Guests: Thedric Jones, Drew Pinsky, Brian Williams, David Caplan, Carmen Rasmusen
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, of course, the killer speaks from beyond the grave through a multi-media manifesto sent directly to NBC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO SEUNG-HUI, VIRGINIA TECH GUNMAN: I did it. I had to.
You had a hundred 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)
SCARBOROUGH: His angry and chilling words and images sent between killing sprees—we‘ll show it to you and talk about it straight ahead.
NBC received these tapes and understands they are the words of a murderer. But we also believe the words and images will provide a window into the disturbed mind that was responsible for the worst shooting in U.S. history. Tonight, we bring you all the latest on the innocent lives that ended tragically on Monday morning. And immediately after receiving the killer‘s manifesto, NBC News sent the package to authorities, who right now are poring over the material as we speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. W. STEVEN FLAHERTY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Upon receipt of this correspondence, NBC News immediately notified authorities. And I certainly want to commend NBC News for what they‘ve done, the way that they‘ve secured this information, they way they‘ve handled it with dignity. We certainly appreciate that. And I publicly thank NBC News president Steve Capus that I‘ve personally spoken with, thank him for working with us. This may be a very new, critical component of this investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: But other critical components of the investigation came out today also. This disturbing communication was not the only revelation that surfaced today about the gunman. Tonight, we‘ve learned a Virginia court in 2005 found Cho Seung-Hui mentally ill and an imminent danger to others. That‘s right, an imminent danger to others. The judge in the 2005 case commanded campus police to take him to a mental facility and have him evaluated.
And more stories throughout the week, throughout this day, tonight still coming from people who knew him and regarded him as disturbed, withdrawn, and showing mannerisms that should have been a warning to all.
So many questions tonight. Why did this killer send a package to this network between killing sprees? And if a judge determined him to be an imminent danger to others two years ago, why was he able to buy semi-automatic handguns that were used to kill 32 of his fellow students?
We‘re joined right now by Pete Williams in New York. He‘s got the latest on the disturbing contents of the package. Also Michelle Kosinski on the Virginia Tech campus with student reaction.
Pete, let‘s start with you tonight. What do you have?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the package was sent to NBC News, as you say, mailed on Monday. It arrived and was opened today. And it appeared to be the real thing from the beginning.
(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.
CHO: When the time came, I did it. I had to.
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.
CHO: You had a hundred 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.
WILLIAMS: Much of it is incoherent, laced with profanity. He rails against hedonism and Christianity.
CHO: You just loved crucifying me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart and raping my soul all this time.
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.
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 (DELETED), I did it for them.
WILLIAMS: Joe, as you can tell, it‘s very hard to make much sense out of any of this. The “you” that he refers to in these tapes and in the writings doesn‘t appear to be addressed to anyone in specific. There‘s no address to any person on this envelope. And inside is just all this stuff from him. It‘s not—there‘s no cover letter or anything like that. It‘s obviously the work of a very disturbed young man.
And I think something else that‘s striking about this, from what we know from some of his classmates in high school and especially in college, these are probably more words than they ever heard from Cho Seung-Hui when he was alive. They say he seldom spoke up in class. He wouldn‘t make eye contact with people. He almost always just passed people in the hall or on campus and didn‘t say anything. Obviously, on his own with his videocamera in whatever period of weeks before the shooting that he started recording all of this, he had a lot on his mind.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and Pete, also, obviously, NBC‘s being extremely careful with these contents. We‘ve been working with law enforcement people from the very beginning. But there‘s a lot more that NBC‘s received that they‘re not showing, correct?
WILLIAMS: Yes. I mean, there are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, it‘s simply—I would say, I don‘t know, maybe half of it is profanity and obscenity. It‘s—you have to really kind of negotiate an obstacle course to find sentences here or there. And even then, you could tell we had to bleep some parts out that isn‘t just unfit for putting on the public airwaves. And the other thing is, I think there‘s a concern here at NBC News that if you put too much of this stuff out—I mean, obviously, he took some inspiration from the shooters in Columbine, and I think NBC doesn‘t want him to become an inspiration to somebody else who‘s similarly disturbed.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. NBC News‘s Pete Williams, thank you so much.
