We are learning more about Cho Sueng-Hui, the shooter who violently and senselessly killed 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech yesterday. Considering how sick Cho’s actions were, it’s no surprise to learn that there were signs that he was very disturbed. His English professor described him as “troubled” and advised him to seek counseling.
Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university’s English department, said she did not personally know the gunman. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department’s director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as “troubled.”
“There was some concern about him,” Rude told The Associated Press. “Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it’s creative or if they’re describing things, if they’re imagining things or just how real it might be. But we’re all alert to not ignore things ike this.”
She said Cho was referred to the counseling service, but she said she did not know when or what the outcome was. Rude refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws.
“We were in a playwriting class together, which is a workshop class, meaning you submit your plays to everyone in it and then we all review the play in class and talk about it,” Derry said.
“His writing, the plays, were really morbid and grotesque,” Derry noted. “I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chain saw around, and hammers at him. But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a rice krispy treat,” Derry said.
“He even wrote one play about students being stalked by a teacher.” Derry said.
“I mean, his kind of writing was pretty peculiar, but when we asked him if he had any comments after we’d reviewed his work, he would just shrug and say nothing,” Derry described.
“We made jokes around the class about his work, because it was just so fictional, so surreal, we just had to laugh,” Derry said, “We had to laugh because it couldn’t ever be real or truthful, I mean who throws hammers or chainsaws around?”
“But we always joked we were just waiting for him to do something, waiting to hear about something he did,” Derry said. “But when I got the call it was Cho who had done this, I started crying, bawling.”
“I kept having to tell myself there is no way we could have known this was coming,” Derry described. “I was just so frustrated that we saw all the signs, but never thought this could happen.”
The European press, however, is focusing its attention on Charleton Heston and guns. They conveniently forget that a gun can not murder anyone on its own; a person with very bad intentions must pull the trigger.
Across the continent on Tuesday, European media rubber-neck at Monday’s massacre in the United States. Most seem to agree about one thing: The shooting at Virginia Tech is the result of America’s woeful lack of serious gun control laws. In the strongest editorialized image of the day, German cable news broadcaster NTV flashed an image of the former head of the National Rifle Association, the US gun lobby: In other words, blame rifle-wielding Charlton Heston for the 33 dead.
Papers reserve their sharpest criticism for the 2004 expiration of a 10-year ban on semi-automatic weapons under the then Republican-controlled Congress. Others comment on the pro-gun lobbying activities of Heston’s NRA. Some papers also draw analogies between school shootings and Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers.
Update: Cho’s college roommate describes him as anti-social and a loner. Even though he lived with him, he didn’t know him well at all because Cho refused to open up to anyone:
“He was always really, really quiet and kind of weird, keeping to himself all the time,” he said. “Just of anti-social, didn’t talk to anybody. I tried to make conversation with him in August or so and he would just give one word answers and not try and carry on the conversation.”
He said it was a creepy quietness.
“I would notice a lot of times, I would come in the room and he would kind of be sitting at his desk, just staring at nothing,” he said.
Mr. Aust and Mr. Grewal, 21, said he was often on his computer.
“When he was in the room, he would spend a lot of time on his computer, downloading music and stuff,” Mr. Aust. said. There was no single style of music that he particularly liked in particular, from rock to country to pop.
Mr. Cho was often out of the room.
“He was probably gone more often than he was here,” he said. “I just figured he had classes.”