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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Missed Signals in Virginia Tech Massacre?; What Sent Virginia Tech Shooter Over the Edge?

Aired April 19, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight: new details on how a cold and distant young man transformed himself cold-blooded killer -- new information and our first look inside Cho Seung-Hui's dorm suite. These are the pictures. Investigators are -- have been combing the suite, the room for clues, trying to determine if this was the place where Cho made that terrifying last video or where he planned the massacre itself.

We're going to take you through it. And we will talk to the suite mate who last lived with Cho, who, in fact, saw him at 5:00 a.m. the morning of the rampage.

That is coming up, along with some answers to a question that we have heard so many people asking: Why couldn't authorities get such an obviously troubled individual off the streets and into full-time care?

We begin, though, with a piece of good news. Three victims went home from the hospital today, one of many new developments in a story that seems to bring something new nearly every hour.


COOPER (voice-over): Did his silence and empty stare mask the true face of evil? Cho Seung-Hui's former suite mate is certain of it. He's convinced Monday's massacre, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, was months in the making.

KARAN GREWAL, SUITE MATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: Until now, I just thought he was really shy and reserved. But it seems like, now, he just was trying to fool us, try to put on an act, to hide what he was planning the entire year.

COOPER: With each new day, more details emerge about this calculating and deeply troubled killer. Today, we learned Cho finished on his so-called manifesto at 7:24 Monday morning, just after two students were killed in their dormitory, and before he slaughtered 30 more.

Also, the .22 handgun he used was purchased from an online gun store on February 2. Cho paid for it with a credit card. While his parents aren't talking, his sister reportedly reached out to a spiritual adviser at Princeton University, where she graduated.

And, from South Korea, Cho's great aunt spoke out about a troubled child from a very early age.

KIM YANG-SOON, GREAT AUNT OF CHO SEUNG-HUI (through translator): From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me. Cho doesn't talk. Normally, sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold.

COOPER: From cold to cold-blooded -- one violent recalls the horror.

GARRETT EVANS, WOUNDED VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: I saw Satan at work, and I saw God at work at the same time.

COOPER: Garrett Evans was in the classroom where the greatest loss of life took place. He survived the shooting and says he will never forget what happened.

EVANS: Walked to the door real fast, didn't say anything. All he did was bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, shot a girl here, shot a girl there. Evil spirit was going through that boy, that shooter. I know it.


COOPER: Have they ruled out at -- oh, at this point -- sorry.

Tonight, many students have gone home. We're going to talk to John King in a moment. He joins us.

Faculty members are deciding, on a class-by-class basis right now, whether or not require they finish out the semester.

Some have begun sending out e-mails offering a grade based on their work up until this point. And, if students accept it, they're done for the year. Also, the governor, Governor Kaine, is setting up an independent panel to investigate the massacre and to investigate everything that we can find out about Cho.

You cannot begin to fathom what people here are going through, as the funerals begin, but also as the life of Cho comes into sharper focus.

A closer look now from chief national correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The gruesome mystery begins at the end of the hall, room 2121, the campus home of Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui.

It's under lock and seal now, after police seized materials they hope help answer the biggest of the many questions: Why? Cho shared this common area with five other students. Note the cinder blocks.

A suite mate is convinced some of Cho's angry manifesto was recorded here while the others were at class. KARAN GREWAL, SUITE MATE OF CHO SEUNG-HUI: The backdrop of the video looks exactly like our suite's -- the white bricks. He spent a lot of time in the living area throughout the year. Maybe he just figured our schedules.

KING: Karan Grewal says Cho never talked or showed emotion, and would look down when walking around the suite or down the hallways to avoid eye contact.

GREWAL: He never spoke at all. While -- during the nine months that he lived with us, I never saw him with anyone, ever. I just thought he was really lonely.

KING: Investigating a silent loner is frustrating. With few helpful witnesses, the investigation is intensely focused on the gunman's own writings and campus movements.

From his room, police records show investigators seized Cho's desktop and laptop computer, notebooks and compact discs, a digital camera, credit cards, checks and bank statements, hoping for clues to whether Cho communicated with or stalked any of his victims.

(on camera): It was here on the fourth floor of the West A.J. dorm that the first two victims were gunned down early Monday morning, Emily Hilscher and Ryan Clark. Cho's dorm is just over there, the building behind this one. Police say there's no known connection between the gunman and those first two victims.

But they do know that all three used this, the West End dining facility. You can't use cash in here. Students use their I.D. to get in. And they pay using this magnetic stripe hooked up to their accounts. What that allows police to do now is to go back through the computer records to see if, perhaps, the shooter and his first two victims might have crossed paths here.

