Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Deadliest Shooting; Massacre at Virginia Tech

Aired April 17, 2007 - 23:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been able to confirm the identity of the gunman at Norris Hall. That person is Cho Seung-Hui.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, (voice-over): This is the face of the killer, a 23-year-old South Korean national and a fellow student.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a shock. And it really -- it hurts a lot of students here, but we're not focusing on that. We're focusing on moving forward and starting that healing process and repairing the damage that that student's done to this community.

KING: The gun used at the first shooting in a dorm at 7:15 a.m., now linked with the shooting two hours later across campus at Norris Hall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lab results confirm that one of the two weapons seized in Norris Hall was used in both shootings.

KING: But still, some mystery about the worst school shooting in American history.

Officials have not confirmed that Cho Seung-Hui was also the gunman at the dorm or whether he had an accomplice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's certainly reasonable for us to assume that Cho was the shooter in both places, but we don't have the evidence to take us there at this particular point in time.

KING: Student Emily Hilscher and Resident Adviser Ryan Clark were the first victims, shot dead in this dormitory. Still unclear whether they had any connection with Cho.

Two hours after that shooting, Cho began his rampage at the engineering building across campus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was very methodical. I mean, he just seemed trained to kill almost. He had no like anger in him at all. He just very calm and assertive and very determined to kill everybody.

KING: Authorities say, Cho chained the front doors, made his way to the second floor. No one knows why. And started shooting.

ERIN SHEEHAN, STUDENT, WITNESSED SHOOTING: And just started firing. He seemed very thorough about it. Getting almost everyone down. I pretended to be dead, just on the ground. KING: Police found dead bodies in four classrooms and a stairwell. Cho was found dead with two guns on him -- a Glock .9 mm and a .22 caliber pistol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably one of the worst things I've seen in my life.

KING: Cho bought the Glock 36 days ago at this gun shop in Roanoke, Virginia. His motive is still a mystery. Officials said he had a history of mental illness and stalking.

More questions and anger about how the university handled the situation, why they waited two hours to notify students by e-mail of the first attack an e-mail that came within minutes of the second attack.

CHARLES STEGER, VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT: The situation was characterized as being confined to that dormitory room. We thought we had it under control and I don't think anyone could have predicted that another event was going to take place two hours later.

KING: What took place was, of course, unimaginable -- 33 dead, including Cho. Others injured so severely, even the doctors were stunned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The injuries were just amazing. This man was brutal. There wasn't -- there wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them.

KING: More than a dozen of the wounded are still in the hospital tonight; countless more grieving over those who are lost.

NADIA CLARK, RYAN CLARK'S SISTER: I've lost a brother, you know? I had two, now I just have one. And I lost a friend. I lost part of my heart.


KING: The question, of course, from here on out, is why?

Today, answers began coming. The shooter exhibited suicidal tendencies at least once before. He barely spoke to anyone. He had no close friends. His creative writing assignments were so dark and gruesome, a professor took him out of class and tutored him one on one. And that's not all. In fact, it's just the beginning.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us now with an exclusive look into the gunman's life. Something you won't see anywhere else -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, today I spent part of the day with two men who go to school here. The names are John and Andy. They don't want their last names used, but they are juniors here at Virginia Tech. And last year they were randomly thrown into a dorm, a suite, with the gunman.

And they say that he was absolutely the strangest person they had ever met in their lives. They say he never talked. For one year he almost said no words whatsoever. When he did talk, he talked about bizarre things.

But he said they weren't overly concerned because he did not ever talk about guns. He didn't have any guns. They said he had a knife, but that they thought wasn't that unusual. However, they were disturbed by a lot of his behavior, including the fact that he stalked at least three girls in their dorm.


JOHN, CHO'S FORMER SUITEMATE: I walked back to my room one night and there was a policeman in there. And apparently what had happened was he got up -- or he started talking to her online first. He found where she lived, started talking to her on A.I.M. Then he went over there. He was using the name Question Mark; 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: 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 thought they were playing some kind of game or something.

TUCHMAN: And did you know the girl?

JOHN: No, I -- I...

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

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

TUCHMAN: And did this happen with any other girls, Andy?

ANDY, CHO'S FORMER SUITEMATE: There were two other instances that we know of. One was -- one of our friends, he started 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 shouldn't -- kind of ignore him and just stay way from him.

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.

TUCHMAN: And when he told you that he might kill himself, did you think he might be serious? ANDY: It's -- it was more out of I could kind of see him doing it. It was about -- it was before a break, is what I remember. So -- and he never went home. So he would have been there over break by himself, if he was serious about it.

