Guests: Bill Gavin, Keith Ablow, Carolyn McCarthy
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: There‘s breaking news this evening regarding Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui.
In the last 15 minutes, NBC News in New York released this frightening photo sent by Cho. “NBC News Nightly News” will air other material at the bottom of this hour.
It is believed that Cho sent the material some time between the first shooting in a Virginia Tech dormitory and the second shooting, which took place in a classroom building about two hours later.
Network officials have described that material as—quote—
“disturbing, rambling and profanity-laced.
This afternoon, NBC News released the follow statement pertinent to the massacre of 32 people on Monday morning—quote—“NBC News received a communication from Cho Seung-Hui, the man identified by police as the Virginia Tech shooter, via the U.S. mail this morning and immediately turned it over to the authorities. The package included images, videos and writing, and it appears to have been mailed between the two shootings. We are cooperating fully with the authorities”—end quote.
Law enforcement authorities say they are analyzing the material to evaluate its worth to their investigation.
We will analyze this amazing breaking news with former criminal profiler Clint Van Zandt, as well as psychologist Dr. Keith Ablow, in just a minute.
First, the latest from Blacksburg, Virginia, though. We are joined there by NBC News‘ Kevin Corke. He is on the campus of Virginia Tech—
CARLSON: We‘re having technical difficulties right now, for the moment, from Blacksburg.
I want to show you quickly a clip from the press conference that took place earlier today, when this news was announced on the campus of Virginia Tech. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLONEL STEVEN FLAHERTY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: Earlier today, NBC News in New York received correspondence that we believe to have been from Cho Seung-Hui, the gunman who is responsible for the fatal shootings in Norris Hall.
The correspondence included multiple photographs, video and writings. Upon receipt of this correspondence, NBC News immediately notified authorities. And I certainly want to commend NBC News for what they have done, the way that they have—they have secured this information, the way they have handled it with dignity. We certainly appreciate that.
And I publicly thank NBC News president Steve Capus, that I have personally have spoken with, thank him for working with us.
The originals were turned over to the FBI. And they are in the process of transporting those back. We have been working with the FBI, the ATF, Virginia Tech Police Department, since discovering that this new evidence existed.
This may be a very new, critical component of this investigation. We are in the process right now of attempting to analyze and evaluate its worth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, it‘s a chilling image, Cho Seung-Hui posing in the moments before he went on the murderous rampage at Virginia Tech. This is one of several images he sent in a package to NBC.
What else was inside? We will tell you later in the hour.
First, we want to go to the campus, though, of Virginia Tech, where‘s NBC Kevin Corke is standing by with the latest—Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: As you might imagine, the news that the gunman in this particular massacre sent a videotape and photographs to NBC absolutely set this place on fire, at least figuratively.
The room erupted as soon as the news came out, and people began to scramble, trying to figure out what materials might be out there, when did the gunman have time to do this, where might he have sent it from? Was it here on campus? Was it at another post office nearby. Is there surveillance video out there. All sorts of questions begin to come to mind.
But, as you might imagine, also, the law enforcement officials here are very grateful that NBC is cooperating. They are hoping to find out more, learn about this person, what could have possibly have been going through this person‘s mind in the midst of committing this heinous crime.
CARLSON: Kevin, is there a—is it certain that these materials were mailed from an actual U.S. post office? It seems so unlikely.
CORKE: Right. It does, doesn‘t it?
I mean, when you think about especially the timeline—I mean, granted, there was a space there between the first crime and the second crime. And, yet, you have to wonder, was it someone that was calm about it and calculating, simply felt like, look, I can go off campus and mail it, and then send it right off to New York, and then go over to the Norris building?
We just don‘t know. I can also tell you that, in my conversations with law enforcement, they have been, obviously, very close to the vest about this. Most of them simply don‘t know. They say, look, I would love to tell you. You tell me.
And so, I would love to give you more information, but, frankly, from their perspective, it is very, very limited at this point.
CARLSON: What is—I know we have been hearing all day dribs and drabs, more details about Cho‘s life on campus. I know that some of his roommates have given interviews. What have we learned about how he fit in at Virginia Tech before Monday?
CORKE: Very good question.
A lot of people may not have read this, this morning or may not have heard it throughout the course of the day. So, I would like to reset it for them just very quickly, and sort of unpack this news that we have been getting all day long.
First of all, the gunman, Cho, was known to Virginia Tech officials as far back as 2005. You pointed out earlier today, and the network has been talking about, the two women who made complaints against him about stalking.
