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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Morning News

posted by on April 17 at 6:09 AM

Virginia Tech Massacre: Gunman, identified as student Cho Seung-Hui, murders over 30 in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.

Iraq: Democratic Congress squares off with Bush over war funding.

Darfur: Sudan allows 3,000 UN peacekeepers in, stalling immediate sanctions.

Sonics: Tax subsidy fizzles out in Olympia.

2007 Pulitzer Prizes: The Oregonian’s report on stranded family wins for breaking news and The Boston Globe’s coverage of Bush’s signing statement strategy wins for national coverage. And in music, good god, man the Pulitzer list also includes — Ornette Coleman!?!

2007 Fortune 500: Wal-Mart and Exxon top the list. Washington companies include, in order by revenues: Costco, Microsoft, WaMu, Weyerhaeuser, Paccar, Amazon, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Safeco, Expeditors Int’l (?), Alaska Air, Puget Energy, Expedia, Plum Creek Timber (?), and Potlach (?)

Sen. Barack Obama: His personal income drops to $991,296

RSS icon Comments


I've been stunned looking at the blog reactions and seeing how many pundits think the only solution for preventing such tragedy is a "fully armed citizenry." Here's a starting point.

Posted by Gabriel | April 17, 2007 7:16 AM

Aw, Potlatch seems nice. Like a kinder, gentler Weyerhauser.

Posted by sniggles | April 17, 2007 8:24 AM

Plum Creek Timber - owns over 8 million acres of timberland in the US. (Weyerhauser hold about 6 and a half, I think.) I've seen it referred as "the largest private owner of timberland in the United States." (Washington Post)

Expeditors Int'l - a freight forwarding company with over 150 offices world wide. Started and still headquartered in Seattle. Expeditors will get the boxes from the factory to the customer while clearing customs on the way. You know the UPS whiteboard commercials? It's like that.

Posted by Temp Worker | April 17, 2007 8:27 AM

Ornette's last CD, Sound Grammar, is a masterpiece. Put down the sad bastard music and listen to this man.

Posted by mcmc | April 17, 2007 8:31 AM

Love Ornette Coleman! "On Tenor" introduced me to jazz. Own his lovely 1959-1963 run on CD. I just didn't realize he was still making records.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 17, 2007 8:37 AM

from abc news:

"Sources tell ABC News that Cho killed two people in a dorm room, returned to his own dorm room where he re-armed and left a "disturbing note" before entering a classroom building on the other side of campus to continue his rampage."

did they check his dormroom? how could they not figure out who this kid was and at least check his room? he was there after the first shooting, with the murder weapons. i find it difficult to believe, through the filter of my own college experience, that there weren't a number of students that knew exactly who this guy was.

other news reports are saying a psychology phd candidate was dispatched to mediate the dispute between the killer and his ex-girlfriend. if this 'domestic disturbance' was responded to by law enforcement, the initial frisk of the killer would have stopped this massacre.

it feels near-disingenuous to backtrack about the choices that could have been made. my point is that the response could have been more attuned to the potential threat in an early monday morning 'domestic dispute,' and screened out the potential threat before trying the lighter touch of a mental health counselor.

my training and experience as an attorney handling domestic violence cases led me to conduct negotiations with jilted litigants in view of the sheriff. the assumption is that people under such circumstances are unpredictable and potentially violent, because it is not about the 'domestic' nature of the dispute. it's because they're insane enough to hold their former lover responsible for their anger and rage. and a person who cannot take responsibility for their own emotional state is someone who is a risk for externalizing their rage onto the person they hold responsible for their pain. the irrational psychological process involved in such situations is the key. it is irrational to hold the 'domestic' nature of the situation accountable for the rage, and irrational thought process is a clear warning sign that a risk of danger exists.

to accept that the 'domestic' nature of a situation is the actual cause of the dispute is to miss the irrational rage that is the true cause. to fail to see the madness involved leads to missed opportunities and potentially preventable tragedies.

the school had a madman on campus, likely easily identified as a student and thus easily located, sitting with guns and ammo in his dorm room. and no one broke the door down, no one staked out his room, no one locked down the campus to conduct searches.

the university is saying this happened because they thought it was a domestic disturbance and that the killer had left. if they had checked his dorm room they would have known that he hadn't left the campus. they thought it was a domestic disturbance and didn't bother to check his room. it looks like they assumed that they were dealing with an otherwise rational person who had simply had a bad day and killed two people that morning.