TUCHMAN: How many different girls do you know that he stalked?

ANDY: I think three.

JOHN: Three.

TUCHMAN: And you were telling me about one of the girls whose door he went to and he talked to her. Tell me about that, what he said.

ANDY: You know more about that.

JOHN: He said that he walked in -- what he told me one night, which was really strange because he never talked to me. He never got up and closed the door himself and he never turned off the lights when he was going to bed. So it was really strange when he closed the door and he turned to me and he said, hey, do you want to know why I went up to that girl's dorm room the other night?

And I said, sure. Why? He said that he wanted to go up there and look her in the eyes to see how cool she was because that's the only way he could tell how cool she was, by looking her in the eyes. And when he looked in her eyes, he saw that -- he saw promiscuity.

TUCHMAN: What is -- Andy, the strangest thing you remember him doing, now that you look back at it? Is there anything that you told other friends about or told your parents about?

ANDY: I'm trying to think of the craziest incident with him. I guess it was his face file. He had a -- called it Question Mark. And he told me that that was his brother. And he had gotten my cell phone number from when we used to invite him to dinner and stuff. So he called me on a couple instances talking and saying he was Question Mark. And I remember one night I finally just got completely tired of it and I'm like, Seung, the act's up, you know, you need to stop this. And he was like, this isn't Seung, this is Question Mark, being real -- insisting on that.

I knew he had to be in Cochran. I went through all the lounges in Cochran and -- not that many, but I finally found him on the -- I think it was the...

TUCHMAN: Cochran, the residence hall?

ANDY: Yes. I found him on the third floor in one of the study lounges and the lights were off. And the moment I walked in, he hung the phone up and acted like everything was normal and denied that he had been on the phone with me.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TUCHMAN: You've had some time now, Gary, to digest what you heard. It's a fascinating, disturbing interview, your exclusive with the two roommates. As you digest it, what stands out the most?

TUCHMAN: I think first of all, if I was in college, I don't know if I would have done anything differently than these guys. Because you do meet a lot of weird people. This guy was a lot weirder than most people.

But one thing that stood out was he would keep playing the same song over and over again on his laptop. It was a collective soul song, called "Rise" (ph). It's a great song.

We looked at the words. It doesn't really mean much. But he would play it over and over dozens of times. He would go to sleep, it'd be on. And they wouldn't turn it off because they didn't want to bother him. They didn't want to make him mad. So I thought that was very interesting.

Also, he never in the one year he lived in that house with them, never had any visitors. They never saw his parents, any family members, any friends. No one visited except for his imaginary friend. He said he had an imaginary girlfriend. Her name was Jelly. And he said his name was Spanky. And he would always fantasize about Spanky and Jelly. And he said Jelly, his imaginary girlfriend, was a supermodel.

KING: A fascinating look in probably the most critical element of this story, trying to understand who and why.

Gary Tuchman, great work. Thank you very much.

TUCHMAN: Thank you.

KING: Centreville, Virginia, was the hometown of two of the victims, as well as the shooter. Today, reporters poured into the Washington, D.C., suburb.

CNN's Tom Foreman was among them. He's there now and joins us now live -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, people here were absolutely thunderstruck by the news that this young man who called himself Question Mark grew up in this house behind me, walked these streets and attended their schools here.

Yesterday it was a terrible event at other end of their state. Now it's in their own backyard.

Tonight, many members of the Korean American community here -- and it's quite large -- gathered in a local church for a memorial service. There will be services like this all week here. And it is hitting this community very, very hard.

Many, many of these people came here specifically looking for excellent educations for their young people because the school system here is wonderful. They feel doubly betrayed by everything that has happened.

Now, the parents of this young man in particular, the one who calls himself Question Mark, or called himself that, allowed the police to come in and search their home here quite willingly and they have been very cooperative in the process here.

By all accounts they are very hard-working immigrants, people who came here working specifically for excellent educations for their children. They sent a daughter off to Princeton, which she completed. And their young son seemed to struggle.

I talked to Jeff Ahn, who is head of the League of Korean Americans in Virginia, who says the whole community has been touched by this. The family is now touched very deeply by what happened as well -- not just for their own son, but all of the victims and for everybody who has been affected by this tragic event. Let's listen to what he had to say.


JEFF AHN, LEAGUE OF KOREAN AMERICANS: This is just unreal, unbelievable. It's hard to accept this magnitude of the tragedy. And especially as caused by the one of our own. It's very, very sad.