He was approached by police. Also, there was an incident where he was on suicide watch. A roommate in particular, in specific, was very concerned about his mental health.
We also know about the letters. We know about the concerns of a previous—of a professor that he had some time ago about his mental state.
The problem is, in a big picture, yes, it all makes sense. Gosh, that‘s a huge red flag. But, individually, it‘s tough to sort of track it down. Maybe it‘s one incident here, one incident there.
We have also learned that, in our conversations with his roommates—and you have seen some video, I‘m sure, of that conversation—that this is a guy who was very shy, could be very standoffish, and brooding, not a friendly guy, a guy who didn‘t like—didn‘t like to look you in the eye, liked to wear shades.
It is tough to get into his mind-set, if he was a closed book, which is what it sounds like he was.
CARLSON: Remarkable, and creepy as hell.
Kevin Corke, from the campus...
CARLSON: ... of Virginia Tech—thanks a lot, Kevin. I appreciate it.
CORKE: You bet.
CARLSON: Well, up next, as we said, the shooter, Cho, now deceased, 23 years old, apparently, between killings, sent a package of materials, including pictures and videotape, and some kind of written statement to NBC News in New York.
We will have, in this hour, the first details of what was in that package. Stay tuned.
CARLSON: With each new detail, we are learning more about Cho Seung-Hui, the student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, before turning the gun on himself.
The latest? The package he apparently mailed to NBC News in the two-hour window between the first two murders and the next 30. What does it tell us about him?
CARLSON: As we have been reporting on MSNBC since about 4:30 this afternoon, NBC News headquarters in New York received material today from mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui via U.S. mail.
Here to analyze the meaning of this bizarre mailing, MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, what is it—why would a man who is on his way to killing 30 people and himself take the time to go to the post office and send a box of memorabilia to a news organization?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, I think we are going to find a number of things, Tucker.
Number one, as you and I have talked about the last couple of days, I think this is the continuing evidence that supports pre-planning. We know, for example, he bought one of the weapons at least a month before he actually committed this massacre on this campus.
I think, when we look at the materials, we are going to see that has been developed over a period of days, maybe even weeks, again, to support the concept of pre-planning, that—that he had a master plan. He was focused.
And, Tucker, this is a way—you know, to beg the phrase, this is a way to—to reach out from the grave and impact with your message.
You know, it is my belief that he simply didn‘t want to be taken alive. He didn‘t want us probing, asking. But this—in a little way, like Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, to send a manifesto, to send a message...
VAN ZANDT: ... in his words, the way he wants to. And nobody can challenge him on it, Tucker, because he‘s dead.
CARLSON: Well, that was of course—that was very controversial. Ted Kaczynski essentially blackmailed newspapers into running his manifesto.
There was a big debate about whether they should have run that manifesto. I want more information.
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
CARLSON: On the other hand, how should—how should we handle this?
I mean, in a sense, it‘s a little bit like pornography.
I mean, it‘s—there is—there is something questionable about this material. Should we air it? What do you—or will it incite future incidents like this? What—what is the ethical picture, do you think?
VAN ZANDT: Let me take away—let me take—let me take away my news analytical hat and put my FBI profiler hat...
VAN ZANDT: ... and my human being hat on, and I would say, I don‘t think we should, because, Tucker, this is what this guy wants. This is what he wants, to be able to reach his hand out of the grave and grab us by the throat, and make us listen to him one more time.
You know, I think law enforcement should look at it. I think
psychologists, psychiatrists should, to understand. But, you know, I hate
I‘m going to be part of it, but there‘s part of me that still doesn‘t like it, that—that we are going to live this guy‘s fantasy out for him, even though he has been dead for two days.
CARLSON: And—and, finally, Clint, do—does it make sense to you? Is it plausible? Have you heard of anything like a man committing two murders, and then taking off for the U.S. Post Office, and waiting in line, like everybody else, to mail some package? It just sounds, I don‘t know, very unlikely.
VAN ZANDT: I have seen murderers send letters at the time.
I—Tucker, I have seen individuals who commit suicide send letters with a return address on them. Now, you know, what sense does that make? Why does a suicide individual put a return address? They think they‘re going to get their mail back?
So—but—but I think, going along with that theme, too, you have got someone whose sense of reality is twisted...
VAN ZANDT: ... contorted.
And, again, I think we are seeing is...
CARLSON: All right.
