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Virginia Tech Gunman Mentally Troubled; The Wounded; Baghdad Bombings

Aired April 18, 2007 - 12:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris in Atlanta.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And good afternoon, everybody.

I'm Heidi Collins, on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Here's what's on the rundown for today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I heard that she had had -- it was the boyfriend, I was kind of thinking it wasn't Seung, because I had never seen him with a girl, or anyone else for that matter.


COLLINS: If you have not yet seen this interview, you are going to want to see it. Cho Seung-Hui's roommates describe a brooding loaner. Police this morning say Cho's strange behavior landed him in a mental health facility.

HARRIS: Warnings from his professors. Cho's dark words and strange actions led his teachers to take action.

COLLINS: The names of more of the dead released just a short time ago. Thirty-two students and professors honored with a memorial on campus.

It's Wednesday, April 18th.

You're in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: First, let us set the stage with what we know. New details on Cho Seung-Hui.

Virginia Tech police had encountered the gunman long before Monday's gruesome rampage. Less than 18 months ago, they had taken him to a mental health facility. Authorities were told he might be suicidal after a female student rejected him. A month earlier, a different student complained to police about him, contacting her both in person and on the telephone. COLLINS: We are finding out more about the Virginia Tech gunman now, including a police incident and a trip to a mental health facility.

Let's go to CNN's Brianna Keilar for more.

Brianna, what was said in this morning's news conference was -- was pretty remarkable.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. New details that show a very mentally troubled 23-year-old. We learned that in November and December of 2005, last school year, Virginia Tech police were in touch with Cho over two incidents, two separate incidents involving two separate students.

He tried to get in touch with them. He was trying to communicate with them. And they didn't want to have any of it.

They got police involved. Police confronted Cho over both incidents. And during the second one, after the second one, an acquaintance of Cho got in touch with police and said they were afraid Cho was suicidal.

Police got back in touch with Cho, and they asked him if he would talk to a counselor. They say he voluntarily did, that a temporary detention order was obtained, and he was taken to a mental health facility, where they believe he was voluntarily committed. This, of course, all happening at the same time that he came to police attention for another reason.


CHIEF WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE: It was also in the fall of 2005 that the chair of the English Department, Dr. Lucinda Roy, informally shared her concerns regarding Cho and his course writing assignments. No official report was filed.

These course assignments were for a creative writing course, and the students were encouraged to be imaginative and artistic. The writings did not express any threatening intentions or allude to any criminal activity. No criminal violation had taken place.


KEILAR: A couple important points to make here. Police say -- Virginia Tech police, that is, say they believe that Cho was voluntarily committed. This is important, because if he had been involuntarily committed, that would have shown up on a background check when he bought a weapon, and presumably he would not have been sold that weapon.

Now, secondly, a lot of people wondering, those two young women who he was in touch with, were they the victims? Virginia Tech police say no, they were not among the victims -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, two very important points, Brianna. Also, Cho's suite mates have been giving us quite a bit of insight into his personality that we haven't heard before. What can you tell us about that?

KEILAR: That's right. Well, as you know, authorities have described Cho as a loner, and people who lived with him describe him in very much the same way. That includes Karan Grewal, who said on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING" this morning that he saw Cho just a couple hours before the first shooting.


KARAN GREWAL, CHO'S SUITE MATE: Scenarios go through my head, because I saw him that morning. And, you know, I thought, what if I would have said something throughout the semester that would have made him angry at me.


GREWAL: And, you know, we never lock our doors in our suite. It is always open for anybody to come in. And even when I went back to the room, I was up until 6:30 in the morning finishing my assignment, and the door was wide open.


KEILAR: And we've also heard from some of Cho's former roommates and suite mates. CNN's Gary Tuchman interviewed a couple yesterday from 2005-2006, last school year. They said that he had an imaginary girlfriend. They also told Gary that Cho would randomly take photos of them, and that they did know about those two, what they labeled as stalking incidents.

They also said, Heidi, that he played a particular Collective Soul song over and over and over, dozens of times. But they said, mostly, he just wouldn't talk to them. They never really heard him speak.