FOREMAN: We heard that echoed throughout this community all day today by members of the Korean American community, by members of the community at large. Again, there will be services all week. They feel terrible for all of the victims of this and very puzzled by this young man who lived among them and who walked with their own students -- John.

KING: Tom Foreman, tonight in Centreville, Virginia.

Tom, thank you very much.

Thirty-two people died yesterday before the gunman killed himself. Thirty-two stories cruelly and abruptly ended. Here are a few.

Ryan Clark was a straight-A student. Friends called him "Stack." He always had a smile. Ryan Clark was 22.

Emily Jane Hilscher was studying animal sciences. She worked at a vet's office back home. She was 19.

Professor G.V. Loganathan, hailed from southern India. He'd been teaching here at Tech since 1982. He was 51.

Ross Alameddine came from Saugus, Massachusetts. Just this weekend he called home to tell his mom he'd decided to major in English. He was 20.

Liviu Librescu survived the holocaust. He died on Holocaust Memorial Day, Remembrance Day on this campus, trying to save his students. He was 76.

Matthew La Porte attended a military prep school, graduated third in his class and won a scholarship to Virginia Tech. He was 20.

Reema Samaha attended the same high school that graduated the gunman Cho. She was just 18.

Twenty-one-year-old Daniel Perez Cueva was studying international relations here at Virginia Tech.

High School classmates voted Jeremy Herbstritt the most talkative. A born engineer, he loved to take things apart and put them back together again.

Caitlin Hammaren's high School principal called her one of most outstanding young individuals who he had ever known. He's been at it for 31 years; she was just 19.

As we mentioned earlier, there was an emotional vigil for tonight for those lives taken not far from where I am standing on campus.

CNN's Carol Costello was there. She's here to join us now to tell us about it. Quite an emotional beginning of the morning, you might say.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was very emotional. You know, I walked through campus all day today and picked up little bits and pieces of sadness, small stories from different students.

But when I got to this vigil at 8:00 p.m., Eastern tonight, I mean, you could finally realize the magnitude of this tragedy and just how many people this has affected. Literally hundreds and hundreds of students gathered each with a candle, sitting there and pausing for a moment to remember those that they've lost.

But also, as you can hear, they're chanting. They're saying hokies, hokies, and they're doing that because they want their university to remember not for this tragedy, but for the greatness of Virginia Tech and the happiness, the happy times they've spent here.

KING: A remarkable day seeing everybody in their orange. Everyone trying to not celebrate, but trying to keep the community together even as you can see the sadness and the tension. Almost you see hardly any students walking alone. They seem to always be staying in groups to stay together.

COSTELLO: You're absolutely right about that. They specifically chose to wear their Virginia Tech sweatshirts and their t-shirts.

And as you walked on campus during the day, you saw students just spontaneously hugging one another and they felt that they had to have some outpouring of emotion, some sense of community. And that's why so many attended this vigil tonight, because you know the classes have been canceled this week. Many of the students could have gone home, but they chose to stay. KING: Many, many here tonight. It will be interesting to watch over the next few days. We did see some with their suitcases tonight as classes are canceled for the week.

Carol Costello, thank you very much.

Next, the gun trail. The facts, the hard questions about how easy it was for this killer to buy his weapons. That's coming up.

Also tonight -- the race against time in the O.R. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us what's been done in the hospitals to try and save the injured. That, when 360 continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was so heartbroken to find out it came from me. I mean, I could have done nothing any different. There was no reason for me to deny the sale.


KING: Gun shop owner John Marco (ph) talking about his heartbreaking link to the Virginia Tech massacre.

Thirty-six days ago Cho Seung-Hui bought a Glock pistol at his store. The gun is one of his bestsellers. And he had no way of knowing what was to come.

Here's CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The gun sale was unremarkable. It took just 10 minutes.

Nothing odd about this fellow?

JOHN MARKELL, ROANOKE FIREARMS OWNER: Not at all. He was very low key.

GRIFFIN: Records show Cho Seung-Hui walked into the Roanoke firearms gun shop, plopped down a credit card and walked out with this lethal weapon.

That's a Glock 19?


GRIFFIN: A gun like the one you sold.

John Markell says he never gave it another thought, even after the shooting, never once made the connection until federal agents showed up yesterday with a receipt.

And they showed it to you?

MARKELL: Sure. When I saw the date on it, I went right straight to the month that we sold it last month, and pulled the paperwork right out.