(voice-over): Kevin Tosh lives in the West A.J. dorm and has listened to Cho's videotaped complaints about rich snobs on campus. He says neither Emily, nor Ryan came anywhere close.

KEVIN TOSH, FRIEND OF VICTIMS: Of any two people, those would definitely not be the -- fit his description of what the people that were apparently inflicting him with pain.

KING: Days after the carnage, there are still reminders of how that day was supposed to unfold.

(on camera): Emily was a popular member of the equestrian team. And this is the stable on the far end of the Virginia Tech campus. Hanging here on the wall, a bulletin board that tells you she was supposed to arrive at 3:30 in the afternoon on Monday. That's about eight hours after she was shot and killed.

(voice-over): Shot and killed, along with 31 others, by the troubled young man who lived here, in 2121 Harper Hall.


COOPER: And, still, so many pieces of the puzzle have not fitted together. Do -- is there -- are police any closer to understanding why Emily Hilscher was the first one shot, along with Ryan?

KING: They say they have no known connection. But we do know they are trying to prove that or disprove that.

They served a search warrant on her dorm room, Emily Hilscher's dorm room. They took her cell phone, their laptop -- her laptop. I'm told they also took some other personal belongings. Why? They're looking for any text messages, any e-mails, any photographs, to see if she, perhaps, communicated with Cho, or if he sent her messages. Remember, he has a record of stalking women on campus.

So, they're trying to see if there are any electronic communications between Emily Hilscher and Cho. And I'm told by a law enforcement source they will look for that with other victims as well. They're trying to retrace everyone's communications to see if there was any contact at all, if he could have been stalking or could have targeting one or two of the 32 victims, maybe. They say they don't know yet, but they're going to methodically go through any laptop, any text message, anything they can see.

COOPER: And the video that we're seeing inside the dorm suite, this is the first time we have really gotten a look inside this dorm suite. It's not inside Cho's room in particular. But it is a suite he shared with his roommates.

He spent an awful lot of time even in the public areas, and yet never really spoke in those areas.

KING: It's remarkable to talk to the suite mates. And we believe that is exclusive video that no one has seen inside the suite like that.

His actual door, the one at the end of the hall, is locked. The police locked that after searching it and pulling out all those items we mentioned from the search warrant the other day. But the suite mates say, early on, they started to at least try to have small talk with him: "Hey, how you doing?"

He would say nothing, grunt, maybe put his eyes down, and walk past...


COOPER: That is the hall?

KING: That is his room. The one at the very end of the hall there is his room. You see it on the monitor there. And you see his name on the fish nameplate right to the left with his bunkmate, Joseph, two students in each of the three bedrooms in a suite.

All of these suite mates say they tried to talk to him. He wouldn't talk to them. So, they simply gave up. But they say they would come home or leave in the morning. He would be sitting in here, the common area of the suite. Or, just outside, there's a study area for the entire dorm. Anyone in the dorm can go. They say he would sit there late at night and watch television.

They say they simply gave up communicating, trying to communicate with him, because he would not respond to them. Even at the dining hall, they say they would see him there. He would always sit alone, never talk to anyone. Imagine that. For nine months in college, his own suite mates say they never saw him with anyone, never saw him talking to anyone.

COOPER: And you -- from the interview you did yesterday with one of the suite mates, we learned that, on the morning of the shooting, at 5:00 a.m., he was seen inside the bathroom. And there was no good morning. There was nothing, no communication.

KING: No nothing.

And we got a glimpse inside that bathroom today. It's pretty spartan. There were some people thinking that he had writings on the wall, disturbing writings on the wall. There were no writings on the wall at all.

But the suite mate says he came into the bathroom at 5:00 in the morning, after being up all night working on some schoolwork. And he saw Cho. And he said that he, then, soon after that, went to bed. And, of course, that's 5:00 in the morning at Monday. It was at 7:15, Anderson, just two hours 15 minutes later, when the first of the shootings happened.

COOPER: John, appreciate that.

Police, again, trying to retrace the steps on that terrible morning.

On now from his dorm and his first victim to how he came unglued.

As CNN's Randi Kaye discovered, it may have been a long road from childhood to madness.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does this look like the face of a would-be killer? It's Cho Seung-Hui, a junior in high school, five years before he would go on the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history, and then kill himself. Question is, how did this grow into this?

HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: We don't know when he started to go over the edge of saying, you know, you're making me angry, to, I'm going to kill you.