COLLINS: Yes, it's fascinating, Brianna. And we had heard that interview that Gary had done. So we are asking him to come here. We're going to talk with him, get more information about that interview that he has done.

Brianna Keilar, thanks so much for that.

Meanwhile, noted Virginia Tech poetry professor Nikki Giovanni says Cho Seung-Hui had a mean streak. She told CNN "AMERICAN MORNING'S" John Roberts she threatened to quit if Cho wasn't removed from her class.


NIKKI GIOVANNI, PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: GIOVANNI: He says, "You can't make me." And I said, "Yeah, I can."

You know how kids -- you know -- and again, I'm probably not doing a good job. But, you know, you talk to students and you say, well, you know, this is not a poem and you have to quit doing that. Because he was writing just weird things.

I don't know what I'm allowed to say what he was writing about. But I saw the plays. But he was writing poetry.

And it was just -- it was just -- it was terrible. It was not bad poetry. It was intimidating.

And at first I thought, OK, he's trying to see what the parameters are. Kids curse, kids talk about a lot of different things. And he just -- he stayed in that spot.

And I finally said, "You can't do that." And he said, yes, he can. And I said, "No, not in my class."

But everybody thinks you need your job. And I said, you know, I'll quit before I'm being bothered with this.

But I wanted Tech to know that it was serious that we get him out of my class. Obviously, if I had thought that this young man or any other was going to come up and do what he did, I probably would have gone to the president myself. But, you know -- hierarchy -- academia is a hierarchy. So, Lucinda was the head and I gave it to her.


COLLINS: Giovanni says she wasn't surprised when she learned Cho was the Virginia Tech shooter -- Tony.

HARRIS: Survivors hospitalized at Montgomery Regional in Blacksburg just got a visit from the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine and his wife Anne.

Our John Zarrella joins us live from the hospital.

And John, I said a few moments ago that one of the best stories over the last couple of days is the story of these young people at that hospital behind you, their survival story, and how they're just -- and their recovery story, as well.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's no question about it. Even the governor was moved by some of the stories.

You know, we've recounted the story of the one young man who basically tied some electrical tape around his leg, because he had been shot through the femoral artery, and he basically saved his own life by doing that.

And then a young woman up here the governor spoke with today who is anxious to get out of the hospital, so -- because she's the maid of honor at her sister's wedding.

He was very, very taken by how upbeat all of the students were, how they are doing. He got to visit with their families and all of the eight that are still here and will remain here for a few days. And when he finished the visit, he came out and spoke with us here, and he was asked about that timeline between the first shootings, and then the second shootings, that two-hour gap between what happened at West AJ and what happened at Norris. And he said that, you know, there is an independent review panel that is now being established, and the pieces being put together for that, which he hopes will answer lots of questions about what happened.


GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: That's going to be one of the subjects of this review. Clearly, the university, law enforcement personnel, and everybody involved did everything at the time that they thought was right based on the information they had.

We now know the end of the story. We have the benefit of his hindsight. They didn't have that.

They were responding to the first shooting, and in the middle of a law enforcement investigation, interviewing witnesses and others when the second shooting started. But the question of that gap and should anything have been done different, that will all be analyzed by people, you know, with expertise who can do it objectively, who aren't involved in the heat of the moment.

They can look at that and ask all those questions. And I know they will, and they'll -- they'll come up with answers for the family and for all of us.


ZARRELLA: The governor did announce that the retired head of the Virginia State Police has been asked, and has accepted to head this independent commission, which the governor says was really the work of Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech president is the one that came to him and said, Governor, we're one step ahead of you, we already want to do that. So, between the governor and Virginia Tech, they've established this review panel.

Now, quickly, on the students, there are again eight patients here. Four of them males, four of them females.

Five are in the intensive care unit. Three are in the orthopedic unit. There's one other student at Lewis-Gale Hospital. But all of them continue to be in stable condition and doing better, which is really good news -- Tony.

HARRIS: How about that?

And the governor mentioned that some were sitting up in their beds and smiling, and that some were actually walking for the first time since they were wounded. That is good news.

