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Deadliest Shooting; Massacre at Virginia Tech

Aired April 18, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, first came the warning signs. Now come the actual words. A mass-murderer's message of hate. Listen.

CHO SEUNG-HUI: Jesus loves crucifying me. He loves inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart, and wrecking my soul all this time.



COOPER: Cho Seung-Hui in the sound and still pictures that he sent to NBC, gun-barrel pictures. The way his victims must have seen him.

They were sent to NBC headquarters in New York. The postmark, chillingly 9:01 a.m., Monday morning. That is after the dorm killings and right before the massacre at Norris Hall.

And perhaps as a sign of how it all would end, he also took photographs of himself with a knife at his neck and a gun at his head.

There were other revelations as well today about Cho's mental state. A court ruling that he was an imminent threat to himself. That was back in 2005.

Also tonight, bits of poetry revealed, stalking allegations and more.

In retrospect, at least signs and signals that something was terribly, terribly wrong with this young man.

We begin with Cho's own words and pictures compiled and sent out by someone who was already a double murderer.

Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cho Seung-Hui is dead. But he has now spoken as if from the grave.

CHO SEUNG-HUI, MASS MURDERER: When the time came, I did it. I had to. TUCHMAN: It's now evident this bloodshed was elaborately planned. A package was sent by the gunman to NBC's headquarters in New York the day of the mayhem. What is being called a multimedia manifesto includes 27 video files.

CHO: You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.

TUCHMAN: The package is not addressed to anyone in particular, but it's full of venom and hatred from a man who believes the world has done him wrong.

CHO: Do you know what it feels like to be spit on your face and have trash shoved down your throat? Do you know what it feels like to dig your own grave? Do you know what it feels like to have your throat slashed from ear to ear? Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement?

You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life. Did you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can, just because you can?

You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.

TUCHMAN: Cho included 43 still photos in the package. The first two show him as a normal looking college student. The rest are troubling and disturbing.

CHO: You sadistic snobs, happy to be nothing but a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and tortured my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die. Like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.

TUCHMAN: The package's postmark indeed indicates it was mailed the day of the killings. In fact, the 9:01 a.m. time that is written shows he mailed it between the two murder sprees at the dorm and at the classroom building.

CHO: Jesus loves crucifying me. He loves inducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my heart, and wrecking my soul all this time.

TUCHMAN: And, in the package, a chilling note -- he praises the, quote, "martyrs like Eric and Dylan," a reference to the Columbine High School killers.

It's evident that this man, who has single-handedly ruined so many lives, considers himself a martyr, too. CHO: I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled, but no, I will no longer run. It's not for me, it's for my children, for my brothers and sisters that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I did it for them.

TUCHMAN: What he did was cause misery. And in this high-tech multimedia age, he goes down as a calculated, cold-blooded killer.


COOPER: Have you gotten a reaction from the university about these pictures?

TUCHMAN (on camera): This community here, the students and the faculty and the administrators are angry. They're revolted.

I think it's notable that each day this week the university has had news conferences and talked to all the reporters. And there are hundreds of reporters here. And we go, obviously, to ask questions.

And they started the news conference today by saying we're not taking questions. There's been a development -- a videotape. Pictures have been sent. They were -- you could see very nervous and upset about it.

COOPER: The writing on his arm, Ax Ishmael, do we know yet what that means? Because the address on -- the return address on the envelope is A. Ishmael?

TUCHMAN: Right. A. Ishmael. Authorities are telling us they don't know what the heck this means. They do know that Ishmael in the Old Testament is one of the sons of Abraham. So perhaps there's a religious reference.

In this video today, he makes these religious references. They -- not sure exactly what it means. And because he's dead, they may not ever know what it means.

COOPER: Ishmael Ax, another strange piece of the puzzle. We're going to talk more about that a little bit later on. Tom Foreman is going to investigate.

Gary, thanks for the reporting.

With us again tonight is Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI profiler. He's in Tampa, Florida. And in Washington, Forensic Psychiatrist Kris Mohandie, who has interviewed many mass murderers.

Kris, do you put this man in the category of some of the mass murderers you have talked to? What do they all have in common?

KRIS MOHANDIE, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: What they all have in common is a sense of being a loner, and the fact that they believe that they're entitled to inflict their hatred upon others. They're injustice collectors. And with a guy like this man, he was basically paranoid and gunny sacking all these resentments over these perceived insults and mistreatment at the hands of others, which likely never happened, and kept obsessing about this stuff and then merging it with a violent fantasy or a violent plan to, you know, reinstill homeostasis and get even.

