updated 4/18/2007 11:11:41 AM ET 2007-04-18T15:11:41

Guests: Trey Perkins, Clint Van Zandt, Paul Helmke, Eugene Robinson


We are joining you live from the campus of Virginia Tech University here in Blacksburg, Virginia, the site of one of the most profound tragedies in recent American history. 

A 23-year-old senior English major named Cho Seung-Hui killed 33 people, including himself, here yesterday. 

The sun has come out.  It‘s turning into a beautiful day, but sadness hangs heavy over this campus.

The main unanswered question, why did he do it? 

For answers to that, we go now to NBC‘s Patty Culhane, who is outside the killer‘s parents house in Centreville, Virginia—Patty.

PATTY CULHANE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, I can tell you that police came to this house about an hour-and-a-half last night. 

When we arrived on the scene, we did find a bullet in the driveway.  We had some video of that.  Police picked it up with an evidence bag.  But we are not sure if that was evidence they had gotten from the house and dropped, or if maybe a police officer had dropped it. 

I can tell you, this is a middle-class neighborhood.  These are townhouses.  They are very close together.  But almost none of the neighbors seems to know anything about this family. 

We talked to a mailman.  He said that they were very nice.  They were polite people.  They would smile.  We believe he had little sister.  The parents were often going off to work.

But, as far as who he was, it doesn‘t seem like anyone in this neighborhood really knew him.  I can tell you that I spoke with a source in the federal government today.  And he said that Cho has a very long history of mental illness.  As far as the details of that, we‘re not sure. 

There is an interesting—it may be a coincidence, or it may not have been.  There was a victim who went to the very same high school as Seung Cho, and that she graduated three years behind them.  We‘re not sure if they knew each other in high school.

Probably, the most information we are going to get about this young man is through his writings.  We are started to see those get posted on the Internet from the people who went to Virginia Tech with him.

One person told me, it was like reading a nightmare.  And they said—posted on the Internet, and I read this.  It said that the moment they heard about the shooting, they said, I bet it was Seung Cho, because his writings, his plays were just so disturbing.

CARLSON:  You said, Patty, he had a history of mental illness known to the federal government.  Or at least they have discovered it in retrospect.

What were the indications of that? 

CULHANE:  You know, we have been looking into that, and we really have not been able to get any more details on this.

But, if you look at what some of his classmates say about his writing

for example, one play that we read about, it described pedophilia and a child who had been molested, who then went after his stepfather with a chain saw, ended up suffocated him with a Rice Krispie treat. 

One of his fellow students wrote that, you know, I just—it was so horrific, the writing, that I couldn‘t even imagine where it would have come from. 

So, people—and this other student said that, it was so disturbing, that, if he had known who to contact and who to tell that this young man was troubled, he would have.

But he said back in—during class, when they would all look at each other‘s plays, they actually said, I wonder what I would do if he ever came in with a gun—Tucker.

CARLSON:  Interesting.

Patty, apparently, in Cho‘s note, the multi-page note that he reportedly left behind after the first killing, but before the second, in his dorm room, he rails against rich kids. 

Describe the neighborhood.  Is it a working-class neighborhood?  Does it seem like he was from a privileged background, upper-middle-class?  What did his parents do?  Set the economic scene for us. 

CULHANE:  Well, you know, it‘s our understanding that he moved here when he was in late elementary school, early high school, from Korea with his parents.

We understand that the family has lived in this neighborhood for several years.  This is Centreville, Virginia.  It‘s a little bit on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.  I would describe it as middle to upper-middle class.  These are townhomes.  And anything who knows anything about D.C. real estate knows it‘s pretty expensive to live anywhere near the city.

And so I would describe it as upper-middle class—the high school that he went to, a very large high school, between 3,500 and 4,000 people.

So, basically, you know, we‘re trying to figure out what his parents did.  But the neighbors say that his parents were often seen going to work, driving the young girl to school. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.

And, finally, Patty, there was a report that, after he turned in one of these plays or English papers in his creative writing class—Patty, I‘m going to actually ask you to hold it right there.

We‘re going to go now quickly to a press conference in progress at one of the local area hospitals where many of the wounded have been treated.  It‘s going right now.


SCOTT HILL, CEO, MONTGOMERY REGIONAL HOSPITAL:  ... give you a little more detail than I have been able to give you.

Before we get started, let me just go ahead and give you a real quick update on the patients here in—at Montgomery Regional. 

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) spell everybody‘s names?

HILL:  Yes, absolutely.

My name is Scott Hill—S-C-O-T-T H-I-L-L.  I‘m the CEO of the hospital. 

This is.

Go ahead, Dr. Stoeckle.  Introduce yourself and spell your name.


I‘m Dr. David Stoeckle.  I‘m chief of surgery at the hospital and was involved from start to finish with our hospital yesterday.  And...

QUESTION:  Can spell your name...



HILL:  Let Dr. Wheeling, and then I will make a brief...


HOSPITAL:  And I‘m Dr. Holly Wheeling—H-O-L-L-Y W-H-E-E-L-I-N-G.  And I‘m an emergency department physician here at the hospital, and was also present all day yesterday. 

HILL:  So, a real quick update on the patients here at the hospital.

