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Shooter Identified in Virginia Tech Massacre; Student Recounts Her Experience during Blacksburg Shooting

Aired April 17, 2007 - 12:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everyone. Welcome back to our extended coverage of the campus killings at Virginia Tech.
I'm Don Lemon.


It has been a morning of major developments. We have learned more about the gunman and his victims, and we're also going to look ahead to President Bush's visit to the campus. That is this afternoon.

LEMON: Yes. Absolutely, Betty.

An update now on what we know. Here's what we know.

The gunman is identified as 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui. Now, last hour, we received this photo of him. He was a South Korean undergrad who was living on campus. Also this morning, police confirmed that ballistics tests link one gunman to both murder scenes. Investigators say they are working to confirm that the gunman acted alone.

Now, CNN's Heidi Collins is on the campus of Virginia Tech and she joins us now with the very latest -- Heidi.


Boy, it is quite a scene here, as you would imagine. With the people that we have been able to come in contact with very late last night when we arrived, we thought we might be able to meet with some kids and talk with them about their experiences, because we sort of assumed that they might be getting together and trying to console one another. And that was true, that's what they were doing, but the young men that we found, that we spoke to, were freshmen, Don.

They were actually here on the very first day of their college experience last August when there was a different shooting event on this campus. And now, just a few weeks away from completing their first year, this happens.

These young men were stunned. One of them told me about how he was standing outside of Norris Hall when the events took place and he saw the rescue crews and the authorities rushing in. He saw them bringing out bloodied students and said it was obviously the very worst experience of his life. Another student told me that he was very thankful because before any of the information came out he was able to contact his mother and called her right away and told her that she was OK and she was about to hear some very bad -- very bad news on the television. And that indeed was the case.

We have been able to learn quite a bit more information now, Don, over the past couple of hours about the time frame, about the events that took place yesterday. Let's go ahead and listen in for a moment to the Virginia Tech police chief for just a moment.


CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: We have new information to release concerning the ongoing investigation into Monday's fatal shootings. State, local and federal investigators worked through the night collecting, processing and analyzing evidence from within Norris Hall. I would like to take a minute to recognize the outstanding professionalism and efforts put forth by my officers since that initial 911 call came into our dispatch center Monday morning.

I also want to commend the response and dedication of those officers and investigators from the Blacksburg Police, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, state police, FBI, and ATF, along with other local jurisdictions. Based on their hard work, we have been able to confirm the identity of the gunman at Norris Hall.

That person is Cho Seung-hui. He was a 23-year-old South Korean here in the U.S. as a resident alien.

Cho was enrolled as an undergraduate student in his senior year as an English major at Virginia Tech. Cho was in the U.S., with residence established in Centreville, Virginia, and was living on campus in Harper Hall.

A 9 millimeter handgun and .22 caliber handgun were recovered from Norris Hall. Ballistics tests on the evidence seized from Norris Hall and the West Ambler Johnston residence hall scenes were conducted at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lab in Maryland. Lab results confirmed that one of the two weapons seized in Norris Hall was used in both shootings.

All of the deceased have been transported to the medical examiner's office in Roanoke for examination and identification. The names of the 32 deceased students and faculty will be released once all victims are positively identified and next of kin are notified. Dr. Fierro, the chief medical examiner of Virginia, will go into more detail in that in a minute.

I want to follow up on discussion from yesterday about the person of interest from the first shooting at the residence hall. That individual was an acquaintance of the female victim that was killed at West Ambler Johnston Hall.

He was stopped in his vehicle off campus and detained for questioning. As officers were interviewing him, the shootings at Norris Hall were reported.

We are still looking to him for information as the investigation continues. We also have no information at this time to relate the on- campus bomb threats made in the last two weeks to either of yesterday's events.


COLLINS: So, there you hear from Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum about some more of the details surrounding what happened yesterday.

I'm sure the hardest part of that for everyone to hear was the fact that this shooter was a fellow student. Everyone that we have spoken with here was really, really dreading that. But they do say that they have sort of a gut feeling, that they suspected that this would be a fellow student. That, of course, confirmed.