KING: Forensic psychiatrist Helen Morrison says, what people thought was odd behavior in Cho was more likely paranoia, which, in time, gave way to a complete psychotic breakdown.

She says the paranoia likely began in high school. (on camera): The Associated Press reports, Cho was teased in high school, laughed at for the way he spoke, and told to go back to China. But Morrison doesn't believe that's what set him off. Lots of kids get bullied and don't end up on a killing spree.

(voice-over): Nor do they make videos like this one Cho mailed to NBC between the two shootings, in which, Dr. Morrison says, nearly every word indicates paranoia.


CHO SEUNG-HUI, VIRGINIA TECH GUNMAN: You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option.


KAYE: How did Cho become so unglued? Why did his paranoia turn to rage?

Morrison says he saw himself as a failure, a loner, a target.

MORRISON: He starts to see other people as becoming very threatening to him. And anybody who threatens his manhood or his sense of himself as a strong man becomes part of a community that is -- begins to torture him.

KAYE: His former roommates say Cho made a make-believe world, an imaginary girlfriend named Jelly. He even called himself Question Mark.

MORRISON: He was hiding himself, letting people project on to that question mark their impressions.

KAYE: Dr. Morrison says he started doing things that made him feel tough. Weeks before the massacre, he got this speeding ticket. His most recent roommate says Cho shaved his head last semester and started working out in February, the same month he bought the first of two guns used in the shootings.

MORRISON: If you look at the later pictures, he looks like a mercenary, being the strong, big, macho guy: I'm not this weakling that everybody thinks I am.

KAYE: Dr. Morrison says Cho had to prove he wasn't a zero. And this is how he did it: a killing rampage, and boasting about it in videos, instant global notoriety.


CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave?


KAYE (on camera): Clearly, he thought the entire world was against him.

MORRISON: Absolutely. And we see that in some of his early writings, when we -- especially when we read his two one-act plays, that you read how he perceives the world as being the problem.

KAYE (voice-over): But now we know Cho had real problems simmering for years.

(on camera): This isn't someone who just snapped?

MORRISON: He was going to show everyone that he was not this little weakling. He was definitely going to make a name for himself. People would never forget him.

KAYE (voice-over): Most of us never will.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And Dr. Helen Morrison joins us now, along with Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life."

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Dr. Morrison, you think Cho was a paranoid psychotic. But, up until Monday, he hadn't killed anyone. He hadn't even broken any laws or made direct threats against anybody, except he got a few speeding tickets.


COOPER: How does someone go from just being a quiet loner to a mass murderer?

MORRISON: Well, he had been building for years this rage and anger that he had.

But, when you get to a point, it's like a pressure cooker. Something has to give. But this has been such a long-term buildup of anger and rage, that he was going to finally just let it go.

I mean, we have to also look at the fact he was a senior. We don't know what his plans were. We don't know if he had been offered a job, was not going to have a job. But we do know that, somehow, the pressure that he was under finally led him to the final act of murder.

COOPER: Dr. Saltz, you say that paranoia is the most dangerous mental health system. Why?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY, THE NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL WEILL-CORNELL SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Because the belief that everybody is attacking you leaves you in a situation of sort of eat or be eaten.

And, so, we often see patients who have severe paranoia are at great risk for either suicide or violent behavior themselves. They simply feel squeezed into a place where either they have to attack the other person, because they think, otherwise, they're going to be killed.

COOPER: Dr. Morrison, what do you make -- you know, in his writings, there seemed to be sort of an obsession with the debauchery, the hedonism of other people. He seemed to need to prove his masculinity a lot.

MORRISON: Well, one of the early theories about paranoia is that it's a defense against the person's own urges of homosexuality. And that's a very old theory.

But, if you look at the writings he had in both of his plays, they are focused on things occurring that would generally happen only in a same-sex-type relationship. But they're very threatening. And his response to those threats is to kill.

COOPER: But he seemed to be attracted to women.

MORRISON: Well, but, you know, it's like anything else. If you are trying to prove yourself, and trying to show that you're the complete opposite of what you might be afraid of, you will definitely stalk. You will definitely look into a woman's eyes and see promiscuity, which is one of the things he talked about.

But the focus on the sexuality of females was only masking what appears to have been a tremendous fear that he was not truly attracted to females.

COOPER: Dr. Saltz, he also wrote about sexual abuse in his plays and molestation.

SALTZ: Yes. Yes. Yes.

COOPER: Do you think he could have been molested?

SALTZ: You know, we can't rule that out. But the fact is that people who are psychotic obvious have graphic sexual material as part of their delusional system.