GRIFFIN: The paperwork shows the chilling simplicity of the transaction. Twenty-three-year-old Cho produced three forms of identification -- his Virginia driver's license, his resident alien card, his checkbook with address. He then submitted the information needed to conduct the instant background check and he passed.

MARKELL: we called it in to the state police. They ran the background check, and he was cleared.

GRIFFIN: Cho was legally allowed to buy a gun, and Markell said he showed no sign of trouble, no reason for anyone to deny him his right.

MARKELL: We deny sales to people every day. If I smell alcohol on somebody's breath, I'm not going to deal with them.

GRIFFIN: The Glock 19 is a popular target shooting and self- defense weapon. Once in Cho's possession, agents told Markell the three serial numbers on the gun here, here, and here were filed off. Cho was carrying the receipt when he went on Monday's rampage. That receipt brought federal agents to Markell's store.

MARKELL: He paid by credit card. It was $571.

GRIFFIN: The other gun also had its serial numbers filed off. Investigators suspect Cho bought that just last week.

MARKELL: He had to have purchased extra magazines and ammunitions somewhere. He didn't get them here.

GRIFFIN: Markell says he remains in shock, saddened, he says, one of his guns was used this way. But he says the gun sale was legal because at the time Cho abided by the law.

Do you wish now there was other letters that could have been followed?

MARKELL: Truthfully, I don't think you can prevent this kind of thing. I can't imagine that he bought that gun specifically for the purpose of shooting all of those people. He bought it five weeks ago. Somewhere along the line he had to decide that he was going to do it and that's when he bought the extra magazines and ammunition and came up with a plan.


KING: They have the records. They have the receipts. You have the account of the gun store owner. But if we were having this conversation last week, not this week, we'd also have a video account of this purchase, wouldn't we? GRIFFIN (on camera): Yes. The shop had 32 cameras, John, around it. It records everything, out in the parking lot, into the store, the counter. But all of those cameras recycle automatically on a 30- day cycle and they were automatically recycled just six days ago.

KING: You made a point in the conversation earlier, you listened to all of this we learned about the shooter today. The police came about a stalking case, but it never reached the point of any charges. Had it reached even a minor threshold, a misdemeanor?

GRIFFIN: Then that instant background check would have at least slowed this sale. It would have sent the flag instantly to that store that says, hey, don't sell this guy a firearm. We're going to check him out further before he's going to be allowed to buy that. Just a strong misdemeanor would have triggered that, John. And anywhere along this path that we've seen for the last several years in this character.

If there was an arrest, an arrest made and a charge filed, that would have triggered it.

KING: Drew Griffin, taking us back on the beginning of the deadly trail 36 days ago.

Drew, thank you very much.

Here in Blacksburg, Virginia, tech officials are taking tremendous heat for what they failed to do yesterday -- lock down the campus immediately when the death toll was in the single digits. And many students were still sleeping, in their pajamas.

CNN's David Mattingly reports.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): 7:15 a.m., an hour of the morning many students are just waking up, a 911 call brings police to a Virginia Tech dorm. Inside, two students are dead of gunshots. And evidence at the scene is handled by the book.

MIKE BROOKS, SECURITY ANALYST: Were there any shell casings? Is there blood spatter? Is there still a threat on the scene? Once they find out there's no threat and the victims are taken care of, then they can start concentrating on the investigation.

MATTINGLY: And police quickly decide it's an isolated incident. The school doesn't notify the students. Police have no reason yet to suspect Korean-born student, 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, who lives in a dorm just 30 seconds away from the crime scene.

(on camera): It was such a cold and windy morning that it's possible no one paid any attention to a student running or walking quickly through this courtyard.

By the time police were alerted to the 911 call, Cho could have easily been inside that building and inside his dorm room. (voice-over): In the meantime, the campus remained open. Students weren't alerted. Locking down the massive facility was deemed unnecessary, thinking students would be safer in their classrooms than milling about.

KEN TRUMP, SCHOOL SECURITY ANALYST: Communications is often the weakest link in any school emergency response and should be the strongest point of any school crisis plan.

MATTINGLY: 8:25 a.m., an hour and 10 minutes after the 911 call, university officials decided to tell students of the two murders by e- mail, but the e-mail doesn't go out right way. By this time Cho could have been on the move, ready to put his deadly plans into action.

If Cho walked across campus, it was a trip that took maybe 15 minutes. And he likely crossed through this enormous, open area. It's called the drill field. And hundreds of students cross through here every hour. Cho could have easily been just a face in the crowd. And without a lockdown, there would have been no reason to stop him.

