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The school has since expanded its emergency notification systems. Alerts now go out by electronic message boards in classrooms, by text messages and other methods. Other colleges and universities have put in place similar systems.

Andrew Goddard, who has crusaded for stiffer gun control laws since his son Colin was wounded in the 2007 shootings, said Virginia Tech’s response seemed substantially better this time.

“It sounds like things moved very, very fast this time as opposed to the time before,” said Goddard, whose daughter and nephew go to the school. “That doesn’t surprise me. Virginia Tech really did get the message in the sense that when bad things are happening, you have to ask quickly.”

During about a one-hour period on Thursday, the university issued four separate alerts.

Derek O’Dell, a third-year veterinary student at Virginia Tech who was wounded in the 2007 shooting, was shaken.

“It just brings up a lot of bad feelings, bad memories,” said O’Dell, who was at his home a couple of miles from campus at the time of the shootings.

“At first I was just hoping it was a false alarm,” he said. “Then there were reports of two people dead, and the second person shot was in the parking lot where I usually park to go to school, so it was kind of surreal.”

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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Kimberly Hefling and Ben Nuckols in Washington; Michael Felberbaum, Larry O’Dell, Steve Szkotak, Bob Lewis and Dena Potter in Richmond, Va.; and Brock Vergakis in Norfolk, Va., contributed to this report.