Also, as you heard the chief mention, the two different weapons that were found and ballistics tests that are being done right now, we also know, as he said, that the 9 millimeter -- there was a 9 millimeter and a .22, you heard him say -- has been confirmed to have been used in both shootings. They have not been able to confirm that the shooter was indeed -- had been actually the one who had -- who had conducted both shootings.

They say they don't have the evidence for that. I'm sure that we're going to hear a lot more about that as the day goes on here.

But Don, something else that you may not have heard him say, at least in that sound bite. They gave a little bit more detail about what they found when they went inside Norris Hall, and that it was four different classrooms they searched and did find victims, as well as the shooter in one of those classrooms and the stairwell.

So, many of them, search and rescue, police, describing the scene as absolutely unbearable and gruesome, and really just devastating. And we certainly see evidence of the aftermath of all of that here today.

LEMON: Heidi, you are right on with that.

And I want to go back to something that you said earlier. You said one young man that you spoke to said he had the luxury of calling his parents and saying, you know, you are going to see something horrific playing out on television in just a bit, but I'm OK. But many students did not have that luxury, and sadly, their loved ones and their family members had to watch it unfold on television, not knowing if they were OK.

COLLINS: Well, that was the very worst part of it, I'm sure, for most parents. We actually had another gal talking to us about how she was sitting on the floor of her classroom under a desk for four and a half hours.

She was not in contact with her mother, who is actually a professor here at the university. So, it is something that -- I can't imagine the feelings of worry that were going through all of their minds.

LEMON: Yes. Absolutely.

Heidi Collins on the campus for us today.

Thank you so much for that, Heidi.

NGUYEN: Those are just horrifying stories, and as we learn more about the shooter and his victims, we are also learning a lot more about those who were injured, but yet still alive today, fighting for their lives, in fact.

CNN's John Zarrella joins us now. He is at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, where 19 victims were treated.

And, John, I understand -- and this is -- this really hits home, that of these victims, many of them had no less than three gunshot wounds?


NGUYEN: Do you have us, John? Can you hear us?

ZARRELLA: Yes, Betty. Betty, that's exactly right.

In fact, we talked with a surgeon this morning who had said that the horrific scene that he saw, that no less than three gunshot wounds in many of these people. He was saying that the shooter was just brutal, is the way he put it. But the good news here at Montgomery Regional Hospital is that in fact the CEO of the hospital came out and talked to the extent of the injuries and said that in fact all of the people here are in stable condition.


SCOTT Hill, MONTGOMERY REGIONAL HOSPITAL: Twelve of the patients from yesterday's shooting remain at hospitals, including Montgomery Regional Hospital and Lewis-Gale Medical Center. All are in stable condition.

We have nine patients here at Montgomery Regional Hospital. Three of those were critical last night. They have been upgraded to stable as of this morning.

And at Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem, they have three patients remaining. All are in stable condition, one is expected to be discharged today.


ZARRELLA: Now, they in fact performed four major surgeries here yesterday, two minor surgeries. No surgeries performed overnight. And now within the last few minutes I had the opportunity to talk to some students, and they have been coming and going here all morning. We've seen them coming in carrying flowers to see friends. One just a few minutes ago carrying a stuffed bear inside.

On their way out, though, we talked to two young students here. And they were telling us that their friend is doing very well, he's OK. And he is one of the students who actually jumped out of a second-story window to escape the gunfire that was going on inside the classrooms.

So, he went out that window, that second story window, and broke one of his legs. They said he was -- he was coherent, he was talking to them, but they didn't press him as to what happened yesterday. They wanted to keep their distance, give him some space, and that they were here just to let him know that they and other students that know him are all here supporting him.

And that is what we heard from several other students, Betty, who we spoke with who have been coming and going, visiting friends who have either gunshot wounds or broken limbs, as in this case -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, and those students that you spoke with, John, did any of them give any indication that they knew the shooter or had any information as to who this person is? Of course, we're just getting the information this morning about this South Korean national who is deemed the shooter in this deadly killing.

