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Virgina Tech Shootings

Aired April 21, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, looking back on a tragic, emotional week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he just stepped in five feet of the door, and just started firing.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community. And it is a day of sadness for our entire nation.



CROWD: Let's go, Hokies! Let's go, Hokies! Let's go, Hokies!


KING: Stories of survival and loss, and stories that give us hope amidst sorrow and anger -- next, on LARRY KING LIVE.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just utter shock, how anybody could do this.


KING: Thanks for joining us. It's been a rough week, an emotional rollercoaster that has gone from shock and sorrow to anger and frustration and back again.

Tonight, we're looking back on some of the personal stories from the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. And we begin with a young student who, cell phone in hand, gave the world a sense of the tragedy that was unfolding on the Virginia Tech campus.


KING: We're going to start in Blacksburg, Virginia, the home of Virginia Tech, with Jamal Albaughouti. Jamal is a Virginia Tech student and a number one A-one news reporter. When he heard shots, he began recording video on his cell phone and we're going to show you what he recorded and then ask him about it.



KING: Twenty-seven shots, some of which may well have come from police, are clearly audible on this shocking real time tape.

Jamal, our I-News reporter on the scene, what were you doing there? What were -- give me the scene as you set it.

JAMAL ALBAUGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Well, first, to answer your question, what I was doing in that area, I was going to talk to my adviser on a -- who was in a building just next to Norris, where all of this happened.

When I was approaching that building, a gentleman started shouting and it's the first time I'm going to say it, but he was using the "F" word and he was telling us to get off the ground. And when a professor starts to use this language, you would know that there is something really serious.

I thought there was another bomb threat in Patton Hall because in the last week we've got -- we received two of these, which, at the end, we discovered that they were not serious.

But I just left the building and went back.

While I was walking, I saw a cop running around. And then he saw other cops. He drew his gun from his pocket or from the gun's pocket, and started running toward the other cops. And then they both started running toward Norris Hall.

I knew then that there is something really serious going on on the spot. It's not a bomb threat because that's not what they did with the previous bomb threats.

KING: So, Jamal, did you immediately...

ALBAUGHOUTI: I -- when I saw...

KING: ... did you immediately get out a recorder and start shooting?

ALBAUGHOUTI: That's -- that was the time I did that. I just took my camera and started -- I knew that it's really serious. I took my cell phone and started recording that. And in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds, we started -- I started hearing the gunshots.

At first I thought they were far, but then I realized they were not far. They were just inside the building. I saw a person from Norris Hall trying to talk to the people outside or to the police officers outside Norris Hall. He was talking to them through the window. I couldn't hear what he said, but I saw him pointing at something in Norris Hall.

I ran -- I took a few steps toward the cops. I saw them trying to get into Norris Hall.

Now, some people are telling me that the door, Norris Hall's door, was chained. Now, I didn't see that for a fact. I saw cops either struggling to get in, in which it would be chained, or what I thought was that they opened the door, threw a bang, like a gas bang or something like that, closed the door...

KING: Uh-huh.

ALBAUGHOUTI: ... closed the door and then reopened it again.

I saw them -- I saw like many cops trying to get into the...

KING: What...

ALBAUGHOUTI: ... into the building.

KING: Did you see anybody shot?

ALBAUGHOUTI: I did not see anybody get -- getting shot. No, Larry.

KING: What was it like for you to do this? What were your feelings?

ALBAUGHOUTI: I can't tell you my feelings. I didn't know what I was doing, to tell you the truth.

You know what I remember?

I just remember the streets of the Middle East, which I come from. And when I first choosed to come to Blacksburg, probably the best thing I loved about it, how safe this place is.

KING: Boy.

ALBAUGHOUTI: And now such a thing -- you know, I came from the Middle East trying to get away from such things...

KING: Yes.

How --

ALBAUGHOUTI: ... and here it is in Blacksburg.

KING: How ironic.

Thank you, Jamal.

We'll be calling on you again, I'm sure.

Jamal Albaughouti, our I-News Reporter on the scene. And what a job he did. He's a guy who leaves the Middle East because of violence to come to peaceful Blacksburg, Virginia and gets this.


