- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

DEVELOPING / 5:10 p.m.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech officials confirmed today that NBC News in New York City received a package of photos, videos and writings from gunman Seing-Hu Cho — a package apparently mailed after the first of two killing sprees on Monday.

“We have been working with the FBI, the ATF, and the Virginia Tech police department since discovering this new evidence existed,” said State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty. “This may be a very new critical component of this investigation. We are in the process right now of attempting to analyze and evaluate its worth.”

The stunning development comes two days after Cho, a 23-year-old loner from Centreville, went on a rampage, taking the lives of 30 people - and likely two others - before turning a gun on himself.

The new development could give authorities a better idea of what provoked the deadliest shooting spree in United States history.

Larry Hincker, Virginia Tech spokesman, said NBC news will report on it tonight.

1:01 p.m.

BLACKSBURG — Officials confirmed today that the gunman behind Monday’s killing spree at Virginia Tech had previous run-ins with campus police for “annoying” two female students.

Officials also said Seing-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old from Centreville, had been admitted to a mental health facility in 2005.

The information comes two days after Cho went on a shooting spree, taking the lives of 30 people - and likely two others - before turning a gun on himself.

Given that neither of the two women he bothered was killed, the details still provide little indication as to why Cho targeted the 30 students, teachers and faculty inside Norris Hall, an engineering building on the bucolic Virginia Tech Campus.

Police have yet to officially link the two additional students killed in the Amber Johnston dormitory to Cho, but have said one of the two guns Cho used in the Norris Hall shooting was also used in the dorm.

“There is no connection at this particular point and time,” State Police Superintendent Colonel Steve Flaherty told reporters this morning. “That is not to say there might not be some type of connection” found during the investigation.

Mr. Flaherty said the same can be said about the two students from Cho’s high school Westfield High School, in Fairfax, Va., who were killed in the massacre - the largest in the history of the United States.

Campus police Chief Wendell Flinchum said in November and then December 2005, campus police met with Mr. Cho after receiving complaints from female students.

In November 2005, “Cho had made contact in phone calls and in person with a female student.” The student informed police, but “declined to press chargers,” describing Cho’s contact as “annoying,” Mr. Flinchum said.

The investigating officer referred the case to the school’s office of judicial affairs, which handled the discliplinary process.

The next month Cho sent another text message on his cell phone to the second female student, which garnered a similar reaction.

Flinchum would not characterize the nature of that message, only going as far to say they were “annoying messages” not threats.

The student female asked police to make sure Cho no longer contacted her.

The next day Cho’s friends notified campus police that they were concerned that Cho was suicidal. An officer responded and asked Cho to speak two school counselors.

“Based on the interaction with counci … Cho was taken to a mental health facility,” Mr. Flinchum said.

Officials believed Cho was taken to Carilion St. Albans Psychiatric Hospital in Radford, Va., a private facility that can take 162 inpatients, but were not sure how long he stayed.

Officials did not know whether Cho had gone to the hospital on his own or was taken there under protective custody, which is a possibility under the “temporary detention order” issued in the situation.

These incidents were not the first time Cho had caught the attention of Virginia Tech employees.

Lucinda Roy, one of Cho’s professors, alerted the university administration of his troubling behavior in the fall of 2005.

Though not explicit, his writing included veiled threats.

Instead of telling him to drop out of class, she started individual sessions with Cho in October 2005.

Hospital officials this morning said nine students injured in the shooting remain in HCA Virginia’s two hospitals in Southwest Virginia.

Eight patients - four males and four females - are a Montgomery Hospital in Blacksburg. All are in stable condition. Five are in the Intensive Care Unit and three are in the orthopedics unit. None of the eight are expected to be released today.

One male patient remains at Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Salem. He is in stable conditIon and expected to be discharged in the next day or so.


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