SCARBOROUGH: Now to Michelle Kosinski, on campus at Virginia Tech.
Michelle, I would guess that students there have to be outraged by what they‘ve been seeing on TV tonight. What can you tell us about reaction there?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are a lot of emotions out there. In fact, it surprised us as we walked around campus this evening just how many of these kids, who all have their own schedules and things going on, different lives and things to do—how many of them had seen this air at 6:30 on NBC and just the immediate reaction to it. It seemed like everyone was talking about it.
And some of them were watching in dorms or local restaurants. Many of them were watching this together, and they said that the reaction was something between a stunned silence and feeling physically sick. One young woman who‘s a freshman described it as just rubbing salt in wounds, plunging a knife deeper. One parent we talked to reacted with immediate tears.
Here‘s just some of what we‘re hearing out there tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems like he was trying to, you know, be like—make it that he had a reason to, which he didn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just wanted to have a reason to, and also for everyone to—he wanted to get his voice out, and no one wants to listen to him at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just feel like he threw salt on all of our wounds and (INAUDIBLE) knife was pushed deeper into the wounds, so—
(INAUDIBLE) you know, leave a lasting impression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: It‘s really tough to see this reaction. I mean, you know that these students and this community have suffered so much, and you go out there—they‘re already in mourning, and now this comes out and just adds to it. I mean, it‘s a lot for them to have to comprehend and process, to hear this person‘s voice, the person who did all of this.
What struck them most, many people said, were those photos showing him pointing the gun at the camera. You know, of course, the description (ph). The thing that they‘re left with in their minds is feeling like that is what the victims saw, these people who they knew and had class with every day.
And there is anger out there. There‘s also sadness. And you really get both sides of the coin, in some ways, because you have some students saying, after seeing this, no way could they ever feel any sense of sorrow for this person. But on the other hand, you have some parents thinking of his parents and his family and saying they do feel sorry for this person, who they say is obviously sick and was in need of help—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. NBC News‘s Michelle Kosinski at Virginia Tech, thank you so much for that report.
Now, before we hear from one of the killer‘s roommates, let‘s take another look at some of the video that the killer sent to NBC News today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: You just love crucifying me. You loved inducing cancer in head, terrorizing my hart and ripping my soul all this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s bring in one of Cho‘s suitemates, Thedric Jones.
He was one of the last people to see the killer on Monday morning. Thedric, thank you so much for being with us. Talk about—before you talk about these tapes, when‘s the last time you saw him?
THEDRIC JONES, CHO‘S SUITEMATE: Oh, I saw him between 5:00 and 6:00 that morning in the bathroom. I was coming out and he was just coming in.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, this is a guy that hardly ever talked to you all. How did he act...
JONES: He never talked at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Did he act surprised when he saw you?
JONES: I startled him a little because I was—he was reaching for the door as I was coming out. But I saw nothing different in his demeanor. Not saying it was normal or anything, but for him, it was normal.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, Pete Williams said just a minute or two earlier that for those in college that were around him, the words on these tapes are probably more words than people around him ever heard him speak. Is that true with you, a guy that lived with him this past year? Had you ever heard him talk this much?
JONES: He never said anything to me at all. The only time I heard him speak on the first day of classes last August. I heard him speaking in Korean to his parents, and that was it.
JONES: He didn‘t say nothing else after that.
SCARBOROUGH: And so what‘s your reaction to this tape, and your friends around you and all the people at Virginia Tech?
JONES: I was—I haven‘t seen much of it, but what I saw, I was a little surprised by it because I haven‘t—like I said, I haven‘t heard him say anything. I haven‘t seen any emotion from him or anything like that.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Thedric Jones. Really, it‘s so stunning, again, for Thedric and other people that lived with this guy. They‘d never heard him talk at all, and now he‘s making this manifesto.
I‘ll tell you what. Let‘s bring in some people right now to talk about why the killer sent NBC News such troubling documents. Let‘s bring in Dr. Drew Pinsky, the psychiatrist who hosts radio show “Love Line.” He‘s the author of the book “Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again.”
