Guests: Clint Van Zandt, Vikram Narayan, Trey Perkins
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show. As you can see, we are live on the campus of Virginia Tech, the scene of a tragedy. It is a beautiful spring day, but we are in the middle of mourning. Thirty-two murdered yesterday, 33 if you included the gunman himself who took his own life in a classroom littered with the bodies of those he killed.
Why did he do it? We don‘t know. We know very little about him. He was a 23-year-old English major from Fairfax County, Virginia. A Korean citizen here on a green card. Apparently was a loner with a penchant for violent literature, some of which he wrote himself.
Mr. Cho is at the center of the most profound mystery of this entire tragedy, why did he do it? I want to put up here comments from Lucinda Roy who taught Cho English here at Virginia Tech. Here she is talking about the kind of papers that he handed in to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCINDA ROY, ENGLISH PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: There were several of us in English who became concerned when we had him in class for various reasons. And so I contacted some people to try to get some help for him because I was deeply concerned myself.
The threats seemed to be underneath the surface, they were not explicit. And that was the difficulty that the police had. So I would go to the police and to counselors and to student affairs and everywhere else and they would say, but there is nothing explicit here, he is not actually saying he is going to kill someone. And my argument was, he seems so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this.
I kept saying to him, please go to counseling. I will take you over to counseling myself, because he was so depressed.
CARLSON: Joining us now, former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, you heard what Lucinda Roy, his former professor, said. You know, you hate to second guess anybody in situations like this. And I‘m not confident I would have picked this guy out as a psycho. But should these have been red flags?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, these were red flags, at least one person saw them. The English teacher saw them. And it sounds like from her words, she tried to do everything she could, Tucker.
The challenge becomes, if you hold somebody up and you say, hey, this guy has got problems. Everybody says, I don‘t see a problem. I don‘t see a problem. Then They say they don‘t see a problem. Then how do you get the campus to react to that? But I think what we are seeing is that that has been identified, someone saw that.
We talked about this situation yesterday, that there are always flags, many times people either miss them or ignore them. It looks like in this particular case, the campus may not have dealt with these, except for the English teacher who saw them coming.
But again, if you take the position of the police, they say, well, you know, there is free speech, and even though this writes about chainsaw massacres, he is just writing. He is not acting out.
CARLSON: Well, sure, I mean, there are a lot of weird people in this world. I mean, Marilyn Manson is running around, right? And he hasn‘t killed anybody.
VAN ZANDT: Look at people who write Hollywood slasher-dasher movie.
CARLSON: That is exactly right. So how do you discern the difference? Or is it not possible to know who is crazy and likely to act upon it, and who is just writing fantasy?
VAN ZANDT: Well, my opinion is that anyone who says they can accurately predict human behavior is lying to you, Tucker. Because I don‘t think anyone has that capability. We can do a 16 PF and MNPI. We can do all of these psychological testing instruments, but normally we wait until someone acts out.
We may refer them for counseling. But if you say, Clint, I think you are a little nuts, I would like you to go counseling. I would say, Tucker, got it covered, buddy, and I don‘t go, or I go and pop M&Ms and don‘t listen, it‘s not going to do me any good.
CARLSON: Are there themes in writing, though? I mean, is there something you can look for with any narrative? You are an English teacher. You get a story that has violence. And a lot of great stories have violence in them. Maybe most. Are there certain kinds of violence or certain themes that tip you off that this person is unstable and possibly going to act on it?
VAN ZANDT: Well, here we have an English teacher who looks at papers every day of college students. This guy came up over the horizon more than any other student it appears at this point.
You know, she may have others, but she flagged this guy. And she says, I went everywhere I could to try to get something done. And the answer was, he hasn‘t done anything wrong, he has just written it. And you know, I think most of the time, people are going to say that, Tucker. You can‘t force people to get mentally well if they don‘t want to.
CARLSON: But you can—I mean, is there any kind of mechanism for forcing someone into counseling or onto medication or forcing someone into treatment for an obvious mental problem?
VAN ZANDT: And the answer is, there is in some states where you can force someone, either a parent can sign them in or a police officer can sign them in for a 48 hour psych exam if they have done something so monstrous, so—if there is an indication that they are going to act out.
But either a parent or a police officer has to sign off and say, I believe this person is going to act out. Evidently the police looked at it and said, we don‘t think he is going to. And we don‘t know anything about the parents right now.
