OCT. 1 2017 – 58 killed, 546 injured: Paradise, Nevada. Stephen Paddock (April 9, 1953 – October 1, 2017)
was an American mass murderer responsible for the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. He fired modified semi-automatic weapons from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of approximately 22,000 concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on October 1, 2017.
Paddock, who lived in Mesquite, Nevada, died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident surpassed the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history, with 58 fatalities (excluding Paddock) and 546 injuries. Paddock’s motive for the shooting is currently unknown.
Stephen Paddock was born in Clinton, Iowa. He grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and Sun Valley, California, as the eldest of four sons of Benjamin Hoskins Paddock. Benjamin was a bank robber who was arrested in 1960 when Stephen was seven years old. Benjamin was later convicted and escaped prison in 1969, subsequently appearing on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Stephen was 15 years old at the time. According to his brother Eric, they never really knew their father as he was never with their mother.
In 1967 Paddock completed his studies at Richard E. Byrd Middle School, then graduated from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in 1971, and from California State University, Northridge in 1977, with a degree in business administration.
Paddock worked for the federal government from about 1975 to 1985. He was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service from 1976 to 1978. After that, he worked for six years as an Internal Revenue Service agent until 1984. Then, he was a federal auditor for one year, in 1985, focusing on defense contractors. Towards the end of the 1980s, Paddock worked for three years as an internal auditor for a company that later merged to form Lockheed Martin. His work career after this period is not entirely clear. He is known to have run a real-estate business with his brother Eric. He lived in the Greater Los Angeles Area and owned personal property in areas including Panorama City, Cerritos, and North Hollywood from the 1970s to early 2000s. He also owned rental properties around the country, including two rundown apartment buildings in the working-class neighborhood of Hawthorne, California. In addition, he owned an apartment complex in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, which he sold in 2012. Relatives said Paddock was worth at least $2 million when he sold off the real-estate business. Among his most profitable investments was an apartment complex purchased in 2004, which gave him more than half a million dollars in annual income by 2011. The IRS records show he made $5 million to $6 million in profits from its sale in 2015.
Paddock was a prolific gambler, but the extent to which he may have profited from it is not clear. He was not well known among high-stakes gamblers in Las Vegas and was not considered a “whale” by the casinos. His game of choice was the solitary video poker which he had played for over 25 years; unlike traditional poker which involves bluffing, the primary skill is mathematical precision calculating odds. He lived a mostly nocturnal life, gambling after dark and sleeping during the day; he generally disliked being out in the sun.
According to court records, Paddock was married and divorced twice. He was first married from 1977 to 1979, and for the second time from 1985 to 1990, both marriages in Los Angeles County, California. Family members say he stayed on good terms with his ex-wives. His brother says that Paddock had no political or religious affiliations of any kind.
Paddock lived in Texas and in California, then in a retirement community in Melbourne, Florida, from 2013 to 2015. In 2016, he moved from Florida to another retiree home in Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of Las Vegas. According to property records, he bought a newly constructed single-family home in Mesquite in January 2015, and sold his two-bedroom home in Melbourne. Paddock lived in Mesquite for several years with his Flipino-born girlfriend whom he met at the Atlantis in Reno, Nevada. According to neighbours, they also lived together in Reno. Many Mesquite residents recalled only seeing him around town; those familiar with Paddock described him as someone who did not speak much and kept a low profile. The local gun community never saw him at any of the gun clubs or shooting ranges, including makeshift ones in the nearby desert.
An Australian acquaintance said he met Paddock in the United States and in the Philippines. He described Paddock as intelligent and methodical. In his account, Paddock claimed to have won a lot of money using a betting strategy by applying algorithms to gambling on machines (not on tables). Paddock was conversant in gun laws and in defending his view of the Second Amendment. The acquaintance considered Paddock a generous man whenever he and his girlfriend visited him. In 2010, Paddock applied for and received a U.S. passport. He went on 20 cruise ship voyages, visiting several foreign ports including in Spain, Italy, Greece, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. He was accompanied by his girlfriend on nine of them. They went to the Philippines together in 2013 and 2014. During the last year of his life they travelled on a cruise to the Middle East.