ZARRELLA: No, none at all. In fact, we did ask that question, "Did you know this individual?" And all of them said that we were able to speak -- and granted, it's just a handful -- but none of them knew he was.

And, in fact, their biggest concern of course here is for friends. And some of them, they told us that they knew several people who had been shot yesterday. And, you know, they're still waiting for all of the names to be released.

And so there's still a great deal of concern amongst these students here, and certainly all the students on the campus, that more and more of their friends are going to be identified as victims of the horrible tragedy here yesterday -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right.

CNN's John Zarrella at Montgomery Regional Hospital there in Blacksburg, Virginia.

We appreciate your time. Thank you, John.

LEMON: And Betty, some information just coming across the wires here to CNN.

There has been a college that's been evacuated. It is in Austin, Texas. Let me read the information just coming across The Associated Press, and also parts of it that CNN has confirmed as well.

Authorities evacuated the buildings on the St. Edward's University campus. That is in Austin, Texas.

A school officials says that they did that after a threatening note was found there in a restroom. The spokeswoman says that police are on campus now searching the buildings there. She says she doesn't have information on the contents of that note.

St. Edward's staff and students who were already on that campus were asked to gather around the soccer field away from the buildings. You are looking at new video now. This is from St. Edward's University. It is in Austin, Texas.

Everyone else was asked to stay off the campus until noon. About 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at the Catholic university in the south of downtown Austin. And, of course, this comes one day after the horrific incident at Virginia Tech in Virginia.

But again, Betty, authorities evacuated the buildings on St. Edward's University campus. It is in Austin, Texas, just 24 hours after that horrific incident. They said they found a threatening note in the bathroom.

You are looking at new video just coming into CNN from that. We will stay on top of that and follow that for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM as we continue our coverage of the horrific incident that happened at Virginia Tech.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, school officials are taking this very seriously because yesterday we were hearing word from a lot of the students who were calling in...

LEMON: Right.

NGUYEN: ... saying that this all started as...

LEMON: Last week.

NGUYEN: ... a note, or a threat that had come into the university there at Virginia Tech of a bomb threat. And, so, when you hear this at another school, obviously they are going to take all the precautions necessary...

LEMON: As well they should.

NGUYEN: ... to keep everyone safe.

LEMON: Right.

NGUYEN: But back to the Virginia Tech story, and just the horrific things that played out there yesterday, we are getting in more names today of the victims in that shooting.

Just last hour, we learned 18-year-old Erin Peterson (ph) of Centreville, Virginia, was among those killed. Her father told CNN he had been waiting information all night long on his daughter and said, "My baby didn't make it." Also killed, Ryan Clark, a 22-year-old senior from Martinez, Georgia. Clark's brother says he was a resident advisor in the dormitory where the first shooting took place. Clark was a triple major -- psychology, biology and English.

Killed in the engineering building, Ross Alameddine, a student from Saugus, Massachusetts; G.V. Loganathan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Liviu Librescu, a professor of engineering, science and mechanics. He is described as an Israeli- born Romanian who was internationally known for his research in aeronautical engineering.

Matthew LePorte (ph), a freshman from Dumont, New Jersey, was also killed in the engineering building.

So, those are just some of the names of the many that we'll be hearing throughout the day -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. And again, we had that breaking news we wanted to tell everyone that's happening in Austin, Texas.

I don't know if we can get the video back. We just want to keep you updated on that.

Austin, Texas, St. Edward's University, there has been an evacuation on campus. Everyone has been evacuated from the campus.

CNN is confirming that that did happen. But also, The Associated Press is saying it's because of a threatening note that was found in the bathroom.

We're going to continue to follow that one here. We have some new video that was just into the CNN NEWSROOM.

At least 30 people were locked inside of a classroom building in the deadly shooting rampage, of course, in U.S. history. That was yesterday. And now today, about 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the Catholic university in Austin, Texas, have been told to either stay at home, or to get off campus.