VAN ZANDT: ... you know, we‘re told this guy is quiet. Now he‘s going to tell us in his own words. And we can‘t ask him anything else.
CARLSON: That‘s a good—Clint Van Zandt, from the scene—thanks, Clint.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still ahead: Are there more pictures like this one? We believe there are. And we will bring you the very latest on the other contents of that package sent by Cho to NBC News. What does it tell us about this terrible crime and about the man who carried it out?
We will tell you first later in this hour.
You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
We continue to bring you this afternoon‘s breaking news: the material believed to have been sent by Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung to NBC News headquarters in New York today. It included the picture we are showing you now.
Here to discuss what it tells us about Cho‘s state of mind is psychiatrist and host of “The Dr. Keith Ablow Show,” Dr. Keith Ablow.
Doctor, thanks for coming on.
DR. KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHIATRIST: How are you, Tucker? Thank you.
CARLSON: You know, before we get to what Cho may have been thinking -
and, in just a few minutes, we‘re going to—we‘re going to learn a lot more about what was in the package—I want to get to some other news today.
And that is, apparently, the fact that he was declared insane, essentially, by—a danger to himself and to others—by the state of Virginia, and then released.
Since you are a psychiatrist, is that common?
ABLOW: Well, unfortunately, it is common.
I have run mental health centers and crisis teams, and had to put forward, essentially, teaching points, to say, look, if—if we have the data that supports somebody being a danger to himself and others, and, if a court has even said so, I‘m just not going to buy a mental health worker, psychiatric social worker or psychiatrist saying, well, I have sat with this kid for 20 minutes, and I say he is OK.
But, Tucker, it happens all the time. And one of the reasons it happens is that there is such pressure to discharge people...
ABLOW: ... from emergency rooms, because of the influence of third-party payers, largely, and scarce resources.
CARLSON: So, who makes that call? So, let‘s say a court has said this person is dangerous. Who gets to decide he can—he can walk free?
ABLOW: Well, generally, you can have that person conveyed, let‘s say, from a courtroom to an emergency room for admission. And somebody else has to sign a form, usually a psychiatrist or a licensed professional, saying, yes, we concur, and this person will go up, therefore, to the locked psychiatry unit for further evaluation.
Unfortunately, at that point, people get bold ideas. They say, no, no, no, he is contracting for safety. Now, these are buzz words, Tucker, that mean that, when somebody is asked, are you going to hurt yourself or somebody else, and they say, no.
ABLOW: I have had these discussions with insurance company reviewers on the phone, trying to get somebody into a hospital, where a reviewer will say, well, but he is contracting or safety.
And I will say, yes, but, no, no, no, you don‘t understand. Four hours ago, he threatened to kill his mother. And we have his mother here, who says this.
Well, but we are not paying for that, because he now says that he is OK. And why would we need to hospitalize him? Let‘s have him go to day treatment. Let‘s have him go to outpatient counseling.
And the truth is that, at a certain point, you have got to call the hospital administrator and say, look, I—we‘re not going to get paid. We are just going to send this kid upstairs.
Now, unfortunately, a lot of people don‘t make that call to the hospital administrator. And it‘s understandable, because there are kinds of levels of red tape in every system. But the system failed here.
CARLSON: It certainly did. And, if someone is threatening violence, it does take it to a different level. I mean, I understand the financial pressures, which will always exist, it seems to me, no matter what the system is.
CARLSON: But, if someone is threatening violence, there is a moral component to that. It seems to me people would be afraid to let a guy like that go, for liability reasons, if not other.
ABLOW: Look, absolutely. Absolutely.
And I have been on a soapbox before, talking about this. But, again, unfortunately, you know, a lot of psychiatry is storytelling...
ABLOW: ... and being willing to accept that there are chapters earlier in the story that you don‘t have access to. But, if you have data that is concerning, you have to respect those chapters.
Now, unfortunately, some people see the world more like snapshots. And—and—and too many people who we would like to help, frankly, end up being shown the door of E.R.s or inpatient psychiatry units after 12 hours, Tucker. You can have somebody come in who has either threatened to kill himself or someone else, and leave in 12 hours, saying, but I don‘t have those feelings anymore.
Well, yes, but 12 hours—see, my answer is, yes, but, 12 hours ago, you did, so you are not going anyplace. But you know what? A lot of those people are shown the door. And they‘re—said, hey, here‘s your slip. Show up for an outpatient a week from now.