CARLSON: There was a report that this man that set a fire—that Cho had set a fire in his room. That is kind of the classic sign that you read about, anyway, in the popular press, you are torturing animals, you are setting fires, you are a psycho. Is that a predictive act?
VAN ZANDT: And the answer is about 40 percent of serial killers are the homicidal triangle. We set fires, we wet our beds past the age of whatever, and you know, we abuse animals. But, Tucker, that is 40 percent. What about the other 60 percent? We still have no accurate predictor that I can lay over the top of every human being and say, a-ha, this guy is going to act out negatively.
I can try—I can try to get him help. And in a worst-case scenario, a police officer can commit me, but if they can‘t prove their case or if I just sit there for 48 hours and say, I can get past this.
You know, the challenge is, Tucker, in our society, until you do something wrong, many times we don‘t go after you. And then you see the carnage we saw here.
CARLSON: Which strikes me as actually a pretty fair standard, unfortunately in this case. Clint (INAUDIBLE), stick around, we will talk to you in just a minute. Thanks a lot.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
CARLSON: Well, here is roughly what we know at this moment. The shooter‘s name came out this morning. His name is Cho. He is a 23-year-old English major—was, from Fairfax, Virginia. He shot 32 people. He also killed himself. There are a number of wounded, at least nine in local hospitals. There are another five wound who have been released apparently from wounds that were not life-threatening.
The nine, significantly, who are still in two area local hospitals are all listed at this moment in stable condition and expected to do well.
The president of the United States and his wife, Laura Bush, were here earlier today at a convocation. They were joined by religious leaders, a rabbi, an imam, a Protestant priest and a leader of the Buddhist community here. We will have more on that in just a minute.
But for a wrap-up of what has happened here in Blacksburg today, we go to NBC‘s Steve Handelsman—Steve.
STEVE HANDELSMAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tucker. Well, a lot of students here are just coming to grips, understandably, with what happened here yesterday. The fact that they are finding out today that it was somebody in their academic community and not an outsider, it looks like, is adding to the grief here.
I talked to one young girl who felt pretty good about what had happened in terms of her own friends, and then found out that her first impress that lasted all day yesterday and into the evening that these were mostly engineering students who had died was a false report, and that there were language students who had been killed.
She studies language. She called others in her major and found that there was a likelihood, Tucker, that she lost friends yesterday. And so the community is in shock. And you have got to believe based on what the students tell you that their shock is exacerbated, made worse by the fact that this wasn‘t an outsider.
This was somebody from their academic community, an insider. Somebody who was undoubtedly a loner troubled. Indisputably, somebody who was troubled, maybe somebody who could have been stopped. But most importantly to many students here, somebody who was from Virginia Tech, that makes it even worse.
CARLSON: You and I were talking about this a moment ago off-camera.
This is one of the biggest assemblies of the nation media I have ever seen.
HANDELSMAN: Biggest I‘ve ever seen.
CARLSON: . in a lifetime of watching it pretty closely. How are students responding to that?
HANDELSMAN: I think they are comforted by it. I mean, we have not done a survey. And I haven‘t talked to all of the students. You can‘t do it. But it is a little bit—it occurs to me it has the effect of having a really big funeral for someone. It shows respect. It shows interest. A lot of these students at first blush yesterday did not realize that this was a national, even international story.
The fact that so many millions of people care so deeply about what happened here, are actually affected by the news coverage, I think makes students feel a little bit better. And this is not a horde of reporters and crews running around like they would after, you know, Paris Hilton.
These are teams that I‘ve seen anyway, have been very respectful of the students here. And the students are so impressive here. So many of them have done a lot of thinking in the short time they have had about what this means to them and to their school about why it might have happened, about their own feelings and the feelings of others. They are articulate and they are getting a real good listening to by the media.
So it may eventually wear on the people of Virginia Tech as the coverage at Columbine. We realized after weeks and weeks, just kind of wore down the people there. But this is, I think, seen by many people here as a show of respect. It is a big story because it‘s so terrible. And I don‘t see this as being a media circus.
CARLSON: For the first six hours our so of the coverage, when we knew virtually nothing, we knew at first that a couple of people had been killed, and then the enormity of the tragedy became clear. There was, I think, an effort to blame the administration of Virginia Tech on the part of some of the press for what happened, they should have done more. Is that a debate that is going on, do you think, among the students?
HANDELSMAN: I think it is, because about half of the students we speak to say, look, I don‘t see how a warning after the first shootings could have helped me and my friends. That this is such a deranged gunman, a single guy, who of course got away after the first shooting and then was on the loose, and then was homicidally motivated.
