BLACKSBURG, Va. – The chilling images of the gunman who was responsible for the massacre at Virginia Tech silenced crowds near campus as they played on television screens.
When the video of Cho Seung-Hui brandishing weapons, gripping a hammer and reciting his angry, violent manifesto aired Wednesday night on "NBC Nightly News," some stared grimly at the screens. Many shook their heads. Others cried.
"Seeing those pictures — that just makes it more real," said Laura Sink, 22, an elementary education major, as tears rolled down her face. She was gathered with about 50 others at a restaurant just steps away from the campus where 32 people and Cho were killed Monday.
Most public places on Virginia Tech's campus were already quiet, because so many students have left for home. But a few gathered around a TV at a student center coffee shop.
Heather Brennan, a master's student who watched the report in the campus student center, said, "It's just as he planned. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and he did it."
At Rivermill, a downtown restaurant, one patron objected strongly when the restaurant turned its television to NBC because she didn't want her 9-year-old daughter to see it.
"We turn her face away from the TV" to shield her as much as possible from news of the shootings, said Teresa McCartny of Blacksburg, her voice rising.
David F. Kibler, a professor of civil engineering who knew eight of the victims well, said he didn't see news footage of the items in the package sent to NBC — and didn't want to. But he said it was more proof that Cho was disturbed.
"It's clear that he murdered 32 people in cold blood. There's not much more to it than that," Kibler said. "It's difficult to explain this to anyone, especially to students who are trying to return to their studies."