ZARRELLA: Yes, exactly.

HARRIS: Yes, go ahead, John. You wanted to add? ZARRELLA: No, exactly. I was going to say, they were all smiling.

HARRIS: Yes, they were.

ZARRELLA: And an important piece of information, the governor said, which is remarkable, all of them wanted to express their gratitude...


ZARRELLA: ... to everyone who was thinking of them, and also wanted to reach out to the families of those who had lost their children in this terrible incident. And let them know that they are thinking about them.

HARRIS: Yes. And I'm glad you mentioned that.

John Zarrella for us this morning.

John, thank you.

HARRIS: And another decision from the Supreme Court we want to tell you about. Perhaps a sea change moment here for the abortion debate in this country.

Want to tell you about a major ruling from the Supreme Court announced just a short time ago, siding with the Bush administration, the justices, uphold the nationwide ban on a type of late-term abortion.

By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act does not violate a woman's constitutional rights. Lower courts had ruled it unconstitutional because it didn't include an exception in the case of a woman's health being threatened. It is the first time the court has upheld a ban on a specific abortion procedure -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Back now to the Virginia Tech story.

A disturbed young man. Cho's former roommates describe odd behavior that actually just drew laughs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More amused. You know, you think, this guy's pretty crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a strange, strange guy.


COLLINS: A compelling interview about the killer you have to see. It's only on CNN. We've got it coming your way, ahead in the NEWSROOM. HARRIS: The fallen. We are learning more about the 32 people who were killed in this shooting rampage. Lives lost, in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Want to get out the information that we are getting to you now as we learn it here at CNN, and it pertains to the guns and when they were purchased, and the ones that were used in this massacre.

We are now getting more information about the planning and the thinking ahead that Cho actually may have done in the event that happened on Monday here at Virginia Tech.

Drew Griffin is joining me now.

It's an extensive investigation on these guns and when they were purchased. You were just telling us awhile ago, it looks like now as far back as three months was the first purchase.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We just got the information today.

Cho had erased the serial numbers, filed the serial numbers off on these guns. So it took an FBI lab to kind of raise -- or the ATF lab, actually, to raise those serial numbers. Now we know where the gun was purchased.

It was purchased on February 9th over -- out of state. An out- of-state gun dealer made the transaction with Cho. We don't know if that was over the Internet, over the phone, or, you know, possibly a mail order situation.

COLLINS: So he didn't drive anywhere?

GRIFFIN: He didn't drive anywhere. He bought it out of state. That gun was sent to this pawnbroker, a licensed -- federal licensed gun dealer, literally across the street from the Virginia Tech campus.

This is on main street in campus town. And the owner there, Joe Dowdy (ph) said that Cho came in on February 9th, a prearranged order sent to his thing -- his store. Cho came in, he filled out the pape paperwork. He passed the instant background check, and walked out with his -- what we now believe his first gun, a .22 caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic pistol, a handgun.

And the purchase was made at that very store -- the transaction was made at that very store, facilitated by the licensed dealer that operates it. But again, an out-of-state transaction.

And we do not know the out-of-state dealer of that transaction with Cho. But again, nothing unremarkable, according to the owner, about the -- about the transaction. Didn't even put it together until the federal authorities gave him the name and asked him if indeed that sale was made there. COLLINS: Tell us again, because I think it's important for people to understand how this works. When you are a gun dealer, out of state, whether it was Internet, or over the phone, however the initial transaction was made, that you do have federally licensed dealers within the state that the client is calling or e-mailing from.

GRIFFIN: That's right. It's almost like a -- it's like a network. You buy a gun. Let's say you buy this gun from -- I'm just making this up now -- Illinois. You call a dealer in Illinois, he has got the gun you want, you arrange the sale.

Somehow that transaction was already paid for prior to getting to this store. What happens is, once you buy that gun, the gun is shipped to the licensed federal dealer in your state of your choosing.

Cho selected this store, which is directly across from campus. He certainly could have walked there.

He goes to that store, presents his identification. The dealer checks the identification. The dealer makes him go through the instant background check. And then there is a transaction fee, $20, $40, something like that, and then he walks out with the gun.