9:26 a.m., now two full hours after the first 911 call, students get their first e-mail, telling them of the two killings, urging them to be cautious and report anything suspicious.

But by this time, Cho could have already been inside the classroom building, preparing to chain the doors.

TRUMP: parents and students are going to want instant information. They have it in their hands and School officials along with police have to develop mechanisms to get out accurate information quickly on their end as well.

MATTINGLY: 9:45, police are questioning a person of interest when the next 911 call comes through.

Cho's murderous rampage is under way, taking life after life.

Five minutes later, there's an e-mail warning everyone to stay put. A gunman is loose on campus, and stay way from the windows. Many students don't get it right away. Word of mouth takes over.

JACKIE PETERS,STUDENT: Two girls from the floor above me came down and were asking me, like, have you heard about it? And I asked them about the e-mail, went in and checked mine. As I went to tell my mom about it, the second e-mail came through telling everyone to stay put.

MATTINGLY: 10:16 a.m., another e-mail. This time entrances to the campus are closed.

Then, 10:52, the grim news -- a multiple shooting with multiple victims. By the time many students find out, the deadliest shooting spree in history is over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know what was going on. At least if they would have warned us of what was going on, you know? This happened at 7:15 in the morning and they -- they should do -- did lock down at like 9:00 something.

MATTINGLY: Thirty-two innocent victims dead and a million questions left behind.


KING: David, the administration of the school, still standing by that decision, saying it thought it was an isolated incident, the first killing. Is there any reason to believe that this happened on any other campus that it would have or could have been handled differently, the communications?

MATTINGLY: Some other campuses actually have a system where they send out a message, a text message that students can get on their cell phones and their PDAs. Here, they don't have that kind of system. So students had to have their laptops or access to some kind of e-mail system for them to be able to actually see this message.

Even when the e-mails were going out here, a lot of the students just weren't getting them. They were in class or somewhere else, just not able to check their e-mail.

KING: Any indication here that this administration will change the way it does business, at least in terms of communicating?

MATTINGLY: They have been looking at that special texting system in the past. They'll probably revisit that now.

KING: David Mattingly, for us tonight. David, on that critical two-hour gap.

David, thank you very much.

And you can logon to for much more on this story. You'll find videos, photos, along with eyewitness accounts -- updated, of course, around the clock. Again, that's at

Or download the number one news and information podcast on iTunes. That's the 360 podcast. You can also get it at

Just ahead, one of most striking images from yesterday's shooting. Tonight, we'll hear how this victim is doing.

And we'll hear some remarkable stories from people treating the wounded, when 360 continues.



29 initially hospitalized

14 remain hospitalized

1 in critical condition (END GRAPHIC)

KING: We want to take a moment now to show you a photograph. It is one of the most memorable images of the massacre. Police officers carrying a victim of the shooting. That young man survived. His name is Kevin Sterne. He's a senior at Virginia Tech. Earlier his parents spoke from the hospital where he's being treated. Here's what they said in their own words.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was in the German class with our daughter. And he got shot twice in the upper thigh. And the one bullet went straight through and the other one pierced his artery.

RANDY STERNE, KEVIN SERNE'S FATHER: And he didn't really talk a lot about it. I'd ask him about it. He has had a lot of support from his family and the hospital has been great.

SUZANNE STERNE, KEVIN STERNE'S MOTHER: It's mixed emotions because there's people, their children, so we're blessed.


KING: In their own words, the parents of Kevin Sterne. Some of the most detailed and horrific accounts of the shooting are from Derek O'Dell. He is a student also here at Virginia Tech. Yesterday he became an eyewitness to the massacre and a survivor. I spoke to Derek a bit earlier.


KING: Derek, let me first just ask you how you're doing.

DEREK O'DELL, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT, SHOT IN THE ARM: Pretty good, considering everything that's going on. Doctors actually released me pretty quickly from the hospital within about two hours after I got shot. So everything's going all right.

KING: You -- it seems bizarre to use the terms, but in some ways you're one of the lucky ones. You had a face-to-face encounter with this deadly shooter. You've heard him described as a fellow student. You've heard him described, I'm sure, as a loner, somebody who had some emotional problems in class. Is that your memory of what you saw yesterday?

O'DELL: Yes, that's pretty much it. The shooter, just tragic what he did. I mean, I felt very fortunate to come out of there alive. I mean, we had multiple, multiple people in our class get shot. I mean, I think the last count I heard was only four of us survived. So I feel very fortunate to walk out of there alive.

