Griffs Notes 4/16/07

When I walked out of my door this morning to discover that a tree had fallen on my truck in the storm last night, I figured it wasn’t going to be a good day. But I would never have imagined the unthinkable could happen on an American campus – 32 confirmed dead at Virginia Tech including the gunman. The single deadliest massacre in U.S. history carried out by what appears to be a lone gunman.

Even worse, the death toll could increase as news of the condition of the injured victims becomes available.

There aren’t words to capture the grief and empathy that we as a nation are feeling for these students, their families, the faculty and staff. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims and the community as a whole that has been so tragically rocked today. It is time for the nation to pray and support them.

To recap the tragedy, an incident of a shooting occurred in one of VT’s dormitories early this morning. The suspect fled and was believed to have left the campus. Then a few hours later, eyewitness accounts described a man “of Asian descent” began a rampage in the Norris Hall building, chained the doors and carried out the deadliest bloodbath in our nation’s history. At a press conference this afternoon, officials said they have not confirmed that the two incidents are connected. But logical indications appear that it was the same gunman.

This isn’t the first shooting incident at VT either – there was a shooting on the first day of school this year.

I cannot imagine the panic of parents, students and faculty who are trying to find out if loved ones are okay. My heart goes out to them.

How could this have happened? Why?

Clearly, this was a premeditated attack carried out with the determination of a cold-blooded killer. And according to the information available, it appears that this was a student or at least a person of a student’s age.

White House Spokesperson Dana Perino said she informed the President at 12:35p and that he was “horrified” to hear the news. Later in the day, President Bush addressed the nation to offer his prayers and concern.

When pressed on gun control policy at the briefing, Perino might have chosen to forgo comment at this tragic time rather than re-iterating the current policy.

“As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed,” she said.

But the issue will undoubtedly take center stage in the wake of the Amish school shooting and the anniversary of the Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999.

Until today, the deadliest shooting in the U.S. occurred in Killeen, TX when a man named George Hennard drove his pickup into Luby’s cafeteria and opened fire in 1991.

Maybe we need to readdress our policy? Maybe there is something we can do to prevent this from ever occurring again.

Listening to the eyewitness accounts from students in or near the building can only be described as chilling. Here’s what student Melissa Blythe said:

"We heard all was good, then all these cop cars surrounded (Norris) and started shooting," Blythe said. "As soon as they got out, shots started being fired; it was nuts. I couldn't even tell you how many shots… I saw at least 10 injured people pulled from the building. Four of whom were in very bad shape. Two of them jumped from a third-story window. A guy and a girl. The guy broke his ankle. The girl landed on concrete."

A cell phone video broadcast on the air showed images of terror and gunfire.

And there are important questions being asked – particularly why students were in class two hours after the initial shooting in the dorm in the morning? Could more warning from school officials have prevented the loss of life?

It’s a sad and tragic day in America today. And the fabric of this great nation has been deeply affected. I am sickened and angered and shocked – as I imagine most of us are. But for now, let us hope the grace of God will shine on the parents and students and teachers of VT.

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