All of our patients are still in stable condition, which is a good thing.  We‘re very happy about that.

We did discharge one patient earlier today.  And two patients have been discharged from Lewis-Gale Hospital.  And they still have one in that facility that is in table condition.

Again, you have met the two—the two doctors who have introduced themselves.  Dr. Stoeckle is our chief of staff—I mean—I‘m sorry—chief of surgery here at Montgomery Regional Hospital.  He‘s a general concern.  And Dr. Wheeling is an emergency room physician. 

Both were involved in the incident, care and treatment of these patients yesterday from start to finish.

so, I will let them step up and take you all‘s questions. 

QUESTION:  How many patients total? 

HILL:  You know, I have given those numbers already multiple times.  I think we—as of this morning, we had nine patients in the hospital.  We have discharged one, so that means there‘s eight remaining, all in stable condition.

At one point in time, Lewis-Gale had five in the hospital.  My count is that four have been discharged and one is remaining there in stable condition.  Those are...

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) ICU in either hospital?

HILL:  We do have patients in the ICU, yes.  I don‘t know about Lewis-Gale.  We do here at Montgomery Regional.

QUESTION:  How many do you have here? 

HILL:  I think we have three right now, three or four, if I‘m not mistaken.

All right. 

QUESTION:  When you say they‘re in critical condition—or, rather, they are in stable, they are not in critical condition? 

HILL:  They are not in critical condition, correct. 

QUESTION:  Have any of the patients who were brought in yesterday died (OFF-MIKE)

HILL:  No. 

QUESTION:  In either facility, here or Lewis-Gale?

HILL:  No.

You all ready for the physicians?



QUESTION:  Can you talk about the two other hospitals that are being treated, the two other nearby hospitals that are...

HILL:  No. 

You know what?  I have spoken with the administration at both Carilion New River Valley Medical Center and Roanoke Memorial Hospital.  And, really, you all need to get the updates from them on those patients‘ statuses. 

And I am so grateful for their assistance in this situation.  They have been a key component of the treatment of these patients also. 

Go ahead.  You all—both of you step up.

QUESTION:  Doctor, take—take us through what you were told, what you anticipated, and then what you saw. 

STOECKLE:  Well, basically, yesterday morning,. we had a gold alert trauma alert called, which, in the state of Virginia, means that there are multiple very serious injuries coming to the hospital.  That sets in motion multiple telephone calls that literally mobilize every physician that we might need for it.

And it became very apparent very quickly this was not a one-physician mobilization.  By the time the first student hit the emergency room, we had three general surgeons there.  We had orthopedic surgeons there.  We had anesthesia.  We had all the ancillary services at the hospital there.  We had cardiopulmonary there.  We had radiology there.  We had the lab people there.  We had all the...

WHEELING:  Additional emergency physicians were called in.

STOECKLE:  Yes.  Yes. 

WHEELING:  Additional physician assistants called in. 

STOECKLE:  And all of those people responded very, very quickly.  I mean, it was...

WHEELING:  Additional nurses came back in. 

STOECKLE:  It was...

QUESTION:  Dr. Stoeckle, you said that you did receive a trauma alert. 

Tell us, now that you have had time, in hindsight, what was going through your mind when you were seeing all of these children, in essence, being brought in to the emergency room? 

STOECKLE:  You know, when you are in the middle of something like that, you just take care of it. 

WHEELING:  Yes, one after another.

STOECKLE:  And—and it‘s—you‘re not—you‘re not—there‘s not things flooding through your mind, other than, OK, who is the next one?

WHEELING:  Let‘s do the best we can.

STOECKLE:  We‘re going to triage this one.  This one is going to orthopedics, OK?  He‘s got just some injuries or gunshot wounds to the arm or the leg.  We need to save our trauma wounds, because we were in constant communication with emergency medical technicians, with the police.  They did an incredible job of keeping us informed what was even on our way to the hospital. 



STOECKLE:  So, we knew what was going to hit the emergency room even before it hit it. 


WHEELING:  They would triage out in the field, how severe they were also. 

STOECKLE:  Yes.  Yes. 

WHEELING:  So, we knew exactly how serious each one coming in was felt to be. 

STOECKLE:  Right. 

QUESTION:  You knew what level of treatment they were going to need before they hit the doors here?



STOECKLE:  Pretty much. 


WHEELING:  We assessed them quickly to make sure nothing else more serious showed up.

STOECKLE:  And the emergency medical technicians did an excellent job of triaging them and letting us know what was coming. 

WHEELING:  Whether someone had a gunshot wound to the belly vs. just an isolated one to the arm that wasn‘t bleeding profusely, depending on which room they went into, which person was assigned to their care. 

STOECKLE:  The—once they arrived, you know, we had rooms.  We had cleared out the whole emergency room.  We set up the outpatient department, canceled all elective surgery, so that our operating rooms would be ready. 

The outpatient department was funneled all of the—what we call the green patients, which had essentially minor injuries, to take care of those for us, which left us the emergency room to take care of the more serious patients. 

We took care of pretty much what they call the reds, which are the most serious, and the yellows, which appeared to be stable with relatively minor injuries. 