And Dr. Drew, of course, somebody in your profession likes to believe,
I would think—I certainly like to believe—that you can reach out and
help people like this. I always tell my boys, you know, Help those people
that everybody else ignores, that they pick on, you know, try to bring them
out of their shell. But this young man, this killer, you know, he seemed -
by looking at these tapes and from people that knew him, seemed like he was beyond help. What do you make of these tapes?
DR. DREW PINSKY, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, he‘s beyond talk, is what it is.
He had a chronic mental illness in which his brain was working clearly
abnormally. He developed an acute psychotic state that became associated
with grandiose acting-out and these bizarre plans of feeling put upon,
feeling sort of unjustly criticized, and that developed into aggression. I
mean, this is not unusual for somebody with chronic thought disorders to go
spiral out of control if they don‘t take their medication. It‘s why we use medication to treat conditions like this. They are not amenable much to talk. You can‘t do—you can‘t reason with somebody whose brain isn‘t working normally and for whom the reason functions, particularly, are not working at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Why did he send this package to NBC?
PINSKY: It‘s part of the sort of profile, really, of somebody who‘s a mass killer like this, is they have very grandiose needs. Their sense of expansiveness and grandiosity is really part of this particular syndrome.
The really interesting question here is, How can you tell whether somebody with a chronic psychiatric condition is going to escalate to this point? How do you identify those people who are risk? Now, one of the things we do in psychiatric hospitals is we hold people against their will for a short time and try to determine if they are someone who‘s likely to be able to return to society on medication.
Our problem is, in our society, you can‘t force people to take their medication. I mean, “DATELINE” had just run an episode the night before on exactly this case in a small town, where a chronic mentally ill patient didn‘t take his medication and went out and killed six people. This is what happens if people are not monitored carefully. Or more importantly even, institutions aren‘t available to capture these people that are suffering and refer them and insist that they follow their medical plan as a condition for them staying in the institution, such as a college.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Dr. Drew, a lot of people are looking back, and it‘s easy to—you know, hindsight is really 20/20. But you look at the judge who in 2005 said this man was not just a threat to himself but he was an imminent danger to others...
PINSKY: But Joe, you can only hold somebody for 72 hours on that information. I mean, that‘s all you can do. And after that 72 hours—this is the way the law is. You can sometimes apply for a 14-day hold, but that‘s very difficult. You cannot put somebody away against their will because they are a potential harm to self or other or gravely disabled because when they‘re on medication, they get better. They do get better, and then they say, Sure I‘m going to keep taking my medication, and then they don‘t. That‘s the weakness in our system.
SCARBOROUGH: And I was going to say, so what do we do? You have these teachers that say that, We saw a problem with him. He read a poem in a poetry class, something like 75 percent of his classmates refused to come back. I mean, there were warning signs all along. So what do we do?
SCARBOROUGH: We just—we just throw our hands up and say we can‘t do anything?
PINSKY: No. You know what? It‘s 2007. It‘s time we release our ideologies from the pre-Elizabethan times. The fact is, it‘s not, Hey, whatever you‘re into, it‘s free speech, that‘s OK. There are specific signs of when someone needs referral and help. The institutions—for instance, the RAs, the resident advisers, are a great screen for this kind of thing. They should educate these young people to pick up these kids who are in trouble and mandate that they get—they get ongoing care as a condition for ongoing education. But we have this...
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
PINSKY: ... ideological background. It‘s a free country. You can do whatever you want, say whatever you want, just what you‘re into, dude.
SCARBOROUGH: And it leads to this. Dr. Drew, stay with us. We‘ve got a lot more.
Still ahead, we‘re going to be hearing more from the gunman‘s tape, as well as NBC‘s Brian Williams is going to be talking to us about the content of the killer‘s package and new questions about the school‘s response. (INAUDIBLE) several people on campus were scared of this man and let officials know about it.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s hear more about the killer railing against the so-called rich kid society at Virginia Tech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: To you sadistic snobs, I may be nothing but a piece of (DELETED). You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic‘s boy‘s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.
Do you know what it feels like to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have your slashed from ear to ear? Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled—impaled upon a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement?