So, this is happening just a short time after that deadly shooting yesterday in Virginia.

A routine day, a routine school day interrupted by horror. The Virginia Tech students and professors who lost their lives, their story, that is straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: And a tragedy like the Virginia Tech shootings inevitably triggers the gun control debate. We're going to take a look at that in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And these flags, well, they certainly tell the story. Today, a day to grieve on the Virginia Tech campus. President Bush among the mourners.

We'll have details straight ahead, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: New video just into CNN just moments ago. The president departing at Andrews Air Force Base. He is getting ready to fly in to Virginia. He's going to fly in to Roanoke.

He's going to attend that 2:00 p.m. convocation which will be at Cassell Coliseum. As we told you yesterday, and we've been telling you throughout the morning and evening here at CNN, the university is planning a convocation for today in Cassell Coliseum at 2:00 p.m. for the university community to come together and to begin to deal with that tragedy.

That's the president and the first lady on their way there. The president is just one among a number of speakers who are going to speak today at what is being called a convocation there.

So, that's the president and the first lady leaving Andrews Air Force Base, on their way to Roanoke to attend that 2:00 p.m. convocation. This is live pictures now. Air Force One preparing to leave on the runway there.

So, the president on his way to -- just an amazing national tragedy here that we have been sort of glued to the television sets, and glued to whatever media and information we can get about this sad thing happening at Virginia Tech campus. That is the president of the United States, the first lady, Air Force One taking off en route.

NGUYEN: It is definitely an awful story and a great tragedy for this nation. And we do want to update you now on what we know.

The gunman is identified as 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui. Want to show you his picture.

Last hour, we got this photo of him. He was a South Korean undergrad who was living on campus. And also this morning, police confirmed that ballistics tests link one gun to both murder scenes. Now, investigators say they are working to confirm that the gunman acted alone.

LEMON: Well, let's get back now to the campus. It's definitely, as we have been saying, just a horrifying story. And can you imagine what the folks who lived through it, how they are dealing with it today.

Our Brianna Keilar is in Blacksburg on that campus, and she has more now on the mood there, and also more on the suspected shooter.

Hi Brianna.


And the big question, of course, is why did this happen? At this point, we really don't have an answer to that. But as you said, we have come to know more about who did the shooting, at least the shooting at the second hall here on the campus of Virginia Tech.

As you said, 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui, a South Korean resident alien who had established his residency in Centreville, Virginia. That is a suburb of Washington, D.C., really not far from Dulles airport there.

As you said, an undergrad. He was a senior here majoring in English, and he was a resident of Harper Hall. This is a dorm that was very close to West Ambler Johnston, where that first shooting occurred yesterday morning.

Police, as you said, they found two weapons. We understand, a 9 millimeter and a .22 millimeter. And it appears -- they found these weapons at Norris Hall -- again, the site of the second shooting -- and that the ballistics tests have provided perhaps one of the first links between the two crime scenes.


SUPT. STEVE FLAHERTY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: What has just been reported to you is that the ballistics test says that one of the weapons used in Norris Hall was used in the AJW shooting. We have not -- the evidence has not led us to where we can say with all certainty that the same shooter was involved at both instances.


KEILAR: Now, that was Virginia state police chief Steve Flaherty. He did say that it was reasonable, though, to assume that the two crime scenes were linked.

He said the police are being diligent. They're trying to connect all of the dots here. And he said that -- or pardon me. This really does move, though, to clearing up some of the confusion yesterday, Don, because as you'll recall, the police were telling us there was a person of interest in the first shooting, a person who was still alive, who they were questioning. And then there was a gunman who was dead during the second shooting.

So then there was this concern, were there two people? Were they not linked? And it appears at this point they are just trying to connect the dots and make sure that all the evidence links up here -- Don.

LEMON: Yes. And Brianna, police have been very open here, holding press conferences. Any word on the next time they're going to speak to us, when we might get an update?