But the purchase is called an out-of-state purchase. It was not technically purchased at that store. It was picked up at that store.

COLLINS: Also worth repeating, I think, as we just listened to that news conference a little while ago from here at Virginia Tech, from the Virginia Tech Police Department, as well as the Blacksburg Police Department, that they were very well aware that he had received some mental treatment at a facility here, but because he went into that treatment and agreed to it voluntarily, there would have been nothing that would have shown up on this background check that was done not only for one of the guns, but the other gun, obviously, because he agreed to it.

GRIFFIN: Right. And had it had been an involuntary commitment, it would have shown up on his record and presumably he would have been denied any purchase of any gun. But again, that's one of the quirks of this story that we're learning about.

The other interesting thing is now we -- we know that both guns -- one was purchased February 9th, the other was purchased five weeks ago. We don't know the exact date yet, but that was purchased five weeks ago at a store here in Virginia, Roanoke Firearms, over in Roanoke.


GRIFFIN: You can buy legally one handgun per month. So, could have been a deliberate plan as far back as February? I'm going to buy this handgun on February 9th, I'm going to wait a month, I'm going to buy the second handgun.

That is something they're looking in to.

COLLINS: So as not to bring about any alarm or any attention.

GRIFFIN: Or just to follow the letter of the law, which Cho apparently did and passed. But you have a pattern here. You buy one handgun a month. That's it.

So, if you want two handguns, you would buy the first one and then wait until you can legally buy the second.

COLLINS: Wow. All right.

CNN's Drew Griffin working on this angle for us.

We appreciate it, Drew. Thanks.

Tony, to you.

HARRIS: OK, Heidi. Another story that we are following in the NEWSROOM today, an unbelievable day of violence in Baghdad. More than 150 people killed in a series of car bombs.

Live to the Iraqi capital for this developing story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Turning briefly now from the massacre at Virginia Tech to breaking news out of Baghdad and another massacre. Hundreds dead and wounded in a series of bombings.

Live now to CNN's Arwa Damon in the Iraqi capital.

Arwa, I know we are closing in the number of 200 dead, but 170 dead, 188 wounded. What happened in Baghdad today?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, it was one of those just utterly devastating days where the explosions seemed to just keep coming. And this death toll has been rising throughout the entire day.

At least 170 Iraqis were killed in a series of attacks just in the capital. Six attacks, in fact. The deadliest of those attacks happening in what is known as the Sadriya marketplace.

There, a car bomb exploded and killed at least 122 Iraqis. This is one of the capital's oldest and busiest marketplaces. It is a series of streets and alleyways that crisscross one another, where vendors are selling anything from electronics, to produce, to clothing.

At the time of the attack, which was about 4:00 p.m. local time, it would have been quite busy. In fact, that is what we are hearing from the Ministry of Interior.

This is a devastating blow to this part of the capital, which is just recovering from another devastating attack that took place there in the beginning of February. In that case, a truck bomb exploded there, killing over 130 Iraqis.

Now, just hours before this market bombing took place, there was a car bomb at a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi army, just outside of that sprawling Shia slum of Sadr City that is home to some two million Iraqis. And that attack killed at least 28.

But the attack took place at a checkpoint that was set up, a new checkpoint, as part of this current Baghdad security plan. In fact, many Iraqis from these areas, and, in fact, throughout the capital as a whole, are asking each other, well, what sort of a security plan is, this given the violence that took place today?


HARRIS: Arwa, it seems like an obvious question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Clearly, an organized, coordinated attack we're talking about here?

DAMON: Well, Tony, to be completely honest, it is really hard to tell whether or not these attacks are linked to one another. Remember, there are countless insurgent groups that are operating throughout the capital at any point in time. What we do know though is that most of these attacks were targeting predominantly Shia areas, and the two main attacks, the checkpoint attack and the attack in the marketplace, happened in the areas that were around the control of the Mehdi militia, and that is the Shia militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Now, they have largely agreed to lay down their weapons and give the Baghdad security plan a chance, but the concern now is that today's violence will fuel their anger and that they could take to the streets once again. Not to mention that it really reinforces the reality that many Iraqis now see, and that is that their government is weak and incapable of keeping them safe.

