Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cho Seung-hui: Were There Warning Signs?

I'm reading and hearing a lot about the "warning signs" that abounded for Cho Seung-hui (the Virginia Tech murderer). However, in any tragedy, hindsight is always 20/20. The instances that people mention are not any scarier than we might see in a young John Carpenter, for example. There are many angst-ridden, quiet, artistic types that do NOT go off the handle and kill innocents.

No, the warning signs were NOT clear. And that is a shame. It would be easier for us to say "Ahhh, so THAT is what we need to look for in the future".

Yes, there is an English teacher who is now triumphantly getting her 15 minutes of fame by declaring that she had recommended the boy get counseling. And perhaps she saw more than just his violent writings, although his writings are the reason she claims she grew concerned. But the writings alone mean very little: He comes across as an immature Stephen King wannabe. (I DO hope she graded him harshly, though. His play Richard McBeef is VERY badly written. It reads as if a 9th grader wrote it. Doesn't she have higher standards?!)

Everyone who encountered Cho agrees that NO one knew him. He was a quiet loner who was a little strange. No recountings of threats or previous violence have surfaced.

However, Cho WAS recently accused of stalking girls and setting a fire in a dorm room. Now THAT should have sent up warning flares, if it were true. But there are many claims made by excited college kids who are high on the adrenaline and press coverage. The truth may be a more watered-down version (Cho may have accidentally started a fire, for instance). And if these allegations weren't substantiated at the time of the occurrences, there was little that could have been done.

Since Cho's writings were obsessed with murder and pedophilia, it is very logical to assume that he was molested as a child. Now that IS a powerful warning sign. However, there are many people who were molested as children who go on to live productive, non-violent lives. Finding a creative outlet through writing would be healthier than acting upon such impulses... unless the writing was the test run.

Here Was The Warning Sign That Was Ignored

Cho initially murdered two students before 8 AM that day. If the school administration had been more concerned about their students and less concerned about their image, they would have immediately taken steps to save those additional 30 lives and 20+ wounded.

The Administration whines that students were on their way and couldn't be reached by email at that time. Really?! Have they never heard of the old-fashioned little invention called The Radio which is present in every car? A quick call to the most-listened-to radio stations would have got the word out immediately. And for the students on campus, using the school's intercom system would have solved everything.

And why were the campus police the only ones conducting a MURDER investigation? When were they planning on alerting the city police that a murderer was on the loose?

The Administration is solely responsible. THEY had the warning sign spelled out in blood, and refused to read it.

NEW DEVELOPMENT AS OF 11 AM TODAY: From ABC News: "Virginia Tech police say Seung-hui Cho was sent to a nearby mental health hospital for evaluation in December 2005, after two female schoolmates said they received threatening messages from him and school officials became concerned that he might be suicidal."

This is interesting. Still, when we are concerned with individual rights, little could have been done, regardless. However, it definately shows that Cho was a real mess.


Hans said...

I believe the police were working the initial murders as a domestic situation. That is what the students and campus police believed. No one believed that a rampaging murder was on campus. It is unprecidented.

As far as alerting students, I believe this situation has spurned an increase in the number of USF students signing up for an alert system that will automatically call their cell phones in the event of an on campus emergency. No a bad idea.

Would've, Should've, Could've

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, Yes, the USF solution is a good one, but really unnecessary when simple campus announcements over the speaker and a news release would suffice. And, there's the worry that cell phone companies would be overwhelmed with the mass texting (or so I understand)?

Whether or not they thought it was a domestic killing, they were obviously very wrong (although apparently the boyfriend of the first victim is still suspected in some way and is still being questioned). The truth is, it's better to be cautious and never make assumptions.

Hans said...

Simple campus announcements? Campuses can be very big places and announcements aren't simple. Phoning and texting students who register with the services isn't the end all and be all but part of a procedure for spreading important information.

Obviously very wrong but as you said hindsight is 20/20. Cautious is good, paranoid isn't.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, intercom system = simple to ME. So are you saying that nothing could've been done to prevent it? That there's nothing to learn from this?