KING: You were in the room today when the president came to campus. He met with you, he and the first lady also met with some of the families, the parents of students who weren't so lucky. Take us inside that room. O'DELL: It was just really sad, even though the president was there, which is usually a joyous occasion. Everybody was crying. I met one of the fathers of the sons that died in our classroom and it was just a tragic event.

KING: Any specific memory of the words exchanged there with the parent?

O'DELL: Just I was sorry for his son's loss. I wish I could have done more to save him.

KING: Did you have time with the president yourself or the first lady yourself?

O'DELL: Yes. The president actually came up to me and said hello. I introduced my girlfriend. And he was very nice about the whole thing and very kind and considerate of everything that's go on.

KING: What is your sense of your own personal mood and the mood on this campus? You have a day like this with this dramatic contrast. You have the beginning of the mourning process if you will, the convocation, the president, the governor, members of the student body trying to deal with the loss, what happened here. But you also have this new information that this was in fact one of your fellow students who decided to gun more than 30 people down on this campus.

O'DELL: Yes. It just sort of makes you want more information. And it makes you want more answers, I guess, would be the key thing there, just to see what was going through his mind and maybe through some of the search warrants of his dormitory or maybe some of the letters or notes that he might have written that we could learn more about him.

KING: Do you think you'll everybody understand it? You say you want to learn more, do you think you could ever understand this?

O'DELL: I don't think I can ever understand him, but I forgive him automatically for what he has done.

KING: You forgive him?

O'DELL: Yes. I mean, something must have been going wrong in his life to cause all of this. I can't really understand why, but if I could, then I'm sure I could forgive him.

KING: You look around this place, it's a beautiful place and you see the students wearing their colors today, people trying to show a sense of community. It's a remarkably peaceful, just an idyllic campus and yet it has been scarred by this. Classes are canceled through the rest of the week. Will this place ever pick up? Will it ever be the same?

O'DELL: I'm sure it will. The Hokie community is a very strong community and proud community. And we've had tragedies before but none to this scale. But I'm sure they'll pick up. We're very tight in the community. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: He's a soft-spoken, remarkable young man. I was struck after the interview, we chatted a bit more and he said the shooter, when he came so close to him, had this focus in his eyes. He said it was an incredible focus, but also Derek described it as incredible anger.

Many of the students who survived the massacre owe their lives to the bravery of one professor, his story coming up.

Also 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the bravery and life-saving skills of the doctors. That's next on this special edition of 360.


KING: Some perspective now on how doctor and nurses are caring for the wounded, dealing with traumatic injuries when every second counts. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.


DR. DAVID STOEKLE, HOSPITAL CHIEF OF SURGERY: We lad a gold alert trauma alert called. There are multiple, very serious injuries coming to hospital. By the time the first student hit the emergency room, we had three general surgeons there.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doctors rushing to save lives. Mothers praying they'll be successful.

S. STERNE: Twice in the upper thigh.

GUPTA: 21-year-old Kevin Sterne's mom was out shopping for his upcoming graduation when she got the unimaginable call.

S. STERNE: That's what it felt like, a bomb just dropped.

GUPTA: She learned a bullet had hit her son and all likelihood he was bleeding to death. What she could not know is this, only an extraordinary sequence of events could save him. And time was already ticking away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We would take care of one, and another one would roll in.

GUPTA: No time for emotion. One patient after the next after the next and after the next.

(on camera): The next one was Kevin Sterne, a 6'2" senior who minutes after being shot was brought to this emergency room and then rushed into the hospital where doctors heroically tried to save his life. What we now know is that the race to save him actually started in the field.

(voice-over): You see, it was Kevin himself who took mattered into his own hands. Having just been shot not once, but twice, and having seen several of his classmates killed, Kevin decided to fight for his life.

STOEKLE: The patient that I took care of was an incredible guy. And I didn't really get to talk to him much until afterwards. He had a gunshot wound right through his femoral artery and it literally ripped three centimeters out of his femoral artery of his right leg. He was an Eagle Scout. He wrapped a wire cord from apparently an electrical -- something electrical was in that classroom.

He wrapped it tightly and I think he had one of the other students help him wrap this around his leg because he knew he was bleeding to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is trying to take care of himself, I think that's great. That proves to me that he was still calm even after the incident. If he had enough common sense to hurry up to try to fix himself, that's amazing. That's a real hero right there.

GUPTA: These emergency medical technicians were the first on the scene. Just students, but now have already had the experience of a lifetime.

Still several minutes had passed. The major artery supplying blood to his leg was shredded apart skin and muscle would start to die. Just a little more time and his heart would die as well. Tick, tick.

