'You don't think this would happen'


'You don't think this would happen'


33 dead, at least 15 injured in worst rampage in U.S. history
By: Kellie Bramlet and Megan Hupp
Posted: 4/17/07

Loren Goble left Randolf Hall at Virginia Tech Monday morning and set out to her next class. But the senior at the Blacksburg, Va. school encountered chaos when she got to Norris Hall.

"I saw someone jump out a window. I heard people screaming. I saw students running," she said.

Goble turned and ran back to Randolf Hall, where she remained in lockdown for the next six hours.

"I was supposed to be in the classroom that the shooting took place in. I usually even get there a little early," Goble said. "My professor was shot in the face. Four students were shot. One was shot three times."

Though there is widespread speculation that one gunman had massacred 32 people, cutting down his victims in two attacks two hours apart before the university could grasp what was happening and warn students, the possibility of a second gunman has not yet been eliminated.

The bloodbath ended with the gunman allegedly committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33. Monday's events constituted the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

Much earlier, Brad Shapiro, a junior, headed to breakfast. On his way he passed eight or nine police cars outside of West Ambler Johnston Hall, but he had no idea what had happened.

Neither did freshman Charlotte Savercool when she left Ambler Johnston and walked to her 9 a.m. class.

"I thought it was a normal day," she said.

The day was anything but. On her way out of class, Savercool was met by the usual herd of students. Rather than worrying about the homework they hadn't done, these students were distressed about something else. They had heard rumors about the morning's events, but knew little information.

Trying to avoid the chaos, Savercool returned to her classroom. Professors told the students to sit on the floor and stay away from the windows. They would remain there, in lockdown, for the next three hours.

"We were pretty scared," she said. "We couldn't get in contact with anyone."

Shapiro found himself in a similar situation. He entered his classroom, where his professor told the students to run to an adjcent building, away from the site of the second shooting. They stayed in that classroom for the next few hours.

"My initial reaction was confusion because I didn't know what was going on," he said. "Now I just feel completely sick. This is Blacksburg, not Compton. Things like this aren't supposed to happen here."

In another locked-down classroom, Goble comforted people who had seen the shootings. SWAT teams carried in a professor, bleeding from a gunshot wound to his arm. They set him down and hurried away to bring in more hysterical students who had witnessed the rampage.

Goble said she spoke to one student who had built a barricade in a classroom using his own body and the teacher's desk to keep out the gunman. Walking down the hall when he heard gunshots, the student found refuge in a classroom. The gunman slammed himself against the door trying to get in. With no success he fired several shots through the door. Goble said the student had pieces of the door stuck to his shirt.

The other side of campus was quieter. Kelly Davis, a freshman, returned from her 8 a.m. chemistry lab a little tired. She checked her instant messaging program and saw an away message from a friend who lives in Ambler Johnston. The message said something about a shooting, but Davis disregarded it and went back to bed.

Other students found out what had happened in the following moments. Freshman Sarah Burka said she was getting ready for her 10 a.m. class when she received two e-mails from school officials. One, sent at 9:29 a.m., informed the students there had been a shooting. Another, sent about 20 minutes later, told students of a gunman loose on campus and warned students to stay where they were.

Burka said the e-mail immediately reminded her of last semester when a prisoner escaped from a nearby jail. She thought Monday's situation would be similar.

"I didn't expect it to be this bad, and I'm just in shock basically," she said.

Burka said she considered going home to Fairfax, Va., located about four hours away from the university, but decided to stay. She and her friends remained in the dorms for the rest of the day in uncertainty.

It was difficult to detect which tear-stained faces had lost a friend or classmate, Burka said.

"People are generally more sad," she said. "It's hard to interact."

Chris Barrett, a junior, discovered the buses weren't running while on his way to class. He had heard of the shooting, but didn't know its extent.

"I thought it was pretty contained. It wasn't till later that I found out how big it was," he said.