You have never felt a single ounce of pain in your whole life, yet you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can, just because you can. You‘ve had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn‘t enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren‘t enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn‘t enough. Your vodka and cognac weren‘t enough. All your debaucheries weren‘t enough. Those weren‘t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You‘ve had everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: For reaction to that chilling video sent to NBC News today, we‘re joined now by Andy, another one of the killer‘s roommates. Andy, you knew this guy for some time. Did you ever see any hints of this type of thought process or this type of anger coming from your roommate?
ANDY, SUITEMATE OF SHOOTER: That‘s a completely different person than we lived with last year. He never talked out loud or was never that angry. If he said anything, it was soft and just a few words.
SCARBOROUGH: Did you ever—did you ever carry on a conversation with him? It seems that so many people that have been in his life over the past several years, whether at school or at home, just never were able even to get a sentence out of this guy. Did—were you ever able to communicate with him?
ANDY: Most of the time I communicated with him was over Instant Messenger. That was his preferred method. Hiding behind the computer was easier than talking face to face for him.
SCARBOROUGH: Did you have any meaningful communications with him at all when you were IM-ing him?
ANDY: Nothing was ever serious with him.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. What about—what about this tape? What‘s your reaction to the tape? And does it frighten you that you actually lived with this guy?
ANDY: When I first saw it tonight, I was pretty shook up. I was scared when I saw all the pictures of him holding the guns and posing with them. That—seeing that now makes it more real than—last year, I just never would have seen this coming.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Andy. Thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your insights. Everybody‘s trying to figure out exactly what was going on through this—with this young man‘s mind.
Let‘s move on now, and we want to bring in—we have Dr. Drew Pinsky
he‘s still with us, along with former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt.
Clint, what can you tell us about why this guy sent this tape to NBC?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, Joe, when I look at it—and obviously, I‘ll defer to Drew. He‘s looked at a lot of people like this, too. But this is someone I expected to leave a journal, to leave some manifesto, Joe. I mean, first of all, you know, the guy‘s an English major. That‘s what he does, he writes. So with all this pent-up anger, frustration, rage that we believe he‘s had, there was no doubt in my mind that he would have left some type of document. But you know, I thought we‘d find it on his laptop or printed out in his room.
When he sends this, Joe, you know, my belief is that this guy, this shooter, this individual, he wanted to punish those around him, those that he held responsible for all of his failures in life, and his ultimate punishment he dealt out on Monday. But he had a one-two punch, I think, Joe. The second one was perhaps even committing suicide, going to his death, realizing that a day or two days later, he could reach out from the grave. He could take his manifesto, his words, his pictures, he could grind these on our face.
And Joe, we wouldn‘t have the opportunity to reply. We couldn‘t refute. We couldn‘t say that‘s wrong. We couldn‘t tell him he‘s wrong. He‘s probably tired of being told he‘s wrong in his life, and this was his last chance to say it without anyone challenging him on what he said.
Now, the thing—of course, we don‘t know what impact he would have thought these pictures would have had on the families of the deceased. But obviously, it‘s just overwhelming for people to look at this.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and Clint, he also left, obviously, a lot of clues for investigators, didn‘t he. I mean, this—this—obviously, you could draw some parallels with the Unabomber.
VAN ZANDT: Well, I do. I‘ve drawn those earlier today, you know, with the Unabomber leaving his 40,000, plus or minus, manifesto. You know, that gave us a lot of clues. That allowed, you know, us to candle his head, kind of look inside and see who that person was.
You know, I‘m—there‘s part of me, Joe, that‘s glad we have this to look at, so we can answer some of these questions. And Joe, there‘s another part of me that‘s so angry. I mean, I‘m angry at a dead man, that he has the ability to reach out and punish this campus one more time by his actions.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Drew, is it a good or bad thing that we have these tapes to study this killer?
PINSKY: I think it‘s good that we come to understand these kinds of things, but I would really caution everyone—it is a natural tendency to want to make sense of this. Why would someone behave like this? And let me share with you my experience as a medical student, when I used to see cases like this on the ward. They‘re so agitated and so bizarre and so senseless, when—and this is different than the Unabomber in that this kid is an acutely agitated state, not a chronic state of paranoia, but an acutely agitated state.