KING: When we come back, some emotional moments with the father and brother of one of the victims.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess there was gunshots that were right behind the building that I was in. And so they peel (ph) us all inside the building and we had to stay inside there for like 15 minutes. And these two kids, I guess, had panicked and jumped out of the top story window. And the one kid had broke his ankle and the other girl was not in good shape. They were laying on the ground. And it was just mayhem.

And then they told us to get out of there. So we ran across the -- the drill field as quick as we could. And there was cops yelling and it just -- it was just a mess. So it was kind of scary.




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they are gone and they leave behind grieving families and grieving classmates and a grieving nation.


KING: Joining us now on LARRY KING LIVE in Blacksburg is Joseph Samaha. He's the father of Reema Samaha. His daughter was killed yesterday in Morris Hall. There you see her.

Also with us is Omar Samaha, her brother, who is a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Joseph, we know how painful this is. We appreciate you coming on with us for a few moments.

How did you learn of your daughter's death?

JOSEPH SAMAHA, FATHER OF REEMA SAMAHA: I learned of my daughter's death yesterday evening when I came down to Blacksburg, Larry. I arrived about 6:15. And about an hour later, a friend of our daughter advised me that -- or informed me that he was in the area when they were removing her from the building. And that was the first I heard of it. And he gave me his condolences, and I was surprised because I -- I didn't know the young man and I didn't know if he had his facts straight. But he seemed to tell me -- tell me the truth and the -- and the right thing.

An hour later, I did get confirmation from the police.

KING: Where do you live, Joseph?

J. SAMAHA: We live in Centreville, Virginia.

KING: So it wasn't too far to come to Blacksburg.

And you had sent your other son to Virginia Tech.

Omar, how did -- what does this do you to, as a graduate of this school and now you lose your sister?

OMAR SAMAHA, SISTER OF REEMA SAMAHA: It's really hard for me. I love this school. It's one of my homes away from home. And this is like my family down here. And I had my sister going here. I have a cousin here and all my friends here are like my family. And we are one big Virginia Tech family here.

And it's the hardest thing to come back for something like this. I come back so often to see everyone and to visit, and this is one of the hardest things to do, is come back to this campus for something like this.

KING: How do you -- how do you even deal with it, Joseph, a father losing a daughter? How do you -- how do you deal with it at all? How do you deal with this madman who killed her?

J. SAMAHA: Well, Larry, I don't focus on the madman. I'm focused completely on my daughter and -- and what she has been to us, what she has -- as if she's still with us, and what she's been to our family. And I focus on my wife and my surviving children.

What -- what happened with this guy, you know, has no relevance in my life right now. It's -- it's done. I -- I need to think of my daughter and I get my strength thinking of her and visualizing her constantly.

KING: I'll bet.

How do you deal with it, Omar?

O. SAMAHA: I don't think I've started dealing with it yet, Larry.

I'm still in shock at the moment. I -- I miss her so much and I wish she was here. But it seems so unreal to me right now. And it'll -- it'll take a while to sink in.

KING: Why, Joseph, do you agree to talk about her?

J. SAMAHA: Sorry, Larry, one more time, please.

KING: Would you agree to come on to talk about her?

J. SAMAHA: Oh. I advocate for her. I mean she is -- she -- she's my strength. I'm speaking for her. She is a loving kid. She -- she is a great student. She was creative. She was intelligent. She was innovative. Anything a parent would want in a daughter.

And I'm here to speak for her. And she gives me the strength to do that.

KING: Well said.

Omar, do you bear your school, your former school, any ill will?

O. SAMAHA: None at all. None at all. I love this school and I love everyone here and my heart goes out to everyone involved in this.

KING: Joseph, have you made any funeral plans at all?

J. SAMAHA: Well, Larry, as part of the condition to release our loved ones, we had to make arrangements with funeral homes. And they coordinate with the -- with the coroner in Roanoke, Virginia. And so that was the first step.

We're still waiting to -- to see our loved ones, our deceased children. We haven't been able to do that. Apparently there's some legal issues involved. They're asking us to wait four or five days, perhaps that long. And I don't think the parents can do that, nor do we want to do that. And we need to be reunited with our children as soon as possible.

KING: Does that bother you, Omar, this wait?

O. SAMAHA: Yes, it bothers me because this doesn't need to be dragged on any longer. And, you know, we need to -- we need to try to move on ourselves. And the longer we wait to have a funeral and all of that, the -- the longer it's going to take for us to start healing.