KEILAR: We understand there's going to be another press conference here at 5:00 Eastern. So, hopefully there will be more information. Certainly a lot more information this morning than we had last night.

LEMON: Brianna Keilar, thank you so much for that.

NGUYEN: And she's right, there is a lot more information today than we were getting yesterday. And obviously, it's because time has passed, and a lot of that is being disseminated. And the investigation continues.

And we are hearing stories of heroism. One young man helped barricade a classroom door to keep the shooter out. He probably saved many lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, you know, we just tried to hold that -- hold that table against that door. And thankfully, we weren't in front of it when he did shoot through it.


NGUYEN: Bravery in the face of death. That is in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: It is almost half past noon Eastern Time, and we're getting new details today about the gunman in the Virginia Tech massacre.

Virginia Tech's police chief says the shooter has been identified as 23-year-old Korean national Cho Seung-hui of Centreville, Virginia. Now, Cho was in the U.S. as a resident alien. He was an English major in his senior year at Virginia Tech. Cho was living in Harper Hall dormitory.

NGUYEN: Well, students in Norris Hall were watching and listening as this horror unfolded.

Tina Harrison is one of them. She joins us now by phone.

And Tina, we are so glad that you are alive and well today to tell your story. How are you doing?


NGUYEN: I want you to walk us through what happened yesterday, because you were in class, in Norris Hall, when you heard gunshots.

HARRISON: Yes, I was on the third floor. I was taking a test, and I remember it was 9:40, maybe 9:37 I first started hearing popping noises. It was gunshots. But at the time, I did not know it was gunshots.

I thought that are were doing experiments on the floor beneath us. Sometimes they do that, and I ignore it because it's engineering.

But we realized it was gunshots. And I heard screams. I heard horrific screams, and then I heard some sort of maniacal laughter. It was pretty insane.

NGUYEN: Let's be clear. You heard laughter?

HARRISON: Yes, ma'am. I heard -- I heard some sort of crazed laughter after the first shots were fired. The first 10 shots, it was screams and then laughter.

NGUYEN: So after each gunshot, you would hear a scream, presumably from those in the classroom, the victims, and then you would hear laughter?

HARRISON: Yes, I heard laughter. It was very horrible.

NGUYEN: And how long did this go on?

HARRISON: It went on for a long time. We had a test, so, a student turned in her test, turned it in early and went down the stairs, but immediately, came rushing back up, telling us that she had saw someone was shot and there was a gunman down there. He was shooting people and people were jumping out the windows. That's when we were concerned that what was happening was a shooting.

NGUYEN: What do you do when you hear something like that? What did you do at the time?

HARRISON: We broke out into a panic. We didn't know what was happening. We kept hearing gunshots. They got louder, the gunshots got louder and closer to us. So, we were panicking. The students in the classroom (INAUDIBLE) students and the professor and one more student led us to a smaller office in, like some sort of cove in Norris on the third floor and barricaded ourselves in that cove on the third floor. We locked ourselves in the room. There's 20 students basically and the gunshots getting closer and louder and we could smell the smoke of the shots.

NGUYEN: Could you hear anything being said? Did you heard any yelling or anything like that to give you an indication?

HARRISON: No, all I heard was the screams. And then I heard -- I only heard the laughter twice. It was horrific. It was the most horrible thing I've ever heard in my life. It sounded like you were looking in the direction of the gunshots were coming up from and the sound of shots was coming up from the next stairwell and all of a sudden, they stopped, and it was dead silent. So, we all turned off our phones. We were on the phones with our family members and we waited two minutes in that class room, just dead silence, it was horrible. (INAUDIBLE) Finally, a SWAT team came in and kicked down the door we were in and made us all put our hands in the air and had us run out of the building and down the stairs and just get out of there, out of the front stairwell. But --

NGUYEN: Let me stop you there and ask you this. As you were running out of the building and down the stairwell, could you see any of the victims? Describe the scene that you were watching.