And I used to think to myself, Boy, it‘s like a waking seizure. It‘s like they‘re seizing and their brain is discharging in irrational and unmanageable ways. There are behaviors associated with this that we kind of recognize, and they kind of are purposeful. But you give them medication, and a few hours later or a few days later, they don‘t remember this. They can‘t make sense of it. It‘s nothing like what they‘re feeling in the moment a few days later.
So I caution you from trying to consider this a motivated state, the way you or I or those of us with rational brains, non-diseased brains...
PINSKY: ... would use to make choices.
SCARBOROUGH: Just a true mental illness. Dr. Drew Pinsky, stick with us. Clint, stick around also because we‘re going to have more on the disturbing footage sent to NBC News. And we‘re going to be hearing next from Brian Williams, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” and we‘re going to take a look at some of the innocent lives that were cut so short as we learn tonight more about the 32 people whose lives ended so suddenly on Monday morning.
SCARBOROUGH: As we keep learning more about Cho Seung-Hui, we‘re also learning more about the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. NBC‘s Mike Taibbi gives us some more insights into the amazing lives that were tragically lost this Monday morning.
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today the first funeral for Romanian-born engineering professor and Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu, whose students say he gave his life to save theirs.
Now, the details of all the victims‘ stories are emerging, providing a fuller picture of just how much was lost in those bursts of gunfire. Julia Pryde of New Jersey, who was focusing on watershed management. Juan Ramon Ortiz of Puerto Rico, who was pursuing a degree in engineering and had a young bride at home. And Caitlin Hammaren of New York, who loved horses, tennis and the violin, and whose friends say was beloved for her generosity.
KRISTEN WICKHAM, CAITLIN HAMMAREN‘S BEST FRIEND: She‘s just always been here through everything that I‘ve been through.
TAIBBI: The victims represented such diversity, from at least 10 states and seven foreign countries, travelers between many cultures. Nineteen-year-old Mary Karen Read was born to an Air Force father and a Korean mother and was ready, her friends said, to spread her wings.
German Professor Jamie Bishop wanted his students to not just learn the language, but to love it, as he did. Canada‘s Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, a mother of two daughters, taught French. And Daniel Perez Cueva of Peru, who studied French, and whose mother is now in such grief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It‘s hard. It‘s hard to believe that my son is dead.
TAIBBI: There was a special agony being endured by the parents of the victims. Everyone here is in pain, of course, but those parents are hurting most of all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s her favorite senior picture.
TAIBBI: The parents of Austin Cloyd, who loved volleyball and basketball and rehabbing houses for a local charity, are devastated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make the best memories that you can make with your kids, because someday that may be all you have left. That‘s what we have left now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we have lots of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we have lots of good ones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lots of good ones.
TAIBBI: All over this vast campus, there were small gatherings of students and parents sharing their thoughts and holding onto each other, waiting for time to start doing its healing work.
Mike Taibbi, NBC News, Blacksburg, Virginia.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Mike.
And, you know, the more we learn about these students, the more we understand what remarkable young people were taken from us, sons, daughters, and you heard there the mother of two young girls. And, again, there were so much warning signs, warning signs that judges had, that school officials had, and you just wonder how something like this happened.
Well, still ahead, we‘re going to be hearing from NBC‘s Brian Williams about what exactly is in the killer‘s disturbing package. That is coming up right after these messages.
And later, new information about this man‘s past, including the complaints against him that seemingly went unnoticed.
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s the latest in tonight‘s breaking news in the Virginia Tech massacre. We learned tonight the 23-year-old gunman responsible for Monday‘s mass killing sent photographs, videos and a manifesto in writing to NBC News in New York City in between his two shooting sprees on Monday. The package NBC received was a rambling, multimedia diatribe of grievances, which NBC immediately turned over to authorities.
Here now with all the details and the very latest is NBC‘s Brian Williams.
Brian, what do you have?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Joe, I should start out by making a couple of points, and the first one should be obvious, and that is no joy in this. This was a sick business having to look through this, to read through it, to see the videos, the still pictures, and to realize what this meant.
We landed from Virginia Tech at 1:30 this afternoon. Our pagers were going off that this had arrived. And just because we can‘t repeat some of these details often enough, it‘s because the address and zip code were wrong. They had to be hand-corrected. That‘s how this lost a day, as an overnight package sent on Monday for Tuesday arrival.