So what they have in common is violent fantasies, a desire to get even, an inability to let go of their hatred, and an obsessive preoccupation with violence being the solution to their problem.

COOPER: And, Greg, certainly today we saw a desire for him to have his message heard. Let's play part of this tape that he mailed to NBC.


SEUNG-HUI: You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.


COOPER: Greg, who is the "you" he's referring to? Is it just society as a whole?

GREGG MCCRARY, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, whoever he has perceived has wronged him.

I would like to make a point about this, because there's a problem. And I'm concerned about the copycat factor.

What we know is in the wake of every one of these nationally covered stories -- and this has been just, as you know, wall-to-wall coverage -- there are other events that occur within the next few weeks. They occur in clusters. The sort of homicide clusters that are there.

My concern is by repeatedly playing these videos and showing these photos over and over again, we're energizing some other killer out there, somebody who is on the edge, who is on the verge, and sees this as a way to go. Just as this guy identified with the Columbine shooters, somebody's going to identify with this guy.

And I think it's -- the responsible thing to do is to back off on showing these videos and these pictures. You can certainly report the story and that needs to be done, but I think the danger here is that we're energizing some other killer and that we may have some other events that follow in the wake of this.

COOPER: Well, Kris, Gregg raises an excellent point and one that we've debated a lot here.

In the video he also references Dylan Klebold, as if he learned lessons from watching what happened in Columbine. And he talks about -- Cho, talks about himself inspiring future generations of people to do similar acts.

MOHANDIE: That's correct. These people don't have normal heroes, they have anti-heroes. And he sees Klebold and Harris as being part of a very special group. He sees himself as special. He'd like to be remembered as special. That's the narcissism and the grandiosity that we talked about earlier.

And I agree with Gregg. This is a time when we need to be especially attentive to the leakage, the signs that other people might give, because we have the opportunity to intervene. So vigilance is in order.

Of course, always restraint is counterbalancing it, but we will see people that are very serious, that hopefully we'll interrupt before they do something like this.

COOPER: Gregg, it's the same kind of thing with reporting on suicides. There's often suicide clusters when one person has committed suicide in a very public way.

MCCRARY: And this is, as I mentioned earlier, you want to think of this as a suicide. Now, granted there's tremendous homicide attached to it. But it's one big suicidal event, one big explosive event.

And this is, again, suicide and homicide in a case like this are very closely related. Whether that anger is externalized or internalized, or in a case like this, both, externalized with the homicides and internalized when he kills himself. It's the same issue.

There are homicide clusters just like there are suicide clusters.

School shootings come in clusters. Workplace violence homicides come in clusters. And that's what we have to be careful with. And I want to underscore a couple of things that Kris said that I agree with completely. One is the idea of establishing these interdisciplinary teams, work with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and threat assessment group. We do this in workplace violence prevention for corporations and schools and it works effectively.

And Kris, by the way, has written a very good book on school violence. He might not bring it up, but I'll give it a plug because it's a serious book and it's well worth the read if you're into this.

So people now need to be alert over the next few weeks especially about the leakage that Kris mentioned. Any of these warning signs, any of these things, they need to be reported up and we just need to be sensitive right now in the wake of this.

COOPER: Absolutely. Gregg McCrary, Kris Mohandie, appreciate your expertise, gentlemen. Thank you.

By now, millions have seen Cho's last words and photographs, including sadly some of the people who saw the massacre up close.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has just spoken with one of them. She joins me now -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Erin Sheehan -- you may remember her. She's the young woman who we met just a few hours after the shooting. She told us about how a man had glimpsed into her German classroom and then come in and methodically started shooting her classmates. She survived by playing dead on the floor.

Well, we got together with Erin tonight, as she saw for the first time the pictures and heard the words of the man who killed so many of her classmates. Here are a few of her thoughts.


ERIN SHEEHAN, WITNESSED SHOOTING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) posing before this, and that's really sick.

MESERVE (voice-over): Sick?

SHEEHAN: Yes. That someone would do something like that. It looks like he's modeling almost.

MESERVE: Creating an image?

SHEEHAN: Yes. Trying to create this image of fear.

I don't think he physically was powerful. I don't think he was a man at all if he hadn't been holding that gun. Some frail little boy.

MESERVE: Was that because he was physically...

SHEEHAN: He was physically -- I felt he looked very weak, very small, very -- he couldn't push over one of my classmates who was holding the door shut. And she's not that big.


COOPER: It must be so surreal to see those images after seeing him. What -- was that how he looked when he came in?

