updated 4/17/2007 11:34:58 AM ET 2007-04-17T15:34:58

Guests: Robert McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Matt Peterson, Joe Lackey, Brandon Renick, Trey Perkins

DAVID SHUSTER, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m David Shuster, in for Chris Matthews.  This is a HARDBALL special report: massacre at Virginia Tech, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. 

This morning, a gunman went on a rampage on a college campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.  He murdered 32 people, injured dozens of others, and only ended his shooting spree when he committed suicide. 

At this hour, investigators are still trying to piece together what happened this morning on the Virginia Tech campus.  Tonight, we will tell you everything we have learned about the killer‘s motive.  We will bring you the most gripping interviews we have seen today from students who witnessed the rampage and tried to block the killer‘s path.  And you will hear live from witnesses who saw the aftermath. 

Many questions are lingering tonight about the response by campus police, warnings to Virginia Tech students, even gun policies that enabled the killer to get his hands on his weapon of choice. 

But we start tonight with a campus community was rocked to its core and asking the question, why us? 

NBC‘s Kevin Corke is in Blacksburg, Virginia, and has this report on how the massacre unfolded. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Shortly after dawn, when many students were still sleeping, shots ring out inside the West Ambler Johnston dormitory on the sprawling Virginia Tech campus.  Nearly 900 students live there. 

The attack comes without warning on the fourth floor—the gunman shooting multiple students, killing at least two women, a student and a resident assistant. 

LAUREN STEELE, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT:  A boyfriend and girlfriend who were in a fight.  And the R.A. came out to help, and the boyfriend shot the girl and the R.A.

By 9:00 a.m., local news is reporting that one victim is dead, perhaps eight or nine wounded.  Students huddle in their rooms, scouring the Internet for any information, as the police frantically hunt for the shooter on the 2,600-acre campus. 

9:30 a.m., two hours after the first shots, on the opposite end of campus, classes are under way in Norris Hall, an engineering building.  A gunman—police won‘t say if it‘s the same man—unleashes another shooting rampage. 

Eyewitness Tres Perkins was in German class when the gunman burst in.

TRES PERKINS, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT:  He shot our teacher.  And then we all got on the ground real quick.  And he started just shooting around at different people.  I don‘t—I‘m not sure how long it lasted.  It felt like a really long time.  He didn‘t say “Get down.”  He didn‘t say anything.  He just came in and started shooting.

CORKE:  Outside Norris Hall, graduate assistant Jamal Albarghouti captured the sounds of gunfire on his cell phone camera. 

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, GRADUATE ASSISTANT, VIRGINIA TECH:  Many people were dead—were killed.  And we‘re really sad about that.

CORKE:  By the time police broke in, the gunman was dead.  He had taken his own life.  He still hasn‘t been identified. 

Noon:  The horror of the second shooting spree begins to sink in, and the death toll keep rising. 

As the day wore on, it became clear that almost 60 Virginia Tech students and faculty were dead or wounded.  Students were questioning why they weren‘t warned during the two hours between the first and second shooting. 

WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF:  We secured the building.  We secured the crime scene.  We had information that led us to believe that the building was secure and that the person had left the building. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  That was Kevin Corke reporting there from Blacksburg. 

One of the Virginia Tech students interviewed in Kevin‘s report is Tres Perkins, who was in a classroom when the gunman came in and opened fire. 

Listen to what he told MSNBC‘ Chris Jansing earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERKINS:  I was in my German class this morning.  I remember looking at my phone.  It was about 9:40, and we started to hear some loud pops.  But I—none of us really thought that it could have been gunshots, because it wasn‘t really loud like that. 

And then a guy comes into the room.  He shot our teacher.  And then we all got on the ground real quick, and he started shooting just around at different people.  I‘m not sure how long it lasted.  It felt like a really long time, but it was probably only about a minute or so. 

And then he finally left the room.  And myself and two other students, one of whom is Derek O‘Dell (ph), who was called in earlier—and we went up to the door and, like, put our feet against it to hold it shut in case he started to come back again.  And he started to open the door again and then started to shoot through the door, probably, four, five, maybe six shots. 

Fortunately, none of the shots hit anyone.  And he finally stopped trying to get in the room, and, I guess, continued on to other rooms, because we kept hearing shots.  And, after that, I just went around and tried to help people that were shot, just with, like, taking off my sweatshirt and just trying to stop any bleeding that I could, and just doing anything that I could to help people. 

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  What was the scene like in your room, after he was gone? 

PERKINS:  It was—I mean, it‘s so hard to describe, just people shot, blood pretty much everywhere, just completely unreal.  It is so hard to describe. 

JANSING:  Tres, did he say anything throughout this time? 

PERKINS:  Not a word.  He didn‘t say a single word the whole time, not...

JANSING:  So, there was never any indication of why he was doing this?

PERKINS:  Not at all.  He just—he didn‘t say get down.  He didn‘t say anything.  He just came in and started shooting. 

JANSING:  Did you get a good look at his face?  Can you at least describe how he looked?  Was he calm?  What did he look like? 

(CROSSTALK)

PERKINS:  He looked, I guess you could say serious.  I mean, just he didn‘t look frightened at all.  He didn‘t look angry.  He just looked, I mean, just like a straight face. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  That was an interview by MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing with Virginia Tech student Tres Perkins. 

Joining us now by phone, Virginia Tech senior Brandon Renick, freshman Matt Peterson, and senior Joe Lackey. 

And I want to Britain with Brandon. 

Brandon, you heard the gunshots this morning.  Describe where you were and what you saw and heard. 

BRANDON RENICK, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT:  I had just gotten out of my class.  And I was walking across the drill field in the direction of Norris, trying to get back to my car. 

And we could see the police officers around the drill field, but we didn‘t know what was going on.  And we could hear some pops.  But no one really knew what it was.  We all kind of stopped walking and looked at each other. 

And then it got louder.  And, at that point, we were pretty sure they were gunshots.  So, everyone ran back across the drill field and tried to take cover behind cars.  Or—you know, I ran into a dorm and hid with some other students.

SHUSTER:  And, Brandon, how quickly did you get information about what had been unfolding? 

RENICK:  At the time, we looked on people‘s computers, and tried to get stuff.  But there was so much traffic that we couldn‘t even get an Internet connection. 