and now over thirty people are dead. if a 'domestic' double murder was seen as the indication of true psychotic madness, they would have locked the campus down until the killer was confirmed to be off-campus. they would have done more than send 'be cautious' emails. they had every reason to think that the killer could be somewhere in the vicinity, because they clearly had not confirmed that he was truly off campus.

they could have caused massive disruption to the campus and used a huge amount of resources to lock the campus down. at the very least, law enforcement and possibly swat teams would have been massively mobilized on campus by the time the second shooting began.

they could have apologized later if the killer was actually off-campus and said "murders that are 'domestic' in nature are indicative of a complete meltdown in the individual committing the murder, thus we had to respond as if we had a grave and immediate threat to the rest of campus; at the very least, there was a significant risk that there was going to be an armed confrontation between police and the killer and we needed to clear the campus as a precaution for such a risk"

by all means, sloggers, tell me i'm wrong. i want to be wrong.

Posted by r | April 17, 2007 8:45 AM

Holy crap, r. Unreadable.

Posted by sniggles | April 17, 2007 9:00 AM

You sir are right. You have thought out plenty of points that need to be addressed. Assuming anything gets one into trouble every time.

Posted by biggie j guitar player for amplified rock outfit SSS | April 17, 2007 9:06 AM


While you make several good points, the fact remains that nobody, except possibly for the people shot in the dorm, knew who the shooter was prior to the second shooting. A man identified as the ex-boyfriend of the female victim in the dorm was detained on a highway, questioned, and let go, i.e. he wasn't the shooter. The other news reports yesterday indicated that the shooter was hard to identify due to (1)having shot himself in the face and (2)his fingerprints not matching any records databases. Whoever this guy was (even though we now know his name), he didn't have a record. This could very easily be an instance of the truly random and purely insane. Personally, I wouldn't use 20/20 hindsight to blame anyone but the stone cold crazy with the murderous impulse.

Also, in terms of security, my own college experiences at the UW would indicate that "locking down" a campus of that size is damn near impossible to do. They are completely open, almost like small cities. Also, in a large and diverse enough area, NO ONE looks out of place on a large college campus, not little kids or homeless people or cops or protesters in costume. Unless this guy was running around waving his guns in the air between shootings, he'd be impossible to distinguish from the thousands of other people on campus.

I feel for the people who have a connection to VT. Yesterday's events were horrible beyond words, but they were no one's fault but the coward who decided to shoot strangers and then take his own life.

Posted by bot | April 17, 2007 9:23 AM

@Bot: I totally and completely agree. you have it right.

@R- There are police procedures in place for homicides. They followed those procedures. There is no way they would suspect that the killer would go on a rampage. Its like in medicine. Sometimes people have rare diseases. That doesnt mean that when you come in with the sniffles that that doctor is going to assume that you have some rare ass condition. Mass shootings are EXTREMELY rare. Why would the police assume anything like that? They didnt know right away who that guy was, since they have to spend time questioning people, securing the scene of the crime. They were also trying to calm down the students there. They were on a manhunt looking for the suspect. There is no way shutting down the campus would help them do any of those things. They had police on campus looking into the first shooting. Give the police a break. They were following the correct procedure for their job. Unless there is a trained cop who reads slog and disagrees?

Posted by Monique | April 17, 2007 9:42 AM

2 stories that affect many more Americans that the horrible shooting at VT:


Posted by Monique | April 17, 2007 9:50 AM

To the Sonics:

Nah Nah Nah Nah
Nah Nah Nah Nah
Hey Hey Hey

Send us a postcard, n00bs!

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 17, 2007 10:06 AM

Uh, gee, Monique. Glad you're concerned about bacon and, um, bringing home the bacon.

Posted by him | April 17, 2007 10:55 AM

Somebody better tell ECB about that bacon story.

Posted by Mike of Renton | April 17, 2007 11:34 AM

No, it's a secret, all the bacon is belong to us.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 17, 2007 11:44 AM

William in Seattle, you is crazy. We want the Sonics to stay here. We can't all be ballet fans like you, aight?

Posted by Shaniqua | April 17, 2007 11:47 AM

Sorry, never been a fan of the Sonics.

But the Storm rule!

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 17, 2007 12:59 PM

I seem to recall a double shooting on a campus a lot closer to us than VT just a week or so ago. They didn't lock down the entire UW campus, and no one here or anywhere else ever suggested they should have.

They didn't arrest the shooter before the second series of incidents because they didn't know who he was, and the second set of shootings hadn't happened yet. There are probably 40,000 people on that campus on an average Monday morning. The shooter was remarkably shy and unknown even to the people who lived next door to him. His weapons and ammo were small and easily concealable on a campus where most of those 40,000 have fridge-sized backpacks on. The cops didn't think about maybe the first shooter would go all the way across campus and kill a bunch more people, because that's not a sensible thing to think.