WHEELING:  Intermediate.

STOECKLE:  And we funneled them off to the physicians that were there ready to take care of them, whether they be emergency room physicians, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons. 

QUESTION:  Do you believe that the way you handled this from beginning, the process, that you saved lives?  Were there students who were in danger of losing their lives here if it hadn‘t been for the way the process worked by declaring your—your goal...


STOECKLE:  Oh, absolutely. 

WHEELING:  Absolutely.

STOECKLE:  There‘s absolutely no question about that. 


WHEELING:  And, if we felt like there was a multiple trauma victim that may need services other than what we could provide, we urgently transferred them to the local trauma center, which is Roanoke Memorial. 

QUESTION:  How many did you transfer out? 

STOECKLE:  We transferred one patient to...

WHEELING:  One patient early in the morning. 


STOECKLE:  Well, one was—went early in the morning on that initial...

WHEELING:  On—from the initial—initial dorm room. 

QUESTION:  Were there more injuries that were serious injuries, or were there more injuries that were less life-threatening?  How would you characterize that, without going into specifics of each patient? 


WHEELING:  I would say...


STOECKLE:  I would say there were more that were less life-threatening.  I mean, they were serious injuries, but...

WHEELING:  But I would a third or more were...


STOECKLE:  Yes.  At least we—I think we got 17-some patients...


WHEELING:  ... almost half.

STOECKLE:  ... altogether, through our emergency room yesterday. 

One of those ended up getting sent to the trauma center...

WHEELING:  Trauma center.

STOECKLE:  ... at Roanoke Memorial. 

WHEELING:  ... at Roanoke Memorial.

STOECKLE:  And that‘s not counting the one from the 8:00 shooting. 


WHEELING:  ... morning.

STOECKLE:  We had three patients that urgently—very urgently—went to the operating room, because they were in very dangerous, life-threatening bleeding conditions. 

The other patients were multiple gunshots through mostly limbs.  There was one that went through the chest wall, but actually didn‘t penetrate the chest.  And all of those patients were certainly triaged.  Some of them were admitted.  A lot of them, there were some fractures.  There were some jump fractures.  There was a fracture that a bullet did. 

Those, we considered less serious, although they were serious injuries, but they weren‘t as life-threatening.  So, we had definitely four life-threatening injuries, one that was shipped out, and three that we took care of at the hospital. 

QUESTION:  How many bullet wounds did each have? 


QUESTION:  Did any of these students do things that possibly saved their life by they know to help themselves out before they got to the hospital that allowed you to keep them alive? 


The patient—the patient that I took care of was an incredible guy.  And I didn‘t really get to talk to him much until afterwards.  He had a gunshot wound right through his femoral artery.  And it literally ripped three centimeters out of his femoral artery of his right leg. 

WHEELING:  Three centimeters.

STOECKLE:  And about 3 centimeters of femoral artery was gone out of his femoral artery in his right leg.  And he was bleeding significantly. 

He wrapped—he was an Eagle Scout.  He wrapped a wire cord from apparently an electrical—something electrical that was in that classroom.  He wrapped it tightly.  And I think he had one of the other students help him wrap this around his leg, because he knew he was bleeding to death. 

And then the rescue squads came in, seeing that he was bleeding, and put this—this is a—this is a tourniquet that you put on somebody that‘s bleeding.  And this was put on right above the bleeding artery.  You put it on the leg, and then it literally ratchets it down until the bleeding stops. 

And, without him taking care of himself initially, and then the emergency medical technicians putting this on his leg, I think the—I think he would have—good chance that he would have died. 

QUESTION:  Is it Kevin Stern (ph)? 

STOECKLE:  Well, I‘m not going to comment on who it is, for patient confidentiality. 

QUESTION:  Can you talk a little bit about the timeline of when everyone started arriving here (OFF-MIKE)

STOECKLE:  I think—you know, everything happened so fast, once this all started. 

But I think they started arriving just after 10:00.


STOECKLE:  Just after 10:00. 

QUESTION:  So none of the earlier...


STOECKLE:  Well, they—the two people earlier, I was not involved in.  One of them was shipped out.  And I understand that patient died.  And one of them was dead on arrival. 

QUESTION:  The student you were just describing who put the tourniquet around his leg, did he take you through his thought process?  Like, he looked down, he saw the blood, he remembered his Eagle Scout classes?  It seems incredible that he went through all...  


STOECKLE:  Well, his...

QUESTION:  Did he take you through that?

STOECKLE:  His mother did.  She‘s very proud of him.  And we all need to be proud of him.  And I certainly am proud of all these students. 

They‘re—I have been here 17-plus years now, and I have nothing but good things to say about Virginia Tech, the students.  And I can tell you that we go through disaster drills at least twice a year. 


STOECKLE:  And these things don‘t happen in Blacksburg.  You know, we do a disaster drill.  We have mock patients.  They come in.  We practice this stuff and...

WHEELING:  Practice how to triage. 


STOECKLE:  ... and how to triage them. 


STOECKLE:  And it just—but I can tell you that, when it happened, everybody, everybody just did such an incredible job.  I am just so proud of everybody.  I am so proud of the students.  They were all really brave.  They were all—I mean, the compassion that all of us has for those students. 