KING: Dr. Phil, what do you say to Joseph and Omar? What can you possibly say?

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, "DR. PHIL" HOST: Well, Joseph and Omar, please understand that all of us certainly feel your pain. And I was just sitting here listening to this wonderful father speak with such wisdom and such an example for everyone in this situation.

What he has said is he is there to advocate for his daughter, speak on her behalf and focus on her, and not this madman that did that thing. And Joseph, I just -- I so admire your strength and courage and you're -- you are using her life and your life to come on talk about this right now in this way because what you're saying is exactly what needs to happen here with so many people that are facing this terrible, terrible burden and challenge.

I just -- my heart goes out to you. I admire your position. And, Omar, I know, as a brother, it's going to be very difficult to get your mind around this. But I just hope that you will focus on all of the days that she lived instead of the one day and the one moment that she died. Because that is a painful moment and from everything I can understand about her, her life was truly a celebration.

KING: Wow!

MCGRAW: So you have to focus on the celebration instead of the -- that one moment in time.

KING: Well said, Dr. Phil.

Thank you, Joseph.

J. SAMAHA: You, too.

KING: And thank you, Omar.

O. SAMAHA: Thank you, Larry.

J. SAMAHA: Thank you.

KING: Our hearts and prayers are with you and we'll call on you again.

J. SAMAHA: Thank you.

O. SAMAHA: Thank you.

KING: Godspeed.

J. SAMAHA: God bless you.

Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

O. SAMAHA: Thank you.

KING: When we come back, we're going to talk to two roommates of the man that caused all of this.

Don't go away.



KING: We're joined now by Gary Tuchman, CNN national correspondent, in Blacksburg.

He had an extraordinary -- we want to -- who did you talk to today? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, I talked to two Virginia Tech juniors who, last year, when they were sophomores, lived with Cho. They were his roommates. They lived in a four room suite for an entire year.

And, Larry, they say that he was absolutely the strangest person they had ever met in their lives. He barely ever talked. But they say, nevertheless, they never would have figured he could have committed murders like this.

KING: Let's take a quick look at the piece of the interview you did.



TUCHMAN: Then something happened that -- you say he started harassing women at school here, right?

JOHN: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Tell me about that, John.

JOHN: He -- 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 had 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 had learned about her?

JOHN: I don't know if he told her that. But he -- he felt they were playing some kind of game or something.

TUCHMAN: Did you know the girl?


TUCHMAN: Was she freaked out about it? Did you hear later?

JOHN: Freaked out about it enough to call the police.

ANDY: There were two other instances that we know of. One was one of our friends, he started following and 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 I.M.d 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.


KING: Gary, don't you wonder how this guy ever got in to be a fourth year student?

TUCHMAN: Yes, that's what I asked these two roommates, John and Andy. I said, If he was so strange, if he had to be sent away to this counseling center for a couple of days and the university was obviously aware he had a problem, didn't you think that maybe he was dangerous?

And they said, You know what? He was very weird, but he wasn't violent. He never talked about guns. He didn't have any guns. Yes, he did weird things like he played the same songs over and over again on his computer laptop. It was a song by the rock group Collective Soul. And he played it over and over dozens and dozens of times.

He did a lot of weird things. But they said because he was smart enough to get into a great school like Virginia Tech, we figured he was OK and we weren't that worried about him.

KING: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Yes, we thought he was weird, but we weren't that worried.

KING: Thanks, Gary, as always.

Gary Tuchman in Blacksburg.

Joining us now in Blacksburg is Trey Perkins, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre. The shooter opened fire while he was in German class. That's the firing that killed his professor.

And also there is Melanie Swift, a Virginia Tech student. She was in class in Norris Hall when the shootings took place.

Trey, what happened in the German class?

TREY PERKINS, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I was just sitting in class around 9:45 when we heard some -- some popping noises coming from what we thought was across the hall. We -- we didn't really know what it was. One of the students suggested it might have been a joke.

And after, you know, right after that, a guy runs into the room and immediately opens fire. KING: Did you know him?

PERKINS: I had never seen him before.

KING: Did you see people killed?

PERKINS: Yes, unfortunately.

KING: Where did -- how did you get away?