I want to put—I want to show our viewers who may not have seen this the assessment—admittedly, not a assessment—of this character Cho. This is an English teacher he had. And, again, she is not a psychiatrist, but she spent a lot of time reading what he wrote.
And here is what she thought of him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCINDA ROY, PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: It seemed to me that he was writing from a place of anger. And I needed to make sure that, therefore, I met with him and talked with him and tried to find out what was going on.
And I have been teaching for 22 year years, and I realized that this was a student, one of the most disturbed students I have ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Holy smokes.
Why—why is it, Doctor, that is‘ an English professor who is sounding the alarm here, of all people?
And you know what? Teachers are ideally situated, in many instances, to read the writings of disturbed people, to observe their behavior in the classroom. It wasn‘t just that he was writing very graphic screenplays that talked about violence.
This is a kid showing up and being allowed to stay in class who comes in sunglasses and a coat drawn up around his face, who seemed to be reportedly weeping behind his sunglasses, signing his name with a question mark.
This is a kid who doesn‘t belong on campus. Like, I‘m willing to say it, right, because the bottom line is, at some point, there has to be a system developed at every school that channels children, young people, of concern to the proper resources, because, look, this guy wasn‘t evil out of the womb.
He is an ill fellow. And this isn‘t an end that he, in his best days, would have ever dreamed of or wanted. It‘s not a character problem, I don‘t believe, that he suffers with. I think that there is evidence of depression and other abnormal thinking.
And, so, yes, you know what? It should have led, I believe, to more intervention.
CARLSON: And, yet—admirable thinking—obviously, he murdered 32 people.
On the other hand, he sent us at NBC News this package, the contents of which we are going to reveal in—in just a minute, after 6:30. But he sent this package to a news organization.
CARLSON: That sounds, actually, very normal behavior. He wants to be famous. It‘s grandiose. You know, I want my picture on television.
Is that the message he‘s sending?
ABLOW: Well, you know what? There can be very planned and orchestrated behavior that is also quite crazy, right?
People who think they‘re being—there‘s an example I give. People who think that the CIA is following them...
ABLOW: ... when it isn‘t, will take evasive action, will make plans, might even attack someone that they think is a CIA agent, and do it very effectively, with great method and planning. But it is crazy.
And, so, it may be that this young man said, listen, I want to convey this information to “The Nightly News.” It is so important that we have to get it over to NBC. But the bottom line is, it might be for very distorted, deluded reasons, not that he really wants to be famous.
Look, there are other ways to get famous. And who wants to do it posthumously? But for a reason that we can‘t fathom, because he is not operating from a rational base.
So, if you—and, very quickly, if you could just sum it up for us, you are his English professor. You read a paper he‘s written that, in 22 years of reading papers, disturbs you more than any other. What do you do at that point? Who do you talk to?
ABLOW: Well, I call the university president, as—and I know that this teacher did try to contact or did contact administrators, reportedly.
I say, listen, here is what I have observed. I might write it in a letter to the university. I might say that this young man, I‘m just going to take a stand and say, nobody can come into my classroom, writing these things, wearing sunglasses, and weeping. I‘m sorry. That is just not going to happen.
Thereafter, like, if you are an individual, and you feel like the system simply isn‘t responding, I guess you could literally reach out to the local crisis team of a community mental health center and say, here is the thing. I‘m in a tough position. Here is what I have observed. I know, from reports, that this is somebody who struggled with suicidal ideation. I want him evaluated.
And then you have triggered a system. That system has to respond.
Now, unfortunately, Tucker, as we have already said, the system is broken.
ABLOW: So, even the mental health care system might fail you at that point.
CARLSON: Well, unfortunately, it did.
Dr. Keith Ablow—thanks a lot, Doctor. I appreciate it.
CARLSON: It is the photograph that may well define this terrible chapter. And it was sent to NBC News by the gunman himself. What else was inside that package that Cho mailed to NBC News? We will tell you when our coverage continues in just a moment.
You are watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: You have already seen the first chilling photograph from the package sent by Cho Seung-Hui to NBC News. We will look deeper into the contents of that package and ask why did he mail it to us.
Before we do that, though, here is a look at your headlines.
CARLSON: This morning, NBC News headquarters in New York received a package from the shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre on Monday, Cho Seung-Hui. In it were photographs, a videotape, and an 1,800-word rambling rant, explaining why he did what he did.
We are going to give you more on that in just mere moments. We will show you the pictures and tell you some of what he said probably in about three minutes from now.