And they were scared, but they—you know, they were so appropriate and...


WHEELING:  They were very brave and took care of each other. 

STOECKLE:  And they were so worried about the other students that were happening there. 

WHEELING:  Later, students with minor injuries talked about pushing classmates and teachers into the back, and locking doors, and placing tables in front of doors.  They all—and some of those just had minor injuries that showed up later. 

They were all very, very brave. 

QUESTION:  Can you talk to the recovery process that these people will be going through, the—the need, not only the—you know, the physical, the emotional recovery, but I assume there‘s going to be a lot of therapy that some of them are going to need, physical therapy? 

STOECKLE:  Well, obviously, some need—the families need it. 

CARLSON:  A live press conference in progress at Memorial Regional Hospital, just outside where we are now, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Here‘s the final tally: nine patients admitted to that hospital, one discharged, the other eight in stable condition; at a nearby hospital, five admitted to the hospital, only one remaining, four discharged—the one remaining in stable condition.  So, there are nine patients at those two hospitals from these shootings yesterday still under care.  And all of them are in stable condition. 

When we come back, we will talk to a sophomore who was in the building, in one of those classrooms where those murders took place yesterday.

We will be right back.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Not all that many people lived to see the horror yesterday and to tell about it later.  We are now joined by one of them, a sophomore, Trey Perkins, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, a mechanical engineering major here at Virginia Tech.  Trey, thanks for coming on. 

So, you were in German language class yesterday morning.  What happened? 

TREY PERKINS, SURVIVOR:  I was in German.  It was about 9:35 in the morning.  We started hearing some gunshots. 

CARLSON:  Did no that they were gun shots? 

PERKINS:  No, it was just loud popping sounds.  We didn‘t really know exactly what it was, but I thought that might be a possibility.  From the time we heard those until the man came in, we didn‘t really have time to think about it or do anything. 

CARLSON:  Did your teacher respond?  Did your professor say anything when the shots rang out? 

PERKINS:  He actually looked at me and just asked, do you have an idea what that is.  And I said no.  He asked Derrick, as well, if he knew anything that it might be.  And responded that he thought it might be a joke or something like that.  And then after that, we didn‘t have time.  And the guy just came in.

CARLSON:  What happened? 

PERKINS:  He came in and opened fire on our professor.  And after he shot our professor, he just turned to the class and started shooting into the students, just going row by row, just shooting people. 

CARLSON:  Did he say anything? 

PERKINS:  No, not the entire time.  He didn‘t say a word.  

CARLSON:  How long did it take him from the moment he entered the room until he opened fire on your professor? 

PERKINS:  Split seconds, no time at all. 

CARLSON:  How did students respond? 

PERKINS:  I heard one scream, and that was the only noise I really heard at all.  As soon as he started shooting, everyone just hit the ground.  I tried to overturn some desks just to get something on the ground to try to block some of the shots. 

CARLSON:  Then what happened? 

PERKINS:  He continued to fire for about a minute or a minute and a half.  I just laid on the ground and hoped that I wouldn‘t be hit and the guy would just leave.  He finally left after about a minute and a half and I stood up and looked around.  It was chaotic, something you wouldn‘t expect to see unless you were in a war, or something.  And I walked over to Derrick, who was also standing up, and we decided to go to the door and block it off and to make sure that he could not get back in. 

CARLSON:  Was Derrick injured? 

PERKINS:  Yes, Derrick was shot in the arm, in the upper right arm.  I believe he was shot on the inside of the arm.

CARLSON:  So you went up and decided to hold the door? 

PERKINS:  Yes, Derrick, myself and another student held the door.  We used our feet and our arms to keep it closed.  He tried to come back in, just pushing on the door and trying to get back in, but we were able to hold it off and keep the door shot.  He then fired four to six shots into the door.  We could see holes through the other side, but—

CARLSON:  So the rounds came through the door? 

PERKINS:  We‘re not sure if they actually went all the way through the door if they just made indentations.  I couldn‘t really tell.   

CARLSON:  Did he say anything? 

PERKINS:  No.  Even then he didn‘t say a word.

CARLSON:  So you are standing there holding the door, and all of a sudden you feel a force pushing against it?

PERKINS:  I don‘t recall feeling anything, I just remember hearing the shots and seeing the holes being made in the door. 

CARLSON:  But you continued to hold it?   

PERKINS:  Yes, we kept holding it. 

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing.  And then he just walked off? 

PERKINS:  I think so.  He walked into another room, I believe.   

CARLSON:  How long did you hold the door? 

PERKINS:  Twenty seconds probably. 

CARLSON:  How did you leave the building. 

PERKINS:  After that, we kept hearing shots, so we didn‘t really do anything.  I just went around.  I tried to help people that were on the ground.  One of my classmates was shot in the leg and I took my jacket off and tied it around his leg, just to try to stop any bleeding, and just trying to go and do whatever we could.  I used a hat to try to stop the bleeding that a girl had on her face. 

It was really tough and a lot of people weren‘t conscious at that point.  At that point, we started hearing the police and they came into the hallway.  We opened the door, showed them our hands, just so they knew that we weren‘t the gunman.  And we were escorted out. 