MESERVE (on camera): She says she does not think that the still photographs were taken the day of the shootings. The reason she says that is she remembers him in a slightly different outfit. She remembered a tan shirt and a black vest. He appeared to be wearing the reverse in some of these photos.

Also, she remembered a reddish hat. Here he was wearing a black one. She doesn't recall the gloves. She does clearly remember one of the guns, the one that is in his right hand. She says she described it as black, chunky, looking like it was plastic, looking like it could have been something from an arcade game.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Jeanne Meserve, appreciate the reporting. Thank you. Today we found out where and when though Cho got a hold of the second gun. Here's the raw data on that. He purchased a .22 caliber handgun from an out-of-state dealer.

Now, due to federal laws, Cho had to pick it up at a pawnshop across the street from campus, which served as an intermediary in the purchase.

Cho got the gun on February 9th after the shop did an instant background check, which he passed. The shop owner said it was a routine transaction.

Question now, could tougher gun control laws have prevented this tragedy? No surprise, opinions differ. We're going to bring you both sides and let you be the judge. That's coming up.

So is what Cho wrote on his arm, which we were talking to Gary Tuchman about earlier, and on the package to NBC, Ishmael Ax, what does it mean? A break first, then we'll investigate. You're watching 360.


COOPER: Well tonight we're hearing from Cho Seung-Hui for the first time. His words beyond chilling. But students and teachers who knew him, even some who didn't, say they are not surprised.

CNN's Randi Kaye explains.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was sent out of the blue, an instant message from the would-be killer's computer. The female student who received the message from Cho Seung-Hui long ago would not talk on camera, still too shaken from the shooting.

But she shared it exclusively with CNN: "By a name...I know not how to tell thee who I am: My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, Because it is an enemy to thee; Had I it written, I would tear the word."

How could someone described as quiet until now create this much fear?

At least two female students were so disturbed by Cho's actions towards them, they contacted police. Neither, in the end, pressed charges. Still, police recommended a medical evaluation because he appeared suicidal. The result? A Virginia court found Cho mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself. He was ordered to be treated as an outpatient, released, and returned to campus.

DR. CHRISTOPHER FLYNN, COOK COUNSELING CENTER: On release, they are given a plan or a protocol to follow.

KAYE: But Cho had other plans, which may have included making a name for himself. That became even more clear when NBC News received a package from him. It included an 1,800-word manifesto and dozens of videos. Cho talking directly to the camera about religion and his hatred for the wealthy, and showing off his guns.

CHO: You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These individuals feel out of control. They feel like they're victims. And they want to get even by -- by taking charge.

KAYE: The package appears to have been mailed between the two campus shootings.

COLONEL STEVEN FLAHERTY, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: This may be a very new, critical component to this investigation. We're in the process right now of attempting to analyze and evaluate its worth.

KAYE (on camera): Investigators are also analyzing two notes left by Cho. He describes what he perceived as injustices against him, including bullying.

The "Associated Press" says the notes contain rants against the rich who have Mercedes, gold and trust funds, and democratic terrorists. The notes end with, "we will soon be together."

(voice-over): Cho also left behind a laundry list of bizarre behavior -- late-night bike rides, waking before dawn, an imaginary girlfriend named Jelly.

His roommates say he insisted on calling himself Question Mark.

ANDY, CHO'S FORMER ROOMMATE: And I remember one night I finally just got completely tired of it.

And I'm like, Seung, the act's up. You know, you need to stop this.

And he's like, this isn't Seung. This is Question Mark.

KAYE: But his professors had other names for him, like creepy and mean.

NIKKI GIOVANNI, POETRY PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: I just didn't think he was disturbed as we would normally think of a kid as disturbed. I thought he was mean.

KAYE: Poetry professor Nikki Giovanni says Cho took pictures of girls in class with his cell phone, and his poems were so disturbing, she threatened to quit.

In one play by Cho, a student, angry over detention, writes this about his teacher, "I wanna kill him. I wanna watch him bleed."

In another, Cho writes about a young man killing his stepfather, "I hate him. Just kill Dick. Dick must die." If only the answers had come sooner about the man called Question Mark.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And he existed in sort of a gray zone. He hadn't made direct threats against anyone, so he never really became much of a police matter. And yet clearly, he raised red flags across this campus.

Joining me now is Whitney Minter. She's a public defender and a mental health law specialist here in Virginia. She's also an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.

Thanks very much for being with us.

You have this person who is deemed mentally ill, a risk to himself or others. If the courts thought he was sick enough to be observed and to require follow-up visits, why wouldn't the college be notified of this?