HARRIS: You lead me perfectly to my next question -- 170 killed, 193 wounded. Have we heard anything from the prime minister's office?

DAMON: No, Tony. Not at this point.

The Iraqi prime minister has not made any statement following these attacks, although there are reports that earlier in the day, he was, in fact, saying that the Iraqi security forces were capable of handling security at the end of 2007. And many Iraqis will look to today's violence and wonder how that could be possible.

And not to mention, the reality that the Iraqi security forces are still -- although they are improving day by day, they are still being trained, and they are still highly dependent on their American counterparts. And just to give you an example, under the current Baghdad security plan, you have the Americans working even closer with the Iraqis than they have in the past. And one of the main reasons for that is to make sure that the Iraqis are actually getting the job done -- Tony.

HARRIS: CNN's Arwa Damon for us in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Arwa, thank you.

COLLINS: Arming a killer. Here's what we know this hour on Cho Seung-Hui's purchase of firearms.

CNN has learned Cho bought both firearms within the last 10 weeks. In February, he picked up a .22 caliber pistol he ordered over the Internet or by phone.

Following the law, he filled out the required paperwork at a pawnshop across from campus. Five weeks ago, he bought the .9 millimeter firearm in Roanoke, Virginia. Both guns were used in Monday's killing sprees.

Want to go ahead and take a moment now to introduce Jamal Albarghouti to you. I'm sure you're very familiar by now with the video you have likely seen many times across television networks. Jamal was able to share that video with us on Monday on our show when all of this was happening.

Jamal, you've been able to take this as an I-Reporter for CNN with your cell phone, events that were happening inside Norris Hall.

First, I just want to know, because now, looking at your face, and being able to put a voice with the face after interviewing you on Monday, how you're doing. It's got to be tough now knowing the enormity of what has happened.

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: It's really, really, really tough here. And it's really the toughest -- when I had to -- yesterday, I met the parents and the family and the friend of one -- and the friends of who got killed, and, you know, seeing her mom, that was really tough on me.

The mom was not holding herself -- the dad -- her dad was holding himself really good. I admired that. But her mom was breaking down every few minutes, and after she would -- she breaks down, you would see other people start crying. And this is only one family.

You can imagine that there is another 31 families, a total of 32. And that's really bad, really terrible.

COLLINS: You have lost two friends, people in your circle?

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Yes, in my circle. But the way I look at it, I lost 32 friends. I only knew the friends of two or three. And even to make things worse, I just -- when I started reading my e-mails, I read an e-mail from my department, telling me that one of my -- one of the professors in my department got killed, too. You know, this is something you just can't understand.

COLLINS: No, it's not.

ALBARGHOUTI: You can't understand. They were really good people. They were doing their jobs. They did everything they were supposed to do, and they just got killed for that, you know?

COLLINS: Does it help you to be here now on campus?

ALBARGHOUTI: The busier I am, the better for me. Less time to think about what's going on. This is what I'm trying to keep -- I'm trying just to keep busy.

COLLINS: Have you had contact with your family? I know you're from the West Bank. Do you still have family members there?

ALBARGHOUTI: My parents -- yes, I do, have in the West Bank. But my parents right now live in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And we've been in touch. They know that I'm OK. I've been talking to many other members of my family, all around, like, the world. It's OK (ph).

COLLINS: Jamal, did you have an opportunity to go to the candlelight vigil last night?

ALBARGHOUTI: No, I didn't. I didn't go there.

COLLINS: You weren't. Well, I know that you've been really busy in sharing your story and sharing those pictures, really, with the world. And it may have helped a little bit by showing the world what happened and the enormity of it, but I know that it's been very difficult for you to see this now and know what the end result was.


COLLINS: What will you do next?

ALBARGHOUTI: Anything that will bring my life back to normal. Somewhere near normal. Try to finish my thesis and try to graduate, if I can do that. Anything that would make my life the way it used to be a few days ago.

