- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2007

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The group appointed by Virginia’s governor to study the mass shootings at Virginia Tech last night asked for more time to complete its report, which originally was scheduled to be made public this week.

The eight-person panel met for nearly 11 hours in closed session yesterday and is scheduled to meet again Friday to continue its discussions. The group originally was to finalize the report for release Friday. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine granted the panel an extension, and now the group intends to submit the report to the governor next week.

“It hasn’t been one of those days where we’ve been in there fighting,” said panel Chairman W. Gerald Massengill, who called the discussions “really productive conversations.”

“The panel and its staff have collected a large amount of information over the last few months,” Mr. Massengill said before closing the meeting to the public. “Much of the information is confidential, and we need time, again, to take these working papers as they’ve been presented to us and discuss, debate, how best to present this information to the governor and to the public.”

The panel was to go over the gunman’s scholastic, mental health and medical records; personnel matters; and law enforcement’s response to the April 16 killings and the ongoing criminal investigation.

Family members will be able to see the report before it is made public. Several parents of slain and injured students have said they want a candid accounting of how it was possible that Seung-hui Cho, of Centreville, was able to kill 32 students and faculty members and wound many others before committing suicide.

Mr. Kaine said last week that he wants to see specifics of how accountability broke down in dealing with Cho, who exhibited many signs of mental illness, including strange writings and menacing behavior.

Virginia Tech officials are looking to the report for guidance on how colleges and universities can better handle students like Cho. The university is conducting its own review of the shootings. State police are leading the criminal investigation.

The panel, appointed shortly after the shootings, gathered information on issues such as the timeline of the shootings, Cho’s background, the workings of the mental health system, public safety practices and educational policies and laws.

The panel also includes former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, along with experts in psychiatry, higher-education policy and victim advocacy.

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