Others say, well, wait a minute, if you had locked down the school, closed down the school, then maybe people wouldn‘t have been in that class in Norris, those various classes in the stairwell and they might have lived. The will debate go on.
But I don‘t hear people angry. They are speculating, but mostly they are just grieving.
CARLSON: That is exactly what I have heard. Steve Handelsman, NBC, thank you very much.
HANDELSMAN: A pleasure.
CARLSON: We appreciate it. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Up ahead, witness to horror. We‘ll talk to a sophomore here at Virginia Tech who blocked the door with his hands as the killer tried to shoot his way in. That‘s next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Many of the pieces of this horrible puzzle have fallen into place. The missing one, the most significant one is why? Why did he do this? Why did he take 33 lives, including his own? Joining us again, former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, what is the explanation? Is it knowable?
VAN ZANDT: You know, the why, we are all going to be looking for that, Tucker. And everybody has got a little piece of this. You know, I mean, now we find out today that 32 days ago, this 23-year-old college student who, we are told, was a senior, who should have been thinking about graduating, moving on with his life, buying a new used car or something so he can go onto his next career.
Instead he takes $550, goes into in a gun shop, throws down his driver‘s license, his green card. They do a very quick, and he says, a-ha, here is a Glock semiautomatic pistol, a 15-round magazine, and a box of bullets. Go my son and sin no more. You know?
So he takes the gun and he is gone. Tucker, that says that at least a month ago he bought a gun for some reason, OK? So whatever was churning in this guy‘s mind, we talked about earlier—about the psychological challenges he may have been undergoing.
All of that aside, this appears to be part of a plan where he got one gun and then he got a second gun and then he got a vest that he could carry these magazines in. Tucker, he secured two pieces of chain so he could go into that building and chain that door closed, either to keep the police out or keep his victims in.
CARLSON: Well, what does that tell you? I mean, that strikes me, this is not a crime of passion. And many of the laws that we have—or it‘s not a crime of immediate passion. Anyway, but many of the gun laws we have are designed to keep people from getting mad, buying a gun, and going and killing somebody. They don‘t speak to scenarios like this where someone has, you know, a month to think about it and plan it out.
Is the root of this—I hate to be vulgar, but is—it almost sounds
is it a sexual fantasy at the root of this? I mean, what.
VAN ZANDT: You know, we are getting into Freudian psychology.
CARLSON: We are. But I mean, it is.
VAN ZANDT: . where, you know, Freud will tell you, everything has got a sexual aspect to it.
CARLSON: Well, many murders seem to have a sexual component to them.
VAN ZANDT: This strikes me—and again, the guy is not here to tell us, this strikes me, Tucker, as someone who wanted to strike out against this university. That this guy had been put down. People didn‘t like his papers. They may not have liked him. They did not like the violence that he talked about.
And they may have kind of pushed him aside. Well, he accepted that. He kind of caved in. This is someone who imploded into himself and then all of a sudden exploded. You had this human tsunami that swept through this campus yesterday from building to building.
Tucker, he may have shot two students in a residence hall, but as you have talked about he, waited two hours and he looked at 100 buildings and he says, that building, that‘s the one I‘m going to go to. And then methodically starts shooting students.
Tucker, he couldn‘t knock down the building, but he could knock down students.
CARLSON: Because those are two totally different crimes. Not all murders are even closely related. I mean, a crime that targets someone the killer knows strikes me as a world apart from a crime against strangers.
VAN ZANDT: But this is a crime against a university. This is not him
he did not care that he killed Bill or Susan or Mary or Bob. He cared that he killed the spirit of this university. What he didn‘t like, what he suggested might have been debaucherous, were part of this 26,000-member student body. This is what this guy struck out against.
And then puts the gun to the temple and kills himself. So we can never ask him these questions.
CARLSON: Take me back to the—one of the few things we know he did before this was set a fire. He set a fire in his dorm room. And you pointed out a moment ago, this is not uncommon—or this is a kind of classic sign of looming violence. What about setting a fire has to do with murder? Why do crazy people set fires?
VAN ZANDT: Well, again, I‘ll go back to what you said. There is a sexual component many times to fire-setters too, people like that. You know, he may have been angry with his roommate, these are things we don‘t know. Whether he was trying to draw attention to himself, why he did that. Hopefully somebody asked that question, Tucker.
But again, why was he stalking someone? And who was he stalking? Was it one of his victims or was it just a random person?