It's often mixed with violence. It's often mixed with hyper- religious ideas. And, so, this is very common. And it doesn't necessarily mean that something actually happened. But what it means is that it was very active in his fantasy life, and, as brought up, that it was probably about both men and women. And, certainly, it was tinged with violence throughout.


COOPER: So, Dr. Morrison, what exactly does it mean to be psychotic? And can somebody who is psychotic be treated?

MORRISON: Well, someone who is psychotic can obviously be treated. Psychosis is basically just a term for people who are out of contact with reality. The problem with a paranoid psychotic is that they are so good at hiding. They are so good at not telling anyone anything. They know how to work the system. And they know that the whole world is against them. So, they're not going to come out and tell you all of these fantasies.

You have to be an extremely good diagnostician to find the paranoia in the first place. And you're not going to be able to keep this person, because they're going to deny, deny, deny. They can be treated...

COOPER: And...


MORRISON: ... but they have to be willing to be treated. And most paranoids don't feel that they have the problem; it's the world that has the problem.

COOPER: Fascinating.

Dr. Helen Morrison, appreciate it.

Dr. Gail Saltz, as well, thank you very much.

SALTZ: Thank you.


COOPER: Cho was clearly disturbed. And now many are asking why he wasn't committed.

Up next on 360: why it's not that simple when it comes to college students.

Also ahead tonight: honoring those killed. They came from all over the world. And, tonight, we remember them, not how they died, but how they lived.

We will be right back.



DR. TODD COX, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The thing that's most clear to me and that we have to be careful about is making sure that we understand that we really can't do any diagnosing of an individual that is now deceased.

But, in reviewing what we have seen that has come out yesterday, it's quite clear that he was suffering significantly from psychotic beliefs that -- the grandiosity, the persecutory beliefs that he expressed certainly are consistent with psychosis that we usually will see as part of a mental illness.


COOPER: Psychiatrist Todd Cox is talking, of course, about Cho, the shooter who killed 32 people here at Virginia Tech.

I want to show you some pictures coming in right now, live pictures, of another vigil tonight here on the campus. It has been raining today. It is cold out tonight. But that has not stopped people from coming out to pay their respects. It is now clear that so many people here have been affected by what has gone on -- some of the candles. We have seen notes being left, cards, passages written on the walls.

We're going to show you some of that toward the end of the program tonight, some incredibly moving messages about those people -- those who were lost.

It is now clear that many people knew Cho was a deeply troubled young man, from his roommates and his classmates, to his professors and the local police. The question is, how, then, did he manage to slip through the cracks with such deadly results? It's a question that now haunts this campus, a question investigators are looking into.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All the signs were there: extreme isolation, stalking, violent writings, suicidal thoughts, a judge's finding that Cho presented an imminent danger to himself.

So, why was he not forced into the custody of mental health professionals?

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin:

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, schools and universities are really in a bind here, because, on the one hand, they can be sued for locking people up unnecessarily. On the other hand, they can be sued for not locking people up who go on to do damage to themselves or to other people.

FOREMAN: Many of America's 16 million college students exhibit some signs of mental stress or illness. The American College Health Association found that one in 10 has seriously considered suicide and one in 100 actually tries it.

Counselors say most of these students just need help.

Greg Eells counsels at Cornell.

GREG EELLS, STUDENT COUNSELING, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: If someone is really struggling and seeking help, you don't want to take their rights away. You don't want to do something that is going to keep people from seeking help and getting the help that they need. FOREMAN: Still, victims-rights advocates say the public needs help, too, in dealing with the mentally ill.

Eight years ago, a schizophrenic man pushed 32-year-old Kendra Ann Webdale in front of a speeding train in New York, killing her. He was off his medication. Her death led to the passing of Kendra's law, which allows the mentally ill to be medicated by force, if necessary.

Her mother, Patricia, now an advocate for mental health treatment, says shootings like the one at Virginia Tech might be averted if patient privacy laws were changed, so doctors, counselors, professors, even students could share more information about potentially dangerous individuals.

PATRICIA WEBDALE, KENDRA'S LAW IMPROVEMENT PANEL: The idea is to protect the privacy of people. But, sometimes, we protect the privacy of the wrong people.

FOREMAN (on camera): If Cho had been deemed an imminent danger to others, not just to himself, he could have been committed. If he had been committed, he could not have legally bought those guns.