So, we turned on the news.  And it seemed like information just couldn‘t get to us fast enough.  We didn‘t know what was going on.  We saw more cop cars moving around and even people getting pulled out of the building before it seemed like the news really knew what was going on. 

SHUSTER:  And senior Joe Lackey, you‘re with us by the—on phone as well.  And we have gotten a number of e-mails.  And I understand that you‘re pretty upset with the information that you weren‘t getting in these e-mails. 

Explain what you were hearing and how you heard about what was going on. 

JOE LACKEY, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT:  Right. 

Pretty much, I went to class at 9:05 this morning in McBride Hall, which adjacent to Norris.  And I had no idea what was going on , as far as the first shooting goes.  I know, during first shooting that occurred last August, we at least got an e-mail right away that said, hey, Virginia Tech campus is closed.  We have got somebody on the loose. 

But, this time, we had no warning. 

SHUSTER:  And just to be clear, Joe, just so I can clarify for our viewers, as you can see on our screen, the first shooting was reported at about 7:15 in the dormitory. 

And then the next series of shootings apparently happened in one of the school buildings, the science and engineering building, two hours later.

So, go ahead.  Pick up what you were hearing in that two-hour interim period. 

LACKEY:  Oh, OK.

Basically, I had no knowledge of the first shooting at 7:30.  Usually, Virginia Tech, in the event of any of these disasters, they would send us an e-mail, just telling us what is going on.  But we had no idea.  And, as I was coming out of class, I was walking to my car.  And I noticed that police car were everywhere. 

And, at that moment, I called my mother.  And she told me that there had been another shooting on Tech‘s campus. 

SHUSTER:  And, Joe, I imagine you‘re pretty upset with the lack of information?

LACKEY:  Yes, I am.  I mean, I don‘t understand how we got information right away concerning the William Morva case last August, but, this time, we didn‘t have any warning.  And they knew about this guy for two-and-a-half-hours.  So...

SHUSTER:  And, Joe, what have administration officials or people at the university explained to you and your fellow students today about what was going on in those two hours?  Have they apologized for the lack of information?  Have they said they—they messed up, as far as the e-mails? 

LACKEY:  No. 

Actually, I haven‘t heard any apology from the Virginia Tech campus at all.  Pretty much, during the second interview, they said that it seemed like it was an isolate—the first shooting was an isolated incident.  And they didn‘t see any reason to alarm the community, because they believed he was off campus. 

And, so, I mean, I don‘t understand.  I mean, when William Morva was -

when he escaped from the hospital, that he killed a security guard there, I mean, we were—I mean, we knew right away that this guy was on the loose.  But, this time, we had no idea that this guy was on the loose. 

SHUSTER:  And I want to bring in freshman Matt Peterson.

And, Matt, it was a freshman dormitory where the shooting started today.  Was that your dormitory?  And I understand that you did see some of the bodies being removed today? 

MATT PETERSON, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT:  Actually, I was in the dormitory right next to A.J., Richard (ph).  And I had got the e-mail saying that there had been a shooting in A.J.

And I didn‘t really think anything about it.  I mean, I was, of course, saddened by what had happened.  But you don‘t really think that much about it.  I just went ahead and went to class.  I had class at 10:00.  And I got that e-mail right around 9:30.  And, so, I made my way on to class. 

And then that was when I got on the drill field and heard the shots coming from Norris.  And I just turned around.  There was police cars all over the place, with guns drawn and everything.  And, actually, when I saw the bodies come out of Norris is when the intercom had gone over and told everybody that it was an emergency, to go back to class. 

And I ended up just staying, and I was viewing what was happening over at Norris.  And people were running out of the building with their hands in the air to make sure that they weren‘t the person with the gun.  And then I waited there probably about another 20 minutes, and then they started carrying people out. 

I saw, like, there wasn‘t even a stretcher, body bag, or anything.  It was just people getting carried out by ankles and wrists.  So...

SHUSTER:  And, Matt, were these people who were injured?  Or were these deceased?  Or what were you—were you seeing? 

PETERSON:  Well, what we had thought from what we could see was that they were deceased. 

I couldn‘t see somebody that was alive being carried by their—just by two people from their ankle and their wrists.  It wasn‘t like—the person definitely couldn‘t walk.  It didn‘t look they had any (INAUDIBLE) whatsoever.

SHUSTER:  And, finally, Matt, are you getting any sort of counseling tonight?  What is the university doing, in terms of an organized fashion, to try help with the grieving that all of you?

PETERSON:  Well, other than what I have heard on the news, I haven‘t hear about any kind of counseling or anything. 

But, I mean, I guess you can look into that.  But I haven‘t really gone into anything, other than watch the news. 

SHUSTER:  Well, and I imagine everybody is still in shock. 

But, hopefully, you will all get the counseling and support that you need, both from the university and also from the state and the country. 

Thank you very much to Brandon Renick, Joe Lackey, and Matt Peterson, have been through something unimaginable today for most of us. 

Coming up: the question of the gunman and whether there was just one gunman.  We will go live to Blacksburg and NBC‘s Kevin Corke.

And, coming up at 7:30 Eastern, officials at Virginia Tech will hold another news conference.

And we will bring that to you live.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the massacre at Virginia Tech. 

This afternoon, President Bush spoke about the tragedy.  Here‘s what -

some of what he said earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today, 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 today. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  That was President Bush late this afternoon. 

Governor Tim Kaine has cut short a trade mission in Tokyo, and he will be back in Virginia tomorrow. 

Bill Bolling is the lieutenant governor of Virginia.  And he joins us tonight from Richmond. 

And, Mr. Lieutenant Governor, first of all, about the gunman, I wonder, what is the latest information that state officials, police, have about the motive and about whether, in fact, there was just one gunman in this case? 

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR BILL BOLLING, VIRGINIA:  Well, David, all of that information will be coming from Virginia Tech and from the law enforcement officials in Blacksburg. 

But the last information that they have released is that the identity of the gunman is still under investigation.  Apparently, he did not have any identification on him at the time.  And they want to make sure that they get the names correct before they release that information as part of their ongoing investigation. 

My understanding is, they will be doing another briefing a little bit later this evening.  It is possible that they may have some additional information on that subject at that time. 