WHITNEY MINTER, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Well, Anderson, there's no actual procedure in place that requires the court to necessarily notify anyone, a family member, an employer or a school when an incident like this happens. It is part of the court record, but it's not necessarily something that the court has an obligation to inform anyone beyond the parties directly involved, such as the community services board.

COOPER: Is that to protect the person's privacy?

MINTER: In part, but it is also simply a mechanism that doesn't exist under Virginia law for these things to happen. There's nothing in place. All of the civil commitment hearings are dictated by what happens and what's directed in the statute. And if it's not provided for in the statute, then the justice doesn't have the authority to notify people, such as the school or an employer.

COOPER: And what about the school? I mean he sort of, you know, was up on the police radar at least twice that we know of for these incidents with these young women, none of whom pressed charges. It seems that if they had pressed charges, it would be a completely different story. But because they didn't, the university really couldn't do anything.

MINTER: Well, certainly the legal system has stronger mechanisms in place to control someone or monitor their behavior once they enter the criminal justice system.

Obviously, a school-related incident would be monitored by the school and dictated by the school's own policies.

COOPER: So in terms of the legal system, unless he made a threat against somebody or somebody filed charges, there was nothing really to be done because doctors didn't view him, I guess, enough of a threat to be involuntarily committed?

MINTER: Well, involuntary commitment can take two different paths. Once the court has determined based on the doctor's evaluation, the prescreening reports and any evidence that they may hear at a hearing, that the person should be involuntarily committed, they then have to take a second look at whether that commitment should be done on an inpatient basis or an outpatient basis.

And the code does provide that if a number of elements are met, for example, if the individual is competent to understand outpatient treatment, if they agree to abide by outpatient treatment, if outpatient treatment is viable in their community, and other factors, then the court shall order that the treatment be done outpatient.

If the court does not find that any less restrictive alternatives are available at this point and they make that decision based in part on the doctor's evaluation, then the court will order it to be served inpatient.

But either inpatient or outpatient could be a form of involuntary commitment, which is what happened in this case.

COOPER: Is there something that can change, should change, will change? I mean, there are a lot of people around the country watching this who say, look, you know, something's got to change to prevent something like this from happening in the future.

You work with -- on mental health issues. Do you have any advice?

MINTER: Well, the change would have to come from the legislature. And obviously, when a terrible incident like this happens, people want to make a change, they want to make a difference and they're very desperate to make sure something like this never happens again.

What we have to remember throughout is that it is a very serious proceeding, and the reason that the hurdles are so high is to protect the people who come before the court.

Obviously we have to strike a balance between making sure that people who need commitment are receiving commitment and making sure that people who necessarily don't meet the standards aren't. But it's always a time that people want to make drastic changes to the law and sometimes the knee-jerk reaction ends up bending the law to the point that it doesn't serve its original purpose.

COOPER: That's a good point to remember.

Whitney Minter, appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

MINTER: Thank you.

COOPER: You can logon to for more on this story. You're going to find video and photos, along with eyewitness accounts updated around the clock. Again, that's or you can download the number one news and information podcast on iTunes. It' the 360 podcast you can also get at

Well, there you are. The mysterious words associated with Cho Seung-Hui -- Ishmael Ax. He apparently had those words written on his arm. They were also on the package sent to NBC. In a moment, we're going to look at what those words might mean.

Plus, more video of the attack just released today. We'll show you what images reveal, when 360 continues.



LUCINDA ROY, CREATIVE WRITING PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: I really felt very strongly that he was suicidal, that he was so depressed that he had a negativity about him. It was really like talking to a hole sometimes, as though the person wasn't really there. And there was such an absence in the room when he entered that everything emptied out and just seemed very dark. And so there were times when I thought he could probably do harm to himself because he was so depressed.


COOPER: I think that phrase is so telling, like talking to a hole, Lucinda Roy says. She was the creative writing profess who are taught Cho one-on-one after another teacher, Nikki Giovanni, didn't want him in her class.

Roy also brought her concerns on Cho's behavior to the campus police. His writings were disturbing. So was the message that he scrawled on his arm that he had on Monday. What it means tonight remains a big mystery, a big piece of this puzzle.

CNN's Tom Foreman investigates.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The package sent to NBC bears the return address A. Ishmael. Sources close to the investigation tell CNN the words Ax Ishmael were written on Cho's arm. Publicly, investigators are not talking about it, let alone what it might mean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not aware. I haven't gone back to confirm whether that's true or not. So at this particular point in time, I don't know.

FOREMAN: Ishmael is a major character in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

In the video sent to NBC, Cho talks at length about religion. People who know them, say his family is associated with the Christian church.