Paddock’s only recorded interaction with law enforcement was a minor traffic citation years before the shooting, which he settled in court. According to court records, Paddock also sued the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in September 2012, claiming he “slipped and fell on an obstruction on the floor” and was injured as a result; the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in October 2014.
During his last months, he reportedly smelled of alcohol, was despondent, and he is reported to have filled prescriptions for the anti-anxiety drug Valium (diazepam) in 2013, 2016, and 2017. According to a Business Insider article, “As it stands now, the link between diazepam and Paddock’s actions is tenuous at best — though some celebrities have said otherwise.”
Two weeks before the attack, his girlfriend went to her native Philippines at his suggestion. Paddock wired her $100,000 to buy a house there. He was spotted in Las Vegas with another woman, reported by investigators to be a prostitute. It has been confirmed that she is not an accomplice, and is not considered a suspect. Her name has not been released. Two days prior to the shooting, Paddock was recorded by a home surveillance system driving alone to an area for target practice located near his home.
On the night of October 1, 2017, at 10:05 p.m., Paddock opened fire from his hotel room on a large crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, killing 58 people and wounding 546 others.
Paddock planned the attack meticulously. On September 25, six days beforehand, he checked in to a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which overlooked the festival grounds. There were 23 rifles and one handgun found inside his room by the police afterwards, including four DDM4 assault rifles, three FN-15 rifles, one AR-15 assault rifle with forward front grip, one .308-caliber AR-10 battle rifle, and one AK-47, including a large quantity of ammunition in special magazines, holding up to 75 rounds each. Two of the rifles were resting on bipods, and were equipped with high-tech telescopic sights. Twelve of the weapons were outfitted with bump fire stocks, a recently-available firearms accessory that allows semiautomatic rifles to fire rapidly, simulating fully-automatic gunfire. Audio recordings of the attack indicated Paddock used these stocks to fire at the crowd in rapid succession.
One minute before the attack on the concertgoers, at 10:05 p.m. Paddock – who placed a baby monitor camera on a service cart outside his room – fired about 200 rounds through his door, wounding an approaching hotel security guard. The unarmed guard attempted to enter the 32nd floor first at 9:59 p.m. on unrelated matter but found the door to the hallway barricaded. At 10:05 p.m. Paddock began firing hundreds of rounds in rapid succession at the crowd of thousands below. He stopped shooting ten minutes later at 10:15 p.m. According to chronology of the events established by the authorities in the following days, the first two police officers reached the 32nd floor of the hotel at 10:17 p.m. and a minute later were shown the location of his door. Between 10:26 and 10:30 p.m. an additional eight LVMPD officers joined them and began clearing other suites along the 32nd floor hallway. At 10:55 p.m. eight SWAT team members entered the 32nd floor through the second stairwell nearest to Paddock’s suite. More than an hour after the first two officers arrived, at 11:20 p.m. the police breached his door with an explosive charge, and entered the room. Paddock was found dead inside his suite from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In addition to the firearms and accessories found in Paddock’s hotel suite, there was a note that reportedly included handwritten calculations about where he needed to aim to maximise his accuracy. The note featured only the actual distance to the target, his own elevation, and the bullet trajectory relative to the line of fire.
During an investigation, Ammonium nitrate, often used in improvised explosive devices, was found in the trunk of his car, along with 1,600 rounds of ammunition and 50 pounds (23 kg) of Tannerite, a binary explosive used to make explosive targets for gun ranges. However, investigators clarified that while Paddock had “nefarious intent” with the material, he did not appear to have assembled an explosive device.
According to police, Paddock acted alone. His motive is unknown. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility, but American law enforcement officials have given no evidence of a connection between Paddock and ISIL. No evidence has been found of any brain abnormality, according to autopsy results, though toxicology and other autopsy results have yet to be disclosed. Paddock’s brain was sent to Stanford University to receive a more extensive analysis.