(voice-over): But knowing the difference between the merely disturbed and the truly dangerous is key. And, often, no one knows, until it's too late.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, looking back, December 2005 was a pivotal moment in the Virginia Tech tragedy. That's when Cho was evaluated in a mental health facility, after police decided that he might be suicidal. A judge ruled that Cho was an imminent danger to himself because of mental illness. But he wasn't committed. He was sent for outpatient treatment.

Joining me now is Richard Bonnie, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at University of Virginia.

Professor Bonnie, thanks for being with us.

If you have a student, as in Cho's case, who is determined as being mentally ill, a threat to himself, is there any obligation right now on the parts of the courts or the hospital to alert the university or even the person's family members?

RICHARD BONNIE, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA INSTITUTE OF LAW, PSYCHIATRY AND PUBLIC POLICY: Well, let me say first of all, Anderson, that I don't want to be sure to -- I don't want to second- guess decisions that were made in this case, of course, about -- a very tragic case -- about which we don't have a lot of the information.

But, in this situation, of course, his problems were brought to the attention of the judicial system when a commitment petition was actually filed. And he was detained for an evaluation. And the judge made a -- made the determination, as you said, that he had a mental illness, and that he presented a danger to himself.

But the judge also made the judgment that he -- that hospitalization wasn't necessarily the appropriate clinical and legal response to the situation. And he entered an order for outpatient treatment.

What happened after that, actually, as far as I know, we don't exactly know, you know, what happened after that.

COOPER: That's correct.

But what can a university do, I mean, not talking about particularly this case, but just in general, so that this doesn't happen down the road? What can a university do if they have someone who exhibits strange, certainly antisocial behavior? Are they able to remove that person from the campus or put them in therapy or even contact that person's parents?

BONNIE: Well, I think we have got sort of two overlapping social systems here. I mean, one, you know, we're talking about the university. The university, of course, is a free society. It's an open society.

And, you know, students are adults. We're trying to encourage people to seek help and seek treatment when they need it. The university doesn't have the authority of a court to coerce people into treatment. And it would be a violation of the student's rights and dignity to discriminate against people because of their illness by expelling them.

But, what, of course, a university wants to do is to help people get the treatment that they need when they need it, in order to try to prevent things from spiralling out of control. Sometimes, if the law is needed, of course, the system of civil commitment is available. And, of course, it was because of concerns that his roommate had that the -- you know, that the -- that this commitment was eventually ordered.

But it's only a court, of course, that can order treatment under these circumstances.

COOPER: But you talk about protecting the person's rights on the part of the university. But, if the university feels that one of their students is a danger to himself or to other people, don't they have some sort of right to -- or requirement to do something about it, to protect that person or protect other people?

BONNIE: Well, of course.

And, you know, if, for example, the situation had been -- well, let's just imagine any situation in which a student is under treatment at student health, or comes to administrative, you know, concern about, you know, threats that may have been made and that sort of thing. Of course they have the authority to initiate a commitment process, just like anyone else would be, if there's a potential danger to someone else. Every -- every psychiatrist or psychologist does have the authority to initiate a commitment process, whether they're a school counselor or school psychiatrist, or whether they're a psychiatrist in the community, if they believe that a patient presents a danger to himself or another.

So, that is not an impediment. I think the question is when that threshold, you know, has been met. And, of course, we always want clinicians to try to err on the side of trying to help patients without -- without invoking the law. But, of course, sometimes, the law does need to be used.

COOPER: And this is certainly one of the things that the governor will be reviewing, the -- what sort of treatment he did receive, and if anything more could have been done.

Professor Richard Bonnie, appreciate your perspective. Thank you very much.

My next guest is also working to improve mental health care on college campuses. Andy Behrman is the author of "Electroboy," a memoir about his struggle with bipolar disorder. He was misdiagnosed multiple times. It took years for him to get effective treatment. Today, he writes about mental health and speaks at college campuses across the campus.

Andy, thanks for being with us.

You suffered with a mental illness in college. Now you tour college campuses. How well-equipped are colleges to handle mental health issues on campus? You go to dozens of them.

ANDY BEHRMAN, AUTHOR, "ELECTROBOY": Dozens, yes. It's hundreds over the last five years.

And, every time I leave college campuses, I'm just so surprised at students who are still dealing with the stigma of mental illness. I mean, this all comes down to one core issue: Mental illness is taboo. Students don't feel comfortable talking about it. And they also don't feel comfortable getting help. And I'm shocked...

COOPER: And do universities take it seriously enough?

BEHRMAN: Do they take it seriously? They're starting to take it seriously.

