesterday.
But she said that essentially, yes, faculty, students, people were coming to her and saying, this guy is trouble. Look at this guy. He wears sunglasses even when he's inside. When you ask him questions, he gives these one-word responses. Very creepy, eerie behavior on the part of this student is what Lucinda Roy encountered during her time with him.
ROBERTS: Jim, in another interview, this one with "The Washington Post," Lucinda Roy revealed that she had been offered by campus protection against this guy. She didn't think that she needed it.
Did she ever express to you that she was in fear of physical injury or that she had received information that would make other people were about her personal risk?
ACOSTA: No. You know, "The Washington Post," I know they're reporting this morning that she says that she declined that security. Yesterday, during our interview with her, she mentioned something about security. It was my impression from talking to her that -- and others' impressions -- that there was some kind of security that was provided, or at least the police were keeping an eye on her during this time period. But she was not only concerned about this from a standpoint of the faculty and the students, she said she was also concerned for this young man.
And she told us that she tried for some time to get him help. She was urging him to get counseling and was talking to counselors on campus on what can be done about this student -- John.
ROBERTS: All right. Jim Acosta for us, right in front of the drill field there.
Jim, thanks very much. We'll get back to you.
Joining us on the phone right now is Nikki Giovanni. We managed to reach out to her. She's a very famous poet, she's a professor here at the university, a professor of English.
Ms. Giovanni, you probably heard some of what Jim Acosta was saying. I'm interested -- in 2005, you had some real worries about Cho Seung-Hui, who was a poetry student of yours. Tell us a little bit more about that. Fill in some of the blanks that we might not know.
NIKKI GIOVANNI, PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: He was a very intimidating student to my other students. And Lucinda Roy was at -- was the department head at that time. And I finally wrote a letter -- I didn't, you know -- I thought this we needed to have a bit of a record going, so I finally wrote a letter to Lucinda requesting that she take him out of my class -- which she talked to the provost, get him out of my class, which ultimately, she said she did and it needs to be done. I was not -- I was willing to resign before I was going to continue with him.
He came into class. You know, as he described, he would wear sun glasses and a cap. And I would say to him, you know -- because I treat all the kids the same -- you know, "Mr. Cho, please take your glasses off," which he would, you know, reluctantly do. And then I would say, "Mr. Cho, please take your cap off." And, you know, we would go through this sort of ritual.
I think that because I'm a woman, sometimes you get the young men who want to bully you, they think they can. And that's not going to be one of the possibilities for me.
But my students, you know, the people just quit coming to class. A couple of students absolutely quit coming to class. And I was trying to find out, OK, now what -- you know, what am I doing wrong here?
And what they said, because they got in touch with me during office hours and things, they said, you know, "He's taking photographs of us. We don't know what he's doing. It's very strange." And I thought it had to be dealt with.
It did happen early in the semester, and Lucinda got him out of my class, which is what was going to have to happen, and I think she and Fred Degeer (ph) gave him a workshop.
He stayed on my roll. I was asked by Lucinda if Seung could stay on my roll. And I said, yes, I don't mind, because I'm -- you try to cooperate. I said, I want him out of the classroom. You know, he can stay on the roll.
He didn't scare me, but security -- I teach in a building with a lot of windows, and one is always mindful if one is in front of a window. My whole wall, one of the walls is glass.
GIOVANNI: So, security would check on me, yes.
ROBERTS: Ms. Giovanni, I'm particularly struck by this idea that you said you would quit rather than have him in your class. I want to bring in Kiran Chetry, who's with me here, because she has got a lot of things that she wants to discuss with you, as well -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Did you tell them that you were thinking about leaving? You're a much beloved professor here, and it just seems odd. You tried to get him out of your class and you told him to stop writing some of that stuff and he said, "You can't make me"?
GIOVANNI: He said, "You can't make me." And I said, "Yeah, I can."
You know how kids -- you know -- and again, I'm probably not doing a good job. But, you know, you talk to students and you say, well, you know, this is not a poem and you have to quit doing that. Because he was writing just weird things.
I don't know what I'm allowed to say what he was writing about. But I saw the plays. But he was writing poetry.
And it was just -- it was just -- it was terrible. It was not bad poetry. It was intimidating.
And at first I thought, OK, he's trying to see what the parameters are. Kids curse, kids talk about a lot of different things. And he just -- he stayed in that spot.
And I finally said, "You can't do that." And he said, yes, he can. And I said, "No, not in my class."
