Haiyan Cheng's experience on April 16 and people's responses


Haiyan Cheng's experience on April 16 and people's responses


Hi, all:

Thank you all for your concern, I'm safe. Here's what was happened to me yesterday. I'm so proud of all my students, please pray for our community to recover from this huge lost and sorrow!

Take care all!

Haiyan Cheng


It was April 16 2007,a cold and windy morning for Blacksburg. I have class to teach at 9:05 AM. It is "CS4414-Issues in scientific computing", a class for senior student in CS and Math students. Whenever my advisor went to conference, I would take over the lecture. I went to my office in Torgerson Hall at 8:50, checked email, left my cell phone charging, (last Friday there was the bomb threat that made us evacuated immediately, that time I remembered to take my cell phone and laptop, but forgot the charger) and left laptop in the office and went to Norris Hall to teach. One of my colleagues asked earlier where is my classroom. I told him Norris 204 or 205 (the first classroom on the left hand side at the second floor), I'm not sure. So the first thing I went to the second floor, Norris hall, is to check my room number. It is indeed 205, 204 is across the hall, I took a quick look at the classroom, about 20 students were sitting there, an old professor with white hair was taking his teaching material out of his briefcase.

At 9:00 am, I went into the classroom, everything was as usual, the window opened a little bit, we can feel the breeze. I started the "Numerical solution of ODE" lecture. I covered analytical solution, discussion on existence and uniqueness, there was about 15 minutes left till the end of the lecture, it was about 9:40. Several loud "Band, Bang, Bang"came from outside of the classroom. They were really loud. I was not sure where it came from, but it seemed very close to us. We all thought it was some kind of construction. Then it stopped for 5-10 sec. I was about to start another topic on stability analysis. Then the sound came again. Teresa, the female student sitting close to the door stood up and went to check. I followed her, with the lecture note still in my hand. We were standing at the door, sticking our heads out and checking what happened. The sound came from room 208, the room across the hall, to the left of our classroom. The door is closed. I gazed at that door for 2 seconds. Then the door opened, a guy walked out, I only saw him 1 sec, but the most shocking thing is that he's holding a black handgun. He wears black, his face is square (roundish). Both I and Teresa came back in immediately, the gun shot right besides our ear. My ear is hurting by the loud sound. The first thing we came back in the classroom is telling everyone down, an Indian student said, let's block the door with table, so he can't get in. 4 guys in my class moved the big table next to the podium and blocked the door. (There's no window and no lock on the door. When there's lecture going on, usually we left the classroom door wide open.) While we were doing this, the gun shot keeps firing outside of the classroom. I and another girl were behind the podium. The other 2 girls were at the back of the classroom. 4 guys are lying on the ground in front, pushing against the desk legs. After about 1 minute shooting in the hallway, the gunman approaches our classroom. He was trying to open the door, but those students push really hard, then he began to shoot the door. The bullets came through the door, woodchips and metal pieces are everywhere. One bullet even hit the podium. Two of my students at the back underneath the desk were calling 911 with their cell phones, and talking to the police, they told the police there were 11 people in classroom 205, the gunman is still outside shooting. After the gunman tried several times, he gave up and began to shot somewhere else. The gun shot keeps going, "Bang, Bang, Bang", all I can do is knee down there and pray to God "Please stop him, please stop the gun fire, please..." Then we heard the police car siren from outside. One student asked that if we should jump out of the window. It's only the second floor. But we all thought that we should stay here, until things are clear outside.

The gun shot sounds further and further. But still not stop. Before we went out to check, we already heard about 20, after we came in, we heard about 30-40, or even more than that. It was terrible. We waited and waited....We heard several unclear shout from outside "show me your hand, show me your hand" etc...but we are not sure if that were police or not. Until finally there was the knock at the door. Those guys made sure they were police, and we opened the door. The police had a gun in his hand, asking us all hands up, and go to the back of the classroom. He asked if anybody got injured. We told him no, then he asked us to sit down, keep calm. Then he was about to leave. One student asked him to close the door, since we thought they might still be searching the gunman. He said we were safe, and called another police officer to come at the door, 1 minute later, the police officer told us to stand in a line and run after him, leave our personal stuff behind. I was standing close to the podium, so I quickly grabbed my key and coat, running with the police. I saw the clip on the floor right outside of our classroom. We try not to step on the blood and run quick. I didn't even look at the other classroom, but Lisa running right behind me started to cry, I turned around, held her hand, we run together out of the Norris hall and into the Randolph Hall, while still shocking, the first thing I did is borrowed a laptop from another student and sent an email to my husband and our research group, telling them I was safe.

I am so proud of all my students, they did a great job. We did the right things to save our lifes. I am so sorry about those students and professors, I can't believe 1 hour ago, I saw them all sitting in the classroom.