SHUSTER:  Mr. Lieutenant Governor, was the—Virginia Tech campus, were they prepared for this?  We just heard from some of the students, who seemed quite angry that, for two hours, the students didn‘t really know what was going on.  There was no lockdown after the initial shooting in a freshman dormitory. 

Are you satisfied with what happened? 

BOLLING:  Well, I don‘t think, David, anyone is ever prepared for something like this.  You do the best you can under the circumstances that you‘re dealing with. 

There will be a lot of questions asked, I am certain, in the days and weeks to come about the way this situation was handle. 

SHUSTER:  And how will those questions be asked?  Are you suggesting there will be some sort of formal commission?  Will you be asking them?

I mean, take us through, for people who are grieving and shocked that this could happen, how it is that the state of Virginia is going to look into this, because, after all, I mean, this was a public university. 

BOLLING:  Right. 

Well, right now, the focus is on getting the investigation completed.  Obviously, it is an ongoing investigation.  We need to find out exactly what happened when, and what actions were taken by university officials and when. 

And all of that will be determined in the course of this investigation.  And, when that investigation is completed, university officials, I am certain, law enforcement official and others, we will sit down and do a comprehensive review of the situation to find out exactly what happened. 

What we‘re trying to do right now is to get people to kind of keep their focus on the thing that matters most right now.  We have 33 people who have lost their lives today.  And we have parents who are still waiting to find out if their children are safe.  We have husbands and wives of...

SHUSTER:  Well, why is it that—I mean, here we are, we‘re almost 12 hours after the first shooting.  Why is it that there are some parents who still don‘t know whether their children are safe?

BOLLING:  Well, the university is trying very hard to make sure that they properly identify all of the victims, and make certain that they notify the parents before they release that information. 

They have been working hard on that throughout the day.  They will continue to do that.  Those notifications will be made as certain—as soon as the university is certain that they‘re—that they‘re properly identifying the right people.  The last thing you want to do is make...

SHUSTER:  But, Mr. Bolling, with all due respect...

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING:  ... a mistake in a situation of that nature.

SHUSTER:  Well, we—I understand that and respect that position. 

But, with all due respect, I mean, you‘re talking a lot about the university‘s responsibility.  What responsibility does the state of Virginia, yourself and the governor, feel right now, at this very hour, as far as dealing with the parents, both those who lost a child today and also those parents who still don‘t know what exactly happened?

BOLLING:  Well, we...

SHUSTER:  Don‘t you feel some responsibility for providing them that information? 

BOLLING:  Oh, I think we—we all want to make certain that the investigation is completed as quickly as possible, that the notifications are properly made (AUDIO GAP) 

SHUSTER:  OK.  Well, we‘re having...

BOLLING:  And I am confident that the university is in the process of doing that. 

The investigation, however, here is going to take time to complete.  It is not going to be completed in hours.  It may not even be completed in days.  But I am confident, when that investigation is completed, we will have answers to these questions. 

SHUSTER:  OK.

Thank you, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. 

And, of course, as we said, the governor, Tim Kaine, will be returning tomorrow. 

When we return, we will get the latest from NBC‘s Kevin Corke at Virginia Tech, where officials are getting ready for a new conference at 7:30 Eastern. 

And, if you were a witness to the shootings, we want to hear from you. 

Go to our Web site, MSNBC.com, and share your story, pictures or video.

And stay with MSNBC throughout the night.  At 10:00 Eastern, watch an MSNBC special report, “Massacre at Virginia Tech,” hosted by Alison Stewart. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In just a few minutes, at 7:30 Eastern, officials at Virginia Tech will hold a news conference, which we will bring to you live. 

MSNBC‘s Kevin Corke has been following the story.  And he joins us now from Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. 

And, Kevin, I wonder if you could clarify a couple things, first of all, this idea.  Have police really ruled out the possibility of a second gunman?  In other words, are police telling you they are absolutely confident there was just one gunman in this case? 

CORKE:  That‘s a very good question. 

Here‘s how they‘re playing it.  And they‘re doing so intentionally.  The idea that there could be another gunman is, at this point, not believed to be a really strong one.  However, they don‘t want to say right out that, yes, the same person that perpetrated the first heinous act this morning was also responsible for the second, unless and until they can make some cross-references. 

For example, they need to check the ballistics at both crime scenes.  They also need to try and sort of figure out, was there a fingerprint at one spot, David, that they can match with the other? 

And, as you know already, they‘re having a great deal of difficulty even identifying the perpetrator himself. 

Let me step aside.  The news conference is beginning. 

SHUSTER:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wanted to make a couple quick announcements to you all. 

As you know, we will have a press conference at—originally scheduled for 7:30 featuring Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, chief of police Wendell Flinchum, and associate vice president for university relations Larry Hincker. 

SHUSTER:  OK.  That‘s just the university spokesperson saying that they will have this news conference in five or six minutes. 

Again, just to review a couple of things that have been going on, you hear in our previous interview that this—this—the university is still desperately trying to keep some of the families inform, but is apparently failing to be able to keep some families informed about whether or not their sons or daughters are part of the deceased list. 

So, there‘s a lot of angst right now.  And you heard earlier in our show that some of the students themselves are increasingly infuriated with the two-hour lapse between the time of the initial shooting this morning in a freshman dormitory and two hours later, when a gunman went into the science and engineering building, and apparently continued the massacre there. 

There was some conflicting information.  Students were not told that the campus would be in lockdown.  And there are some questions about whether the university acted appropriately. 

We have had Kevin Corke from NBC News, who has been covering the story all day. 

And, Kevin, if you‘re still there, I want to go back to one thing that is still hanging over all this.  And that is the possible motive.  There have been some information reported on “Nightly News” that this young man who may have been—who committed suicide may have been angry at a girlfriend.  It‘s not entirely clear. 

What is the latest, as far as the motive that officials are attributing to the gunman in this case? 

CORKE:  Yes, you have heard what we have heard.

And I‘m going to keep my voice down just a little bit, David.  I hope you will bear with me...

SHUSTER:  Sure.

CORKE:  ... because the news conference, while it has not officially begun, they‘re handing out instructions, talking about phone numbers.  So, I am going to keep to it a dull roar, if you will. 