Ishmael was the son of the prophet Abraham, a prominent character in the Old Testament. "He will be a wild donkey of a man," Genesis says of Ishmael. "His hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand will be against him."

As an English major, Cho could have encountered Ishmael in other places too. Ishmael is the storyteller in the obsessive tale of Moby Dick. The name of a wise gorilla in a popular series of inspirational books. And in a love poem by 1960s writer Drum Hadley, traces of Ishmael's acts appear on the trees.

Cho studied poetry. The puzzle of those words on his arm, however, may itself be a clue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that we don't know what it is I a sign that he is not connected with the kind of -- rest of humanity, other people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who the -- so you're talking -- talking to me?

FOREMAN: Criminologists say like the fictional character Travis Bickle, in "Taxi Driver," people violently breaking with reality often drastically change their appearance.

Cho's roommates say, and the NBC pictures now confirm, he was lifting weights and had his hair cut very short right before the shootings.

Those cryptic words on his body may have been another part of his metamorphosis, according Dr. N.G. Barrel (ph), a forensic psychologist.

DR. N.G. BARREL (ph), FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: There's a transformation that takes place between living a life of quiet desperation, discontent, rage, and making the determination or decision that you're going to go forward and really do this thing.

FOREMAN: The true meaning of Ax Ishmael may never be known. but it seems clear Cho was going through a deadly transformation.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: And a transformation that seemed to have begun long before these killings. We heard from his roommates. He said he wanted to be called "?", didn't want to use his name. And in the e- mail that we just learned, that we just saw for the first time, Randi Kaye reporting, that e-mail that was sent to one of the young women who later went to police and who was kind of disturbed by him, he said that he -- there was an issue in the e-mail about him using his name. He said that if he had written his name he would have torn it out.

We're focusing a lot on the killer tonight, but we are not going to forget about the victims. All day today more names became public along with their stories. Lauren McCain, she worked at a department store and saved money for a year to pay for college. She was learning German and pursuing a degree in international studies. Lauren was 20. Michael Pohle already had a string of job interviews lined up. An old coach of his described him as a good kid who did everything that good kids do. He was just 23.

Maxine Turner was 22. She would have graduated next month. So soon to be done with school. Several high-profile schools had accepted her but she was determined to be a Hokie. She loved Ta Kwan Do, Shakespeare as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Just some of the victims that we are learning about today.

The shooting is certainly fuelling the debate over gun control. But whether any change will happen is still a big question. We're going to take a look at the chances and we will hear all sides of the debate coming up.

Plus, newly released video of the massacre. We'll talk with two people who captured these images ahead on 360.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All Americans' prayers are with them as they go through this terrible trauma. I do not believe that we should tamper with the Second Amendment of the United States and the Constitution of the United States of America. I think we should stay...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think George Washington stood for automatic weapons?

MCCAIN: I think that George Washington -- I think that George Washington stood for the right of people to bear arms, which is their constitutional right.


COOPER: Republican Senator, presidential hopeful, John McCain today on the campaign trail. The gun control debate tends to surface after tragedies like the one that happened here at Virginia Tech. And it is back.

CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It began about three hours after the shooting stopped. First up, the anti-gun Brady Campaign. "It is long overdue for us to take comment sense acts to prevent tragedies like this." E-mail blasts went on into the evening. Gun Owners of America: "Gun bans are the problem, not the solution." The debate begins anew: If everybody could carry a gun, he could have been stopped.

LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: Nobody had a gun, and so the guy killed and killed and killed. CROWLEY: If nobody had a gun, it wouldn't have happened.

KRISTEN RAND, VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER: Gun laws work. That's the dirty little secret the gun lobby doesn't want you to know.

CROWLEY: The last time Congress passed significant gun legislation, it banned anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning or buying a gun. It was 1996. Since then, Columbine High School, 15 dead, the Appalachian School of Law, three dead, Red Lake High School, eight dead, an Amish schoolhouse, six dead, and now Virginia Tech.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Clearly, we need to do more to keep our people safe from gun violence.

CROWLEY: Chances are slim legislation will happen. Certainly not any time soon.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I hope there's not a rush to do anything. We need to take a deep breath.

CROWLEY: Gun rights are a part of the culture in southern and rural America, places where Democrats have not done well over the past decade.

DOUG HATTAWAY, FMR. GORE ADVISER: There are two businessmen sitting behind me, talking about the election. So I sort of listened in and I heard them say, you know, Gore is OK but he'll take our guns away. This was two businessmen talking about the election. I was like, oh God, there goes the South.

