ROANOKE, Va. – Virginia Tech will replace the temporary memorials on the campus lawn with 32 engraved stones for those killed by a student gunman, officials announced Thursday.
The temporary memorials, large stones, were placed in a semicircle near the administration building by student group Hokies United immediately after the April 16 shootings by student Seung-Hui Cho. They will be offered to the families of victims, president Charles Steger said.
The new stones will be an intermediate memorial while officials look for a permanent site elsewhere on the Blacksburg campus, Steger said.
The new memorial will be embedded in an arc of crushed gravel and surrounded by a walking path. Construction will begin immediately, Steger said, and should be completed by the time students return in August.
A committee of staff, students, an alumnus and a board member considered "every possible option for location and design," but decided the students' original memorial "will most help the healing as we proceed with the next step," Steger said in a news release.
"The university community, and particularly the students, has become attached to this location," he said.
A dirt path has been worn in front of the stones where visitors have left flowers, handwritten notes and candles as remembrances. Earlier this week, the mementos included several coins atop each stone.
The ring currently includes a 33rd stone that at first listed Cho's name but in recent weeks has borne no identification. That stone was added to the original display of 32, then removed, then put back in place in the taut days after the shootings.