But we have heard the exact same thing you have heard, that this was apparently a domestic circumstance in the initial shooting.  And, so, they believe, officials here believe, that maybe there was an altercation between the gunman and perhaps a girlfriend.

A resident adviser, we‘re told, perhaps got in the way, and ended up being one of the victims. 

But the problem with that story is, because we don‘t have collaborative evidence, because we haven‘t been able to talk to people enough ourselves, we simply can‘t confirm it. 

Also, investigators are being very careful about that rumor, too, because they know that there are a number of people that were shot in that particular scene, the earlier—we‘re talking about the one around 7:15 this morning. 

They‘re still trying to interview these people and try and make sense of what happened.  But if what we have heard, if what you have heard is to be believed, it was a domestic circumstance early on.  There was a shooting early on.  Then that person, the gunman, didn‘t leave campus, apparently went over to Norris Hall.

And, of course, we all know what happened after that.  But, again, I can‘t confirm it, only because I haven‘t had a chance to speak with any of the folks who were impacted. 

I have talked to some students, by the way, who were in both buildings, either during the shooting or immediately thereafter.  And every single one has been saying the same thing.  Look, it was complete chaos here. 

And, so, you can imagine, from an investigative standpoint, how difficult it might be to try and come up with answers, when you had students really just trying to get out of the way in many cases, or, in the case of the second shooting, trying to get out of harm‘s way even in a locked room—David.

SHUSTER:  Kevin, great reporting, of course, today. 

And another question that you may not be able to answer, but that is sort of out there, and that is, there has been some indication from law enforcement officials that, at the second location, the gunman shot some of the students execution-style. 

Are any of those sorts of details coming out?  Is there any official confirmation about the ruthlessness, the way in which this gunman sort of went from classroom to classroom in that particular building? 

CORKE:  I—I did have a conversation with an official, a law enforcement official, here who was involved, who was on the campus, who is employed by the university. 

On complete background, I can‘t say who it was, but he hinted to me that that was the case.  And I asked him about that report.  And he said, that‘s what I have heard.  And I heard it.

And I said, well, from who?  Did you hear it from the news media?  Did you hear it from one of your co-workers? 

He said he heard it from one of his co-workers.  And, so, that could be the case, David, but, again, he said, look, I can‘t confirm that.  Don‘t use my name. 

But, when he said it, it really just sort of hits you in just the most awful way.  As if this isn‘t terrible enough, but that may be the case.  And it almost appears to be the case—David.

SHUSTER:  Kevin, is there any information that has come out yet as far as the breakdown of the number of people killed?  In other words, were these mostly students who were killed?  Were there faculty involved, professors?  We understand a resident adviser was shot as well. 

CORKE:  Yes. 

SHUSTER:  Give us a sense about that, if you have got it.

CORKE:  Yes, you‘re on the money. 

Unfortunately, we don‘t have a confirmation yet.  But we have heard, through fairly credible sources, that there was at least one faculty member also involved in this, which is really quite disturbing. 

And we‘re actually trying to confirm that as we speak.  But, obviously, the vast majority were students. 

You did mention the resident adviser.  But the last information I got was that a faculty member may have been injured in that second shooting, actually killed in that second shooting.  We‘re still working for confirmation, though.  Obviously, it would just be devastating, and adding to this senseless tragedy—David.

SHUSTER:  Kevin, we heard earlier in our program from some of the students who talked about their anger, their frustration about the two-hour time lapse between the first shooting and the second shooting...

CORKE:  Yes. 

SHUSTER:  ... and conflicting information, that there wasn‘t a lockdown.

We also heard from the lieutenant governor, who said that there is still some confusion as far as what the families are being told. 

Give us a sense, mixing all of this together, the great grief, the confusion, the anger, just what it is like being there in Blacksburg tonight, and how difficult this is for the students, for the faculty, even for the media that are trying to cover this. 

(CROSSTALK)

CORKE:  Yes, I will give you a sense. 

I was in Connecticut, southern Connecticut, on 9/11, and—which is like metro New York.  And you can imagine what it was like even weeks after 9/11, how people in coffee shops and neighbors would talk about this, and, as you drive into the city, the conversations back and forth. 

It is almost like that here.  You have to understand, this is a very close-knit, tight community, small community.  It‘s a college town.  They love their college football here.  Something like this happening here, people are asking very difficult questions. 

You may have seen, actually, earlier, David, in the earlier news conference this afternoon, right around 5:00 or so, some of the questions, very pointed, very passionate, for a reason.  Because people here want answers. 

They want to know, how is it that, if at 7:00, 7:15, some guy is on the loose, we don‘t have him, we haven‘t apprehended this person, we haven‘t arrested this person, how can it happen that, two hours later, that same person, presumably—and, again, we don‘t know that for sure—but the same person, presumably, kill another 30 people?

People are asking those hard questions here.  There is a lot of anger, a lot of emotion that I have seen here in not only this room, but all day long here in Blacksburg.  And I‘m sure we are going to see a lot more of that in the days to come. 

SHUSTER:  And, as we join Kevin Corke there in waiting for the officials news conference by the Virginia Tech president, I want to bring in Robert McDonnell, who is the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, who joins us tonight from Richmond, like the lieutenant governor. 

And, actually, I want to start, Mr. McDonnell, right there.  Why are you in Richmond tonight, as opposed to being in Blacksburg? 

ROBERT MCDONNELL, VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, we‘re going to Blacksburg tomorrow.  I‘m waiting for the governor to come back from his trip to—from Asia.  And we‘re going down to Blacksburg tomorrow. 

Tonight, we are trying to address as many things as we can here, marshal resources in Richmond to help provide all the support for law enforcement, for victims‘ families from Richmond. 

And, earlier today, we had the superintendent of the state police, our secretary of public safety physically go down to Blacksburg.  Unfortunately, with the weather, they couldn‘t fly, so they had to drive.  So, we had our law enforcement officers on the ground, helping to provide all the support for the investigation. 

But I‘m going down tomorrow with the governor. 

SHUSTER:  Just to underscore, I mean, Virginia Tech, for our viewers who don‘t know this—and we have mentioned this before—it is a public university.  In other words, it is a state-sponsored university. 

So, officials like Mr. McDonnell, the lieutenant governor, the governor, they essentially have authority over the university system. 