CARLSON: But why—well, wait a second, why don‘t we know? I mean, I‘m not in any way attacking.
VAN ZANDT: Well, law enforcement may.
VAN ZANDT: Law enforcement may know.
CARLSON: I‘m fully aware of that.
VAN ZANDT: But we don‘t know.
CARLSON: Well, why don‘t we? I mean, here you have a scenario where the suspect is dead, so it is not as if there is an ongoing investigation, you know, designed to prosecute him, because he is gone. So why the close-held information?
VAN ZANDT: Devil‘s advocate, law enforcement and the university may say, we want to protect the students‘ privacy that he was stalking. We don‘t want him or her to come under the glare of the 250 satellite trucks that are parked around here. We are going to protect our students from that level of scrutiny.
And the reality is, maybe we don‘t need to know what existed between them. Law enforcement does, the school does, but I don‘t know the media needs to know every detail, Tucker.
CARLSON: I do suppose though that the other option is—because the public is actually interested in the details of this case, the option is rumors. And we have seen them. We were hearing yesterday that he was a Chinese national who had been here for six months. I mean, you know what I mean? In the place of facts, there will be rumors. And it is better to have facts.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. And if there is ever anything we have learned time and time and time again is that you may as well get the truth out front, because if not, somebody else will get to it, but there will be a thousand rumors before it that you have to beat down before you finally get to the truth.
Now you know, law enforcement says they are doing this out of the abundance of care and scrutiny and everything else. Well, that is all fine, but it is time to tell us what actually took place. Now the intricate details, who he was stalking and why, you know, I may want to know that out of curiosity, I may want to know that as a behavioralist, but as member of the public, I don‘t need to see a picture of that woman‘s picture—you know, her face and know who she is.
CARLSON: Right. I agree with that. (INAUDIBLE). Cliff Van Zandt, thanks a lot for joining us.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
CARLSON: I appreciate it.
How are the students here at Virginia Tech bearing up under the awesome tragedy and the equally awesome scrutiny that has followed? We‘ll tell you. We‘ll speak next to the leader of the Student Senate here at Virginia Tech. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: How are the students here at Virginia Tech bearing up under the awesome tragedy and the equally awesome scrutiny that has followed? We‘ll tell you. We‘ll speak next to the leader of the student senate here at Virginia Tech. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Just about an hour and a half from now, there will be a massive student-led candle light vigil in memory of the 32 students who were murdered yesterday on this campus at Virginia Tech. Joining us now is one of the leaders of that, Vikram Narayan, who is the speaker of the student senate here at Virginia Tech.
Vikram, thanks for coming on.
VIKRAM NARAYAN, SPEAKER, STUDENT SENATE, VIRGINIA TECH UNIVERSITY:
Thanks a lot, Tucker, for having me.
CARLSON: Tell me about the vigil tonight.
NARAYAN: Well, basically, Hokies United is doing one through the student government association, and Hokies United typically responds to national and international tragedies. We responded to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, and typically we‘ve done programs to raise funds, et cetera.
This time, it has hit really close to home, and this time we are just doing something really symbolic to honor the memories of those who have passed away due to this tragic incident.
So essentially, last night around 5:00 p.m., we started planning this thing, and at that time we only thought we were going to get about 5,000 candles. But up to this point, we are getting word that we might have over 100,000 candles coming on, coming in from different parts of the country. There has been a real outpouring of support from different student governments, different people around the country. From Wisconsin, Ohio. People are driving up from close by states—North Carolina, different parts of Virginia—and there‘s just been tremendous support.
CARLSON: And it will process through the campus?
NARAYAN: It will—what the plan is, we‘re going to have a couple of speakers come speak, and then after that, we will have—one speaker will start to light the candles, and it‘s kind of like an effect where we‘ll go through all the students, and all the students will light each other‘s candle.
CARLSON: Where were you yesterday when this happened?
NARAYAN: I was at my apartment. I was actually just about to head to Norris Hall. That‘s where I work, so...
CARLSON: You‘re an engineering student. That‘s an engineering building.
NARAYAN: Engineering building, and I actually work for the engineering administration as computer support. So I was just about to head there and got the email and decided not to head to campus. And I am kind of happy about that.
CARLSON: So you actually got the email and acted upon it?
NARAYAN: Yes. I got the email and I did not head to campus.
CARLSON: Any idea why that building? Why Cho targeted that building?