CARLSON:  How many people were in the classroom? 

PERKINS:  About 15. 

CARLSON:  And of those, how many were shot? 

PERKINS:  Shot, I would say 12 or 13. 

CARLSON:  Have you talked to anyone else from the class? 

PERKINS:  I have talked to one other student, Derrick.  He sat next to me and I‘ve been talking to him throughout yesterday and today. 

CARLSON:  And how many students are out of the hospital and OK, do you think? 

PERKINS:  I‘ve heard that—I‘ve heard of two others, besides myself and Derrick, I‘ve heard of two others that are out.  I don‘t know about the others.  I haven‘t been able to hear anything. 

CARLSON:  Your composure is amazing. 

PERKINS:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  Trey Perkins, thanks for joining us.  I appreciate it. 

When we come back.  Why did he do it?  It‘s the question that lingers. 

We‘ll talk to a criminal profiler.  We‘ll be right back. 



CARLSON:  Welcome back.  The president of the United States and his wife, Laura Bush, arrived today at Virginia Tech for a remarkably well-attended convocation.  The crowd was so big it spilled over into the stadium next door.  The spectators there watched it on the jumbotron.  At that scene we welcome NBC‘s Peter Alexander.  Peter?

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Good day to you, Tucker.  It was a remarkable scene.  As we saw, 11,000 people quickly fill up the Castle Coliseum.  That is where the Virginia Tech Hokies play their basketball games during the course of the basketball season.  It filled up in a hurry, an hour before, which meant there was a big spillover to Lane Stadium, right next door, where the Hokie football team plays. 

The president spoke for about six minutes during this convocation, speaking on behalf of a saddened nation.  And we want to take a listen to some of his remarks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  By the end of the morning, it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history.  And for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives.  It‘s impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering.  Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. 


ALEXANDER:  The president encouraged grieving students and staff members here to reach out for help.  And the federal government is also providing help in terms of the investigation here, Tucker.  The ATF is sending 12 investigators.  In addition, the FBI has sent 15 agents to help out. 

We watched this convocation take place from the football stadium.  Lane Stadium every Saturday for most of the fall, it‘s rabid orange and maroon Hokie fans that fill the crowd.  Today the field was filled not with fans but with what they are calling family.  Hokie pride they like to say around here.

On the field itself, on the grass, you couldn‘t see any green.  It was covered with people wearing their orange and maroon shirts.  I spoke with several students who said when they saw people starting to wear orange and maroon, they ran back to their dorms, to make sure they put their gear on as well.  It was pretty moving, sincerely, to watch that there. 

Many people brought to tears as they were reunited with friends they hadn‘t seen, at least since before yesterday‘s massacre.  We have seen some students here leaving campus now with their suitcases, with classes closed, canceled for the rest of this week.  Some of the people are now returning.

And what I think will also be interesting tonight is that at about 7:30 there is going to be a candle light vigil in what is known as the Drill Field.  It is right between the dormitory where yesterday‘s first shooting took place and Norris Hall, the classroom building where the second, more deadly shooting took place a little bit later in the morning. 

I speak to Adele Khan (ph).  He is the student body president.  He was sitting alongside Governor Tim Kaine today, and right in between Kaine and Senator Jim Webb, the Democrat recently elected to the Senate from the state of Virginia. And the president, Adele Khan, told me that he is expecting 40,000 people -- 40,000 people they expect to fill that field this evening, just after sundown to mourn the loss of so many loved ones. 

A short time ago, Tucker, you heard from Patty Culhane, who is in Centerville, Virginia.  And she had told us that one of those victims went to the same school as the shooter.  I spoke to that victim‘s brother and he confirms to me that that girl, his sister, did not know the shooter. 

CARLSON:  Horrifying.  Peter Alexander, thanks Peter.  We want to go now back to Patty Culhane, who is standing by, as Peter just said, outside the parents‘ house of the shooter.  She has got some news on the weapons used, the 9 millimeter and the 22.  Patty, what can you tell us?

CULHANE:  Well, I can tell you, Tucker, that very early this morning, a source inside the government said they were able to find out the identity of the shooter because, surprisingly, he left a receipt in his backpack for the weapon.  Now we believe that on March 13th, he brought the 9 millimeter, that‘s the Glock, and then went back just last Friday, Friday the 13th, bought a gun.  It was bought at a Roanoke gun shop. 

And I can tell you the reason why that is.  Under Virginia law, there‘s a 30-day waiting period between purchasing handguns.  The only way to get around that is to get a special permit to buy more than one gun from the state police.  Or if you have a concealed to carry weapons permit under the state of Virginia.

Now, he is a foreign national.  He was a resident alien from Korea.  I can tell you that under Virginia law, there‘s no special I.D. that he needs for that, just a drivers license or the proper paper work to show that he is in the country legally.  But the guns bought within a month of each other, following the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Tucker?

CARLSON:  All right, Patty Culhane in Centerville, Virginia.  Thanks a lot, Patty. 

CARLSON:  Well, the question, of course, remains the central question.  We know who did it.  We don‘t know why he did it.  We welcome now criminal profiler, former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt.  Clint, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON:  Who is this guy? 

