- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 5, 2009

Virginia Tech administrators locked down the president’s office and notified their family members more than an hour before they alerted faculty and students to a shooting on campus, a supplement to the state’s report on the April 2007 mass killing shows.

The details released Friday offer new insight into what university officials did and didn’t do after Seung-hui Cho shot students Emily Hilscher and Ryan Christopher Clark in Miss Hilscher’s dormitory room, two hours before Cho continued his shooting rampage in Norris Hall.

The updated timeline reveals that university officials did not notify Miss Hilscher’s parents that she had been shot, depriving them of a chance to see their 19-year-old daughter, who did not succumb to her wounds for three hours after the shooting.

Reached by phone Friday, Miss Hilscher’s mother, Elizabeth Hilscher, said she hasn’t read the latest report.

The updated version comes just weeks before Gov. Tim Kaine leaves office. The corrections and modifications to the report came at the behest of family members, Mr. Kaine said, and its release was an important part of correcting the public record.

Mr. Kaine told the Associated Press on Friday that it was “inexcusable” that university officials notified other people of the initial shootings before issuing an all-campus warning.

“There is almost never a reason not to provide immediate notification,” Mr. Kaine said. “If university officials thought it was important enough to notify their own families, they should have let everyone know.”

The report shows that in addition to closing down the president’s office, bank deposit and trash pickups were canceled.

Andrew Goddard, the father of student Colin Goddard, who was injured in the attack, said he still has reservations about the report but was glad it had been updated and that more information was added to the record.

Mr. Kaine defended the work during an interview with reporters Friday and said that many of the questions will never be answered.

“The person who committed this horrible crime is gone and a whole series of questions about it — primarily why — will never be answered,” he said.

Had Mr. Kaine not released the revised report before he left office, Mr. Goddard said, it is doubtful the record would have been updated to reflect all that has been learned because the panel that investigated the incident had concluded its work. That panel turned in its report in August of 2007.

Mr. Kaine said the initial report was completed quickly so that school security could be tightened for the upcoming school year. Additionally, the governor said that at the time he wanted to develop a legislative agenda that included restructuring mental health laws.

New information about Cho, including his health records from the school’s Cook Counseling Center that surfaced earlier this year, was added and the timeline of events was corrected and clarified, but the report’s recommendations and conclusions remain unchanged.

The new information also says that during the time period in which Cho chained three doors in Norris Hall, where the majority of people were fatally shot, a faculty member found a bomb threat attached to an inner door. Instead of handling the threat herself, she gave it to a janitor to take to the office of the dean of engineering. Additionally, the school had two conflicting notification policies, delaying officials from sending an alert, and police had no mechanism for sending an emergency alert of their own.

Efforts to reach a university spokesman to comment on the new findings were unsuccessful.

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