COLLINS: You just want it back the way that it was?

ALBARGHOUTI: Yes. That's what I want. And I really want Blacksburg to be the way it was. It's one of -- I love this town very much and it's just killing me, seeing how it changed. And I started thinking about what I love about Blacksburg, is if you were walking, you'll just see people, you are going to smile to them and they'll smile back, and you can be a friend to them in one minute. And now, with such an incident, I don't know if that's ever going to change. I sure hope it won't.

COLLINS: But, you know, we've experienced the same thing and we've heard so much about this Hokie pride and the closeness of this community and this college. I share that thought with you. I hope that it doesn't change. It's going to be tough in these next few days.

ALBARGHOUTI: I hope it won't change. That's what I hope.

COLLINS: We very much appreciate you being here with us in person. ALBARGHOUTI: Thank you very much.

COLLINS: Jamal Albarghouti.

ALBARGHOUTI: My pleasure.

COLLINS: With the video as an i-Reporter that we saw outside Norris Hall.

We will talk to you again soon, I hope.

Tony, back now to you.


The Virginia Tech shooter, his one-time roommates described the off the wall behavior.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He opened up and said, he had an imaginary girlfriend. He called her --- was it "jelly"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, "jelly."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she called him "spanky."


HARRIS: Man. A shooter revealed in a must-see CNN exclusive. Gary Tuchman's intriguing interview, coming up in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Sorrow and grief. But also pride and determination. Thousands of Virginia Tech students gathered for a candlelight vigil last night, remembering the victims and sending a message of unity.


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


COLLINS: The vice president of student affairs told the crowd, "we will recover, we will survive." And at one point, the sound of taps echoed through the air. Some students began to sing "Amazing Grace." Virginia Tech has cancelled classes for the rest of the week.

A couple of hours ago I had an opportunity to talk with a young man with an amazing story. Josh Eldridge says his friend, Kevin, found himself right in the middle of gun fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOSH ELDRIDGE, VIRGINIA TECH FRESHMAN: He was in Norris Hall, in German class, and he said that the gunman entered the room and looked around and walked back out. And then three to four minutes later, he re-entered and opened fire on the classroom. Kevin was struck twice in his right thigh. The second bullet punctured an artery. And he was losing a lot of blood. He's also a Boy Scout, so he was able to take electrical cord and tie his leg up so he didn't lose any more blood.

COLLINS: You know we have heard this story and I don't think that we can fully grasp what must have gone on in his mind, in this incredible mode and determination to survive. We're talking about the femoral artery, in which, you know, that's the main artery that goes up and supplies blood to the heart, to the brain. I mean, this was a deadly situation for him.


COLLINS: You've been able to speak with him. I know you've been to the hospital. You plan to go there after we get done talking. How is he doing?

ELDRIDGE: He was actually in pretty good spirits whenever I saw him after he came out of surgery. He's always been a jokester, so he was trying to play it off like it wasn't as big. But you could tell that he was in a lot of pain and he was really tired from the medicine and the entire situation. He seems to be doing well though.

COLLINS: What does it feel like to walk into a hospital room like that and see your friend in this condition, knowing what has gone on here over the past couple of days?

ELDRIDGE: It was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. I -- whenever we couldn't find Kevin, we all began to panic because we knew he had class in Norris. And actually we were more thankful than anything that he was able to make it through.

COLLINS: How old are you, Josh?


COLLINS: You're 19. What are you going to do next? How are you going to move on? I know that we've been reporting, even as early as yesterday, that there are quite a few students that are going home, that need to be with their families, their families want them, you know, to be back home. You're still here. Why?

ELDRIDGE: Well, I'm -- I respect the people that went home. They, obviously, need to be with their family right now. But I feel that the situation happened and now what we need to do is come together as a community so we can get through it together.

COLLINS: Did you go to the candlelight vigil last night?


COLLINS: What happened there? What was that like?

ELDRIDGE: It was a very solemn experience. You know, everyone was on the drill field, holding up their candles. And then towards the end of it, just the great chants of Hokie pride started. And they started playing the fight song. And it was just so nice to see everyone come together and actually have a little bit of happiness.