APRIL 16, 2007 – 32 killed, 17 injured: Blacksburg, Va. The Virginia Tech shooting, also known as the Virginia Tech massacre, occurred on April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks (another six people were injured escaping from classroom windows), approximately two hours apart, before committing suicide. The attacks received international media coverage and drew widespread criticism of U.S. gun culture. At the time, it was the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in U.S. history. It sparked intense debate about gun violence, gun laws, gaps in the U.S. system for treating mental health issues, the perpetrator’s state of mind, the responsibility of college administrations, privacy laws, journalism ethics, and other issues. Television news organizations that aired portions of the killer’s multimedia manifesto were criticized by victims’ families, Virginia law enforcement officials, and the American Psychiatric Association. Cho had previously been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder. During much of his middle school and high school years, he received therapy and special education support. After graduating from high school, Cho enrolled at Virginia Tech. Because of federal privacy laws, Virginia Tech was unaware of Cho’s previous diagnosis or the accommodations he had been granted at school. In 2005, Cho was accused of stalking two female students. After an investigation, a Virginia special justice declared Cho mentally ill and ordered him to attend treatment; however, because he was not institutionalised, he was still allowed to purchase guns. The shooting prompted the state of Virginia to close legal loopholes that had previously allowed individuals adjudicated as mentally unsound to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also led to passage of the only major federal gun control measure in the U.S. since the year 1994. The law strengthening the NICS was signed by President George W. Bush on January 5, 2008. The Virginia Tech Review Panel, a state-appointed body assigned to review the incident, criticized Virginia Tech administrators for failing to take action that might have reduced the number of casualties. The panel’s report also reviewed gun laws and pointed out gaps in mental health care as well as privacy laws that left Cho’s deteriorating condition in college untreated. The shootings occurred in two separate incidents. The first incident was in West Ambler Johnston Hall, during which Seung-Hui Cho killed two students. The second incident was in Norris Hall, where the other 31 deaths, including that of Cho himself, and all the nonlethal injuries, occurred. Cho used two firearms during the attacks: a .22-caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic handgun and a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock 19 handgun. Cho was seen near the entrance to West Ambler Johnston Hall, a co-ed residence hall that housed 895 students, at about 6:47 a.m. EDT. Normally, the hall was accessible only to its residents via magnetic key cards before 10:00 a.m.; Cho’s student mailbox was in the lobby of the building, so he had a pass card allowing access after 7:30 a.m., but it is unclear how he gained earlier entrance to the building. Cho shot his first victims in West Ambler Johnston Hall. At around 7:15 a.m., Cho entered the room which freshman Emily J. Hilscher shared with another student. Hilscher, a 19-year-old from Woodville, Virginia, was fatally wounded. After hearing the gunshots, a resident assistant, Ryan C. Clark, attempted to aid Hilscher. Cho shot and killed Clark, a 22-year-old senior from Martinez, Georgia. Hilscher remained alive for three hours after being shot, but no one from the school, law enforcement, or hospital notified her family until after she had died. Cho left the scene and returned to his room in Harper Hall, a dormitory west of West Ambler Johnston Hall. While police and emergency medical services units were responding to the shootings in the dorm next door, Cho changed out of his bloodstained clothes, logged on to his computer to delete his e-mail, and then removed the hard drive. About an hour after the attack, Cho is believed to have been seen near the campus duck pond. Although authorities suspected Cho had thrown his hard drive and mobile phone into the water, a search was unsuccessful. Almost two hours after the first killings, Cho appeared at a nearby post office and mailed a package of writings and video recordings to NBC News; these proved to be of little investigative value to authorities. The package was postmarked 9:01 a.m. He then walked to Norris Hall. In a backpack, he carried several chains, locks, a hammer, a knife, two handguns with nineteen 10- and 15-round magazines, and nearly 400 rounds of ammunition. About two hours after the initial shootings, Cho entered Norris Hall, which housed the Engineering Science and Mechanics program among others, and chained the three main entrance doors shut. He placed a note on one of the chained doors, claiming that attempting to open the door would cause a bomb to explode. Shortly before the shooting began, a faculty member found the note and took it to the third floor to notify the school’s administration. At about the same time Cho had