Hans said...

An intercom system for inside and around buildings is reasonable. Are you suggesting a tornado siren type system to announce to everyone on campus and the surrounding communities that there was a murder to be cautious? Is that reasonable? An email/phone/text message system for spreading the work is PART OF THE PROCEDURE for spreading the word (as I said).

I'm sure we are going to learn of a lot of things the COULD'VE been done. Maybe some things that SHOULD'VE been done. From what I've seen it appears that everyone was acting REASONABLY (gunman excluded) prior to this tragedy. What the lessons are going to be I don’t know. It’s too early to tell and the nerves are too raw.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, unless they do things differently at V Tech, they would've had an intercom system in all buildings/classrooms. An announcement could've been made like this: "Attention students and faculty: There had been an attack resulting in two people being murdered, and the killer is still at large. As a result, we have made the decision to shut down the campus today. Classes will resume tomorrow."

Email should NOT be relied upon to be part of the procedure, unless people can receive it when they're on the run, driving, shopping, en route, etc.

Hans said...

COULD'VE and in hindsight SHOULD'VE.

Let me repeat myself. PART OF THE PROCEDURE.

Hans said...

COULD'VE and in hindsight SHOULD'VE.

Let me repeat myself. PART OF THE PROCEDURE.

The Lazy Iguana said...

OK, so they shut the campus down. Then what? V. Tech is a large campus. Lets just assume that it is the same size as UF - 35,000 undergrads.

Where do these 35,000 PLUS graduate students go? Back to the dorm where the two dead bodies are? To the student union? Off campus to a park where the killer can blend in and kill even more people?

College campuses like V. Tech are in essence cities inside of a small town. How about we evacuate Tampa everytime someone is shot? How about we evacuate West Kendall everytime someone is shot?

If this were done, we would be in lockdown more than we were not in lockdown.

I do not think the administration could have known something like this was going to happen.

And remember - 2 hours had passed. So even if there was a lockdown put into place when the dorm shooting happened, how long would you say it should last? The thinking was that the shooter had left the state. Do we keep the lockdown in place for 30 minutes? An hour? Two hours? Till the shooter is found even if it takes a week?

All these things need to be considered here.

Ba Doozie said...

If they were to refer people for counseling based off violent writings, we would need to make room for 99% of script writers in hollywood. That has no bearing on the case...people write about violence and sick things every day.

It seems to me the one area of similarities with a lot of school shooters, etc, is they are a LONER

somehow being a loner is not sociallly acceptable, or should raise red flags for whatever reason. I know that sounds trite, but none the less, it is something that ties these people together.

Colleges are notorious for attempting to cover up scandals and crimes taht would make them look bad. They think for some reason they are a nation unto their own. they are not.

AQ said...

I'm with Lazy. To me locking down the campus would be similar to locking down Dunedin if a murder took place in the Holiday Inn Express on Alt 19.

Having been involved in public school lockdowns - drills and otherwise - I would say that had a lockdown been implemented, it would have lasted no more that 45 minutes, tops. Then I'm sure that they would say the immediate danger had passed. It would be assumed that he had fled the scene by then.

I'm very annoyed by the whole "let's blame the school or the police for the mass murder" attitude. How about we blame the shooter?

jsull28fl@yaho said...

VT is much much much larger town than I live in as well as the town I was raised in. I suspect there was no way to shut it down, I only wonder when America will wake up and see that people being armed, the common folks, will deter crime. I mean it is a no-brainer, if even 5% of the people there had been armed the carnage would have been much much less. It won't deter freaks and lunitics but it will lessen the blow they can deliver. The 3 worst killings in my life time on american soil were not caused by guns, Ok city (fertalizer), 9-11 (planes), Waco (clinton). Guns keep the folks honest. See if u doubt.

QUASAR9 said...

Just as well he was not
Iraqi or Palestinian, else
all hell would have been let loose

Still I'm sure Dick Cheney still trying to win the korean war?

Anything but ask why a kid
no matter where he comes from
can so easily access guns
and shoot 30 of his school 'mates'