But funds are not there. Sometimes, students don't know how to navigate the system. If they do need help, and they identify that they need help, they don't know how to get to a therapist or a psychiatrist. And it's very frustrating.

COOPER: And what about in a case like -- that seems to be the case in this, where this person wasn't willing to seek help on their own. Other people, their professors, were urging him to seek help. And, yet, it doesn't seem like everything was done.

Or -- or do you think everything was done that could have been done in this case?

BEHRMAN: No. Everything was not done at all. But look at the larger picture here. I mean, we just heard someone say that one in 100 students thinks about suicide. These students just have no place to turn. You know, there just are not facilities.

There's some campuses where, you know, there are more assistant football coaches than therapists, which is alarming. There's not as much help out there that people think there is. And students are just stuck. And this is a critical period in their lives.

COOPER: What should parents who are sending their kids to colleges across the country, be made aware of? What should they realize? And what should they look out for?

BEHRMAN: Well, I mean, they should be monitoring their kids' behavior. In my own situation, it was very clear, very early on, in my college career, that I was not well.

Fortunately, I had people who were saying, "Hey, Andy, this behavior is really, really strange. You know? You've got to get some help." And I sought out help. I was very, very fortunate, you know. I have no idea what would have happened, had I not gotten the help that I did find.

COOPER: And certainly, in this case, it was the reverse. Other people saying, look, you need to get help. And this young man refusing, at least from what we know, to get that help. Andy Behrman, appreciate it.

Again, the book is "Electroboy". It's a fascinating read.

BEHRMAN: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: A reminder now, several members -- several members of our team here at Virginia Tech have posted stories on the 360 blog. Stories of hope and stories of remembrance. You can find them at

Next on 360, on the trail of a killer. What the Virginia Tech gunman did to prepare for the massacre. What we know now, step-by- step, putting the pieces of this puzzle together. New details on that terrible morning.

Also tonight, we'll take you to the dingy basement apartment in South Korea where Cho spent his first eight years and for the first time hear something his family members are saying about the tragedy.



ANN GODDARD, MOTHER OF MASSACRE SURVIVOR: A student was standing right next to him. He was scared to death. He was absolutely scared to death. He kept his wits about him. But he was scared to death.

I don't want this to be the defining moment in my son's life. I want the defining moment to be something positive. A great celebration of his life.


COOPER: That was Ann Goddard. Her son, Colin, survived the shooting. I think what she said probably is -- sounds like what a lot of people would say here. They don't want this moment to be the defining moment of their children's lives. They don't want what happened on Monday to be the defining event for this campus. And it certainly won't be if the people here on this campus have anything to say on the matter in the years to come.

The gunman was methodical, of course, in his rampage and it appears in his preparation. Tonight, we know much more about what the killer did in the final weeks and days and hours before he committed mass murder.

CNN's David Mattingly has been tracing his footsteps.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details of Cho Seung-Hui's last days bring new focus of how long he was planning to kill. After the discovery of an apparent road trip, taken by Cho in March, when he rented a car, possibly the vehicle where he made this recording, part of the package he sent to NBC.

COL. STEVE FLAHERTY, SUPERINTENDENT, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: The vehicle that was portrayed about last night, we had known about since the first day. I'm not -- not going to speak to where it was or what it was.

MATTINGLY: But 19 days before the killings, Cho's whereabouts are clear. He spent a night in this hotel, 30 minutes from his dormitory. He checked out the next day and was pulled off for speeding just seven miles from campus. At the time, he was driving a 2007 maroon minivan.

The day of the Virginia Tech killings, however, investigators say Cho was on foot. His dorm room was just a 30-second walk from the scene of the first killings. And it was another easy walk to the post office, where he shipped his so-called manifesto to NBC.

(on camera) Having just walked here myself, I can tell you it's a trip that takes only about 15 minutes. And once he got here, it's unlikely that Cho would have attracted any attention. Authorities say it was a very busy day at the post office because of the tax filing deadline. Still, he could have been in and out of there in a matter of minutes.

(voice-over) Cho interacted with the clerk, who took his express mail package and postmarked it at 9:01 a.m. The moment might have been forgotten, except for one small detail. DAVID MCGINIS, U.S. POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE: The clerk recalls the parcel being presented and noticed that there were six digits in the ZIP Code and corrected that by removing one of the digits.

MATTINGLY: After that, Cho was on the move again, walking through some of the most heavily-traveled parts of campus, possibly crossing paths with scores of people along the way.

From doorstep to doorstep, the walk from the post office to the engineering building takes just ten minutes.