So far, my cell phone and laptop are still in my office in Torgerson hall, since the building is closed, I'm almost disconnected from the outside world. All I did is using my neighbor's Internet to reply some messages that concerned about my safety. It was a terrible tragedy for Virginia Tech, for Blacksburg. Please pray for those families that lost of their loved ones. Let's all cherish every minute of our life.



I really admire that Haiyan is so brave and she even saved people's lives. I am pround of her and pround of being a Chinese.


I am a former VT student, I have read all the emails and news regarding this tragedy. I am so proud that we Chinese people have such a brave student who saved a lot of lives. May God bless all of us.


Hi Haiyan,
Thank you so much. I am very proud of you. I sincerely admire your bravery and tact. We are all shocked by this unimaginable tragedy. Wish you all got recovered soon.


my dear friends
blacksburg, means beautiful memory to me and my family. since yesterday, we were shocked. but piece by piece we know what happened. i'm proud for all of you, been through this tragedy, we saw heroes arise, we saw people helping each other. ACSS did good job on calm down fellow members. every single one of you is a hero to me. my salute extend to all of you. my wife, my unborn child wish you all recover from this. it's a tough job to do, but we all believe in you. let's go hokies!!!


Definitely, let's give Haiyan a big applause for what she did to save people's lives. Not everyone could keep calm and respond correctly like she did.

Haiyan, you did a very excellent job! Pray for your recovering as soon as possible from the nightmare.


Frankly, telling truth doesn't necessarily mean defying of victims. Help identify truth is also a kind of respect, especially given so many questions not answered yet. Tell Media the truth is our responsibility and whether accepting or not is in their side.


I guess I am one of the foreigners on the list and I want to say that I have sent Haiyan's story to several friends and family members. My mother, who lives in Gainesville, FL, said she read something like that story in her paper on Tuesday morning. My husband and I applaud the actions of Haiyan--what a brave and selfless thing to do, to be able to keep one's wit together and save others--and I think it's important that everyone's story be told when possible. As far as I can tell, the media is not ignoring stories--their goal is to gain as many viewers as possible. All students, regardless of ethnic origin or country, are part of the VT community. Thank you all for everything you bring to our country and our community. Tell your stories when you can. Everyone benefits.

Cindy Bertelsen
VT alumnae, HNFE


Dear all,

First of all, Haiyan was definitely brave. She and her students (e.g.Teresa and the Indian student) had been a team acting smartly and bravely to save their lives.

But more important, no matter she is a hero or not, we all love her and are so thankful that she survived this terrible event.

Let's pray for the victims and their families and all the alives.

Stay safe,


Hi, all:

Again, thank you all for your concern about me. There are so many news about me right now in both US and China. I can't believe how fast the news spread these days. I got lots of emails and phone calls everyday day from all sorts of medias, (which made my cell phone airtime used up super quick, I guess most of you had the similar situation). I stayed after midnight in office to process emails. At first I returned every phone calls as soon as I got my cell phone, but some of the media started to dig my personal info, which I thought is totally unnecessary, the focus should be the tragedy. I think I'm not a heroine, I wasn't one of the person who blocked the door. I'm just one of the survivors, which is written in the short story and sent to you guys earlier. For most of the medias, all I told them was to use the story I wrote and the interview clip by Washington Post. That was my experience, that was what happened to me, according to my memory. Talking about the same tragedy again and again did bring my memory back to those horrible moments again and again. I wish you all can understand. All I want is to get back to normal life ASAP as you all wished. If necessary, I will talk to one of the major medias, so that there will only be one correct information source. There must be a reason that my life was spared, I wish all of us can learn something, live our life to the fullest, enjoy every moment with the loved one, think positive...

Yesterday there was the disaster relief truck on campus that provided free food and drinks for all the community members. There are many counseling services on campus.

Today while I stopped at the red light at the corner of college street and Main street. There was an American girl sitting on a bench, smiling and waving to the passengers and drivers passing by. There was a sign besides her reads: "Need someone to hear, I will listen. (Free hugs)...." I didn't cry when I was in danger, but at that moment I can't stop my tears running down. At this time, all we need is the healing, not only for me, but for all the Hokies and families.I was really touched by the candlelight vigil last night, at the moment when all Hokies are united, I saw hope...

I'm available to you guys for visit, Thanks for ACSS and everyone in the community.

Let's go! Hokies!

Haiyan Cheng


Original Source:Cheng,Haiyan's narrative, and compiled by Mi,Na


Haiyan Cheng




Na Mi




Haiyan Cheng, “Haiyan Cheng's experience on April 16 and people's responses,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024, https://april16archive.org/items/show/792.