But everybody thinks you need your job. And I said, you know, I'll quit before I'm being bothered with this.
But I wanted Tech to know that it was serious that we get him out of my class. Obviously, if I had thought that this young man or any other was going to come up and do what he did, I probably would have gone to the president myself. But, you know -- hierarchy -- academia is a hierarchy. So, Lucinda was the head and I gave it to her.
ROBERTS: Ms. Giovanni, you said that he was intimidating. Did you ever think that he represented any kind of physical threat to his fellow students? Not necessarily on the scale that he did on Monday morning, but did you ever think that he represented any kind of physical threat?
GIOVANNI: No, I didn't.
CHETRY: What about in the early morning hours when we were first learning of a shooting that had taken place here at Virginia Tech? In the back of your mind, did you think, could it be Cho?
GIOVANNI: In the front of my mind, I knew it was. I had no doubt.
CHETRY: Did you call anyone? Did you call anyone at that point?
GIOVANNI: I was on a flight. No. I mean, I was -- I was in San Francisco coming back. So when I heard about the shooting, they were over.
When we landed, I got into Blacksburg I think -- or to Roanoke, excuse me, about 12:30 because the winds, as you'll recall, we were stuck in Charlotte. I took the red eye at 10:44 US air, and we got into Charlotte, and then we couldn't get out of Charlotte until almost 11:30. And by then, of course, everything was already over.
But there was no question in my mind, you know, when they said there was a shooting. I was, OK. And then when they said a young Asian, I said, for sure. I had no doubts.
ROBERTS: Oh my goodness. So you pegged this fellow without knowing much about his identity?
GIOVANNI: Yes, but I'm not prescient. I knew when it happened that that's probably who it was. I would have been shocked if it wasn't, to tell you the truth. But I didn't -- if you had said there's going to be a shooting, and, you know, who do you think it will do it, it would have never happened that way.
CHETRY: Right. And how out of the ordinary would it be for the chairman of your department to take on a troubled student and say, I'm going to spend the time and the effort with, you know, probably a huge department of many talented kids to work with this troubled, seemingly unresponsive student?
GIOVANNI: I sincerely don't believe that it would be good for me to respond to what Lucinda says. ROBERTS: Well, let me ask you this question, Ms. Giovanni. And some of this now may be framed in the parameters of hindsight. But was there any point along the way that a ball was dropped with Cho, that more should have been done to intervene with him?
GIOVANNI: I don't -- see, this is my problem. I don't believe so.
I don't believe that we saw it coming. And I was -- I'm the unknown professor here, and I'm not the only one, I think. But I was definitely the one that said something is wrong with this student being in my class.
You don't know if it's you, you don't know if it's other people. And, you know, we're not psychiatrists. We're teachers.
And so what I wanted was him out of my class. I don't feel adequate to respond to what Lucinda or anyone else would have done. I do know that I've been a part of the Hokie nation for 20 years, and I do know that none of us would have allowed this to go on had we thought it could reach this magnitude. And I am...
CHETRY: Oh, absolutely.
GIOVANNI: ... with the Hokie nation in mourning for my colleagues who took a bullet to try to stop it.
CHETRY: You're right.
GIOVANNI: And I think that all of us even in my classroom -- had I been in class and he had come in, I, too, would be mourned today because I could not have let it happen. And so we all...
CHETRY: And that's what I want to ask you, Nikki. Did you ever fear if you had been there, that maybe you would be a target of his anger?
GIOVANNI: No, I was not a target. And when we looked at it -- I've talked to, you know, the officials. I was not a target because I teach in shanks, and everybody knows that. And this didn't happen anywhere near there.
He wasn't looking for me. He had made up his mind what his targets are. So I don't feel -- I feel that I stood up to a bully.
And I know that we're talking about a troubled youngster and him cracked (ph), like that, but troubled youngsters, you know what I'm saying, get drunk and jump off buildings. Troubled youngsters drink and drive.
No. There was something mean about this boy.
And it was the meanness -- I've taught troubled youngsters, I've taught crazy people. It was the meanness that bothered me. It was a really mean streak.
But I -- I -- he wasn't looking for me, no. Do you see what I'm saying?
ROBERTS: Well, certainly -- yes, certainly, Ms. Giovanni, too, that mean streak that you're talking about was demonstrated in degrees that no one ever expected it to on Monday morning. People just keep talking about the methodical nature of what he was doing.