It‘s because of a sharp-eyed New York City postal worker who saw the Blacksburg, Virginia, return address and this Ax Ishmael as the return name, who hand-delivered it to us and thought it to be notable. Then it was opened up, the first copy, the original, went right to the feds. We made a copy of the contents. After all, it arrived as our property, but we knew our responsibility in this.
And, of course, here we were, straddling the line between being almost duty bound to broadcast the greatest single piece of advancement in the largest ever piece of gun crime in the United States and holding back on some of this that may have, shall we say, negative social consequences, knowing that these broadcasts don‘t area in a vacuum.
The so-called multimedia manifesto, which was all I could think to call it when “Nightly News” went on the air tonight, just some of the pictures from it, the point of a knife, the gun being pointed at the camera, a picture of hollow-point bullets that‘s almost artistic in its composition.
And it goes on and on from here, all the way through, more photos of him, emphasizing the vest, the weapons, another knife above his head. And then the page I picked out that talks about Eric and Dylan, the “martyrs,” “we martyrs.” He puts himself with the Columbine gunmen.
But then there are pages of densely packed print. I probably couldn‘t read more than two to three sentences, probably not even two sentences back to back, on a family broadcast because of the profanity. It‘s laced with comments about the rich. It is laced with a kind of a narcissism that permeates all of this. It is truly creepy, beyond sad, beyond troubling to look at.
And we all understood here the fact that we are really completing his thesis by airing this at all. And that was, this was his statement from the grave, released perversely between shootings to a news organization. We don‘t know why we were chosen. It was addressed to no one in particular; no one particular is mentioned in this.
This is his statement from the grave. He wanted to be heard. We‘re allowing him to be heard in a limited way, because it advances maybe our understanding of why 32 people were killed along the way during one day, the last day of his life.
So this is our summation of what arrived here today at NBC. The feds will pour through this. We realize it is troubling material. We were most fearful that it would reach somehow families, those affected by the killings, who didn‘t know to expect it, but we passed along the salient portions tonight nonetheless, again emphasizing there is no joy in this whatsoever, especially those of us with kids in college.
Joe, for now, back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Brian. And, Brian, of course, like so many of us, has a child in college. This is very personal for him and myself, and so many others who have spent the past several days on the phone with our children. And it is so disturbing for so many people, certainly especially for Virginia Tech parents.
So was the Virginia Tech shooter a ticking time bomb that was waiting to explode? And how did officials miss all the warning signs? Now, according to court records obtained today by NBC News, in 2005, a Virginia judge found Cho to be, quote, “mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and he presents an imminent danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness.” And that‘s just the tip of the iceberg.
NBC‘s senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers takes us through all the warning signs that are just now coming to light.
LISA MYERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virginia Tech police revealed today that Cho had been on their radar for years, after a series of complaints and warnings from four students, teachers and acquaintances.
CHIEF W.R. FLINCHUM, VA TECH POLICE DEPARTMENT: We did have contact with Cho in the fall of 2005.
MYERS: The first warning, November 2005. A female classmate complains to police that Cho is stalking her, but won‘t press charges.
Fall 2005, creative writing Professor Lucinda Roy says Cho‘s violent writing and bizarre behavior disturbed her so much she called in campus police and counseling.
LUCINDA ROY, VA TECH PROFESSOR: I‘ve been teaching for 22 years. And I realized that this was a student—one of the most disturbed students I‘ve ever scene.
MYERS: December 2005, another female student tells police Cho is bugging her with instant messages. Police interview Cho. The next day, an acquaintance of Cho‘s tells police Cho may be suicidal.
FLINCHUM: Officers again met with Cho and talked with him at length.
Out of concern for Cho, officers asked him to speak to a counselor.
MYERS: The school then obtains this temporary detention order, which calls Cho mentally ill and an imminent danger to self or others. Cho was briefly hospitalized here, evaluated, then released.
CHRIS FLYNN, COOK COUNTY COUNSELING CENTER: Clearly, if anyone had any warning about a violent incident, then people would have stepped in and acted.
MYERS: But law enforcement authorities say there was so many red flags that the school should have done more.