begun to shoot students and faculty on the second floor. The bomb threat was never called in. The first call to 9-1-1 was received at 9:42 a.m. According to several students, before the shooting began Cho looked into several classrooms. Erin Sheehan, an eyewitness and survivor who had been in room 207, told reporters that the shooter “peeked in twice” earlier in the lesson and that “it was strange that someone at this point in the semester would be lost, looking for a class”. At about 9:40 a.m., Cho began shooting. Cho’s first attack after entering Norris occurred in an advanced hydrology engineering class taught by Professor G. V. Loganathan in room 206. Cho first shot and killed the professor, then continued firing, killing nine of the thirteen students in the room and injuring two others. Next, Cho went across the hall and into room 207, where instructor Jamie Bishop was teaching German. Cho shot at a student, then at Bishop, then at the rest of the students, killing Bishop and four students; six students were wounded. Cho then moved on to Norris 211 and 204. In both of these classrooms, Cho was initially prevented from entering due to barricades erected by instructors and students. In room 204, Professor Liviu Librescu, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, forcibly prevented Cho from entering the room. Librescu was able to hold the door closed until most of his students escaped through the windows, but he died after being shot multiple times through the door. One student in his classroom was killed. Instructor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak and student Henry Lee were killed in room 211 as they attempted to barricade the door. When Cho broke through the barricade and entered the room, Air Force ROTC Cadet Matthew La Porte charged the gunman and died after taking heavy fire in an attempt to save lives (he was later posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal for his actions). According to the Virginia Tech Review Panel’s report, eleven students died in room 211 and the six students who survived all suffered gunshot wounds. However, one of the survivors, Clay Violand, has stated that he played dead and escaped without injury. Cho reloaded and revisited several of the classrooms. After Cho’s first visit to room 207, several students had barricaded the door and had begun tending to the wounded. When Cho returned minutes later, Katelyn Carney and Derek O’Dell were injured while holding the door closed. Cho also returned to room 206. According to a student eyewitness, the movements of a wounded Waleed Shaalan distracted Cho from a nearby student after the shooter had returned to the room. Shaalan was shot a second time and died. Also in room 206, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan may have shielded fellow student Guillermo Colman from more serious injury. Colman’s various accounts make it unclear whether this act was intentional or the involuntary result of Lumbantoruan being shot. Students barricaded the door of room 205 with a large table after substitute professor Haiyan Cheng (Chinese: 程海燕; pinyin: Chéng Hǎiyàn) and a student saw Cho heading toward them. Cho shot through the door several times but failed to force his way in. No one in that classroom was wounded or killed. Hearing the commotion on the floor below, Professor Kevin Granata took twenty students from a third-floor classroom into his office where the door could be locked. He then went downstairs to investigate and was shot and killed by Cho. None of the students locked in Granata’s office were harmed. Approximately ten to twelve minutes after the second attack began, Cho shot himself in his right temple with the Glock 19. He died in Jocelyne Couture-Nowak’s Intermediate French class, room 211. During this second assault, he had fired at least 174 rounds, killing thirty people and wounding seventeen more. All of the victims were shot at least three times each; of the thirty killed, twenty-eight were shot in the head. During the investigation, State Police Superintendent William Flaherty told a state panel that police found 203 live rounds in Norris Hall. “He was well prepared to continue on,” Flaherty testified. During the two attacks, Cho killed five faculty members and twenty-seven students before committing suicide by shooting himself. The Virginia Tech Review Panel reported that Cho’s gunshots wounded seventeen other people; six more were injured when they jumped from second-story windows to escape. Sydney J. Vail, the director of the trauma center at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, said that Cho’s choice of 9 mm hollow-point ammunition increased the severity of the injuries. The Virginia Tech Review Panel’s August 2007 report (Massengill Report) devoted more than 20 pages to Cho’s troubled history. At three years of age, Cho was described as shy, frail, and wary of physical contact. In eighth grade, Cho was diagnosed with severe depression as well as selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that inhibited him from speaking. While early media reports carried reports by South Korean relatives that Cho had autism, the Massengill Report stated that the relationship between selective mutism and autism was “unclear”. Cho’s family