And, having said that, Mr. Attorney General, how responsible do you feel, as far as the reaction, or the possibly improper reaction, of law enforcement on the university campus today? 

MCDONNELL:  Well, I think, first and foremost, at this point, David, we‘re just—we‘re grieving for this terrific tragedy, this somewhat senseless loss of life. 

It is a wonderful campus at Virginia Tech.  It‘s a close-knit community of young people there to pursue their dreams.  And, then, to have a tragedy of this magnitude happen on that marvelous campus is really, it just shocks the conscience. 

And we have got law enforcement officers from the state police down there to support the town police, the local police, the campus police, to try to leave no stone unturned in the investigation. 

We don‘t have firm conclusions that have been report to me yet on a lot of facets of the investigation, David.  There are probably more questions than answers.  But I know we have got a lot of state police power down there on the scene. 

And they will, in due course, get to answer a lot of these questions and make the announcements at the proper time, so that everybody knows the best information we have about what happened. 

SHUSTER:  Given that the focus is appropriately with the families, how concerned are you that we just heard from lieutenant governor a short time ago that some of the families still don‘t have information about their loved ones, and whether their sons and daughters are among the deceased or the wounded?

Are you a bit concerned that it seems like there is a vacuum of information right now in Blacksburg? 

MCDONNELL:  Well, I am concerned. 

I have two nephews, personally, that are students at Virginia Tech.  In fact, one is an engineering major.  And we were scrambling ourselves for a while this morning to try to get through to check on my own relatives.  We stopped at 11:00 and brought in my managers and prayed for what was going on in Blacksburg, and did everything that we could to try to provide information. 

But, you know, the—this is a law enforcement operation.  The scope and horror of what they found, I think, in those couple of locations was so significant, that they had to process the evidence, at the same time, try to identify the victims, get the information to the families.  And all of that, with so many victims, took a tremendous amount of time. 

I think they were hampered, to some degree, by the weather, being able to get victims out of there who were still alive to the hospital, because they couldn‘t fly because of the weather.  So, it was not an easy task.  But there were law enforcement officers from all over the state that responded immediately to the scene. 

And I know they‘re going to get the questions answered that everybody wants to know, and make sure that the families have every—every question they can possibly answer answered. 

SHUSTER:  But, tonight, do you believe the families are getting everything that they deserve? 

MCDONNELL:  Well, that‘s my top priority at this point, is to find out what resources that we can provide at the state, local and federal level. 

We‘re already marshaling folks from our office to go down there, the victim witness people to assist the local prosecutors and the others that have victim resources down there.  We‘re going to have a convocation tomorrow at 2:00 on campus with all the university community. 

But every time that we can possibly provide from everything, from funeral expenses, to medical expenses, to lodging, everything that the state can provide to support these families, we‘re going to do.  It‘s my intent to do that.  I know the governor feels the same.  He‘s flying back from India as we speak to go down with us tomorrow. 

So, first and foremost, we grieve with these parents that are dealing with this senseless tragedy now.  And we are going to provide everything that we can to help get them through this. 

It‘s not going to be easy.  It‘s going to take a while.  But I have confidence that president Steger and his team are doing what they can do to provide what they know now. 

SHUSTER:  OK.  Mr. Attorney General, Robert McDonnell, attorney general of Virginia, thank you from.

And, again, we‘re waiting for an update from officials at Virginia Tech.  There was supposed to be a news conference starting a few minutes ago.  We expect it to start soon.  And we will bring it to you live when it happens. 

Virginia governor Tim Kaine, as you heard, is coming back from a trade mission in Asia.  Here‘s what he said just a few minutes ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  It is a very tragic day for us in Virginia.  And I regret very deeply having to arrive in Japan for our first visit, looking to some great opportunities with Japanese businesses and other friends here, and having to return to Virginia so quickly. 

But the incident earlier today at Virginia Tech has just shocked our commonwealth and our nation.  I have been on the phone since midnight with the president of the university, with President Bush, with state police and other law enforcement officials in Virginia.

And my wife and I feel very—very deeply that it is important that we be back with the students and their families and the university community to express our direct and sincere regret, and to help them with the healing process that begins now. 

Again, it is a very bitter day for Virginia.  It is sad to have to not carry forward on what I know is going to be a very wonderful set of days here in Japan.  But I know that people understand that it is important for me to be with Virginians in this troubling time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  That was Virginia Governor Kaine speaking in Asia. 

And he has—he, of course, is returning to the Commonwealth of Virginia tomorrow.

With us now is former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, who is also an MSNBC analyst. 

And, Clint, I kept recalling today that, in my own psychology class in school, we studied the University of Texas...

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  Sure.

SHUSTER:  ... school tower shooting, in which—clock tower -- 16 students were killed.  There was a lot of time focused on the killer. 

Tell us about how important it is to try to reconstruct, in this case, the killer at Virginia Tech and what that might tell us about how this unfolded. 

VAN ZANDT:  It really is, David.

I mean, what we need to do in each of these is do what we call a psychological autopsy.  We need to go back and look at the killer.  We need to look at what prompted this. 

You know, I mean, this guy didn‘t just wake up today and say, I think I will commit the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States.  We know he—he assembled the guns, the ammunition.

We know he had—supposedly had a chain to close that door.  So, all of these things took some type of time and pre-planning.  What the authorities need to determine is, of course, from the investigative side, did anybody help him?  Did he accumulate the weapons by himself?

But, you know, more importantly, I think, what are the lessons learned in this?  Are there pre-incident indicators that should have been known?  Did anybody help him?  If not, what—you know, did he say something?  Did he do something?  Did he flag himself as a potential mass murderer, and people around him just missed it? 

We say we‘re not our brothers‘ keepers, but on a campus of 26,000, sometimes, you need to be.  Is there a way we can offer a course to freshmen on pre-incident indicators of someone who is challenged in their life? 

I don‘t know what it is.  I don‘t want to engage in psychobabble, but we have to come away with something from this, other than just the tragedy of it.  We have to learn. 

SHUSTER:  Especially, because, so many students, their initial onset of psychosis or depression is at the age when they are in college.  And there have been a lot of questions in recent years about the responsibility of universities to make sure that their students don‘t essentially fall through cracks, and that their dormitory mates are able to keep track of what‘s going on. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes. 