But, for the meantime, we want to go first to Kevin Corke of NBC, who is standing by on the campus of Virginia Tech.
Kevin, what has been the response to this amazing news?
CORKE: As you might imagine. And this is not—obviously not a local story. This isn‘t even just a national story. This is an international story.
We have journalists here from all over the world. And most people in this particular area are trying to find out what was sent to NBC. What could he have possibly have been thinking as a reason to commit these heinous crimes? When was the package sent? From where? And what might be contained in the package that was received in New York?
For the folks at home who don‘t know the story yet, you are going to learn more here on MSNBC throughout the night. And, obviously, in just a few minutes, as Tucker pointed out, we are going to hear from Brian Williams. And we will talk about what was contained in the package. Pete Williams has been on this story throughout.
I can tell you that we know this much. The shooter in this particular case rants about his angst against the rich. He has a problem with the rich. And he talks about getting even. We do know that much.
We also know that, here on the ground in Blacksburg, people are learning more and more about the shooter. And we have learned, Tucker, that officials here have known about Cho as far back as 2005.
CARLSON: Known—known about him that he was a troubled soul?
CORKE: Yes, right on the money.
In fact, in November of 2005, campus officials tell us that campus police were contacted on a couple of occasions, one in November 2005, another in December 2005, by two different students, two women, who complained that Cho was acting inappropriately, in one case, sending inappropriate text messages, in the other case, being, as the woman described it, annoying.
In each case, campus police were notified. We also understand, based on reports today, that Cho was also referred to—in December 2005 to a mental health official in this particular area.
The problem with all this story, of course, is the fact that we know now, in total, that we‘re dealing with a very troubled man, as if we didn‘t know that before Monday. But, clearly, there are steps now. There is a timeline that seems to be growing, that this is a guy who has major problems for quite some time.
Unfortunately, individual incidents didn‘t set off an alarm for anyone. For example, we also learned that Nikki Giovanni said that this was a troubled soul. We talked about a professor who said, look, this guy is—he‘s out there. He has written some very disturbing things.
So, these are the things that we are beginning to know more of, we are beginning to learn more of. And tonight‘s tape is just the latest in the unveiling of a very troubled soul.
CARLSON: Well, Kevin, as you know, right after this tragedy occurred, there were—there was criticism of Virginia Tech, that they didn‘t lock down campus, that—they were blamed, in essence. I thought that—that blaming was premature.
But now we are learning facts that are disturbing, that there was information that people should have paid closer attention to. Is the university coming under fire because of this?
CORKE: Well, yes, no question about it.
I think—I agree with you. I think it‘s almost—it‘s Monday-morning quarterbacking. It‘s unfair, in some senses, only because I can certainly tell you, having been around this campus now for the last several days, and having been here before, this is an enormous campus.
For perspective, Central Park in New York is 800 acres. It‘s a massive strip of land, huge. This campus is 2,600 acres. It is three times as large, and then some. So, trying to lock it down would have been tough, to say the least.
But there will be more critics, I‘m sure, in the days ahead about what didn‘t happen here.
Kevin Corke, on the campus of Virginia Tech, thanks so much.
CARLSON: Well, we have seen one picture of Cho Seung-Hui.
Now NBC News‘ justice correspondent Pete Williams has more. Here now is the story.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just minutes after firing two fatal shots at the Virginia Tech dormitory on Monday, Cho Seung-Hui returned to his own dorm room and made the final preparations to mail what appears to be a video confession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO SEUNG-HUI, VIRGINIA TECH GUNMAN: When the time came, I did it. I had to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: In a separate written document, he includes 29 photos he apparently took of himself. He looks like a normal smiling college student in only the first two.
In the rest, he presents the stern face and strikes the pose that was very likely what his victims saw later on Monday. In 11 of the pictures, he aims handguns at the camera, likely the very ones he bought in the past two months.
In his 1,800-word diatribe, he expresses rage, resentment, and a desire to get even. With exactly whom, he never says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Much of it is incoherent, laced with profanity. He rails against hedonism and Christianity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: You just love to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart, and raping my soul all this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Though he tried to cover his tracks by filing down the serial numbers on his guns, he obviously wanted the world to know who was responsible for the worst mass shooting in America. He began working on these materials at least six days beforehand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: I didn‘t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But, no, I will no longer run. It‘s not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I did it for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Boy, that is the creepiest thing that I have seen this year.
For analysis of all this, we are joined on the phone now by Bill Gavin, former assistant director of the FBI in New York.
