- (Photo: AP / The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)
At least 32 people have been killed and more than 26 people injured in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.
A gasp could be heard Monday at a Virginia Tech campus news conference when the police chief said at least 20 people had been killed, The Associated Press reported. Previously, only one person was thought to have been killed on the campus, which has 25,000 full-time students.
"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, according to AP. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."
President Bush, who spoke with both Steger and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine after the shootings, also expressed the nations shock and sadness over the incident.
Laura and I and many across our nation are praying for the victims and their families and all the members of the university community who have been devastated by this terrible tragedy, he told Steger and Kaine, according to a released statement. I told them that my administration would do everything possible to assist with the investigation, and that I pledged that we would stand ready to help local law enforcement and the local community in any way we can during this time of sorrow.
According to reports, the shootings took place at opposite sides of the 2,600-acre (1,050-hectare) campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. EDT with one student killed at West Ambler Johnston, a coed residence hall that houses 895 people, and continuing about two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building.
Police said they were still investigating the shooting at the dorm when they got word of gunfire at the classroom building.
Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community, Bush commented.
It was not clear if the gunman, who also died during the rampage, was a student or if he died from police or took his own life. Investigators have also offered no motive for the attack.
Today, our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech, Bush stated. 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 today.
Before Monday, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history took place in 1966 at the University of Texas, where Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people from the 28th-floor observation deck of a clock tower, before he was gunned down by police. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard drove his pickup into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, before shooting himself.