MIKE SHEEHAN, NBC NEWS SECURITY EXPERT: I think the university should have put their arms around him a lot more aggressively, a lot more proactively than they did over the last 18 months.
MYERS: Today, a possible explanation for the critical two-hour delay in alerting students and state police about the first shooting. A search warrant indicates police immediately zeroed in on the wrong man, Carl Thornhill, a student at a nearby college described as the boyfriend of Emily Hilscher, one of two killed in the dorm.
Police stopped Thornhill on Route 460 and were interrogating him on the side of the road when reports came of a second shooting.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Lisa Myers.
So did campus officials drop the ball and miss warning signs? Still with us, psychiatrist Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Dr. Drew, I guess the important question tonight is, if my child or somebody else‘s child who‘s on a college campus is fearful for their lives, from a character like this, what do they do? Do we have any reason to believe that law enforcement officers will get more aggressive to stop these types of killings in the future?
DR. DREW PINSKY, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you‘re asking a rather complex question about our mental health system. As you see, once he was declared mentally ill, he was hospitalized. The problem is, you can only hold someone against their will for 72 hours, and they‘re aggressively treated during that time. They often improve greatly. There are criteria that they must meet by law in order to keep them longer.
They usually are, indeed, a lot better. They‘re medicated. They agree they will take their medication, and off they go. The problem is, how do you capture these people and follow them to be sure that they follow the program that can keep them from decompensating into this kind of a state?
SCARBOROUGH: And is there a way to coordinate with law enforcement officers, so if the law enforcement officers have to keep going up to this guy‘s dorm room, and saying, you know, you‘ve got to quit stalking these people, you‘ve got to stop threatening people in your classrooms, that somehow we can...
PINSKY: I think it‘s a very simple issue, which is, you‘re not allowed to stay at an institution—I mean, there should be some sort of mechanism whereby this young man should have been followed at the health services there at that institution, that there have been letters by doctors on a monthly basis that he‘s complying with treatment. Really, law enforcement can‘t do anything, except the fact that, if they get called, they could report to the administration and say, “This young man does not seem to be following his plan.”
Unfortunately, we really have nothing like this in place right now. I would love to see a day when we train our resident advisers to pick up these kinds of things, as well, because I think they could be a very appropriate sort of screen for picking up these kinds of kids.
But, you know, you‘re really getting right at, not at educational institutions so much, but weaknesses in our laws and our treatment of the mentally ill. We cannot force people to take medication in this country and we cannot hold them against their will unless they‘re imminently a danger to others. Potentially a danger to others, you can‘t hold them, but imminently. And that‘s why he got held for a couple of days.
SCARBOROUGH: Unfortunately, there are too many holes that people can slip through, like you said earlier tonight. Dr. Drew Pinsky, I know it was tough for you to be with us tonight. We really do appreciate you coming and sharing your insights with America. Very, very important. Thank you.
Still ahead, we‘re going to be hearing from one of the killer‘s roommates about what he was like in the shocking video that was sent to NBC News and his reaction to that video, when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, by all accounts I‘ve heard, Cho was pretty much a loner who kept to himself, but one of his suitemates is with us now with reaction to these disturbing pictures and this multimedia manifesto sent to NBC News.
Karan Grewal, Karan, thank you for being with us again tonight. Tell us what you were thinking when you saw this chilling tape from your former suitemate?
KARAN GREWAL, CHO SEUNG-HUI‘S SUITEMATE: It was a really scary experience to see those video. My first thoughts were, oh, my God, maybe he was acting all along, the entire year. Because my first thoughts of him when I met him last year was that he was shy and didn‘t have much confidence, because he never looked us in the eye. But when I saw those videos and his staring into the camera, it totally changed our perspective about him. And I saw the backdrop of where he was shooting those videos, and it looked exactly like our common area, where we hang out and pass every day.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think he shot this in your suite area?
GREWAL: I can‘t be sure, but the walls look exactly like our suite.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you asking yourself tonight how in the world this guy could have hidden this from you for so long? I mean, this side of him, that‘s so angry, that‘s so evil?
GREWAL: I don‘t know he hid it, but I was glad that I never witnessed it, because he had those guns with him. And, you know, if I ever walked in on him, he could have gotten mad or crazy and, you know, done something bad.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Did you guys every know that he had guns in the room?