Bill, are you there?
BILL GAVIN, FORMER NEW YORK FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes, I‘m here, Tucker.
CARLSON: I don‘t know if you heard that. I assume you did.
GAVIN: Yes, sir. I did.
CARLSON: It seems that one mystery is solved. This man is mentally ill.
GAVIN: It is—it is—bizarre is kind of the—a bad word for it.
But I have never seen anything quite like this. Here is a kid who is seething inside. He conducts his daily life in front of other people, not looking at them, wearing sunglasses, so that he doesn‘t—he can avoid eye contact. He does all these kinds of things to remain anonymous.
Yet, he produces this film. I suspect it‘s probably because he wanted to come from the grave and tell people exactly what he did and why he did it, not that it makes any sense to anybody, Tucker. What he said, it doesn‘t make any sense, from what we have seen so far.
It‘s just that he has to say it in his own way. It made sense to him, I guess. And that is—that is all that counts. But it is absolutely—it is the—it‘s the weirdest thing that I have seen.
And let me say, Bill, I mean, this guy is a monster. And the fact that he is mentally ill is not, in any way, an excuse for the atrocities he committed.
But I think one of the reasons we showed this is because it does
answer an important question. You know, I think the public wants to know -
I know I want to know—what was in this man‘s mind? Why did he do this?
Some of these phrases—tell me, having been around crime and disorder for your life, tell me if you recognize things like this: “You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart, raping my soul all this time.”
Dos that sound—is that schizophrenia? What is that? It‘s not a political statement.
GAVIN: Tucker, no, it‘s not a political statement. .
It‘s what he really believes inside his heart. And he does this on tape, because he really doesn‘t want anybody to have the right to probe inside his soul, to get to him, to talk to him, to really find out what he‘s thinking. So, he puts it on tape. That way, there‘s no two-way dialogue. It‘s only him. It‘s his thoughts that come out to everybody.
It is just absolutely the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.
CARLSON: Now tell us, and maybe this question answers itself, he was crazy, but he clearly was rational enough to make a certain number of fairly complicated decisions, one of them he decided to file off the serial numbers or attempt to—I‘m not sure that is actually possible. But he tried to file off the serial numbers from these weapons, but he killed himself in the end anyway. What does that add up to?
GAVIN: It is bizarre. He put the—in the backpack that they had, they have a bill of sale from one of the weapons. And he bought one of them with a credit card. I mean, he knew that was going to happen, why he would do this is only in his mind. Only he knows why he would do something like that. It makes no sense to a sane person acting sanely.
CARLSON: It is interesting, having watched—and I‘m glad we got to see him, Cho speak himself. Because it really—he is the mystery at the center of all of this. He seemed so crazy, it‘s hard to believe that a guy like that could exist in contemporary normal society, go to class everyday at Virginia Tech and people wouldn‘t know.
Have you seen cases where someone this demented and violent can blend into some extent in normal society?
GAVIN: The extent to which he blended in, Tucker, is probably minimal. Everybody recognized him as a loner. Then when he started writing the plays and the poems, his teachers and his fellow students said, I don‘t even want to be in the same room with this guy.
But the system I guess failed all of us in not being able to have a way to take him out of the picture, have committed and have him actually looked at to the degree that he needed to be. Look at the photos, you know, he comes on with his regular face and the last thing he wants you to remember is Mr. Tough Guy.
He is all dressed up, he has got his hat backwards and the guns in his hands, and the hammer in his hands. It made sense to him, it will never make sense to the rest of us.
CARLSON: My God, that picture with the hammer, you just feel even more for those poor kids who were murdered by someone this scary looking. It‘s like a nightmare. Bill Gavin, thanks a lot for coming on, I appreciate it.
GAVIN: My pleasure, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well on the day of his murderous rampage, the Virginia Tech killer mailed a package to NBC containing pictures, video, some kind of manifesto. What more does it tell us about him? We will have more in just a minute. You are watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: The photograph of Cho Seung-Hui posing with guns drawn before he went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech will send chills down your spine. We‘ll show you the rest of the contents of the package he sent to NBC News when we come back in just a moment.
CARLSON: We were just showing you clips from the homemade video Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC News yesterday. And it really is the stuff of nightmares. The stuff that will give you chills. One of the creepiest things I have ever seen in a life of looking at creepy things. MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt joins us now.