Finally, 30 hours after the ordeal began, good news.

STOEKLE: My student, who had the injury, is doing very well. He's stable and I think going to be here a while.

S. STERNE: It will change me to appreciate life, to know that there is good in our country. There's good in Blacksburg. There's good in Virginia Tech. There's good all around it, you just have to focus on it. You have to be positive.

And as far as Kevin, he's a tough trooper.

GUPTA: Kevin will walk out of the hospital. Both his leg and his life saved when so many others died.


KING: Sanjay Gupta joins us now. Sanjay, you've been there, you've been in these large trauma situations in the past. Tell us about the process what needs happen in order to quickly stabilize these patients.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, the thing about it, John, is that there's a protocol, it's a protocol that is set in stone, when taking care of patients out in the field and when they get to the hospital as well. One of the first things you want to do is make sure that they have an airway.

This is an endotrachial tube, John. And they actually put this down into someone's trachea and start breathing with a bag forcing air in and out of the lungs. Another thing that can oftentimes save a life very quickly is actually taking a scalpel, someone who has a gunshot wound to the chest, taking a scalpel and actually cutting a little incision right on the chest and taking a chest tube which looks like this and actually putting that chest tube in there and allowing air to get out of that chest cavity and allowing the lung to inflate and deflate again.

These simple maneuvers make a huge difference in the first few minutes after someone has an injury like this, as to whether they are going to live or die, John.

KING: Sanjay, you've had some time to talk to the doctors on the ground, share their stories with us.

GUPTA: You know, it's amazing. I have heard some amazing stories. I talked to this one doctor who took care of a patient who was shot in the back of the head, and he lived. And the reason that he lived, the doctor told me, was because what had happened at that time was right before he was shot, someone else fell on top of him and the bullet actually passed through this other person before passing to the back of his gentleman's head.

It's just -- they're awful stories but these are the sort of things that are happening. We're hearing about people who actually jumped out of windows, fractured their spine, fractured their neck as a result. So it wasn't just gunshot wounds.

We hear about patients, the bullets actually passing through other surfaces and causing gouges in people's skins. It is remarkable, John, all of the different stories. Four different hospitals in this area, 14 patients still and one patient still critical tonight.

But obviously a lot of good news as well as a lot of the patients have stabilized over the day today, John.

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, sharing the stories of the heroes, the doctors, the nurses, the EMTs, the heroes at this time of terrible tragedy. Sanjay, thank you very much.

In the midst of this overwhelming grief, the community here is striving to recapture the remarkable spirit it had before the shooting. We'll look at campus life today when we come back.

Plus, the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others. A story of remarkable, remarkable courage when 360 continues.


KING: One of the 32 who were murdered yesterday survived the horrors of the Holocaust. And he's being remembered tonight for saving his students' lives. CNN's Randi Kaye has the remarkable report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside room 204 of Norris Hall, professor Liviu Librescu was lecturing his engineering students, 9:00 a.m., a typical Monday morning on Virginia Tech's campus until the lesson was interrupted.

ARYEH LIBRESCU, SON OF DECEASED PROFESSOR: Most people would just panic and just find a place where they can hide or they can run.

KAYE: But not professor Librescu. He was and a Holocaust survivor. His son Aryeh calls him strong, even at 76. Says he never saw his father cry. Aryeh was far away, in Israel, unaware the building where his father had taught for 20 years was under attack. Cho Seung-Hui had already opened fire on the German class a few doors down.

(on camera): Students say professor Librescu barricaded the door to his classroom, used his body as a shield, it was the only way his students would have time to escape. They kicked out the second-floor windows and jumped to safety. In the end, two were wounded but all students survived. Professor Librescu stayed behind.

LIBRESECU: My father was able to save one person, he's a hero at a level which I didn't even think my father could be.

KAYE (voice-over): Student Richard Malilu (ph) heard dozens of gunshots and screams as he ran from classroom 204.

JOE LIBRESCU, SON OF DECEASED PROFESSOR: This is the most boring building in the entire school. If there was a building that you do not expect anything to happen, that was the building, just because it was an engineering building.

KAYE: Professor Librescu had survived horror before. During World War II, when he was just a child, the Romanian government, which collaborated with the Nazis, sent him to a labor camp. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered. Somehow Librescu survived.

Later, he survived an oppressive communist regime. He lost his job in a Romanian aerospace company after he refused to swear allegiance to the communists. Menachem Begin, then-prime minister of Israel, personally intervened helped his family to escape to Israel. Seven years later, he and his wife moved to Virginia.