NARAYAN: At first—the only reason I could think about is maybe this engineering faculty there, the engineering—the college dean was there, if he had a gripe with the administration or something like that, but it doesn‘t seem like he was an engineering student, so it‘s hard to really say what he was thinking when he targeted that building. I have no idea.
CARLSON: Had you heard of Cho or...?
CARLSON: Did you know anything...
NARAYAN: Never heard of him.
CARLSON: Any idea—I know this is purely speculative—but from everything you know about what happened yesterday, does it strike you that he was acting out against the university?
NARAYAN: The information hasn‘t come out, so really—I really can‘t personally make that (inaudible). At this point, we are just in shock. (inaudible) just trying to deal with it, and just, you know, come to grips with it. A lot of students are now finding out that they knew students that have passed away. I know a couple of friends that they knew—their close friends of theirs that passed away, so it‘s starting to hit them slowly now. So right now it‘s just a feeling that‘s going on.
CARLSON: Vikram Narayan, thanks very much.
NARAYAN: Thanks a lot.
CARLSON: I appreciate it.
We‘ll be right back with more from Virginia Tech.
CARLSON: Still to come, we have the words from the English professor who advised the university that Cho might be a danger to himself and others. We‘ll tell you what she said when we come back.
But first here‘s a look at your headlines.
CARLSON: Welcome back. We are on the lawn at the campus here at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. At the center of this tragedy is a mystery, and it surrounds the man, the gunman yesterday who took 32 lives including his own. He is a 23-year-old English major. He wrote many papers over the four years he was here.
I want to play you know a tape of Lucinda Roy, who is his English professor talking about what some of those papers were like. Here is Lucinda Roy, Cho‘s professor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCINDA ROY, CHO‘S ENGLISH PROFESSOR: The writing seemed very angry as I recall. When I actually taught him myself. I took him out of the class and talked to him myself and told him that writing would not be acceptable and he needed to learn to write in another voice and empathize.
But for others when those rules had not be laid down, then yes, I would think that would be a fair characterization.
The threats seemed to be underneath the surface and that was the difficulty that the police had so I would go to the police and go the counselors and student affairs and everywhere else and they would say, but there is nothing explicit here, he is not actually saying he is going to kill someone.
And my argument was that he seemed so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this.
One of the reasons why the faculty members were so concerned about this was that for the most part he would not speak to people. So if you asked him something, there would be sometimes as long as a 20 second pause before he would respond and when he did respond I would say something, like, yes, or I will, or whatever the response was to the question.
And so people were concerned about that and also he always wore sunglasses, even inside. Whenever you talked to him he had sunglasses and a hat, a cap, I think it was a baseball cap. So it meant you could not really see his face and I think it was intimidating, I think, for people to speak to someone when you can‘t really see, as indeed I can‘t see some of you, then it gets a little tricky and you want to be able to judge a student‘s expression.
I kept saying to him please go to counseling I will take you over to counseling myself because he was so depressed and I had been told by counseling I could escort him over. And so each time I met him I said to him again, please go over.
But apparently, I was told you can‘t force counseling. So even though I called counseling, tried to get everyone to force him to go over, their hands were tied too. Every time I met him I asked if he had gone and at several points I think he got tired of it and told me he was going, but I don‘t know if that was true. I don‘t know whether that was true. I tried to find out but I never did find out whether he was going.
He was an intelligent student and he did terrible things, I know, but I mourn for him as I mourn for all the other students and especially for the parents. So he was an intelligent man and I gradually learned that he really was quite a gifted student in some ways too. But he seemed to be very lonely and very depressed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So, there were signs. That was Lucinda Roy, English professor here at Virginia Tech.
There was a massive convocation this afternoon. An event so large that the arena where the basketball team from Virginia Tech typically plays was overflowing. The crowd went next door into the open air stadium. It was enormous. The president of the United States was here along with his wife. And so were local religious leaders and here is part of what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death strikes every day all over the world, and we see it on television and hear and read about on the media but when it hits home we feel its (inaudible) and recognize its reality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courage is always required to accomplish great good. Now is the time for us to demonstrate the courage of nonviolence. The courage to engage in dialogue, the courage to listen to what we don‘t want to hear and the courage to control our desire for revenge and follow reason. I convinced that we are born into this world with an inherent good nature. And together we must restore our faith in humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was the scene this afternoon at the convocation. As I said both the governor of Virginia and the president of the United States spoke at that.
We are joined today by NBC‘s Jay Gray for an overview. Jay, what did you make of that convocation?
JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think the convocation was amazing. We had thousands of people pouring out of the coliseum. I think though it‘s only a prelude to what is going to happen here tonight. I think emotions will be very raw here tonight. I think that people are finally wearing through that initial shock of what‘s happening on the campus and they are beginning to understand the grief and deal with the grief.
And I think we‘re going to see a very emotional .
CARLSON: This is how big it is, it strikes me. You have at this convocation, Tim Kaine, the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia who was in Tokyo when he heard the news. Got on a plan immediately, I think a plane provided by the White House. Flew back here. Opens up the event here, he is a Democrat, of course, by praising the Republican and very unpopular president of the United States, George W. Bush.
It‘s got to be a pretty big event to get that.
GRAY: No question. But this is what we see, politics goes by the way side .
CARLSON: It really has.
GRAY: When we‘ve had such a tragedy like this. We saw that after 9/11, the events of 9/11 obviously. This is not to that magnitude but this is something our country has never been through before. Some people have equated this to the same as a suicide bombing over in the Middle East.
This is something we have not had to deal and I think we‘re learning how to deal with it. I also have to point out no matter what side of the aisle you are it seems like leaders rise to the occasion during these events and I think that‘s happening here.
CARLSON: I thought Kaine gave the best speech I have ever heard him give.
I was also struck by the raw religious nature of it. Almost everybody
we saw a couple of the religious leaders but almost everybody else, too, quoted scriptures of various kinds.
And again, the Democratic governor of this state got up there and quoted the Bible about five different times.
GRAY: I thought that was an amazing part of what happened here today. I thought the president as well touched on religion quite a bit. And again, I think the political correctness, if you will .
GRAY: Of what is supposed to be said, perhaps, at the podium, goes away when you get the emotion involved.
I want to ask you, what do you think of the situation is outside of that Coliseum? You have seen all the students here today. Wearing the colors, the orange.
It seems like they are banding together as well.
CARLSON: Well, there is a lot of affection for Virginia Tech. I lived in Virginia for probably 10 years. I have known this for a long time. People who went to Virginia Tech are into it. They are proud of having gone here. It‘s a big deal to be a Hokie. It‘s a little bit like if you‘re from Texas like U.T. or A &M. There is a lot of strong identification with the school and that was certainly on display.
I was struck though by how composed almost every student I talked to was.
GRAY: It‘s been amazing. And having covered - I don‘t think there‘s been an event like this, but having covered several events in the past I am shocked at how well these students are responding, even students who were part of the gunfire, students who have been injured by the gunfire. Students who tracked in classrooms and barricading doors from the gunman.
I‘ve just been overwhelmed by the way they‘ve handled this.
CARLSON: Yesterday there were hints that there was going to be a much larger debate about the role of the university‘s administration in this tragedy. There is criticism that they did not respond quickly enough, they didn‘t close the campus, is that debate going to continue or has it ended?
GRAY: I think that was answered today when the chancellor stood up at that podium and got a rousing applause, a long applause. He asked the crowd to sit down, they continued to applaud. The people that matters the most to voiced their opinion today. It was those students, the parents, the family members in the coliseum who said we are here behind you, we are here as a family.
I think, that‘s .
CARLSON: I think you‘re probably right. What happens tonight?
GRAY: I think tonight is very emotional. Everyone talking about more than 40,000 people being here. It‘s a candlelight vigil. But it‘s been so windy out here today it may be tough to get the candles going.
That‘s not what is important tonight. The flames aren‘t what‘s important. It‘s the fellowship. It‘s the people being together. It‘s everyone bonding together, and I think you will see that, I think you will see a lot of tears.
But I also think just like at the end of the ceremony today in the coliseum. It ended on a very strong, upbeat note.
CARLSON: Yes, it did.
GRAY: Go, Hokies, go. I think we‘ll see that as well tonight.
CARLSON: And do you think - since you‘ve been covering this in dealing with the various officials whose job it is to parse out information. Are we going to find out more about the shooter and his motives and if so when?
GRAY: I think we will but I think it will be quite some time. I know that the investigators are being very patient, they are being very diligent in the investigation and they don‘t want to make any mistakes.
I also think that we are going to learn more about the victims. That‘s been very slow to come as well but you can understand that. No one wants a family member to find out about what‘s happened to a loved one from us, through the media, through us.
And they have done a good job, I believe, of making sure that‘s the way things happen, that they find the family members, everyone that needs to be notified and do that.