The question is, who is taking the emotional pulse of 26,000 students? 

And you multiply that by tens of thousands of times across this country. 

You and I, when we were in college, we could be anxious. We could be depressed.  You know, I mean, my freshman year was less than stellar.  And I‘m quick to admit that.  But, just because I was unhappy with my grades or my finances or my girlfriend, that doesn‘t mean I‘m going to act out. 

But, you know, my roommate or the people around me, the guys I played softball with, somebody would have had an idea that, hey, Clint is not his old self.  He is doing something different.  Now you have to factor in, too, if this individual is actually an Asian, as we‘re told, were there special pressures on him, because of his culture, his academic background, his parents?  We just don‘t know. 

SHUSTER:  The news conference, of course, is about to begin in Blacksburg. 

So, let‘s listen. 

LARRY HINCKER, ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT FOR UNIVERSITY RELATIONS,

VIRGINIA TECH:  Again, for the record, my name is Larry Hincker.

I‘m associate vice president for university relations.  We have been assembled, trying to reconstruct a timeline to address as many of the questions that you all had earlier. 

President Steger will speak from that timeline.  I‘m trying to have copies made for it.  I will also have it posted just as quickly as possible on our Web site.  And then, immediately after president Steger speaks, then we will take questions from the chief of police and the president and anybody else up here who you may wish to speak to. 

CHARLES STEGER, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA TECH:  Well, thank you, Larry.

I‘m going to just go through the timeline, because I know it was the subject of some discussion earlier. 

At 7:15 a.m., Virginia Tech Police receive a 9/11 call to respond to a dormitory room at West Ambler Johnston residence hall.  Within minutes, Virginia Tech Police and the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad respond to find two gunshot victims, a male and a female, inside a dormitory room within the hall. 

The residents hall was immediately secured by the Virginia Tech Police Department.  And students within the hall were notified and asked to remain in their rooms for their safety.  Virginia Tech Police immediately secured the room for evidence collections and began questioning dorm residents and identifying potential witnesses. 

In the preliminary stages of the investigation, it was believed the deaths were an isolated incident, domestic in nature.  Blacksburg Police Department were also on the scene, assisting the Virginia Tech Police with establish ago a safety perimeter around the residence hall and securing Washington Street. 

At 7:30 a.m., investigators were following up on leads concerning a person of interest in the relation to the double homicide.  Investigators from the Virginia Tech Police and Blacksburg police were actively following up on various levels. 

At 8:25, the Virginia tech leadership team assembles—that includes me and the other senior officers of the institution—and began assessing the developing situation at the residence hall, and determining a means of notifying students of the homicide. 

At 9:00 a.m., the team was briefed.  They had had a chance to interview a number of witnesses by then on the situation, and Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum on the latest developments in the ongoing investigation. 

At 9:26, the Virginia Tech community—that‘s all faculty and students—that‘s about 36,000 e-mails—were notified of the homicide investigation, and seen at West Ambler Johnston residence hall, and asked to report any suspicious activity. 

The Virginia Tech emergency weather line recordings were also transmitted, and a broadcast telephone conference was made to campus phones.  A press release was drafted and posted on the Virginia Tech site. 

At 9:45, the Virginia Tech police received a 911 call of a shooting at Norris Hall.  This building contains faculty, offices, classrooms, and laboratories.  The Virginia Tech Police and the Blacksburg Police immediately responded to Norris Hall, notice in leadership command center, via our police representatives, of the shooting that was going on. 

We were actually having a meeting about the earlier shooting when we got word on the radio that another shooting was under way. 

Upon arrival to Norris, the officers found the front doors barricaded.  Within a minute, the officers breached the doors, which had been chained shut from the inside.  Once inside the building, the officers heard gunshots.  They followed the succession of gunshots to the second floor. 

Just as officers reached the second floor, the gunshots stopped.  The officers discovered the gunman, who had taken his own life.  There was never any engagement between the responding officers and the gunman. 

And, at 9:55, by the same means as prior notice, Virginia Tech notified campus community of the second murder scene.  Other notifications followed via other means. 

So, we would be happy to respond to questions at this point. 

Chief.

QUESTION:  What are we hearing in terms of conditions of the students that are still in the hospital and maybe names of some of the victims? 

WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF:  We are still in the process of notifying the families of the victims.  It‘s an ongoing process.  They have not all been notified.

As far as conditions of people in the hospital, I do not have that information at this time. 

QUESTION:  Do you know how many students—I know, last time we checked, you had trouble with how many students were shot and killed, how many professors?  Have you been able to get an update on that?

FLINCHUM:  We do not. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Has the shooter been identified as a student or someone who didn‘t belong here?

FLINCHUM:  I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t hear the first part of your question. 

QUESTION:  The shooter himself, what can you tell us about the shooter?  Was that a student? 

FLINCHUM:  We have a preliminary I.D. that I‘m not prepared released to release yet.  But the investigation is ongoing.  And we are making progress.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... what happened in the classroom, as you understand it?  What are the witnesses telling you?  We understand that some people maybe jumped from some of the windows.  And we understand that perhaps the shooter may have come back to the classroom, after leaving at one point. 

Can you tell us anything about that?

FLINCHUM:  I do not have all the details.  As I said earlier, there were a couple of people who did jump out of a window in that building. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Were any surveillance cameras at either location? 

FLINCHUM:  No, there is not. 

QUESTION:  Are you looking for anybody else? 

FLINCHUM:  We are still actively investigating this case.  And we are following up on all leads, yes. 

QUESTION:  But is there another gunman? 

FLINCHUM:  Again, we are following all leads and information as we get it. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Does your preliminary identification of the gunman found dead match the person of interest from the dorm?  Is that the same suspect? 

FLINCHUM:  No, it is not. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Chief, what can you tell us about the weapons? 

FLINCHUM:  We have recovered two weapons.  I‘m not prepared to release what type they were.  But we have recovered two weapons. 

QUESTION:  Handguns? 

FLINCHUM:  Again, I‘m not prepared to release the type of weapons they were. 

QUESTION:  Do you believe the shooter brought the chains into the building?

FLINCHUM:  We don‘t know at this point. 

QUESTION:  Were the chains there before? 

QUESTION:  Chief, were all of the doors...