sought therapy for him, and he received help periodically throughout middle school and high school. Early reports also indicated Cho was bullied for speech difficulties in middle school, but the Virginia Tech Review Panel was unable to confirm this, or other reports that he was ostracized and mercilessly bullied for class-, height-, and race-related reasons in high school, causing some anti-bullying advocates to feel that the Review Panel was engaging in an authority-absolving whitewash. Supposedly, high school officials had worked with his parents and mental health counselors to support Cho throughout his sophomore and junior years. Cho eventually chose to discontinue therapy. When he applied and was admitted to Virginia Tech, school officials did not report his speech and anxiety-related problems or special education status because of federal privacy laws that prohibit such disclosure unless a student requests special accommodation. The Massengill Report detailed numerous incidents of aberrant behavior beginning in Cho’s junior year of college that illustrated his deteriorating mental condition. Several former professors of Cho reported that his writing as well as his classroom behavior was disturbing, and he was encouraged to seek counseling. He was also investigated by the university for stalking and harassing two female students. In 2005, Cho had been declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice and ordered to seek outpatient treatment. The Virginia Tech Review Panel Report faulted university officials for failing to share information that would have shed light on the seriousness of Cho’s problems, citing misinterpretations of federal privacy laws. The report also pointed to failures by Virginia Tech’s counseling center, flaws in Virginia’s mental health laws, and inadequate state mental health services, but concluded that “Cho himself was the biggest impediment to stabilizing his mental health” in college. The report also stated that the classification detail that Cho was to seek “outpatient” rather than “inpatient” treatment would generally have been legally interpreted at the time as not requiring that Cho be reported to Virginia’s Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and entered into the CCRE database of people prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Cho’s underlying psychological diagnosis at the time of the shootings remains a matter of speculation. One professor tried to get him to seek counseling, but Cho chose not to. Early reports suggested that the killings resulted from a romantic dispute between Cho and Emily Hilscher, one of his first two victims. However, Hilscher’s friends said she had no prior relationship with Cho and there is no evidence that he ever met or talked with her before the murders. In the ensuing investigation, police found a suicide note in Cho’s dorm room that included comments about “rich kids”, “debauchery”, and “deceitful charlatans”. On April 18, 2007, NBC News received a package from Cho time-stamped between the first and second shooting episodes. It contained an 1,800-word manifesto, photos, and 27 digitally-recorded videos in which Cho likened himself to Jesus Christ and expressed his hatred of the wealthy. He stated, among other things, “You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. … You just loved to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terror in my heart and ripping my soul all this time”. Media organizations, including Newsweek, MSNBC, Reuters, and the Associated Press, raised questions about and speculated on the similarity between a stance in one of Cho’s videos which showed him holding and raising a hammer, and a pose from promotional posters for the South Korean movie Oldboy. Investigators found no evidence that Cho had ever watched Oldboy, and the professor who made the initial connection to Oldboy has since discounted his theory that Cho was influenced by the movie. The Virginia Tech Review Panel concluded that because of Cho’s inability to handle stress and the “frightening prospect” of being “turned out into the world of work, finances, responsibilities, and a family,” Cho chose to engage in a fantasy in which “he would be remembered as the savior of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, and the rejected.” The panel went further, stating that, “His thought processes were so distorted that he began arguing to himself that his evil plan was actually doing good. His destructive fantasy was now becoming an obsession.” Police arrived within three minutes of receiving an emergency call but took about five minutes to enter the barricaded building. When they could not break the chains, an officer shot out a deadbolt lock leading into a laboratory; they then moved to a nearby stairwell. As police reached the second floor, they heard Cho fire his final shot; Cho’s body was discovered in Jocelyne Couture-Nowak’s classroom, room 211. In the aftermath, high winds related to the April 2007 nor’easter prevented emergency medical services from using helicopters for evacuation of the injured. Victims injured in the shooting were treated at Montgomery Regional Hospital (now Lewis-Gale Hospital Montgomery) in Blacksburg, Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Radford, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Holston