COLLINS: Is Kevin a type of hero to you?

ELDRIDGE: Definitely. We've always respected Kevin. He's always done everything he could to help his friends. He's a great guy. And this proves further that he is a hero.


HARRIS: Police are talking today about Cho Seung-Hui's past. The same instances brought up by Cho's former roommates. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Gary Tuchman, they both asked that we use only their first names.


JOHN, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: I walked back to my room one night and there was a policeman in there. And apparently what had happened was, he had gone up -- or he had started talking to her online first. He found where she lived, started talking to her on AIM. Then he went over there. He was using the name "question mark." Said, hey, I'm "question mark" and that really freaked the girl out.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So he was stalking her?

JOHN: Yes. He found out everything about her first.

TUCHMAN: And like he told this girl all the things he learned about her?

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

TUCHMAN: Did you know the girl?

JOHN: No. I didn't . . .

TUCHMAN: I mean 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 ROOMMATE: There were two other instances that we know of. One was, one of our friends, he started following -- bothering her and another was down the hall.

TUCHMAN: And what happened in those cases? ANDY: The one down the hall, I got the girl's screen name and kind of told her -- I IMed her and told her, this guy, you know, he's messing around with you. Here's his name and you should kind of ignore him and just stay away from him. And then the other time the cops responded again and Seung became upset about that and he had told me that he might as well kill himself. And so I told the cops that and they took him away to the counseling center for a night or two.


HARRIS: Still more of our exclusive interview ahead.


ANDY: I was more weirded out than scared. But looking back on it all now, you know, he could have been back there doing anything and I would have never seen it coming.


HARRIS: Scary memories for the roommates of the Virginia Tech shooter, ahead in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: We're getting new details about Cho Seung-Hui this morning. Here now, more of Gary Tuchman's interview with Cho's two roommates. Both of them asked that we only use their first names.


JOHN: I keep running it through my head a lot since I found out it was an Asian in his 20s. I thought, it could be Seung. I've been thinking about it ever since. And I just can't come to a good idea about what we could have done other than what we did do. We, you know, we called the police, we told our R.A.s, we thought we were doing the right thing, it was being taken care of. And I'm not saying, you know, the police or Virginia Tech didn't do their job. No way am I saying that. But I just feel, you know, everything that could have been done was done at the time. And that maybe, if we have tried harder to get him kicked out or something like that, maybe that might have helped. I don't know.

TUCHMAN: Were you ever afraid for your own safety at any time with this kid?

JOHN: It was a little weird, you know, after you know he had been stalking girls and looking at their Facebooks and learning everything about them. And sometimes at night, when I would go to sleep, I would be a little nervous. But I could always tell, he would go into a pretty deep sleep because he would lay in bed and he would always moan and he would always be a really restless sleeper and moving around. So I always went to bed after he did and he woke up about two hours before I did and was always gone.

TUCHMAN: What about you? ANDY: There's a couple of instances where he would like -- you'd leave your door open when you lived in the dorm and he'd be standing there in the doorway and I'd turn around and he'd be there. And there was one time he had taken a picture of me. And the only reason I noticed him was that the camera flashed. And I know there was a couple other instances of that with people, but I was more weirded out than scared. Looking back on it all now, you know, he could have been back there doing anything and I would have never seen it coming.

TUCHMAN: But he was taking a picture of you?

ANDY: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And what did you say to him?

ANDY: Well, there was another instance that was -- at the beginning of the year, when we were inviting him to dinner, he took us -- we -- downstairs in the lounge and we were eating. And he had the camera again and took a picture of the girl's next to us and it just kind of embarrassed him because he put the camera down real quick and the girls think that, you know, guy full of tables is taking pictures of them. And I didn't say -- I never said anything to him. I wish I had because that was the thing he did, he took pictures of everyone, I guess.

TUCHMAN: Why do you think he was taking a picture of you in your dorm room?

ANDY: He was a strange kid, so, expect strange things.

TUCHMAN: How do you feel now, sitting here, knowing what happened at your campus, John?