CROWLEY: It has made many Democrats gun control shy. New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy ran for Congress to push for stricter gun laws after her husband was killed, her son severely wounded by a gunman on a New York commuter train.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: I have members that come up to me and say, Carolyn, I'd like to be with you but I can't. I didn't come here to Congress to fight gun violence. I'll lose my re- election. And you know what? They probably would.

CROWLEY (on camera): Voters have been less interested in gun control over the past several years in part because the crime rate is down. But some gun control advocates believe the Virginia Tech tragedy may rekindle public interest. And where the public goes, so go the politicians, sometimes.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: On 360 we don't take sides. We're not pushing an agenda. We think our viewers are smart enough to make up their own minds. So two sides of the debate. Joining us now, Erich Pratt, the communications director for Gun Owners of America. And Paul Helmke, he heads up the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Appreciate both of you being with us. Erich, Monday, shortly after the shooting rampage, your organization released a statement and part of it read, and I quote: "The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools. When le we learn that being defenseless is a bad defense?"

How would letting students carry guns have prevented this shooting?

ERICH PRATT, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: Anderson, we think that gun control is the problem, it's not the solution. All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in this nation ended because a law-abiding citizen had a gun, a teacher, a principal, a responsible adult who was able to stop the shooter.

But unfortunately what many of the campuses have done in this nation, including Virginia Tech, is to say, look, we're going to follow the same failed approach that Washington, D.C., has followed, which is to say let's ban gun and then everybody will be safe. But you know, that doesn't work. Because when a guy like Cho, who has murder in his heart, wants to do something like this, he's not going to shoot up a police station.

No, what he does is he finds a safer working environment where all of his victims are armed (ph). So when you see what happened Monday, you'd have to conclude that really gun control worked perfectly. Everybody was disarmed and defenseless except the killer.

COOPER: Paul, is there any logic in that to you?

PAUL HELMKE, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: None at all. It's clearly what we're doing now doesn't work. And in my mind the thing we need to talk about is how to prevent folks like the killer here from getting the gun in the first place.

Actually it's interesting that Erich brings up the you-don't-go- to-police-stations. Actually, in Fairfax, Virginia, last May a young man got his dad's AK-47 that his father got for him...

PRATT: And look what happened.

HELMKE: ... and killed two people there...

PRATT: And look what happened.

HELMKE: ... at a local police.

PRATT: And look what happened, he got shot.

HELMKE: Let me finish. What we need to do to make it harder...

COOPER: Let him finish his point.

HELMKE: ... for folks to get these guns in the first place. Our gun control laws today are not working. Everybody who knew this young man knew he shouldn't get a gun. Anybody who thinks he should have an easier time or at the current time being able to get the gun like he did, realizes how wrong this was.

PRATT: Well, Paul and I do agree, gun control laws are not working. Look at Washington, D.C., total gun ban and yet the bad guys still get the guns. The good people are left defenseless. And not ironically, they have one of the highest murder rates in the nation.

HELMKE: And Erich knows that this is why just local responses aren't good enough. This shooter, he went outside the so-called gun- free zone, into the City of Barkley (ph), and got one gun, he went...

PRATT: Paul...

HELMKE: ... 30 miles away and got another gun. In...

PRATT: Paul...

HELMKE: ... Washington, D.C. they go into Virginia...


PRATT: But then why didn't he go shoot up downtown Blacksburg? He went to where he was going to have a safer working environment, where everybody was going to be disarmed. You're right, Blacksburg does allow firearms. And that's not where he went to shoot at all.

HELMKE: Let me make just one more point.

COOPER: OK. Erich, Erich, let me ask you a question -- please, let me ask Erich -- let me ask you a question. Do you see any need to change the way that guns are purchased, if a guy like Cho who had a mental history, although not involuntarily, you know, held, should there be any change in the way guns are purchased?

PRATT: Cooper, you're never going to stop the bad guys from getting guns, even in England, which is an island nation, they have a virtual total gun ban. They still have problems with illegal guns. In fact the United Nations said that their crime rate is the highest of all the Western world.

HELMKE: Oh no they didn't.

PRATT: The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said he feels safer in New York City than he does in his own City of London. That's how bad it has gotten after their virtual, complete gun ban in 1997.

HELMKE: They had less murders in London, in England, they had 150, I think it was, total, last year.

PRATT: They have fewer people, that's why.

HELMKE: No. You go for the rate, and it's still the same.

PRATT: They have fewer people, that's why they have... HELMKE: It's if you look at the statistics...

PRATT: ... fewer murders.