Clint, I guess this answers the essential question, he was crazy. It also answers the question, did he in fact mail this between shootings? Yes he did. This package was postmarked 9:01 which was between the two killing sprees he went on, on Monday. Does that confirmation come as a surprise to you?
CLIFF VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: No, it really doesn‘t, Tucker, because as we learn more about this, we‘ll find out that the material, his rambling multi-page manifesto, maybe some of the other documents were created days if not weeks ago.
And we are probably going to see it‘s a multiphase document. He may have made corrections. He may have added to as he went along. But what this is going to be—and I haven‘t seen it, Tucker, I‘m just—you know, my best profile guess, and I hate to speculate, but I think we‘re going to see this young man accusing everybody else.
He is going to accuse students, he is going to accuse women, he is going to accuse the church, everybody else is going to be at fault but him. You know, Tucker, when you and I are growing up, we have to give a little bit to get along with people. This is a guy I don‘t think that ever gave, he just dug in to who he was and what he was and when people didn‘t accept him 100 percent at that, he just pulled back and pulled back and I think we‘re seeing the ultimate results of that.
Obvious mental health issues and other challenges that were all rolled up into this human tsunami that just took place on Monday.
CARLSON: And there are religious references apparently throughout this, an extended attack on Christianity, and also strangely on hedonism, kind of the polar opposites there. “You just loved to crucify me,” he said. “You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart and raping my soul all of this time.”
Is this a person who is so out of touch with reality that—you know, I‘m surprised he could even make it to class.
VAN ZANDT: We talked about the demons, Tucker, on Monday and Tuesday that could have welled within this guy. And it sounds like he really did. You know, the issue is, you know, you can still get up and go to class, it sounds like he wasn‘t very functional in class.
He was zero functional as far as the social setting was, but somehow he was able to pick up and carry on one aspect of life. I mean, the guy is a senior in school, I don‘t know what that says about passing grades or everything else. Maybe he was able to compartmentalize his mental challenges and still carry out the basic assignments far over and above writing these terrible plays and poems.
CARLSON: Well, you know what it says, Clint, is that you can get really far out in college. And I‘m not pointing a finger at Virginia Tech, any college. The college I went to. Nobody is paying attention. You can get—you know, you can flip out on acid and become schizophrenic. You can, you know, become an alcoholic. You can just get profound mental illness like this guy.
And there is really no one there watching as long as you don‘t commit an act of violence or take your clothes off on the quad—or maybe even if you do, nobody is watching. I think that is kind of a universal truth in American colleges.
VAN ZANDT: Well, I think that is kind of the universal truth in the work place and in life too, Tucker. I mean, you know, the idea that we are our brother‘s keeper, and that we need to keep watch, I mean, you know, that is written in books and maybe the Psalms, but we don‘t see it practiced in real life.
And on a place like this, where individuals are developing this, you know, I am a person, I can be autonomous, everybody gives you your space. if you want to be a friend, play ball with them, they do it. If you want to be a loner, they let you do to.
And, Tucker, you and I know the further you push people away that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People say, hey, he doesn‘t like anybody around him. Let him be by himself then. And that continues to happen. He pushes himself further and further away and gets deeper and deeper into his own thoughts.
And again, Tucker, you know, if you look back at Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, he had nobody to test his ideas, to test the iron of this thoughts against, only himself. I think we see this even though he was surrounded by 26,000 people, no one was there to confirm or refute his ideas but him. And he agreed with himself.
CARLSON: It just seems to me Ted Kaczynski was a middle-aged man living by himself in a cabin in Montana. College students, undergraduates, anyway, are kids, they are young. They don‘t have jobs. They have never been in the workplace and, you know, taking care of themselves. They are in that weird place between the teenage years and adulthood.
And maybe someone ought to be paying some attention. You know? This guy melted down and hurt other people but there are thousands of people, some of whom I know, who kind of melt down in silence and hurt only themselves and that is not as tragic, but still a tragedy. It just seems like someone should be paying closer attention.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. think you are absolutely right. I mean, there are going to be students in danger in every college campus in the country. And the question is, who is taking their emotional pulse on a daily basis? Who is raising their arms and say, hey, my roommate has got some problems, or this guy in my class needs some help.
Well, in this case people at Virginia Tech, people raised their hands all the way up to a psyche evaluation that we know he went through. At the time, they said he is not a threat to himself or others. They put him back in this campus again, and a year-and-a-half later, we saw what it manifested into.