HARRISON: I wasn't looking. I had my eyes on my feet. I did not look up. I did not want to see anything. NGUYEN: Understandable. I also understand that as you were running, and you were trying to get out of this building, you have some pretty bad asthma, in fact you had to be taken to the hospital?

HARRISON: Yeah, I have really bad asthma. I have a tendency for bronchitis and pneumonia so I was just getting over bronchitis and my lungs closed up and I couldn't breathe, so my friend found me and they took me to the hospital to get treatment, just putting oxygen back into me, so I was in the hospital, I saw a lot of the victims come in. It was very horrible.

NGUYEN: And we have learned today the name of the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui. Do you know this person? Had you heard of this person?

HARRISON: No. I have never heard of him before. I have no idea why he would do this. I have no idea.

NGUYEN: I know that you are staying off campus, simply because you are too scared to come back. What's next for you? What are your plans?

HARRISON: Actually right now, I'm in Cassell (ph) Coliseum. I'm going to be going into the service and my mother is coming to Blacksburg today and I think I'm going to be leaving.

NGUYEN: OK. Well, we appreciate your time with us today, and, as you -- you really recoup from all that you have seen and been through, I also want to ask you about something you said a little bit earlier when you spoke with us and that is that you are angry. Tell us why.

HARRISON: I'm very angry. This could have been prevented. The university should have cancelled classes after there was a shooting in one of our dormitories. There's no reason we should have been allowed to go to class, especially since they had not apprehended the first gunman. They should not have had classes, should be cancelled. I in fact did not get the e-mail until later that evening. I did not check my e-mails until that night. I find it highly ironic that classes were cancelled at 9:55 while people were being murdered.

NGUYEN: So you feel like this could have been prevented?

HARRISON: This could have been prevented and I'm very angry that this has happened.

NGUYEN: All right, Tina Harrison, we really are glad that you are alive and well today, as I mentioned earlier. Thank you for your time and sharing a little bit of your experience with us today. Take care.

HARRISON: You're welcome. Bye.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, just moments ago here on CNN live, we saw the president leaving Andrews Air Force base and taking off, headed to Roanoke, Virginia and on his way to the Virginia Tech campus, a 2:00 p.m. convocation which is scheduled today. According to a press release from the university, it says, this will be the first time the Virginia Tech community will come together since the tragedy to share our collective sorrow. The president will be speaking at that, as will a number of other dignitaries and people from the community. Let's go to Suzanne Malveaux now, White House correspondent. She's standing now by at the White House and Suzanne, the president, first lady, on their way, just a short while ago.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, we saw them leave the White House about 20 minutes ago, both of them dressed in black. Obviously, there was a lot of discussion that took place between the White House and local and state officials about whether or not it was appropriate for the president to come at this time. Usually, he does not do this. He waits a while, perhaps even a week or so, because of the logistics here. You're talking about the security, even the motorcade, just traveling to get to that college campus is going to be very difficult for a lot of people there. But they were told by the president of the university, the president here, reaching out to him, that he would, indeed, be welcomed and there was a sense, because of the magnitude here, the gravity of the situation, that it would be appropriate for the president to come, to offer his condolences, his support.

As a matter of fact, he put out a statement earlier today, this honoring the victims of the tragedy, saying our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts. We lift them up in our prayers and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering. The president also Don today ordered that all flags be lowered at half staff until Sunday out of a sense of respect, recognizing the families. He is going to speak in that 2:00 memorial service, about five or six minutes or so. We are told that he is going to offer once again his support to the families, to the community and he is also going to talk about the strength of that community as well as this country. Don?

LEMON: Absolutely Suzanne and hang on, real quick. I just want to talk about the people who are going to be there. The first lady of course she said is going to be there with the president. We saw them both leaving. Governor Timothy Cane (ph) and his wife are going to be there as well and poet Nickie Giovanni (ph) who taught poetry on the campus of Virginia Tech. The president, you know, sadly to say, used to doing this after all the tragedies, Suzanne, we've had, domestic terrorism, and then also acts of nature on our shores and other shores, as well, sadly, it's sort of become a thing that he has to do a lot lately.