VAN ZANDT:  We are finding out more and more about him every day. 

This is what you would expect in an investigation, kind of dribbled out.  Everybody is picking up pieces.  We‘ve heard today that this is an individual who set fire intentionally to his own dormitory room.  This is a guy—


CARLSON:  So, Clint, you were saying, this is a guy who set fire to his room.  I‘m not a criminal profiler, but even I know setting fire to things is a sign of profound mental instability. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, it is.  You know, there are some people who look back and they say if you are a fire setter, if you‘re a bed wetter past a certain age, if you‘re an animal abuser, that may suggest—That‘s the homicidal triangle.  We have to look and see if that is relative in this guy‘s case.

What we do know too is that he was a stalker, and that, Tucker, at least one or more of the English papers he wrote—the great thing is he‘s an English major, so those papers really give us a key to his mind when you look and see what he wrote about.  But he‘s writing about chain saws and blood and knives and things that were so brutal that, in his classroom, fellow students were supposed to critique each others‘ papers.  His fellow students one time said we really don‘t like that stuff.  And from then on he held back.

Tucker, I think this is an example of this guy.  He just kind of closed in and closed in.  Where you and I need support, we go to our wives; we go to our kids.  They wrap their arms around us, our family.  This guy, apparently, on campus, had nobody to go to. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s the distinction in my mind.  Is that a sign?  Does this profile add up to mental illness or just evil?  What is the distinction exactly? 

VAN ZANDT:  That‘s always the challenge. 

CARLSON:  Is he crazy or just bad? 

VAN ZANDT:  Freud would say he‘s crazy.  If you say that—mental illness, if you start to see evidence of mental illness when someone‘s in their teens, this guy‘s in his 20‘s.  With the note that he wrote that was found, the suicide note that rails about his fellow students, talks about the debaucherous nature of this campus.  I mean, you can pin that on any college campus. 

I mean, guys are going to drink and date.  You know, that‘s going to happen.  So if he has started defining his students as bad, as evil, you know, this is someone, Tucker, who may have set himself up as judge and jury.  And, unfortunately, yesterday, he may have both delivered his sentence and carried it out. 

CARLSON:  There‘s been a lot of hand wringing about the signs and what the university should have done.  And I think most of this is pretty awful second guessing, frankly, pretty reprehensible.  On the other hand, if his teachers were concerned about the creepy violent nature of his English papers, and asked for him to under go counseling, is it reasonable to expect someone make sure that he gets counseling, and that he‘s not homicidal. 

VAN ZANDT:  That‘s the challenge.  You can lead a student to counseling, Tucker but you can‘t dump their head in it.  You can‘t make someone say, you know, I‘ve really got some significant issues.  I need someone to help me work through this.  If I don‘t think I‘m sick, if I don‘t think I‘m challenged, no one is going to help me work through it.  And that may be the case in this guy. 

CARLSON:  What‘s the policy typically on campus?  I know that the college years are years in which schizophrenia typically—if you‘re going to become a schizophrenic, it‘s typically during these years, early 20s.  There are a lot of mental health problems people have on college campuses.  They drop acid, freak out.  You know, typical.  Who watches over those kids and makes certain they get treatment? 

VAN ZANDT:  How many become mass murders? 

CARLSON:  Not so many. 

VAN ZANDT:  You know, .0001 percent, something like that.  So you can‘t—this is 20/20 hindsight.  Every person who‘s possessed of psycho babble can sit out there and say aha, I see this sign and I see that sign.  And that tells me—Yes, that tells you after he killed over 30 people.  What about two days ago.  That‘s the challenge.  There are at risk people in society and in college, but can we identify them, number one?  Number two, can we get them assistance?  And number three, if they don‘t want it, what do you do with someone who won‘t accept it who hasn‘t committed a criminal act, he just acts a little weird or a little crazy? 

CARLSON:  This is an odd crime for many reasons.  One of them is this.  In a typical lovers‘ quarrel—or maybe perceived lovers‘, I love her, she doesn‘t love me, I‘m going to kill her, I‘ve covered a number of these, they don‘t generally end up with mass murder.  How do you go from striking out against the object of your spurned affection to killing a bunch of strangers in a German class? 

VAN ZANDT:  You are asking me to speculate.  I hate to do it.  But here it goes.

CARLSON:  Is that unusual though? 

VAN ZANDT:  Here it goes.  Yes, it is unusual because in a violence in a workplace case, maybe someone will go in and they will act out against two or three.  Tucker, I think—if you let me stretch it, I think this guy was punishing the university.  And you can‘t take a hammer and beat on those bricks. 

You know, that—the bricks don‘t hurt, but you can attack the body of the university which are the students itself.  And I think Virginia Tech showed today, you know, you can kill our students but you can‘t kill our spirit.  This guy wanted to kill the spirit, I believe. 

CARLSON:  Well, this guy murdered not only 32 people, he also murdered himself.  Is that typical in these situations? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  The problem is, when these guys do that we don‘t get to hold them up to the sunlight and say, why did you do that? 

CARLSON:  Well, it is really frustrating.