CARLSON: Clint Van Zandt, from Virginia Tech, thanks a lot, Clint, I appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, the deadly violence of Monday‘s massacre has restarted the national debate on this country‘s gun laws. Could a change in public policy prevent tragedies like this one, and if so, which changes make the most sense?
We will be right back.
CARLSON: Those photographs we just showed of Cho Seung-Hui holding the weapons will surely be used by some in this country for recruiting posters for the effort to impose gun control. One of the most outspoken advocates for that movement here in Washington is Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. She ran for Congress after her husband was killed and her son injured when avowed racist Colin Ferguson walked on to a New York commuter train in 1993 and started shooting. Congresswoman McCarthy joins us from the Capitol.
Congresswoman, thanks for coming on.
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Tucker. I‘m glad to be here. You know, when I was listening to hear you talk earlier, the similar (INAUDIBLE) between Colin Ferguson and the killer at Virginia Tech were a pretty close parallel as far as what they were doing, in the notes that the homicide police found in Ferguson‘s and how he was planning this all the way along.
CARLSON: Right. But even before we knew anything about the gunman in this case, at Virginia Tech, before we knew his name, before we knew how many people were killed, much less their names, you said the following thing, quote: “The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been avoided if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby.”
This was the kind of sentiment that the governor of Virginia, a Democrat, attacked. He said, I‘ve got nothing but loathing for people who say things like that. Isn‘t it premature to make sweeping judgments about public policy from an incident we barely understand, that is just a couple of days old?
MCCARTHY: No. Because I get up on the floor in Congress every single week and talk about the gun violence that is happening in this country on a daily basis. But with that being said, you know, when we found out that the killer actually had been adjudicated by a judge that he was mentally incompetent, that would have put him right there on the NICS bill that I had gotten passed a few years ago that unfortunately did not go through the Senate, could have been prevented him from buying a gun. And I think that is what we‘re looking for.
CARLSON: Well, wait a second, as far as I know, it is illegal now, it was illegal three months ago for someone who has been adjudicated mentally ill to buy a weapon. Isn‘t it? I mean, it was illegal when he did it, wasn‘t it?
MCCARTHY: It was, but unfortunately, the information that Virginia had did not go into the national instant background check system. And that‘s what basically my bill would do. It would get a mandate for the states, take the information that they have and put it into a computer system so that the instant—listen, we know that a computer is only as good as the data that it has.
The states need to give that information so that when a gun store is selling a gun, he knows that the information he has selling to someone like that murderer, that he shouldn‘t have been able to buy a gun.
CARLSON: In February, you introduced the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007. It would regulate semi-automatic assault weapons, including weapons that have pistol grips, a forward grip and something called a barrel shroud. Weapons with a barrel shroud would be regulated. What is a barrel shroud and why should we regulate it?
MCCARTHY: I think the more important thing is that it also would have banned the large capacity clips that Colin Ferguson had used and also the killer. But we are talking about.
CARLSON: OK. But I read the legislation.
CARLSON: I‘m sorry. I read the legislation and it said that it would regulate barrel shrouds. What is a barrel shroud? And why should we regulate that?
MCCARTHY: The guns that were chosen back in those days were basically the gun that most gangs and criminal were using to kill our police officers. I‘m not saying it was the best bill. But that was the best bill they could get out...
CARLSON: Do you know what a barrel shroud is?
MCCARTHY: I actually don‘t know what a barrel shroud is.
CARLSON: Oh, OK. Because it is in your legislation.
MCCARTHY: I believe it is a shoulder thing that goes up.
CARLSON: No, it‘s not. I just—here‘s my question. Shouldn‘t we spend more time trying to understand why people commit these crimes, how a person with this profound mental illness like Colin Ferguson or Cho Seung-Hui can exist in our society unnoticed. That seems a more pressing question than whether has a barrel shroud to me, don‘t you think?
MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, I have been working on that for years, also. That is called having mental parity. When we lost two police officers here—down here in the Capitol, it was done by a deranged person that unfortunately had fallen through the cracks because he went off his medication.
I certainly believe in mental health and it is something that we need to even start looking back, even starting through high school. You know, looking at these young people that might need help and get them help they have. But right now we don‘t have a system that is taking care of that. Hopefully, that will be—get done by Patrick Kennedy and Mr. Ramstad from Minnesota.
CARLSON: I hope something is done. Thanks very much, Congresswoman.
We appreciate it very much.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
CARLSON: That is it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next is “HARDBALL.” One of Chris‘ guests will be NBC News President Steve Capus. We will see you tomorrow.
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