Nightly News | December 08, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: A lot of parents may have heard today a major college campus in this country was on lockdown for much of the day. The campus was Virginia Tech and the reason was all too familiar. There had been a fatal shooting there, and for a time it appeared the gunman was on the loose. It all started with what police describe as a routine traffic stop. Our justice correspondent, Pete Williams , picks up the story.
PETE WILLIAMS reporting: It was just after noon, the university says, when a Virginia Tech policeman pulled over the driver of a car in a campus parking lot. Police say another man walked and up and shot and killed the policeman, then ran off toward a nearby rec center building. Officers hurrying to the scene found a second body.
Mr. CHARLES STEGER (Virginia Tech President): In light of the turmoil and the trauma and the tragedy suffered by this campus by guns, I can only say that words don't describe our feelings and they're most elusive at this point in time. Our hearts are broken again for the family of our police officer .
P. WILLIAMS: The university immediately sent out a communitywide alert. "Stay inside," it said, "secure doors. Call ." Students stayed put as tactical teams swarmed through campus buildings.
Unidentified Man: They came through, like, a whole team of them, like, SWAT team guys with, like, their guns drawn and everything, clearing out the entire building.
P. WILLIAMS: Late today, law enforcement officials said they believe the second victim was actually the man who shot the policeman. The campuswide alert was canceled and the search for the gunman was called off.
Mr. LARRY HINCKER (Virginia Tech Associate Vice President): We have relieved the campus community to go about their normal and regular activities.
P. WILLIAMS: Students were not attending classes today, getting ready instead for final exams that were to start tomorrow, though they've now been postponed. Word of the deaths alarmed a campus achingly familiar with violence. In 2007 a student killed 32 people, then himself, inside university buildings. During that attack the university was criticized for waiting more than two hours to alert the campus . This time the alert went out within minutes. University officials were actually here in Washington today appealing the fine imposed by the federal government over the delayed alert four years ago. Tonight, Virginia police say they still don't know what the motive was for
today's shooting, Brian: What an awful trauma for that campus to go through all over again. Pete Williams in Washington . Pete , thanks.