VAN ZANDT:  Was it because you didn‘t want to stand the scrutiny of society?  You didn‘t want the criminal justice system to deal with you?  You didn‘t want students to point at you like some animal in the zoo and say, what is the difference between him and me?  He deprived us of all of that. 

So you know, here we have—we hear of homicide-suicide, this is mass murder-suicide, but not unlike, as you report all of the time, on violence in the workplace scenarios where someone will go in, a boyfriend-girlfriend situation or a workplace where they kill the object of their affection and then kill themselves. 

CARLSON:  Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot, Clint, I appreciate it. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, more on this and what it all means for America. 

The response from the rest of the country when we return.


CARLSON:  Coming up, he was a 23-year-old loner with a penchant for violent literature.  But why did he kill?  Up next, we will talk to a profiler for answers.  We‘ll be right back. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back to Virginia Tech here in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The tragic murders of 32 people by a crazed 23-year-old English major originally from South Korea have raised a lot of questions, they have raised a lot of sadness, a lot of tragedy for the families of those killed and those wounded. 

But they have also raised public policy questions.  What did the university do wrong, could it have been prevented?  At least one set of parents has called for the ouster or the firing of the president here at Virginia Tech, saying the university was negligent in not clearing the entire campus once those first two killings took place a little bit after 7:15 yesterday morning. 

We have on this campus heard scattered complaints about the administration‘s behavior.  There is, however, a counter movement in support of the administration here.  It is led alumni.  They believe the national media have demonized Virginia Tech, asking unfair questions, making unfair demands, essentially Monday morning quarterbacking.

But you have also heard in Washington a debate about the public policy implications of what happened yesterday.  Gun control, in a phrase.  It is not an issue you hear much about.  Democrats have decided over the past four or five years that it‘s not a winning issue for them.  Terry McAuliffe, one of the Clinton family‘s key advisers, decided and has said so in public that gun control doesn‘t help Democrats. 

There are a lot of passionate people in favor of gun control, but they tend not to vote on that one issue.  If you care about guns, the reasoning goes, you‘re most likely a Second Amendment defender, an anti-gun control activist. 

So Democrats have made the calculation in the past four or five years, certainly since the 2000 election, that they are not going to weigh in on this issue.  Will that change now?  Well, there is some indication that it might.

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York State got on the House floor yesterday and said these words, she is well-known as a proponent of gun control, a supporter of gun control movements.  And she said this, quote,: “The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been prevented if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby.” 

She was not seconded in that by anybody, but you can bet that in the coming days she will be.  The gun control debate, one of the many political facets of the story that are going to be emerging in the next couple of days that we‘re going to follow on this program.  So stay tuned.  We‘re going to be back in just a minute from Virginia Tech. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  The most obvious public policy question raised by the shootings yesterday here at Virginia Tech is gun control.  Is the idea dead?  Well, not according to our latest guest.  He is Paul Helmke.  He is the president of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.  And he joins us from Washington, D.C.

Paul, thanks for coming on.


be here   . 

                CARLSON:  Yesterday you probably saw Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. 

I just read this quote on the air, but I want to read it back to you very quickly.  She said on the House floor yesterday, quote: “The unfortunate situation in Virginia,” in other words, the murders that took place here yesterday, “could have been prevented”—“could have been prevented if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby.” 

Now it seems to me no matter where you stand on gun control, that is an appalling oversimplification that doesn‘t do justice to the dignity of the sadness here.  It‘s not that simple.

HELMKE:  It is never simple.  And Congresswoman McCarthy is a great woman.  She suffered her own personal loss and she has been at the forefront of trying to get some common sense changes.  But it is tough to predict in any single situation what could have stopped this killer yesterday. 

The bottom line though is that in this country we make it too easy for too many people that should not have guns to get such high-powered weaponry and to get that weaponry quickly.  That is the problem we have got in this country.  Other countries have learned the lesson on how to diminish violence, we don‘t even talk about it in this country. 

CARLSON:  Right.  When you say high-powered weaponry, I mean, all handguns, all firearms are by definition high power. 

HELMKE:  Yes, but it‘s.

CARLSON:  They throw a piece of lead really fast, fast enough to hurt you.  So is there a kind of gun that isn‘t dangerous? 

HELMKE:  Well, it is all guns are dangerous, obviously.  But when you

are able to get a semiautomatic, automatics are banned, but when you are

able to buy a semiautomatic that can take a clip with 33 rounds, and it is

I‘m not sure yet whether they have determined how many rounds were in the clip that this individual had.  But the gun holds up to.

CARLSON:  Just so you know.  There is no clip for a handgun that holds 33 rounds. 

HELMKE:  Yes, there is.  Actually, I checked online this morning.  And they advertised you can buy a clip for this gun for $30 over the Internet.  So it is—when we had the assault weapon ban, you banned clipped of over 10 rounds.

CARLSON:  Just so you know, a Glock, there is—right, OK.  There is no—that is factually untrue.  But in any case, I think I understand.  The point is.


HELMKE:  . a lot of rounds quickly, then it is more dangerous than one where are putting the bullet in and then, you know, loading the chamber again. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

HELMKE:  And that is the point I‘m trying to make. 