QUESTION:  Were the chains there before, Chief? 

FLINCHUM:  I do not know. 

QUESTION:  Chief, what was happening after the first shooting?  What happened after the first shooting?  What was the disposition of your search for a suspect?  How did another shooting happen? 

FLINCHUM:  In the first incident, based on the preliminary information that we had, we began investigation, looking into different leads. 

As that investigation progressed, we identified the person of interest, which we worked toward obtaining witness information.   So, it  was an ongoing process, and took some time to get that done. 

Keep in mind, we—when we first got there, we had to figure out exactly what we had first.  So, it did take some time to get all that in place and going. 

QUESTION:  Have you found that person of interest? 

FLINCHUM:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  Chief, can you at least tell us if this was a student or not? 

FLINCHUM:  Again, it‘s preliminary.  I don‘t want to release that information, until we are absolutely certain of what—who this person is. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  I have a question. 

In the other school shootings that have happened in the past, what made this so different that over 30 lives were lost?  What were the differences? 

FLINCHUM:  I don‘t have the answer for that. 

QUESTION:  Why are you reluctant to tell us what types of weapons (OFF-MIKE)

FLINCHUM:  Part of it is, we are still—the ATF is helping us with ballistics.  And what they are doing is comparing the ballistic evidence from the first homicide to the incident at Norris Hall.  So, at this time, we are declining to release those type of weapons. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Is that person of interest in custody?

FLINCHUM:  No.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Is he alive?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... incidences are related?  I know, the last time, you said that you were still trying to investigate that.  Do you believe they are both related now, or are you...

FLINCHUM:  That is still ongoing. 

And part of it going to tell us once we get the ballistic evidence back. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Sir, you said there is a person of interest in custody?

FLINCHUM:  No.  There is no one in custody. 

QUESTION:  That person was one of the victims? 

FLINCHUM:  No. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  You are sort of implying that the first shooter was not the same as the second shooter.  So, what can—can you clarify what the connection is?

FLINCHUM:  I‘m not implying that. 

QUESTION:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

FLINCHUM:  What I‘m saying is, we‘re... 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  You are sort of intimating that somebody is still out there. 

FLINCHUM:  No.  That‘s not what I‘m saying; there is someone still out there.  I‘m not saying there is not. 

We are trying to determine whether the two incidents are connected. 

Part of that will be the ballistic tests that we are having done. 

(CROSSTALK)

FLINCHUM:  I‘m sorry.  Everyone is talking at one time. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Was the shooter known to the police before?

FLINCHUM:  The person we have preliminarily identified?

QUESTION:  Yes. 

FLINCHUM:  Not to my knowledge. 

QUESTION:  Is the first person of interest still a person of interest?

FLINCHUM:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  What‘s the evidence that it was a domestic dispute, the first shooting?

FLINCHUM:  It‘s based on the preliminary information we obtained from the officers on the first scene as they began their investigation, talking to the witnesses. 

QUESTION:  Chief, could you say that the description of the first student, the dormitory incident, that description of that suspect does not fit the description of the gunman who you found dead in Norris Hall?

FLINCHUM:  I have never released a description of the suspect in the dorms. 

QUESTION:  Is that what you just said earlier...

QUESTION:  You said that earlier.

QUESTION:  ... about five minutes ago?

(CROSSTALK)

FLINCHUM:  I‘m not sure—I‘m not sure I released a description.  If I did, that‘s not what I was implying. 

We identified a person from that first investigation that led us to that person as a person of interest. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Chief, can you describe what Norris Hall looked like when you got there? 

FLINCHUM:  It‘s probably one of the worst things I have seen in my life. 

QUESTION:  Can you describe it? 

FLINCHUM:  Not at this time. 

QUESTION:  Does the person of interest and the person that you have—

I mean, the person that you believe you identified from the first instance, does that match the person that you have preliminarily identified in the second? 

FLINCHUM:  No.  They‘re not the same person. 

QUESTION:  So, what would you say to... 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... the safety of this campus, if you are possibly are still looking for someone?

FLINCHUM:  Again, before we can comment on whether they‘re related, we‘re still waiting for lab results to come back.  We are still doing investigations.  There is a lot of work to be done yet before we jump to a conclusion that it is connected or is not connected. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  You said that it was a domestic, isolated incident that you believed.  What led you to believe that the first incident was of a domestic nature? 

FLINCHUM:  As I stated earlier, it was the information we obtained from the officers who arrived on scene first, based on witnesses. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  How soon before we...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... ballistic information?

FLINCHUM:  I don‘t know the timeline on that information. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Can you tell us something about—is it two hours (OFF-MIKE) from the first murders.  Do you think you should have shut the campus down and locked it down on any murder, for any reason?  A murder is a murder. 

FLINCHUM:  We acted the best information we had at the time. 

What you need to understand is, this is a campus of over 2,600 acres, well over 100 buildings, 26,000 students, faculty and staff.  A lockdown or shutdown does not happen in seconds. 

You also need to understand, at the time the first incident happened, there were people on their way to campus, to come to work, to come to class.  Getting notification to them was very difficult. 

So, we made the best decision, based on the information we had at the time. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... at Norris Hall?

FLINCHUM:  I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t hear all of your question. 

QUESTION:  Can you tell us any more about the scene at Norris Hall?  Where did you find the suspected gunman?  And were there multiple (INAUDIBLE) scenes at Norris Hall?  Or was (INAUDIBLE) 

FLINCHUM:  We are treating the entire building as a crime scene. 

There is more than one location in Norris Hall. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Do you believe these shootings were execution-style? 

FLINCHUM:  I do not know. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Have lockdown procedures changed?

FLINCHUM:  Excuse me? 

QUESTION:  Have lockdown procedures changed?

FLINCHUM:  I‘m sure, after all this is over, we will all sit down and talk about this incident, what we could do better, what we did right, and those type things.  Whether they‘re going to change or not, I couldn‘t tell you.

QUESTION:  How many doors at Norris were chained, and how many were (INAUDIBLE)  

FLINCHUM:  I do not have the answer to that. 

I know for certain that two were chained. 

QUESTION:  Were they like...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... type?

FLINCHUM:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  Sir, several times, you have stated that the school is a large campus.  Do you think they need a larger police force to be able to handle the (INAUDIBLE) of the students?