HELMKE: Let me finish just quickly. Homes that have more guns are going to have more violence. Communities that have more guns...

PRATT: Not true.

HELMKE: ... are going to have more violence.

PRATT: Not true.

HELMKE: States that have more guns have more violence than countries do.

PRATT: Paul, that is not true.

HELMKE: It is true. If you look at the academicians, just let me finish the thing. What we need to do is to make it harder for folks to get such high-powered weapons so easily.

PRATT: What you're doing...

COOPER: Erich, you get the final thought.

PRATT: ... is making it harder for good people to defend themselves. Thankfully in Mississippi an assistant principal used his gun at a school to stop the murders. Thankfully in Grundy, Virginia, at the Appalachian School of Law, which you just promoed, two law school students ran to their cars, grabbed their firearms...

HELMKE: And actually that story is not true.

PRATT: ... and stopped the murderer. They stopped him.

HELMKE: Not every classroom has Gary Cooper in it.

COOPER: We are going to have to end it there. Not going to settle the debate. But gentlemen, appreciate your perspectives. Erich Pratt and Paul Helmke, thank you very much.


COOPER: Still to come tonight, he was the last man that Cho Seung-Hui shot before he shot himself. We're going to hear his story in a moment.

And we will also talk with two people who recorded this video the morning of the massacre. It was just released today. You can see for yourself next on 360.


COOPER: New video today on the massacre on Monday here at Virginia Tech. It was taken by my next two guests, Martin Arvrobro (ph) and Carl Nordine (ph) who are visiting the campus from Sweden.

This was only your second day in the United States. You had arrived on Sunday, the shooting happened on Monday. You had the camera. When did you notice something was going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically when we went out of McBryde and the policeman told us get back in, in a more undecent (ph)...

COOPER: And did you know it was real? I mean, did you know there was something happening or did you think it was a drill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought was a drill until five minutes into the whole thing actually.

COOPER: So for the first five minutes as you're taping all of this stuff you just think this is some sort of a drill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very serious drill, yes.

COOPER: When did you realize, all right, this is real, this is not some sort of scenario?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we saw what we think is a professor coming out, shot in the arm, bleeding and speeded off in a civilian car, that's when we were starting to...

COOPER: That is when it -- then it started to hit home?


COOPER: And we were seeing a lot of police running around. This is before you saw the professor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, yes, I think so.


COOPER: And then you, at one point, saw what you believe is a student taken out in a gurney, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

COOPER: What did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember Martin saying -- I don't know, have you ever -- you were quiet. I don't know. And it was a very strange feeling in the room when we saw her being brought out. And I think this is serious, I think you said, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The thing was that I saw the stretcher going in and people were telling us to get in a building but somehow I kind of stayed put and kept rolling because I wanted to see if they came out and which they did. And I was zooming in as much as I could and I saw her lifting her head just as they came out and she was bleeding on her legs.

COOPER: And this is where you were watching. There were other students with you who were watching it?



COOPER: And no one really kind of realized what was going on for the first couple of minutes. I mean, you weren't the only guys who kind of thought this was a drill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh no, not at all.

COOPER: For -- I mean -- it has got -- you know, it has been surreal for everybody on this campus. For you guys, just coming to the United States, it's -- I mean what is that like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Difficult to grasp. I mean, we haven't -- and this happened so soon into your trip as well. So we hadn't really had time to -- and some kind of -- reach some kind of normality here. It is the first thing which happened and it has been crazy since then.

COOPER: Have you talked to your families? Are they worried about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are, obviously, yes.

COOPER: Yes. Well, I hope they see this and know that you're safe. Martin and Carl, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Good talking to you.

We're going to have more from Virginia Tech in just a moment. First, Randi Kaye has the 360 news and business bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. An extremely bloody day in Iraq. Six Baghdad bombings have killed at least 198 people and wounded 240. The worst strike happened at a marketplace in central Baghdad, 140 people died in a single bombing.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has condemned the attacks and he arrested the army brigade commander in charge of the area's security.

A major abortion ruling today from the U.S. Supreme Court. It has upheld a controversial law banning a specific abortion procedure critics call "partial birth." The 5-4 ruling could signal the court's willingness to someday revisit Roe versus Wade, which made abortion legal. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin weighed in on the ruling earlier today.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It also very much suggests that the 2008 presidential election is really going to be about whether Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, because there are four justices who support it, four justices who pretty clearly oppose it, Justice Kennedy is in the middle. But if any of those abortion rights supporters on the court leave, like justice John Paul Stevens, who is 87 years old, it looks like Roe v. Wade is really going to disappear.