All of the 20-20 hindsighters thinking the cops and the university president and everybody else should be fired and/or sued and/or flayed alive in the public square are missing the fact that the profile of this shooter is met by approximately half of all the college students in the country; you want to lock them all up?

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2007 1:20 PM

The reason I question what went wrong is to encourage the community to figure out better ways to protect itself. I don’t know exactly how to make communities safer, but I think a decent place to start is to try to figure out what might have gone wrong, so better policies and protocols can be developed for the future.

"The University of Washington has a high-level safety team that was put in place after a murder-suicide. The aim is to move staffers who are in danger to other offices or provide them extra security protection. However, that system failed recently when a 26-year-old staffer was killed by her ex-boyfriend on April 2."

I've tried to piece together reports of information about the VA Tech massacre that may have been known, in order to respond to some of the posts above. This is some of what I’ve found:

"Cho had shown recent signs of violent, aberrant behavior, according to an investigative source, including setting a fire in a dorm room and allegedly stalking some women."

from USA Today via think progress:

"The Chronicle of Higher Education quotes an English professor who says "faculty members repeatedly reported their concern about things the 23-year-old student had written in his creative-writing courses.""

from the daily telegraph via drudge:

"Witnesses to the shooting said that the gunman was involved in an argument with a girlfriend and had later stormed out of the dormitory building. A counsellor – believed to be Mr Clark, who was also a resident adviser – was called to calm the situation at the dormitory. The gunman returned at 7.15am and shot Ms Hilscher and Mr Clark. US media reported that Mr Clark had been shot in the neck."

from the chicago tribune via raw story:

"At the dorm where the initial shooting occurred, rumors were flying among the student residents. Several said they were told an Asian student somehow got inside the building after 7 a.m. and went up the stairs to a dorm room on the fourth floor, apparently looking for his girlfriend.

Some students said they heard popping sounds, and later found that a popular male resident adviser, Clark, 22, of Martinez, Ga., had been killed along with a female student who the students said was a roommate of the woman the man was looking for."

from the VA Tech newspaper’s collegemedia site:

April 17th 2007 2:06PM

"When asked whether he had physical behaviors or dressed a certain way, Derry said he always wore a maroon Virginia Tech hat, but other than that usually wore jeans and a t-shirt; nothing out of the ordinary.

"When I heard the killer had been wearing a red hat," Derry said. "I immediately thought of Cho.""

April 17th 2007 10:49AM

"The person of interest in regards to the first shooting in West Ambler-Johnston was an acquaintance of the female victim and is still under questioning. He was stopped immediately following the first shooting and was detained for questioning. As he was being questioned, the Norris shootings occurred. He is not a student."

(editorial rant: was the ‘person of interest’ bloody? did he have a gun? any indication of firing a gun recently? how long did it take to figure out that they MAYBE did not have the killer? they had this guy immediately after the first shooting, and were still talking to him without alerting the campus until after 9am? did they think they had a criminal genius who had figured out how to remove all sign of a gruesome double murder that had just taken place?)

from the associated press (see first link):

"The dormitory was locked down immediately after the shooting, Steger said, and a phone bank was activated to alert the resident advisers there so they could go door-to-door warning the 900 students in the dorm. Security guards surrounded the dorm, he said, and others began a sweep across campus.

Asked why he didn't order a lockdown of the entire campus, Steger noted that thousands of nonresident students were arriving for 8 a.m. classes, fanning out across the sprawling campus from their parking spots.

"Where do you lock them down?" Steger asked."

(by 7:30 a.m. post big signs at every entrance : "campus closed. all classes cancelled. possible gunman on the loose. do not enter under any circumstances" add a cop to tell cars to turn around at each entrance. something like that. don't increase the carjacking opportunities for a killer on the loose.)

This is my version of an attempt to honor the memory of victims of violent crime. It is a challenge to face our community vulnerabilities and become better prepared to respond to a future crisis.

If a double-murder happened at UW and an armed killer was possibly loose on campus, I hope that UW would do its best to immediately restrict access to the campus and alert the community that the police are looking for an armed and likely dangerous suspect.

Posted by r | April 17, 2007 6:15 PM

Well, technically only the first 10 Washington companies listed are in the F-500.

I was surprised to learn Potlach was based in Spokane. I always thought they were from, you know, Idaho.

Posted by laterite | April 17, 2007 9:13 PM

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