FLINCHUM:  Given that a campus is an open society—and, by nature, most colleges are like that—the public is free to come on.  You cannot put an officer in every room.  I think we have an adequate police department, adequate support from the university. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Chief, you said the person of interest is still a person of interest.  Have you talked to this person?  Do you know where they are? 

FLINCHUM:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  You have talked to this person of interest?

FLINCHUM:  Yes.  

QUESTION:  Is the person of interest in custody, then?

FLINCHUM:  No.

QUESTION:  Is he in custody?

QUESTION:  Not in custody?

FLINCHUM:  No.

QUESTION:  Why is still a person of interest?

FLINCHUM:  As our investigation continues, until we rule him out, he remains a person of interest. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  President Steger?

STEGER:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  A question:  I have talked to several students at the university so far, some of whom live in that dorm.  And (INAUDIBLE) almost none of them seemed to be aware that anything had happened, until almost 10:00.  How could that be? 

STEGER:  Well, their resident advisers were going up and down the halls, trying to notify everybody there as soon as we were aware. 

We also closed the building, and had it surrounded by security people.  So, how they didn‘t know about that, I can‘t explain.  But we certainly made every effort to do it immediately. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Any staff members injured or killed?

FLINCHUM:  I‘m sorry?

QUESTION:  Any staff members—any staff from the university injured or killed? 

FLINCHUM:  Yes, there was. 

QUESTION:  Can you tell us how many?

FLINCHUM:  I do not have the number of how many, but there were staff members that were deceased. 

QUESTION:  Chief, are you looking for a suspect still?

FLINCHUM:  I keep going back to what I said.  We are actively pursuing all leads in this investigation to determine whether they are or are not related.  We‘re...

QUESTION:  Is there someone out there on the loose or not? 

FLINCHUM:  Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION:  Chief, why is the person of interest not in custody?

FLINCHUM:  Because they‘re a person of interest.  We don‘t have a crime to charge him with.  We don‘t have anything to charge with him, probable cause, yet.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Are they related to the—the shooter? 

FLINCHUM:  Excuse me?

QUESTION:  The person of interest, are they connected to the shooter? 

Are they related?

FLINCHUM:  We do not know that yet, whether they are or are not.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  The victims at the dorm, Chief, do they any connection and relation to the shooter and/or the person of interest? 

FLINCHUM:  We‘re still trying to determine that. 

QUESTION:  Chief, have you ruled out murder-suicide in the incident at the dorm? 

FLINCHUM:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  President Steger, this is a horrible thing.  We wish it didn‘t happen.  Are you satisfied with the decision-making that the leadership team...

STEGER:  Well, I went through the timeline.  And I think it is very important that, before you take these actions, you know what the facts are, and you take some time to do that. 

Based on that, I think we did everything we could, based on what we knew at that time, as you appreciate, that you only have minutes to take these actions, and we certainly don‘t want to take actions that are inappropriate.  But we did everything we thought we should do. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Did you consider blocking off the roads into the campus?  Did you consider telling everybody to just go and go quickly?  You waited a long time.

FLINCHUM:  Well, it is—leaving the campus is a significant event. 

If you remember, we have 9,000 on campus, but we have 26,000 altogether.  If you add together our part-time and full-time employee, we have 10,000 employees.  And we also have, on any given day, literally several thousands of visitors. 

So, we did block off Washington Street immediately.  That‘s the street next to the Ambler Johnston dorm.  And, then, subsequently, of course, we shut down the entire campus with barricades, so no one could come in.  But it is not that can happen instantaneously, I guess is my point.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Chief, is—the dead suspect have prior military; do you know?  And is that person Asian—of Asian background?

FLINCHUM:  I do not know.  Again, the identification is preliminary.  And we will try to have that information when we get to the next press conference. 

(CROSSTALK)

FLINCHUM:  I can‘t hear everyone if they‘re shouting. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Why were the residents in the dorm not immediately informed by officers?  Why did the information have to go from the officers to the university to the R.A.? 

FLINCHUM:  We secured the building, West A.J., as soon as the officers were there. 

Officers were in the hallways.  We were searching for witnesses. 

There were people notified. 

QUESTION:  Chief, in an earlier press conference, you guys mentioned -

you guys knew about this about 8:25.  At 8:25 in the timeline (INAUDIBLE)

Why did it take a whole hour, from 8:25 to 9:26 for them to notify everyone?  Why couldn‘t the e-mails be sent as soon as you were (INAUDIBLE) 

STEGER:  Well, we were trying to determine what had happened, and interviewing witnesses and things of this sort.  And, until you know what the facts are, it is difficult to craft whether appropriate response is. 

QUESTION:  But it was determined that there was a shooting?

STEGER:  We knew that there was a shooting, but we thought it was confined to that particular setting. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Chief, you made a conscience decision that you thought that this was an isolated event.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  What was it about the first shooting—and I know you said witnesses.  Can you give us some specificity about what made you feel confident that this was an isolated shooting? 

FLINCHUM:  Again, it was based on the information that the officers obtained when they first arrived on scene.  We evaluated that.

As it went on, we had difficulty locating a key witness.  Once we did that, we moved forward.  And, at the time of the Norris Hall incident, we were still active—we had found the person of interest off campus, in conjunction with the Blacksburg Police Department, and was conducting an interview at that time, when the second incident happened. 

QUESTION:  What time did you find the person of interest?  Was it before the second shooting?

SHUSTER:  OK.  You‘re listening to Virginia Tech officials and campus police talking about the incident today. 

When they refer to the person of interest, we believe that was somebody who may have known about or provided the guns, perhaps, to the killer in this particular case. 

As far as the shooter in the shooting, the campus police say that they do have a preliminary identification, but they are not releasing it.  We did not hear a motive, although there were references to this event starting with a domestic dispute. 

Again, another big question that came out of this, two hours and 11 minutes, that was the time from the report of the first 911 call to the time in which students were notified.  That—there are going to be a lot of questions about that, also questions about why campus police are still in charge of the biggest killing in U.S. history of a shooting spree. 

In any case, on behalf of Clint Van Zandt and MSNBC‘s Kevin Corke, I‘m David Shuster. 

Our coverage continues now on “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN.”

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET

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