JOHN: I feel terrible. I keep thinking about it and thinking -- thinking about the victims and their families and what they're going through. And if maybe there was something you could have done to stop that or prevent that. It's just not a good feel at all.

TUCHMAN: And what about you, Andy? You can believe this?

ANDY: Nope. Seeing the families today really brought it home because, you know they're missing someone now and they didn't even get to say good-bye.


HARRIS: Can you imagine that? What a great interview from Gary Tuchman.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and what could you do or what could have been done?

HARRIS: We've been talking about it all morning and there was no specific threat in my of the writing.

LEMON: Right. HARRIS: And any of the stalking activity that we've been follow and describing to folks throughout the morning. So, what to do? What is law enforcement to do? Of course, we're coming up on the top of the hour and our coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre continues. Don Lemon will be joined by Fredricka Whitfield at the top of the hour.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely, Tony. And you saw that in the interview that we just saw.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Some people now say they saw it coming. And today, more about the young man who repeatedly pulled the trigger at Virginia Tech. A clearer and increasingly menacing picture of Cho Seung-Hui from classmates, roommates and teachers. But what made him act on his rage? Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with more on a controversial notion that some people have what they call a killer brain.

Also, the mass shootings are fueling the already fiery debate over fire arms. We'll have more on gun control as a political issue. Make sure you stay with CNN and the CNN NEWSROOM at 1:00 p.m. Eastern for the very latest developments on everything that's happening at Virginia Tech.

HARRIS: Can't wait to watch your coverage this afternoon here on CNN in the NEWSROOM.

Let's get you back now to Blacksburg and Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: Tony, the student newspaper, immersed in a story that has forever changed the face of these students and Virginia Tech itself. We're going to be talking to one of the writers for "The Collegiate Times," right here in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Now to a young man with a unique perspective on the shootings. Taylor Rees Shapiro is a student and a journalist for Virginia Tech's student newspaper. We talked a little bit earlier about the mood on campus and about Cho's own writings.


TAYLOR REES SHAPIRO, STAFF WRITER, COLLEGIATE TIMES: I was the first to talk to Stephanie Derry (ph), a she was a student in a play writing class this semester. In fact, she had had class with him just last Friday. And she discussed with me the plays that he had been writing. And as everybody knows, one of them was about a step-son and a father who he planned to kill. And he had apparently thrown chain saws and hammers at the father and later eventually suffocated him with a Rice Krispie treat in a very violent manner.

And she noted just how unbelievably -- it was just to surreal, to unrealistic, to fictional to even begin to think that somebody could be capable of this. And that's why she even mentioned that we would just joke around about it in class, because that's all we could do. We have to laugh and shrug it off. It was just to bizarre. He was just such a ghost, so apparitional (ph). Just not there. They said that half the time he would just sit there with his head down in the class and then whenever somebody would address him, he maybe would look up. But she mentioned she only heard him say one word the entire semester and he only smiles even once.

A lot of the students, as the days go on -- the first day not a lot of people left, but more people are definitely leaving today. More people are calling home more and more often as the emotions begin to set in. Everything has developed just almost too quickly for all of us to comprehend. And after all of it, you know, we're all reading these newspapers, we're all reading the Internet, we all have our TVs on all night long until we go to bed, and it's slowly but surely beginning to effect us to the point where it's -- everybody is doing the best they can to cope with it in their own ways. You know, by hanging out with friends off campus, by some go home to their parents. You know, others just want to stay here. Others are lighting candles every single day and writing on these messages on these boards.


COLLINS: And, you know, Tony, as we continue to get to know these kids, and the students here at Virginia Tech over the past couple of days, I'm inspired and encouraged by their incredible courage and really coming together. We've seen pretty much about 100 percent of that here as we've walked around and chatted with folks. I think, as more details come out, very similar to what happened in the Columbine story, it's going to be harder for them, it's going to be a lot harder for them, and I so hope that they will really take advantage of some of this counseling that's being offered to them and help themselves get through this.

HARRIS: Well said. Well said, Heidi.

Just want to let you know that CNN NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon and Fredricka Whitfield.

Heidi, see you tomorrow.