J. LIBRESCU: He was a scientist first, and a father second.

A. LIBRESCU: That's what woke him up in the morning, teaching and doing research. That was his food. That was the food to his soul.

KAYE: Room 204 was where professor Librescu wanted to be. It was home, and he died trying to protect it.

A. LIBRESCU: He died at the place that he really loved, really, really loved.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: One of the many heroes, many heroes of this tragedy. This campus today is a very different place than was just two days ago. After the break, how this community has changed in such a short time.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Coming up, the latest, disturbing details on the Virginia Tech gunman and Dr. Phil and the Columbine survivor all joining us as families share emotional memories of victims of the deadliest rampage in American history an the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE."



JACOB LUNDEEN, RYAN CLARK'S FRIEND: I lost, you know, a friend, a brother, you know, Ryan can't be replaced. You know, everyone says that about a loved one or a family member and it's true. I mean, you can't replace that person at all. And, you know, I loved him as a brother. I love his family as my own family. And I just -- you know, he is someone that was always there for you and it's a real big blow to our family and our friends.


KING: We have tried to learn as much as we can about this place in the last 36 hours or so. There's so much numbness, there's sadness, there's anger, there's frustration. There's also remarkable pride and a sense of community. It leaves you with an overwhelming desire to root for this place and this campus, this community. For the next few moments, I want to show you why.


KING (voice-over): It is a community known for its breathtaking hills, its farms and horses and a friendly picturesque campus that is most days a postcard of rural tranquility, most days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May I tie this to your antenna, a ribbon of mourning? Thank you.

KING: The black ribbons are just one symbol of Virginia Tech's grief and horror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless you as well. God bless us all.

KING: There are candles for an evening vigil distributed by a local radio station just outside the building where family members desperate for news or devastated by the news are being briefed and counseled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand that basically all of the stores close by are out and you can't get them anywhere. So we're trying to give everybody a chance to have one for the vigil tonight. KING: Blacksburg and neighboring Christiansburg are suddenly scarred by the unthinkable, the unimaginable. Brian Horn (ph) was on the Virginia Tech campus Monday with the local volunteer fire and rescue squad when the scope of the carnage became clear. He drove back here to his family's funeral home business to retrieve more than 30 body bags.

Horn did not want to be interviewed on camera out of respect for victims, but his account was chilling, returning to campus with the bags to organize the bodies and to console colleagues who spoke of being horrified not only at the bloody scene but at the constant ringing and vibrating of the victims' cell phones.

The flags at half-staff are a sign of the sorrow. Newspaper headlines, a reminder of the horror.

(on camera): "Heartache" is how the front page of the campus newspaper, The Collegiate Times, put it. And read the front page, and you get a sense of the devastating mood on this stunned campus. In the face of such devastating losses, the paper writes: "Lingering uncertainties about what caused it, who caused it, and how it was handled will forever haunt our memories. But what is more important is to remember what we were before the tragedy, we were strong, secure, confident."

KING: That confidence is now strained, if not shattered. The Dietrick dining hall is one place where students can get counseling. Reverend Jim Pace says the numbness and doubt are overwhelming.

REV. JIM PACE, NEW LIFE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP: One of the things that has been so hard is that you feel like there's almost kind of a protective bubble that keeps the evil that's very real and absolutely in the world out and a big hole got shot in that bubble yesterday. People are feeling like the things they can trust, they're wondering if they can. It makes them question what is genuinely safe and what is genuinely trustworthy in this world.

KING: Faith teaches forgiveness, but Pace says emotions are too raw at the moment.

PACE: They're angry and I think they are and they're probably going to get angrier. They just want someone they can lay the blame of this. And certainly the shooter has earned that.

KING (on camera): This rural campus is being overwhelmed and literally overrun by the news media. There are of course reporters coming here from all across the United States, but also increasingly from around the world. You have Germany here, Canada here, some 30 satellite trucks spread across this lot here. And this is barely the half of it. Just as many if not more just across the hill on the other side.

(voice-over): It leaves many students wondering when things might return to normal and many others not sure they ever will.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: More 360 from the campus of Virginia Tech after this.


KING: This tragic story continues to unfold here at Virginia Tech, and of course will for some time. And you can follow it all online, updated around the clock, just go to Also you can find 360 stories in-depth on our blog at And be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow. John Roberts and Kiran Chetry will have the latest from right here starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

Standing in for Anderson who will be back tomorrow and right here on campus, I'm John King, Larry King is next.