(on camera) Assuming he didn't stop along the way, Cho could have had as much as 20 minutes inside the building before he started shooting. With the classes already in session, there wouldn't have been many people in the hallways, maybe no one, to confront him, stop him, question him, ask him what he was doing, as he put his plans into motion.

(voice-over) There was plenty of time for the killer to chain the doors, target the classrooms, and prepare his weapons. What's clear about his actions is how much pain he inflicted.


COOPER: At this point, David, has anyone seen him walking from the post office to the building?

MATTINGLY: That's the strange thing about this. This guy was literally a face in the crowd. No one seems to have noticed him as he went from the post office to that academic building. It was a very heavily-traveled part of the campus, and he went right through it. No one noticed him whatsoever.

In fact, on that day, he might have walked through exactly where we are standing on his way to that building. Again, no one paid any attention. He was a guy that just did not attract this type of attention.

COOPER: David Mattingly, thank you very much.

You can also watch our coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings on the 360 daily podcast. Get the download at or go to iTunes. Of course, the No. 1 news and information download.

Coming up tonight, we have a lot more ahead, including a glimpse into Cho's childhood, where he lived and his unusual relationship with his mom.

Also tonight, in the hot seat, a very big day for the attorney general. Did his testimony seal his fate? Some fireworks on Capitol Hill. That's ahead on 360.


COOPER: So many families are in mourning tonight. There, a makeshift memorial at the war memorial here on the Virginia Tech campus.

Hard to imagine the pain so many families are going through right now. And hard to imagine what the family of Cho Seung-Hui is going through. His parents and older sister have not made any public comments. They have been in seclusion since Monday night.

Today, a South Korean embassy official who met with the FBI said the family is doing OK. There have been concerns about their safety. Cho's parents still hold South Korean citizenship.

And in Seoul, where they once lived, CNN has learned that Cho Seung-Hui's problems began early in his life. CNN's Matthew Chance is there.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're grieving the Virginia Tech massacre here with sorrow and with regret. Even though Cho Seung-Hui left his native South Korea as an 8-year-old boy, at this church memorial service in the capital, Seoul, grief is tinged with shame.

"As a Korean, I feel sorry that a Korean youth caused this shocking incident," says the cardinal.

That sense of guilt has bred a fascination, too, and a search for any detail, no matter how small, about the killer's Korean past.

This, the school Cho attended as a child, the documents recording his departure for the U.S., and of course, the home in the South Korean capital where he grew up.

(on camera) Well, this is the dingy basement apartment in a poor area of Seoul where Cho Seung-Hui lived with his parents and his sister, until he was 8 years old. There's not much to it. It's been cleared out now. Nobody lives here.

There's one room there. And just one more over here. Cho's parents decided to take the family to the United States for a better life.

(voice-over) But there are family members who chose to stay in South Korea.

KIM YANG-SOON, CHO SEUNG-HUI'S GREAT AUNT (through translator): My brother came in at about 3 in the morning, saying, "Something big has happened. My daughter's son has shot some people."

CHANCE: This is Kim Yang-Soon, Cho's 85-year-old great-aunt, his grandfather's sister. She says the family knew very well that young Cho was suffering with a mental illness, even before they'd left for the United States.

KIM (through translator: in Korea, he was very quiet. From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me. Cho doesn't talk. Normally, sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold. CHANCE: It's now known Cho did, in fact, suffer from psychological problems. His great-aunt says Cho's disturbed state of mind drove his mother and family to despair.

KIM (through translator): Every time I called and asked how he was, she would say she was worried about him. She said she couldn't dine with him. She didn't know what to do. Cho's father and grandfather worried about that. Who would have known he would cause such trouble, the idiot?

CHANCE: Lingering questions, both here and in Virginia, we may never be able to answer.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Seoul.


COOPER: Hmm. Well, coming up, remembering those killed. Thirty-two lives taken, each one with a story.

First, Randi Kaye joins me again, this time with a "360 Bulletin", on some of the other stories we're following -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there, Anderson.

A Tennessee woman has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter, in the shooting death of her preacher husband. Mary Winkler showed no emotion as the judge read the verdict. She told the jury she accidentally shot her husband after suffering years of abuse from him.

Winkler faces three to six years in prison when she is sentenced next months.

On Capitol Hill, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the hot seat. He was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. He told them he stands behind the firings but admitted mistakes were made.

The White House says Gonzales still has the full confidence of the president, but a White House insider says Gonzales was going down in flames during the "Q&A".

Republican Senator Tom Coburn urged him to resign. Gonzales replied with this.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have to be -- I have to know in my heart that I can continue to be effective as the leader of this department. Sitting here today, I believe that I can.