Valley Hospital in Kingsport, Tennessee, and Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem. Orange balloons rising above Lane Stadium, with everyone in the stands wearing maroon or orange, and the stadium scoreboard in the background. Before their 2007 football opener, the Hokies released 32 balloons as a part of a ceremony in the victims’ memory. The university first informed students via e-mail at 9:26 a.m., about two hours after the first shooting, which was thought at the time to be isolated and domestic in nature. After the full extent of the shooting became evident, Virginia Tech canceled classes for the rest of the week and held an assembly and candlelight vigil on April 17. Norris Hall was closed for the remainder of the semester. The university offered counseling for students and faculty, and the American Red Cross dispatched several dozen crisis counselors to Blacksburg to help students. University officials also allowed students, if they chose, to abbreviate their semester coursework and still receive a grade. Within a day after the shootings, Virginia Tech, whose supporters call themselves “Hokies”, formed the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund (HSMF) to help remember and honor the victims. The fund was used to cover expenses including, but not limited to: assistance to victims and their families, grief counseling, memorials, communications expenses, and comfort expenses. Early in June 2007, the Virginia Tech Foundation announced that $3.2 million was moved from the HSMF into 32 separately-named endowment funds, each created in honor of a victim killed in the shooting. This transfer brought each fund to the level of full endowment, allowing them to operate in perpetuity. The naming and determination of how each fund would be directed was being developed with the victims’ families. By early June 2007, donations to the HSMF had reached approximately $7 million. In July 2007, Kenneth R. Feinberg, who served as Special Master of the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, was named to administer the fund’s distributions. In October 2007, the families and surviving victims received payments ranging from $11,500 to $208,000 from the fund. Also early in June 2007, the university announced it would begin reoccupying Norris Hall within a matter of weeks. The building is used for offices and laboratories for the Engineering Science and Mechanics and Civil and Environmental Engineering departments, its primary occupants before the shootings. Plans were to completely renovate the building and for it to no longer contain classrooms. The southwest wing of Norris Hall, where the shootings took place, was closed in 2008 and completely renovated in 2008 and 2009. The building now houses the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, the Biomechanics Cluster Research Center, and the Global Technology Center, as well as other programs. Ambler Johnston Hall was also closed and renovated. The east wing now houses the Honors Residential College, which opened in fall 2011; in fall 2012, the west wing reopened as the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston. After the release of the Massengill Report, some parents of those killed called for Virginia’s governor to relieve the university president, Charles Steger, and campus police chief, Wendell Flinchum, of their positions. However, Governor Tim Kaine refused to do so, saying that the school officials had “suffered enough”. A sea of candles shining in the darkness of the Drillfield with campus buildings on the opposite side. In the hours and days following the shooting, makeshift memorials to those killed or injured began appearing in several locations on the campus. Many people placed flowers and items of remembrance at the base of the Drillfield observation podium in front of Burruss Hall. Later, members of Hokies United, an alliance of student organizations on campus created to respond to tragedies placed 32 pieces of Hokie Stone, each labeled with the name of a victim, in a semicircle in front of the Drillfield viewing stand. What was originally termed an “intermediate memorial” was modeled after the makeshift memorial. Thirty-two upright blocks of Hokie Stone were engraved with the names of the victims and placed in a semicircle at the base of the reviewing stand. The original pieces of Hokie Stone placed by Hokies United were offered to the families of the victims. The engraved markers are embedded in a semicircle of crushed gravel with a brick walkway for viewing. There is ground lighting for nighttime illumination and two benches, one on either side of the memorial, in honour of the survivors.Tech students of South Korean descent initially feared they would be targeted for retribution. While no official claims of harassment were made, anecdotal evidence suggests that some Korean students were affected. The shootings occurred as prospective students were deciding whether to accept offers of admission from colleges and universities. Despite this timing, Virginia Tech exceeded its recruiting goal of 5,000 students for the class of 2011. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura attended the convocation at Virginia Tech the day after the shootings. The Internal Revenue Service and Virginia Department of Taxation granted six-month extensions to individuals affected by the shootings. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine returned early from a trade mission to Tokyo, Japan, and declared a state of emergency in Virginia, enabling him to immediately deploy state personnel, equipment, and other resources in the aftermath of the shootings. Governor Kaine later created an eight-member panel, including former United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to review all aspects of the Virginia Tech shooting, from Cho’s medical history to the school’s delay in warning students of danger and locking down the campus after the bodies of Cho’s first two victims were discovered. In August 2007, the panel concluded, among more than twenty major findings, that the Virginia Tech Police Department “did not take sufficient action to deal with what might happen if the initial lead proved erroneous”. The panel made more than seventy preventative recommendations, directed to colleges, universities, mental health providers, law enforcement officials, emergency service providers, law makers and other public officials in Virginia and elsewhere. While the panel did find errors in judgment and procedure, the ultimate conclusion was that Cho himself was responsible for his own actions, and to imply that anyone else was accountable “would be wrong”. The Review Panel validated public criticisms that Virginia Tech police erred in “prematurely concluding that their initial lead in the double homicide was a good one,” and in delaying a campus-wide notification for almost two hours. The report analyzed the feasibility of a campus lockdown and essentially agreed with police testimony that such an action was not feasible. The report concluded that the toll could have been reduced if the university had made an immediate decision to cancel classes and a stronger, clearer initial alert of the presence of a gunman. The incident also caused Virginia Commonwealth elected officials to re-examine gaps between federal and state gun purchase laws. Within two weeks, Governor Kaine had issued an executive order designed to close those gaps. Prompted by the incident, the federal government passed the first gun control law in more than a decade. The bill, H.R. 2640, mandates improvements in state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in order to halt gun purchases by criminals, those declared mentally ill, and other people prohibited from possessing firearms, and authorizes up to $1.3 billion in federal grants for such improvements. Both the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Rifle Association supported the legislation. The measure passed the United States House of Representatives on a voice vote on June 13, 2007. The Senate passed the measure on December 19, 2007. President Bush signed the measure on January 5, 2008. On March 24, 2008, the U.S. Department of Education announced proposed changes in the regulations governing education records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Certain of the changes address issues raised by the Virginia Tech incident and are intended to clarify for schools the appropriate balance to strike between concerns of individual privacy and public safety. When the citizenship of the shooter became known, South Koreans expressed shock and a sense of public shame, while the government of South Korea convened an emergency meeting to consider possible ramifications. A candlelight vigil was held outside the Embassy of the United States in Seoul. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun expressed condolences, saying that he hoped that the U.S. would recover quickly from the incident. Although Cho came to the U.S. as a third-grader and was a permanent resident of the U.S., many South Koreans felt guilt and mourned because they considered him a South Korean by “blood”. One South Korean commentator opined that South Korean fears of xenophobic reprisals from Americans against them were from a South Korean-centric perspective not applicable to U.S. culture. South Korea’s ambassador to the U.S. and several Korean American religious leaders called on Korean Americans to participate in a 32-day fast, one day for each victim, for repentance. The foreign minister, Song Minsoon, announced that safety measures had been established for South Korean citizens living in the U.S., in an apparent reference to fears of possible reprisal attacks. A ministry official expressed hope that the shooting would not “stir up racial prejudice or confrontation”. Some South Koreans criticized the fasting proposal, saying that it directed undue and irrelevant attention on Cho’s ethnicity and not other, more salient, reasons behind the shooting. News reports noted that South Koreans seemed relieved that American news coverage of Cho focused on his psychological problems. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) pulled its “Sparkling Korea” television advertisements, saying it would be inappropriate to air the ads featuring images of South Korea’s culture and natural beauty in between the news reports of the rampage.
DEC. 14, 2012 – 27 killed Sandy Hook Elementary School