Another university e-mail sent around 10:30 a.m. canceled class for the rest of Monday and today.

"It's weird they didn't cancel class immediately," Barrett said. "That's why there were still people in the (academic) buildings two hours later."

Apart from the delay, Barrett said he thought the university handled the tragedy well.

Junior Griffin O'Hanlan, who transferred to Virginia Tech after two years at Marquette, also headed back to his apartment after learning the buses weren't running.

"We turned on the television and soon realized that the gunman had gone to the other side of campus," O'Hanlan said.

O'Hanlan and his friends stayed glued to the television for the next seven hours, fielding calls from loved ones and checking to make sure everyone they knew was safe.

At 10:30 a.m., Laura Gill awoke to a phone call from her dad. She had no idea about what had happened. Gill decided she wasn't going to spend the day in uncertainty, so she and her sorority sisters started a phone tree. The students called sorority members to make sure everyone was ok.

But first, Gill sent a text message to her roommate Loren Goble - the student locked in a classroom, comforting witnesses.

Gill later received a phone call from Christophe Remington, a friend from home and sophomore in Marquette's College of Communication. Remington said he found out about the shooting around 11 a.m. through an IM from a friend.

Remington is originally from Arlington, Va. He said about half his graduating high school class went to Virginia Tech.

"I know most of my friends are all right, but there were a few that I couldn't get a hold of," he said.

As the day went on, the administration released students from the locked-down classrooms. Brad Shapiro left around 12:30 p.m. and was told that one student was dead and 17 were injured. When he returned to his room and turned on the news, Shapiro learned that at least 20 students had died.

"There isn't generally widespread hysteria," he said. "People are concerned, sad, very upset."

Charlotte Savercool was given permission to leave the lock-downed classroom at 1 p.m. She was told to go back to her dorm - the building where the first shooting occurred - but couldn't bring herself to stay. She said she planned to spend the night in a friend's room.

"My room was quiet ... eerie," she said. "I didn't want to go back."

Goble, however, was still in lockdown. The FBI and police arrived and questioned witnesses. Goble tried to help keep everyone calm. Finally, at 3 p.m. they were released. But her struggles weren't over.

Goble said just getting to her car in the parking lot was a challenge. Lined with more than 40 ambulances, the street was blocked off. She took the interstate to her boyfriend's office.

"I felt safe there. It's off campus," she said.

Goble said she planned on spending the night at her boyfriend's parent's house, in the countryside outside of Blacksburg. She wanted to be away from the constant sound of sirens she heard at Virginia Tech.

"It seems crazy because this is such a quiet town. It's usually so peaceful and happy," she said. "You don't think this would happen here."

O'Hanlan, the Marquette transfer, said the 25,000-student school isn't able to have the same level of security as Marquette, such as dorm identification checks and the presence of Public Safety.

"Although I complained about it a lot at Marquette, now I can see the importance of that process," O'Hanlan said. "Something like this would be a lot easier to handle at Marquette than at Virginia Tech, because of the difference in size."

Back on campus, Virginia Tech students said they huddled in front of the TV, waiting for updates. The university told students the victims' names would be released today. Until then, they were left waiting.

After the names are released, the university will hold a 2 p.m. memorial at Cassell Coliseum.

Savercool said she doesn't think she knows any of the students killed.

"Hopefully that won't change tomorrow," she said.

Bridget Thoreson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Original Source:<a href=http://media.www.marquettetribune.org/media/storage/paper1130/news/2007/04/17/News/you-Dont.Think.This.Would.Happen-2844599.shtml> Marquette Tribune - April 17, 2007</a>


Kellie Bramlet and Megan Hupp


Marquette Tribune




Sara AA Hood


"Sheaffer, Amanda" <amanda.sheaffer@marquette.edu>




Kellie Bramlet and Megan Hupp, “&#39;You don&#39;t think this would happen&#39;,” The April 16 Archive, accessed December 7, 2023, https://april16archive.org/items/show/1292.