MALVEAUX: Well, Don, you may recall that what was called the bull horn moment, when the president shortly after 9/11 stood on that pile of rubble and called out and really, the country united the country at that moment. Firefighters and others, who recognize that was a very significant moment for the country. This is, again, one of those moments, Don, where a lot of people are looking at this, wondering, you know, this could have been my son or daughter, could this happen at a college campus, do I know these people. I mean a lot of people asking those kinds of questions and feeling the same emotions of those on that campus. So, obviously, the president taking on not only the role of commander in chief, but consoler in chief. Don. LEMON: Absolutely. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thank you so much Suzanne.

NGUYEN: Well, we do have more information now about the man police say unleashed terror at Virginia Tech. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is in Centerville, Virginia, home to Cho Seung-Hui's parents and his latest address. I imagine they are long gone from there by now, especially with all the media surrounding that home. Tell us what you know about his parents.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the neighbors are saying that they had seen them yesterday, but then they left, as one might understand, as this tragedy has unfolded. This is a family that's lived here by various accounts for several years. A family that nevertheless pretty much kept to itself if you are going to take the word of the neighbors here, who say they didn't know them very well. Somebody who did get to know them fairly well and was sad about this is the post office, the postman who delivered packages to them.


FRANKEN: Tell me what you can tell about them.

ROD WELLS, MAIL CARRIER: Well there's not much I can tell you. I've been their mailman since they've lived there and every time I deliver packages to them, they are always nice and smile. They are not home that much. I guess they both work, but -- I never met any of the kids, so, I wasn't sure how many there even was. I know the family are sweethearts. They're always smiling, always seemed very polite, just breaking my heart. I can't believe -- no parent deserves that.

MARSHALL MAIN, NEIGHBOR OF SUSPECT'S FAMILY: I really don't know them at all. But I would just nod and wave and speak to the lady of the house and she would arrive and leave, and she was very congenial that way. That's all.


FRANKEN: The authorities are checking out a variety of leads, including the possibility that a couple of the shooting victims had gone to nearby Westfield High School here, which is so interesting, because the young man who is now the one who is the accused shooter also went to Westfield High School and there's also another bit of bitter irony. Last year, there was a shooting at the Fairfax County police in which two police officers were killed. The man who was accused at that shooting also, Michael Kennedy, also went to Westfield High School. So, there is a really tragic spotlight on that school today and a tragic spotlight here in this suburban home owner's community that until today had just been one of those no anonymous ones that you see in suburbia all around the country, now is the tragic focus of this national, real this national tragedy. Betty.

NGUYEN: Anonymous no more. We can see the media milling about in the background, taking pictures. As we try to connect the dots here and draw a bigger picture from this, I know that we heard a little bit from the neighbors about the parents. What are you hearing on the ground about the shooter? Have they given you any indication as to what type of young man he is, or was?

FRANKEN: They really had not much to say about them. They would see him every once in awhile. Everybody right now is grasping at straws. Somebody found in one of the parking lots here a shell from a long rifle and of course, the police have taken that. They are going to see if there is any possible connection. That of course is something that is very flimsy, but right now, everybody is looking at this extremely closely, looking for any clues, but mainly, just looking at this as the place where the young man spent at least several years of his life.

NGUYEN: CNN national correspondent Bob Franken, we appreciate your time, thank you Bob.

LEMON: And Betty, you better believe a tragedy like the Virginia Tech shootings inevitably triggers the gun control debate. We are going to take a look at that, straight ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: And this tragedy has sparked a debate about gun control. And our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joins me now. Candy, last time we spoke about gun control in Virginia, we were talking about the junior Senator Jim Webb and now we're talking about this. It is a volatile issue and what is the state of gun control today?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The state of gun control today really is more at the state level than any place else. We haven't had a big piece of gun control legislation out of the Federal government since 1996, when a law was passed which prevented those guilty of misdemeanors in connection with domestic violence from either buying or having a handgun. That is the last time we saw sort of what could be considered a major piece of legislation. Since then, some states have passed laws. California, New Jersey are both cited by gun control advocates as two states that have really passed some tough gun control legislation. So, basically, this has been up to the states. And as you know, since 1996, when the Federal legislation was passed, we have had Columbine. We've had the Amish shootings, any number of school shootings. But nothing has happened in the aftermath of those.