As for the shooter, I think there is a lot of background here and I think there is a lot that will come out on Mr. Cho. I think there were some signs. Were there signs enough that something should have been done? I don‘t think anybody can answer that question. But I think there were definitely signs.
CARLSON: NBC‘s Jay Gray. Thanks a lot, Jay, I appreciate it.
Up next we will talk to a student who was in the room, it was in German class, when the gunman banged on the door, came in and executed his fellow students. That is next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Maybe inevitably talk has turned not just to the gunman but to the weapon he used, to the guns, one a nine millimeter, one a .22 caliber, both pistols. I want to take you now, this is a sound bite from the gun shop owner who sold Cho one of the weapons, apparently one of the weapons used to kill 32 students here at Virginia Tech yesterday. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MARKELL, PRESIDENT, ROANOKE FIREARMS: I did not know until they got there that we had actually sold the gun.
QUESTION: What did you think when they told you?
MARKELL: Aw geez. I watched TV all day yesterday and I got to see the tragedy unfold and to find out that we sold that gun, just made me feel terrible. I do not feel responsible. He would have gotten a gun—he could have bought one legally anywhere.
I am just sorry he chose us. It‘s just a horrible tragedy. The one thing I don‘t believe though, I do not believe when he bought that gun five weeks ago that this was on his mind.
QUESTION: You don‘t?
MARKELL: Absolutely not.
QUESTION: Why not?
MARKELL: Well, in the first place, he could have bought everything right there, the extra magazines, the ammunition he needed. Nobody waits five weeks. You don‘t get mad and take revenge five weeks later. Something happened to that young man very quickly, got angry very quickly and he took advantage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining us now, former FBI profiler, Clint van Zandt. Boy, you‘ve got to - no matter where you are on gun control, you‘ve got to feel for the gun shop owner. This guy must—He must feel a burden. He clearly does feel a burden.
VAN ZANDT: I guess he should, Tucker, but the thing is, you and I talked during your show so far about how do you look at somebody and say this person is going to act out violently and this person is not?
Well, if we can‘t and if a psychiatrist can‘t, a gun shop owner surely can‘t. He did what he had to Tucker, he said let me see your drivers license and let me see your green card, give me $550 and you‘re a new gun owner.
CARLSON: That‘s not how it works in this country. You also have to have a federal background check.
VAN ZANDT: That‘s right. An instant background check.
CARLSON: My point is that the federal government puts its imprimatur on this and says, look, you are as far as we know sane and not a felon.
VAN ZANDT: We used to have a waiting period.
VAN ZANDT: You used to go in, you‘d do everything thing and there was this cooling of period.
CARLSON: Well, this was five weeks ago, so that‘s quite a waiting period.
VAN ZANDT: And this gentlemen, God bless him, whatever he is saying, it is not my fault. I agree with him to that degree.
And yet for him to start to suggest, well, something happened to this guy in the last five weeks. Something happened to him five weeks ago, that he said out of the clear blue sky, out of four years on this campus, today is the day I am going to go buy a semi automatic pistol and this will be the one I use to kill the majority of kids on this campus.
He had that gun for some reason, Tucker, and he went out and bought that backup gun, he bought that second gun too.
This is part of ongoing planning. The gun shop owner. He can‘t determine that. This is a much bigger issue. Should there be guns in our society? Should there be a waiting period? Should we have six round magazines as opposed to the 15 round magazines? These are greater issues than me.
And the answer is, if you want a gun Tucker in this country you can get a gun. Somehow, somewhere you can buy a gun. Maybe not as easy as this.
CARLSON: If you want a knife, you have a knife. If you want to take a quart milk bottle and fill it with gasoline, which is a pretty effective way to kill people you can do that.
And will point out that virtually every single pistol in the United States is a semi automatic pistol. Semi automatic merely means that it fires a round every time you pull the trigger. So they are all semiautomatic.
VAN ZANDT: Semi-automatics or revolvers. The bottom line is they either hold six or they hold 15 and 16.
VAN ZANDT: You‘re still throwing a lot of rounds downrange.
But Tucker, this guy, this shooter by my count had to shoot somewhere between probably 75 and 100 rounds. That is a lot of rounds going from classroom to classroom.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
VAN ZANDT: If you look back a month ago, the shooting that took place in New York City, where the police officers in New York shot that car up with these guys walking out of the club .
CARLSON: That‘s right.