GREWAL: No, I didn‘t even know he had a video camera or even a still camera or even if he was working on these documents on his computer. He was always writing something on his computer, but I never saw him making a video.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, he also kept to himself, right, never communicated with you?
GREWAL: No, ever. It just seemed to me, when I saw those videos, you know, he was acting the entire year.
SCARBOROUGH: Wow. Well, it certainly has to be very frightening for you tonight, very disturbing to know that you lived in the midst of this killer.
Karan, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
And still ahead, this terrible tragedy is actually even infiltrating pop culture. You know, “American Idol” has gotten caught in the middle of the Virginia Tech massacre. And, tonight, Simon Cowell had to face some music. I mean, I‘ll tell you, there are a lot of people very angry because they believed that he rolled his eyes when somebody dedicated a song to those who lost their lives at Virginia Tech. Tonight, the big revelation on the show. We‘ll talk about it when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Even “American Idol‘s” wrapped up in the Virginia Tech massacre, after cameras caught Simon rolling his eyes when Chris Richardson, the guy from Virginia, commented on the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS RICHARDSON, “AMERICAN IDOL”: My heart and prayers go out to Virginia Tech. I have a lot of friends over there, and I just—be strong.
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”: Yes, well-said. Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, “Idol” faced the music, taking the dramatic step of addressing the issue by replaying that clip, turning up Simon and Paula‘s mikes. And, sure enough, they were talking about something else.
Here now, former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen. Her new single is “Nothing like the Summer.” And also, “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
Carmen, it certainly looked to a lot of people like Simon was rolling his eyes while this guy was talking about the tragedy. What do you think?
CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: Yes, it definitely did, and that was simply bad timing on Simon‘s part, bad body language. I know Simon personally. And as cold as a lot people think he is and cruel as he is, he‘s not heartless. And it was such a horrible thing that‘s happened to our country, and all of our hearts and prayers are going out to those people, even Simon‘s cold heart.
I think that he truly—watching the tape back, I just watched “American Idol”—and watching him talk to Paula, he really truly was not listening to a thing Chris was saying. And they, in fact, turned the mikes down so you could hear their conversation. And it was just horrible timing, and he should have been listening. And it‘s sad that, you know, he had to—I‘m very glad he apologized, and I think that a lot of people will accept his apology now.
SCARBOROUGH: David Caplan, obviously this is something that FOX and “American Idol” and Simon had to be very, very concerned about it. They got out very aggressively today, didn‘t they?
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: yes, and they did the right thing.
They had to be very aggressive about it...
RASMUSEN: They did.
CAPLAN: ... because FOX affiliates across the country received complaints about this, so, of course, viewers were concerned. And FOX was already in the hot seat. In fact, an episode of their TV show called “Bones” is being pulled this week because a storyline involves a body being found on a college campus. So they‘re very aware of this, and they‘re very cognizant of the problems they‘re having from this.
SCARBOROUGH: David, so, of course, tonight, they tried to take care of it. Do you think it‘s all behind them? Do you think they proved that Simon was not mocking this dedication to the students who lost their lives at Virginia Tech?
CAPLAN: I do think that. It‘s going to be quickly behind them, because they did an excellent job in proving it. You know, luckily they had the tapes. I mean, what else could we ask for?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And, Carmen, I‘ll ask you the same thing. Do you think they‘re putting it behind them?
RASMUSEN: I do think so. And I think that Simon made a great move apologizing, and I think that Chris was nice to pay respect to those people. And I think that this will quickly be forgotten.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, well, thank you all so much. I greatly appreciate it, Carmen Rasmusen. Thank you, David Caplan.
RASMUSEN: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And, obviously, just an absolute tragedy. And, again, “American Idol,” I understand it hasn‘t aired on the West Coast, but I do understand they go to great lengths tonight to explain that Simon Cowell was not rolling his eyes when this young man did the right thing, did what a lot of Americans wanted to see, and that is just take a break and remember those who lost their lives so tragically this past Monday morning.
Well, stay with us for a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “The Massacre at Virginia Tech.” That‘s going to be starting right now.
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