ROBERTS: But Nikki, thanks very much. You've really helped to add a lot of perspective to this, to his personality. We really thank you.
Would love to talk to a little bit later on today. So maybe we can get back to you. Thanks very much.
GIOVANNI: OK. I'm on my way to Bradley. I've had trouble with Bradley University. I've had to cancel them once before because of a situation at Tech, so hopefully I'm going to get to Peoria this morning.
And, you know, we've got to continue forward. I so regret that we're not in class. I understand why we're not, but I think class -- think getting back to ritual is a big help.
GIOVANNI: And it was lovely to have George Bush on campus and to show that the nation mourns with us. We at the Hokie nation will heal. We will continue to heal.
ROBERTS: And it was very obvious, too, as well that the Hokie nation really appreciated what you said yesterday at that convocation.
Professor Nikki Giovanni, thanks very much.
ROBERTS: We'll be back with our special edition, live from the campus at Virginia Tech, right after this.
Stay with us.
CHETRY: And we are back on this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, live from the Virginia Tech campus. And we're learning more today about that cold-blooded killer. And a question begs to be answered, was it his brain? Was it wired to go on a rampage?
Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with more on the notion that, are some people hard wired for violence?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it's this provocative idea. And it's been out there in the neurological, neurosurgical community for some time. Is there something sort of about someone's brain that predisposes them in some way to this? And most of the answers come back, well, we don't really know.
What we found so interesting, though, is one of our fellow neurologists has actually been studying the brains of killers, studying the brains of killers, and what she has found is in fact that many of the brains are, in fact, damaged.
GUPTA (voice over): Something drove 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui to kill so many innocent people and then himself in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Answers may lie behind his eyes in the frontal lobe of his brain.
DR. PAMELA BLAKE, NEUROLOGIST: That part of the brain is called the orbitofrontal cortex. And that seems to be the area that is particularly critical to our ability to inhibit aggressive impulses.
GUPTA: To be clear, Blake never examined Cho and has no evidence of what prompted his rampage. But she did look at the brain scans of 31 other killers and found something remarkable. Twenty of them had damage in areas crucial to impulse control. Another study found 40 percent of Texas death row inmates examined as part of the research also had damaged brains.
BLAKE: What the end result is, is an impairment in the development of normal social interactions, normal empathy, normal ways of conducting yourself in the world.
GUPTA: Researchers say a number of things can damage the brain -- head injury, childhood physical or sexual abuse, even chronic stress, which can cause the brain to shrink in key emotion centers.
BLAKE: Usually several -- several factors all collide and will lead to an event like this.
GUPTA: And here's a chilling footnote. The sniper killings at the University of Texas, which until Monday was the largest school massacre in U.S. history, well, an autopsy on that killer found a large tumor on Charles Whitman's brain, suggesting to some he was physically unable to control his rage and his brain really made him to it. .
GUPTA: And, you know, it's interesting, as well, we obviously don't know for sure if Cho Seung-Hui is going to have an autopsy, but a lot of neurologists actually are very interested in this, trying to figure out whether or not something else was happening there.
We don't know that for sure, obviously. You heard about Whitman and his brain tumor. And we don't know if that's the case here. But, was there some sort of damage in these key judgment areas, which are right here in the frontal lobes? Did they not work in some way?
CHETRY: And there's no way to know that ahead of time, before something goes terribly wrong? GUPTA: Yes, you can't possibly screen people. But, you know, we've been having this discussion, this theme all morning about, how do you -- what do you do with people who are sort of a little off, a little strange? We don't know, are they going to act in some erratic way?
Could there be some sort of screening method later on down the line where you get an MRI, if you see something, then they're more likely to actually act out some of those things? Again, this is almost science fiction right now, Kiran, but again, this provokes these discussions.
CHETRY: And certainly important to note, it really is an anomaly. I mean, there are many people probably suffering from mental illness that will never be violent. But -- so...
GUPTA: Excellent point. I mean, so many people are going to say, look, he had these writings, he did this, he acted strange -- therefore, obviously this.
GUPTA: There's a lot of people that fall into this category that never act on it.
ROBERTS: Yes. It doesn't necessarily add up. Two and two doesn't necessarily equal four, right?
GUPTA: And I think that makes it more confusing, yes.
ROBERTS: Interesting report, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Thank you.
ROBERTS: It's great. Thanks.