KAYE: And on Wall Street, another record has fallen. The Dow rose to a new high today on the wings of solid earnings reports from a number of blue chip companies, including Boeing and JPMorgan Chase. The Dow climbed 30 points to close at 12,803. The Nasdaq fell 6 to finish at 2,510. And the S&P closed at 1,472. That is up just a point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.

The story has touched so many people, not just here in Virginia, in the United States, but literally around the world. A lot of you have been writing in to us, telling us your thoughts and your feelings. We're going to read some of your e-mails after the break.

Plus, he was shot by Cho just before Cho killed himself. Inside the final moments of the rampage when 360 continues.


COOPER: Twelve shooting victims are still hospitalized tonight. One young man who was shot may have been Cho's final target. Tonight we want to hear the survivor's account of the last moments of terror before the killer committed suicide.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen reports.

COHEN (voice-over): It is one of the first images America saw of the Virginia Tech tragedy, a young man and woman severely wounded, rescue workers carrying them out of Norris Hall. The man is Colin Goddard, a 21-year-old international studies student, he told his parents he was the last person Cho Seung-Hui shot before he killed himself.

ANNE GODDARD, COLIN GODDARD'S MOTHER: Went first one row of desks and started shooting just randomly.

COHEN: Today Colin's mother waited anxiously for her son to come out of surgery, a rod inserted in to his leg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They still had 30 more minutes to go at 10 until 10 -- about 10:20, he should be out of surgery. Everything's going fine.


COHEN: As she waited, Goddard described what her son said happened inside the French class. His teacher, Jocelyne Couture- Nowak, heard gunfire in the hallway and yelled for students to call 911. Colin did, but within seconds, Cho entered the room spraying it with fire. He wounded Colin in the leg. Colin says Cho then left the room for about three minutes, and returned as Colin lay on the floor.

GODDARD: He turned his head and actually -- well, he saw the shooter's shoes, came close right up to his body. The shooter was standing right next to him. He was scared to death. He was absolutely scared to death. He kept his wits about him but he was scared to death.

COHEN: Standing next to him, Cho shot Colin two more times, in the shoulder and the buttock. And then...

GODDARD: He heard two shots from the front of the room, and later on he learned the shooter was dead in the front of the room.

COHEN (on camera): So he shot at your son and the next thing he did was...

GODDARD: He killed himself.

COHEN (voice-over): The next thing Colin heard, the police.

GODDARD: Then they said, shooter down, black tag. And it was a code they were giving, and they black tagged then a few the other students in the room who were dead.

COHEN (on camera): And black tag means...

GODDARD: And they were dead.

COHEN (voice-over): Among the dead, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Colin's French teacher.

GODDARD: OK. Went really, really well, those were the words.

COHEN: During our interview, Goddard got good news, the surgery was a success. He joined his family a few hours later.

GODDARD: I don't want this to be the defining moment in my son's life. I want the defining moment to be something positive, some great celebration of his life.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Christiansburg, Virginia.


COOPER: Such an important sentence, she doesn't want this to be the defining moment in her son's life, nor will it be. "On the Radar" tonight, reaction to something CNN producer Virginia Nicolaidis wrote on the blog. She was walking with her 5-year-old when he saw someone lowering a flag to half-staff. Mommy, he said, why is the flag falling? She told him the president asked people to do that when something bad happens. Oh, he replied, the president must have heard that I fell down and hurt myself yesterday at soccer practice.

Thank goodness for 5-year-olds.

Christina from just outside Johnstown, Pennsylvania, wrote on the blog: "That is a sweet story. Protect him and shield him from bad news for as long as you can. Kids are expected to grow up way to fast and he will learn soon enough that horrific things happen."

And from Betty Ann in Nacodoches, Texas: "If only life were as simple as seen through the eyes of a precious child, thanks for the touching blog, there is always a sense of hope in a child's. He made me smile."

As always, we welcome your views. Just go to You can follow links and weigh in.

More from 360 from Virginia Tech after this. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Earlier tonight in Randi Kaye's report, we mentioned a line that Cho IMed to a female student. We didn't mention where it was from. Just in case you were interested, this is the line. "By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am. My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word." It is, of course, from Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet," Act II, Scene II. Cho was of course an English major.

A reminder that you can get more information from Virginia Tech on our blog at You can also download the 360 podcast and get it at, or go to iTunes where it is the number one news and information podcast.

Be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow, John Roberts, Kiran Chetry will have the latest from Virginia Tech starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Larry King is next. I'll see you tomorrow night.


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