And every day I ask myself that question. Am I -- can I continue to be effective as the leader of this department? The moment I believe I can no longer be effective, I will resign as attorney general.


KAYE: To Iraq, where defense secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit today. He talked to U.S. commanders and Iraqi government leaders following a bloody 24 hours in Baghdad. More than 200 people were killed in bombings.

On Wall Street, the Dow hits a new high. Blue chips finished the day up four points to 12,808. It is the second straight record close. But the NASDAQ lost 5. And the S&P did fall slightly -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.

Coming up next on 360, remembering those who have died. They came from all over the world. And tonight, we remember them, not how they died but how they lived their lives. We'll be right back.





COOPER: That is something. Members of the Virginia Tech marching band, playing for their wounded classmates, recovering at the hospital, trying to lift their spirits. They survived; 32 others, of course, did not. Some were teenagers. One was a Holocaust survivor.

Tonight we remember those who were killed, not by how they died, but by how they lived.


COOPER (voice-over): Liviu Librescu, was a survivor of the Holocaust, well respected in his field, loved by those he taught. He was remembered yesterday by his wife.

MARLENA LIBRESCU, WIFE OF LIVIU LIBRESCU: He was a very good man. I don't know about his heroism. But his life was only his family and his students.

COOPER: Librescu was the oldest who died on Monday. Reema Samaha was among the youngest. She was 18 and loved to dance.

"I'm glad I hugged you at our last practice," one student wrote on a campus memorial.

"Save me a dance up there," wrote another.

Lauren McCain was 20. She was an international studies major, and her great-grandmother still finds it hard to believe that Lauren is gone.

FERN MARTIN, VICTIM'S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER: They told me, and said Lauren's not with us anymore. I said, why? Is she on her way here? And they said, no. They had a shooting over there.

COOPER: Emily Hilscher's friends say she loved animals. That's why she was majoring in animal and poultry sciences.

"You'll never be forgotten, Emily. We love you," a note at the memorial reads.

MARK DEMETRIOU, STUDENT: She was just a really kind person. Always really friendly to me and everyone else. And it was just really hard to hear that she passed away. And that somebody could just take a life like that, an innocent life.

COOPER: Emily lived on the same floor as Ryan Clark. His friends called him Stack, and there are many messages left for him.

"Stack," one friend wrote, "you were the light in the lives of so many people. I can understand why God would want to have you in heaven with him."

Ryan was a resident assistant and planned to pursue a doctorate in psychology.

JACOB LUNDEEN, FRIEND OF RYAN CLARK: He worked so hard. He was a triple major. But he always had fun. He was always having fun, laughing. And that's one of the things I learned from him. No matter how bad things get, you got to think positive. And you've got -- you need to look on the brighter side of life.

COOPER: Jeremy Herbstritt's family is trying to look on the bright side. He wanted to be a civil engineer.

MIKE HERBSTRITT, JEREMY HERBSTRITT'S FATHER: The rest of our life is going to be celebrating his life, what he did good, and to say that Jeremy was a good boy, a good man. And we're going to love him forever.

COOPER: Every day here, tears are shed, fond memories recounted.

Matthew La Porte, a member of the Corps of Cadets, is remembered for always making his friends laugh.

MELISSA FARKAS, FRIEND OF MATTHEW LA PORTE: He was wearing these Joe Cool sunglasses at night. And he wore them all the time. He loved them. And she asked him, "Why are you wearing sunglasses at night?"

He was like, "The sun never sets on a badass." And he just had a very unique and very fun personality and sense of humor.

COOPER: Mike Pohle was funny, as well. A lacrosse player, he was about to get a degree in biological sciences.

LAUREN MOONEY, FRIEND OF MIKE POHLE: He was goofy. Just had a real love for life. He was just a beautiful person. He touched a lot of people without even knowing that he was so important to them.

COOPER: There are so many others, lives cut short, but lives well lived.

Daniel O'Neill was a grad student in engineering. He loved to play the guitar and recorded this song, posting it online. His voice will live on. So will the memories of all those who died.

DANIEL O'NEILL, VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE VICTIM (singing): Life goes on. Life goes on. And I'm sure that we'll be fine. Don't lie to me and tell me that you would love to be mine.



COOPER: Tracing a killer's final footsteps. That is coming up. But first, the latest headlines from here on a campus now in mourning.

We learned that Cho Seung-Hui bought his second pistol, the .22 automatic, from a dealer online. He later picked it up at a nearby pawnshop.