A question that a lot of parents have been asking, and a lot of students have been asking as well in the wake of what happened on Monday, is how good are security precautions? How good are security terms? How good is the notification process at other universities across the country?
We're going to take a look at that coming up next as we continue our special coverage of AMERICAN MORNING.
Plus, we'll tell you how to look at the safety records of colleges across the country.
We'll be right back.
ROBERTS: Many Asian students on Virginia Tech's campus fear they are going to face a backlash because they share the gunman's ethnicity.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANNA KIM, KOREAN-AMERICAN STUDENT: People might have grudges against us and just revenge on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Freshman Joanna Kim says her mother wanted her to pack up and come home to avoid any potential problems.
Other Asian students compared their situation to the one that Arabs faced in America after 9/11.
It's not just Asian students, by the way, who are getting away from the campus. Others are leaving town, looking for a place to grieve and cope. And for many, that means going home to mom and dad.
ROBERTS (voice over): Almost the second after Virginia Tech canceled the rest of the school week, Susan Quinn (ph) was in her car, picking up one twin daughter at JMU, the other here in Blacksburg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want your children to be in the place where they can get the best hugs, and we think that's with us.
ROBERTS: It was like that at all the residences -- students packing up, moving out, heading home to escape the grief and anxiety.
Makaila Cudella (ph) lives in West AJ, the hall where the carnage began. She and Sarah Ford were heading back to Winchester, Virginia.
SARAH FORD, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I just want to get my mind off of everything that's happened. Like, yesterday was pretty much the longest day I think I've ever experienced.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think it will be nice to be with our families and stuff, because they're all really worried about us. Just to get away from here for a little bit.
ROBERTS: But it will take more than a few days away for these students to get past what happened here Monday.
ANDREW HUANG, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Popping noises. Pretty distant popping noises.
ROBERTS (on camera): Pop, pop, pop?
ROBERTS (voice over): Andrew Huang was only a few yards away from Norris Hall when Cho Seung-Hui began executing his victims. He took us back there today. Just looking at the building makes him uneasy. HUANG: It's not something that I -- the feeling that I like. The feeling that I've been trying to get out of my head for the past couple -- past two days is just -- it's just not -- it's just coming back just by being in the presence of the building.
ROBERTS: And there is another emotion just below the surface. Anger.
Where does that come from?
HUANG: Honestly, the slow response from the police and the fact that they allowed us to walk around campus when they knew there was a first shooting. And they still let us go to class.
ROBERTS: Huang checked his e-mail at 8:30 Monday, an hour and a half after the first killings at West AJ Hall. But it wouldn't be for another that the school would issue its first warning to students.
(on camera): The e-mail that went out at 9:26, if it had gone out at 7:30, do you think it would have saved lives?
HUANG: I honestly do believe it would have saved lives, because I checked my e-mail at 8:30 and there was nothing there.
ROBERTS (voice over): Like so many of his fellow students, Huang went home for the rest of the week. This is just not where they or their parents want them to be. Not here, not now.
ROBERTS: You know, Andrew Huang told me that had he gotten an e- mail that said that there was a shooting on the campus, he personally, at least, would have stayed inside his dormitory. And he wonders how many others might have, as well.
CHETRY: Yes. And there's -- there's a lot of questions about that and what would have happened.
In fact, we're going to talk to Sanjay a little bit later about it. He had a really interesting take, too. If the campus had gone into lockdown, what would the alleged shooter as well have done?
CHETRY: And would that have changed?
So we're going to talk much more about that.
But I've noticed -- I mean, just looking around -- and we're here today -- that the campus is much more empty than yesterday. Many of the students -- and I think perhaps even more so, their parents -- wanted to get them out of here.
ROBERTS: We talked to a couple of parents who just said, "The first thing I thought of, was get down here, get my kid. Go back home for a few days." Coming up in our next hour, a chilling portrait of the Virginia Tech gunman from two of his roommates. They'll shed some light on a dark and troubled life when our special edition of AMERICAN MORNING, live from Virginia Tech, comes back.
CHETRY (voice over): This morning, from loner to killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was never with anyone, a professor, another guy, girl.
CHETRY: Roommates and teachers of the suspected Virginia Tech gunman speaking out.
GIOVANNI: There was something mean about this boy.
CHETRY: Was it depression, anger? What set him off?
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Hokie!
ROBERTS (voice over): While across campus, pain, grief and strength in numbers. Thousands leaning on each other.
A show of unity on this AMERICAN MORNING.
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