LEMON: Why has it been so difficult, Candy if I can ask you, to further gun control laws. Why has it become less of a political issue?

CROWLEY: What's interesting to me is in talking to some of these gun control advocates, they cite two things really that have taken gun control sort of off the table as a big issue. They cite 9/11 and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, two places where people, fear came to people and particularly in New Orleans, where you saw a huge increase in the number of guns being bought in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The political situation has been this. That in 2000, there are many people who believe that Al Gore lost states in the south, and he lost the entire south, partially because he was seen by gun owners as someone who would, quote, take their guns away. He did his best to reassure people that wasn't what he wanted, but nonetheless, he was painted as the gun control candidate, whereas George Bush was painted as someone who favored the second amendment and believed in the right to bear arms. So a lot of Democrats looked at that 2000 election and said, take gun control off the table. It hurts us in rural America. It hurts us in the south.

LEMON: I got to ask you I guess Candy, it's kind of a two-part question. Can we expect Congress to take up any legislation concerning gun control as a result of this incident and, also, if you can tell me, with that, will it impact this upcoming presidential campaign?

CROWLEY: Well, as far as the Congress is concerned, if the past is prologue, we might not see anything major out of this Congress about this. We have seen the discussion begin. We have seen people like Senator Ted Kennedy saying, clearly, we haven't done enough about gun safety that this can happen. We've seen Dianne Feinstein call for a reinstitution of the assault weapons ban which expired. So there is no more ban on assault weapons. But as for the specific instance of this, I think we have to see how the gunman got these guns in the first place. What we found in past situations is that some of these guns were gotten legally and some of them illegally, and they just had a problem figuring out how to clamp down on some of these situations.

LEMON: And again, the presidential campaign, real quick? Do you think it'll have any effect? Is it going to spark any debate, or --

CROWLEY: You know, what's interesting about these candidates is, all of them have sort of come out for second right amendments to bear arms. They do differ on smaller gun control issues. That may come up. I don't see it as a major issue.

LEMON: Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, thank you so much.

NGUYEN: Well, it has definitely been a morning and early afternoon of new developments in the Virginia Tech massacre. Police have identified the shooter. Take a good look at him right here. We are going to tell you much more about this young man right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: We do know more today about the gunman in the Virginia Tech massacre. Virginia Tech's police chief says the shooter has been identified as 23-year-old Korean national Cho Seung-Hui of Centerville, Virginia. Cho was in the U.S. as a resident alien. He was an English major in his senior year at Virginia Tech. Cho was living in Harper Hall dormitory.

LEMON: Chaos on campus, drama in the dorms. A lot of very valuable information, important information has been coming from our I-reports. And this I-report comes from Virginia Tech freshman Casey Clark. He shot it through the peephole. Clark tells us he heard yelling to get inside and lock the doors and saw police running through the hall. This is not the dorm where the first shooting took place. However, Clark says he knows someone who was killed in that massacre.

NGUYEN: Well, these flags do tell the story today, a day to grieve on the Virginia Tech campus. President Bush among the mourners and we have more details on the convocation which will take place at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, right here in the CNN newsroom.


LEMON: Remembrance services have already started. Many grieving students took part in an overnight vigil on the Virginia Tech campus. Some hugged each other. Many cried. Others lit candles and sang.

NGUYEN: A routine school day interrupted by horror. The Virginia Tech students and professors who lost their lives, we're looking at some pictures of them now.

LEMON: Of course, their stories straight ahead in the CNN newsroom. We'll be right back.