This morning that friendly college town atmosphere was severely damaged as the death toll has now reached a nausea-inducing 33. I was in class in the building next to Norris Hall where a majority of the murders took place. In the middle of class I got this e-mail on my laptop:
"A shooting incident occurred at West Amber[sic] Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating."
Followed by this e-mail about half an hour later:
"A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows"
I wasn't comfortable being in a classroom with one door and no windows so I left in search of safer ground. We had received two bomb threats the week before so I made for the doors. Crossing the street I saw what eventually became a pile of 50 cruisers and SUV's and what looked like one S.W.A.T. van. Several policemen assured me the safest place was inside another building, where I stayed for two and a half hours. From there I placed and answered phone calls to family and classmates until my battery died. When we were told it was safe to leave I went back to my room, charged my phone, and did the same thing again. The list of victims hasn't been released yet, but thank God nobody I've contacted yet was hurt.
The sorrow I'm feeling right now is indescribable. The initial report said one person had been killed and my eyebrows stood straight up. When the number then increased to 22 and then 33 I felt physically ill. Both my arms became numb and I needed to go outside for air. Walking to my car, which normally takes 10 minutes, took me 45 minutes after I walked to the wrong parking lot and then couldn't keep focus long enough to even comb through the second lot. As I randomly stumbled between cars I started to think about the kids who were actually in that classroom. How helpless they must have felt in their final moments. It's the most unfair situation you can possibly be put in and now their families are left with nothing. He was killing himself anyway and decided to go out with a bang and take as many people as he could along with him.
My heart aches for all those directly affected today. You live through Tech.
Previously on FanHouse:
The Virginia Tech Tragedy and Why Sports Matter
The Virginia Tech Massacre Through Hokie Eyes