- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

ROANOKE | Virginia Tech should release all its records in the April 2007 campus shootings that left 33 people dead so that others can learn from the events, family members of victims said Thursday.

University officials said Wednesday they were partially reversing their decision to withhold certain documents related to the shooting rampage by student Seung-hui Cho, who also killed himself.

Under an $11 million settlement with the victims’ families, the school promised to establish a public archive with key facts about the shootings.

“I think there’s so much to learn about the event that I don’t understand why Virginia Tech doesn’t release these, unless they’re worried about their image,” said Suzanne Grimes, whose son, Kevin Sterne, was among two dozen people injured.

University spokesman Larry Hincker told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the school will release some documents from an emergency meeting held by senior officials after two people were shot in a dormitory the morning of April 16, 2007. The shootings occurred about 2 1/2 hours before Cho killed 30 others in a classroom building, then took his own life.

Mr. Hincker said the school will release Cho’s academic records, but not his health records. The school also will not release 911 calls from that day. Mr. Hincker was in a day-long meeting Thursday and did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Holly Sherman, whose daughter Leslie was killed, questioned why any of the records should be withheld.

“What are they hiding?” she asked. “It just begs more questions, is what it does.”

Miss Sherman and Miss Grimes said the school does not appear to be honoring its part in the settlement, in which families of victims agreed not to sue the school.

“It’s clearly written that any material related to April 16 would be released to the public,” Miss Grimes said.

Two families who did not agree to the settlement filed notices of possible lawsuits.

All but one set of notes from the administrators’ meeting and records about Cho were withheld from the university’s response to a Times-Dispatch request for documents submitted to the families’ lawyers. The request was made under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

A review of documents released suggested a possible connection between Cho and the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall, the site of the first two killings, the newspaper said. A woman who complained to police in 2005 that Cho had stalked her lived there.

The newspaper’s review also showed that one door to Norris Hall, the building where most of the shootings occurred, was unlocked. Police officers were delayed getting into the building because several doors were chained.

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