PERKINS: I -- I just -- I got on the ground and turned some desks over, two or three desks, I flipped on their sides and I just laid there and just -- just prayed.

KING: Did you see your teacher shot?

PERKINS: Yes, I did.

KING: Well, that'll never leave your memory, will it? What was it like for you?

PERKINS: I -- I can't even begin to explain it. It's something I -- I don't -- I don't want anyone to ever have to go through and I -- I just -- I don't want to ever have to go through anything like that again.

KING: Melanie, you were in class in Norris Hall.

What class were you in?

MELANIE SWIFT, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I was in my auditing class. We were actually taking an exam. And I was on the third floor, right above the shooting.

KING: And what -- what did you hear? What happened?

SWIFT: We just heard -- there was probably about 15 minutes left in the class when we heard loud bangs. None of us knew what they were. It was nothing I had ever heard before, but we -- our teacher just said oh, it's just the construction. There's lots of construction going on around that building. So we just continued to take our exam.

And then one of the students -- actually, my roommate -- she finished the exam earlier and she went down to the second floor, saw students diving and smoke, yelling, "Get down! Get out!"

She ran back up to our classroom to inform us that there was a shooting going on below us and what we were hearing were gunshots.

KING: And what did you do then, Melanie?

SWIFT: We then went across the hall and barricaded -- there was about 25 of us left -- and barricaded into a small professor's office. For about 15 minutes we just were in there, still all confused with what was going on. We were hearing screams below and then a SWAT team came to escort us out.

KING: Wow!

Thank you both very much.

Trey Perkins and Melanie Swift.



ZACH PETKEWICS, VIRGINIA TECH SENIOR: Me and two others got up, threw a couple of tables in front of it and had to physically hold it there while there -- while there was gunshots going on. He came to our door and tried the handle. He couldn't get it in, because we were pushing up against it.

He tried to force his way in, got the door to open up about six inches and then we -- we just lunged at it and closed it back up. And that's when he backed up and shot twice into the middle of the door, thinking we were up against it, trying to get him out.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say when people are calling you a hero today?

It's tough.

PETKEWICS: I'm just glad I could be here.




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: On Wednesday, we were shocked to learn Cho Seung-Hui mailed a package to NBC News on the day of the shootings. The chilling video and the images stunned everyone, including the killer's former suitemate.


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.

KING: Boy.

Thanks, Karan.

Karan Grewal, who shared a dorm suite with the Virginia Tech shooter.



KING: Joining us now, Nikki Giovanni, who's back in Peoria, Illinois, 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, is that 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?

KING: Yes.


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.

KING: Yes.

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...

KING: Yes.

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.

KING: Yes.

GIOVANNI: I am. Because all I know is that something -- to me, the term would be evil, Larry.


KING: Coming up, the owner of the shop where the killer got one of his guns. It's a surprisingly emotional interview.

But next, parents remember their slain son.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are better than we thinak, and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imagination and the possiblity. We will continue to invent the future, through our blood and tears, through all the sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will prevail. We will prevail, we are Virginia Tech.







KING: That handsome young man you saw there in many pictures was 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?

KING: Sure.

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.

KING: Rochelle...

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.


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.




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.



KING: 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.



KING: Before we leave you tonight, a few reflections. This has been a very tough week for a lot of people. And we're going to be dealing with the pain of it for a long time. The tragedy at Virginia Tech, so sudden and senseless, such a horrible waste of bright lives and precious futures, has wounded us all.

In trying to heal, we need to remember those who died on Monday. We should not define any of them by the ugly deed that ended their lives. Instead, we need to honor their accomplishments, recall their kindnesses, even keep their unfulfilled dreams alive. In trying to heal, we can embrace the steadfast heroism of Professor Liviu Librescu, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, who blocked the door of his classroom on Monday and saved the lives of some of his students at the cost of his own.

We can remember the image of the thousands of candles that shown against the darkness during Tuesday's campus vigil. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING (voice-over): And the life-affirming sound of the "Let's go, Hokies!" chant at a convocation, earlier the same day.

Our thoughts, our prayers, go out to the family and friends of Monday's victims.


KING (on camera): Tomorrow night, well, President Clinton will have some thoughts on this tragedy, and more reflection on this emotional week.

As we leave you, we remember the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre.




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