VAN ZANDT: One police officer emptied two magazines, which was about 32 rounds, into that car. Here this guy probably shot three times as much. So we know how quickly you can put those rounds downrange, he didn‘t put them downrange, he put them into human beings.
CARLSON: He did. I wonder quickly - it strikes me it‘s always the same story. Something like this happens. What kind of weapon was it? No one is less informed about firearms than the media at all. I heard someone say, oh, a .22 pistol, that‘s a powerful gun, it‘s not.
But the point is I wonder if that‘s not a distraction from the question, why would a 23-year-old kid who is a college student, he is a success by definition, he is in college, why would he want to do this?
VAN ZANDT: He is ready to go out in life and start anew.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
VAN ZANDT: Well, when he bought a gun it looks like he made a decision maybe not to start anew, but to start something on this campus, what it turned out to be was the worst massacre in the history of college.
CARLSON: I hope we brood over that. And ask ourselves why someone, a promising man like this, would do something like this.
VAN ZANDT: My fear is that we are not going to find the answer.
CARLSON: My fear is we won‘t try. Thanks very much, Clint, I appreciate you coming on.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks very much.
When we come back we‘re going to talk to a boy, a student who was in a class as the gunman walked in and began executing his classmates. That is coming up.
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. Mechanical engineering major here at Virginia Tech. Trey, thanks for coming on.
TREY PERKINS, WAS IN NORRIS HALL CLASSROOM: You‘re welcome.
CARLSON: So you were in German language class yesterday morning.
PERKINS: Correct. I was in German. It was about 9:35 in the morning. We started hearing some gunshots.
CARLSON: Did you know they were gunshots?
PERKINS: No. It was just loud popping sounds. We didn‘t really know what it was but I thought that might be a possibility. But we did not—from the time we heard it until the time the man came in we did not really have time to think about it or do anything.
CARLSON: Did your teacher respond? Did the professor say anything when the shots rang out?
PERKINS: He kind of looked around. He asked me—looked at me and just asked, do you have any idea what that is? I said no. He asked Derek as well if he knew anything that it might. And he responded that he thought it might be a joke or something like that and then after that we did not really 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 and going row by row, just shooting people.
CARLSON: Did he say anything?
PERKINS: No. Not the entire time. He did not say a word.
CARLSON: How long did it take him from the moment here 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. That was the only noise I really heard at all. As soon as he started hooting, 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 minute and a half. I just laid on the ground. I just 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 and it was just chaotic. You would not expect to see it unless you were in like a war or something. And I walked over the Derrick who was also standing up, and we decided to go to the door and to block it off and make sure that he could not get back in.
CARLSON: Was Derrick injured?
PERKINS: Yeah, 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: Derrick, myself, and another student held the door. We used our feet and arms to just try to keep it closed. He tried to come back in, pushing on the door and trying to get back in but we were able to hold it of and keep it shut. We then fired four to six shots into the door. We could see holes coming through the other side.
CARLSON: So the rounds came through the door?
PERKINS: We are not sure if they actually went all the way through the door or if they just made indentations. We could not 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 the 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 to another room, I believe.
CARLSON: How long did you hold the door?
PERKINS: Twenty seconds probably.
CARLSON: And how did you leave building?
PERKINS: After that we kept hearing shots so we did not really do anything. I just went around and 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. Trying to stop any bleeding and trying to go and do whatever we would. I used a beanie to, a hat to try to stop the bleeding a girl had on her face.
But it was just really tough. And a lot of people were not conscious at the point. And at that point we started hearing police and they came into the hall way. We opened the door and showed them our hands just so they knew we were not the gunmen and we were escorted out of the building.
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 anybody else from that class?
PERKINS: I talked to one other student, Derrick. He sat next to me.
And I have been talking with him throughout yesterday and today.
CARLSON: How many students are out of the hospital and OK?
PERKINS: I have 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, a student here at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. I have interviewed a lot of people who have recently seen trauma and I cannot remember the last time I talked to someone who had himself under such complete control, who was as calm, as articulate, as thoughtful as Trey Perkins. Really, a credit to this school and not alone at this school, either.
His demeanor is almost exactly that of everybody we‘ve talked to here. We have been welcomed by the community at Virginia Tech and we‘re grateful for that. We are grateful for you watching this show, both hours of it. We will be back tomorrow, possibly later tonight.
We leave you with these images of the tragedy yesterday here in Blacksburg, Virginia. Chris Matthews and HARDBALL next. Brian Williams‘ interview with George W. Bush will be on HARDBALL. See you tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.