CARLSON:  But my strong impression is that Democrats, long the champions of gun control, have dropped the issue.  I never hear it spoken in public.  Do you expect that to change in the wake of this?  The Democrats will use this tragedy in order to push gun control once again?

HELMKE:  I hope that elected officials from both parties are going to start facing up to the fact that what we have been doing on gun violence in this country has not been working and that some changes are made.  

And I know there are all sorts of different views that people can have and different suggestions that people.  But basically both—politicians from both parties have ignored the issue.  I hope they will start debating the real issues.  And whether that is more guns makes us safer or we need to ban assault weapons, we need to have a national debate on this topic. 

Columbine happened eight years ago this week, nothing has happened.  The Amish school shootings, six months ago this month, nothing has happened.  And we see this violence escalating. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Paul Helmke, thanks a lot for joining us. 

HELMKE:  Happy to be here. 

CARLSON:  When we arrived in Blacksburg late last night, my producer and I from Nashville, one of the very first people that we ran into, in fact, probably the first, is one of our favorite people, Gene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post who was here writing about the tragedy yesterday. 

Gene, thanks for joining us. 


CARLSON:  You just filed a column on this.  It is going to be in tomorrow‘s Washington Post.  The most open-ended possible question, what does this mean? 

ROBINSON:  You know, we don‘t know what it means yet.  What it means right now is that it is really, really sad.  What it means is that his community has to find a way to go on, Nikki Giovanni so eloquently said at the convocation today. 

We have a tendency, and not just as journalists, but I think human beings love narrative, we love stories and we love—there is a kind of, you know, story templates.  Like Joseph Campbell told us, templates made of myth.  We like to find these archetypal characters in what happens. 

So you know, we—here we have a lone gunman, we think, you know, kind of a loner guy.  And we have heroic victims inside the classrooms.  And you know, we try to fit things so neatly into these boxes, we kind of  shave off all of the edges. 

And that is not fair to any of the people involved.  It‘s not fair to truth.  So I think it is early to know what this means.  And it is certainly way early to know what this means for policy like gun control or mental health services or even, you know, concepts like alienation in immigrant communities. 

You know, these are all issues that are suggested, but I think it will take us—you know, let‘s take some time and work through it. 

CARLSON:  Well, I couldn‘t agree with you more.  And I have been bothered by it since I got here.  And I also agree that in time, we may learn important things because of this tragedy.  But it seems to me that the human impulse to put everything in orderly boxes right away may stem from how difficult it is just to look at tragedy head-on and accept how horrible it is, how without redemption.  There is nothing good about 32 people being murdered for no reason. 

ROBINSON:  Absolutely nothing.  And this is a really tough one.  I mean, this is a tough one.  We have covered really, really bad things, but this is just an awful event that will change so many lives here.  You know, students I have talked to here have been almost in a daze in a funny way.  I mean, just a kind of blank, almost numb. 

And you can understand that.  I mean, I kind of feel that.  You have to detach yourself almost from the reality of what happened.  You know, I walked over today and just kind of stood and looked at Norris Hall for a little while where, you know, just such horrible carnage took place just 24 hours earlier. 

And it was moving.  It was—it affected me just to stand 100 feet away and look at the building.  You couldn‘t get anywhere near it.  It is just going to take a while for—you know, for us—we don‘t know the names of the dead here. 

CARLSON:  No, we don‘t. 

ROBINSON:  You know, so let‘s learn who died, let‘s learn what happened and then we‘ll figure out why and what it means. 

CARLSON:  I have been a journalist my whole working life, my father was.  I have always been proud of being a journalist and proud of journalism, but sometimes when I come to events like this, it makes me a little bit embarrassed.  I don‘t want to—you know, everyone beats up on the press, I don‘t want to add to the cacophony there, but you can sort of see why people don‘t like us that much sometimes. 

ROBINSON:  Well, embarrassed is not a bad word.  You know, we‘re sitting here right now in the midst of how many thousands of journalists, you know, a field of satellite trucks and just hordes and hordes—I think I call them a horde in tomorrow‘s... 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a fair description. 

ROBINSON:  You know, but there was an interesting moment I kind of stumbled across.  I went over to Harper Hall where Mr. Cho lived.  And so there were kind of roving packs of reporters stalking students over there.  And they had pounced on one student, a freshman, he came from the Washington area, who lived also in the dorm. 

And they were, you know, asking him about Cho, and clearly trying to get him to paint this kind of, you know, lone stalker gunman kind of portrait of him.  So you know, was he a loner kind of guy?  Did he—was he by himself most of the time?  Did you ever see him with friends?  And the student kept saying, you know, he‘s just a guy I used to see in the hall. 

And so finally, they said, was there anything unusual about him?  And the student said, well, the fact that he shot all of those people, that is unusual.  He is unusual. 

CARLSON:  All right.  It may come back to a phrase popularized 50 years ago, the “banality of evil” really.  Gene Robinson of The Washington Post, nothing banal about what you write.  Thank you very much. 

ROBINSON:  Great to be here.

CARLSON:  Thank you for joining us for the last hour.  It has been sad, but I appreciate you tuning in.  We will be back in an hour from Virginia Tech, live.  Now “HARDBALL.” 



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