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Town of Blacksburg Struggles with Grief

Suzanne Higgs and Tricia Sangalang
News Staff Writer
April 16, 2007

dtawnings.jpg Downtown Blacksburg resembled an old ghost town from the west with a tumbleweed included.

Many shops and business closed down today due to the shootings on campus, like Hokie House, Hokie Hair, and other business along Main St.

But Sharkey’s Bar and Grill chose to stay open in order to help the community. At 10 a.m. Sharkey’s owner Stephanie Rogol said she heard someone on a bull horn warning people to stay inside. Originally she thought it was a tornado warning because of the windy weather, but soon realized it was much worse.

She still opened to show support for the community “Some people think its rude to be open, I think it be rude to be closed,” said Rogol. “To think that we’re just a business, that we aren’t part of the community, to not be here to help each other…”

All proceeds from today’s sales will go toward whatever fund is set up for the victims. “Anybody that’s upset we’re here for them,” said Rogol.

The mood in the bar was solemn with very few smiles in between. Lindsey Davidson, a sophomore business information and technology major went to Sharkey’s with a group of friends to get food because they hadn’t been outside of her dorm. “Its unbelievable. Everything that’s happened this year is unbelievable. The amount of casualties happened at VT, its just crazy. It hasn’t really sunk into me yet, honestly.,” said Davidson.

The mood at Champs wasn’t in much higher spirits. With TV’s turned to the different news stations, Eric Robson, a Blacksburg resident, just trying to relax after today’s events with a friend.

He believes Blacksburg is a be safe town where students could walk home at night safely. “I think the town and the university and the nation is going to come together on this,” said Robson.

While some in the community keep their doors open to comfort the community, and others go out with a friend, the New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) members held a vigil at 8p.m. tonight at the Old Red Cross Building off of Draper Road.

The vigil was to provide a place of mourning and prayers for victims, students, families, and anyone else that wished to join. Kathleen Werner, a NLCF prayer coordinator heard the news about 9:30 a.m. “I was floored. I kept thinking about Columbine. My husband graduated from here as an engineer,” said Werner.

Former Marching Virginian, and current member of the NLCF campus ministry, Mike Swann said, “It’s just awful. I’ve been here since 1992 when I was as student.” The resident advisor that was shot today, Ryan Clark, was also a Marching Virginian.

The atmosphere in town was somber, and calm. Most people seemed to feel the tragedy that swept the campus. The next vigil will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.


Comments (38)


As a graduate of JMU and a History teacher in Lima, Peru, I have been shocked to learn of these shootings. I have lived in a war zone and know that it is so important to keep your community together and to give as much love and energy to the bereaved as personally possible. God bless you all and your school. Keeping this business open and donating profits is a courageous move.

Troy Duffield | April 16, 2007 10:23 PM

It's great to see members of the community helping out at a time like this, this is what community is all about. Stand tall, Stand proud, and you will all get through this, it wont be easy, but be there for one another to comfort, hold, lend a hand or be that shoulder that someone needs..

God bless you all

Nichole
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Nichole | April 16, 2007 11:55 PM

I think its wonderfull for a business to stay open and support its community in a time of need. I am so shocked about all that has happened and I am so sad for all those affected. God Bless Virginia Tech.

Kevin McClellan from Nashville, TN | April 17, 2007 12:48 AM

Such a waste of young productive lives. God bless you all.

Paul | April 17, 2007 12:48 AM

Great article!! Shows the closeness between the community and the school and thats a great thing to see during a crisis like this. God bless all of the students who will be dealing with this for quite some time and kudos to a town that stands behind their local college! And KUDOS to the journalist who wrote the piece! GO FORWARD STRONG HOKIES!!!!!

Terri Kendrick | April 17, 2007 12:49 AM

I hope everyone will be ok, my thoughts go out to everyone there

Nathan | April 17, 2007 1:02 AM

It is just a reminder at how short life can be. Not to mention how cruel. But through it all it is important also to focus on the good it brings out in some in difficult times. Through the stories I've read and the wonderful students at Va. Tech, their strength is remarkable. My thoughts and prayers to all the families, friends, and students of the Va. Tech. students.
Donna Karol
Newark, Delaware

Donna Karol | April 17, 2007 1:12 AM

I cannot imagine the hurt that is in your hearts after this awful tragedy. I can only hope that God will heal your community and give you the strength to carry on. God bless you all!

Joe Traas | April 17, 2007 1:37 AM

God Bless everyone at VT! As a former student, I am floored by these tragic events. Stay strong Hokies!

Jennifer | April 17, 2007 3:38 AM

Our prayers go out to you during this terrible tragedy. Please remember that you are not alone, and that the grief process is a thing that takes a different course for each person.

If you lost a child or sibling, please come to thecompassionatefriends.org for caring support.

God bless you during this time of transition.
Martha

Martha Lillard | April 17, 2007 4:30 AM

With two brothers who studied at VPI and with two nephews who currently study there, the news of the tragedy came as a great shock. You are in our thoughts. Be strong. Support improved gun control laws.

Jerry | April 17, 2007 6:46 AM

Our prayers go out to your community.

Ian Roberts
Trinidad W.I.

Ian Roberts | April 17, 2007 7:50 AM

I was a student on and off from 1979 to 1991 at va tech. i am in germany now, and when i read the news this morning, i was literally sick to my stomach. I am practically in tears. this has to be the worst thing to happen in blacksburg in the last hundred or more years. i am thinking of everyone.

christopher rehm | April 17, 2007 8:01 AM

Unbelievable - all our thoughts go to you, the students, profs, mothers, fathers, relatives in Blacksburg.
Katja & family & friends, Germany

Katja, Germany | April 17, 2007 8:30 AM

While in Viet Nam I learned from a chaplin while questioning why i lived and others did not,he told me that BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD GO WE.
The prayers of my family are with each and every one of you.
God Speed

rollin webb | April 17, 2007 8:49 AM

I work at Virginia Tech and took a few classes why I was there. When I seen the news yesterday my heart went out to everyone at the colllege. I have been watching the news and surfing the internet for information on the vitcims. Trying to see if I knew any of the students or employees. Come to find out I did know Ryan. My prayers go out to all the friends and family of Virginia Tech.

Teri Lang | April 17, 2007 9:14 AM

My deepest sympathy to the victims of this horrible tragedy, both deceased and still fighting for their lives. I am appalled that the news networks have seized on the unnecessary twist that the school authorities should have notified the students sooner and they may have liability. When involved in a shocking incident that is just unfolding, it is impossible to think of all the things that "might" happen. I believe the authorities responded timely and accurately based on the information they had the time. It is easy to point the finger after the fact and I wonder how all these reporters, or anyone, would react in similar circumstances. After something like this, the reporters (and even politicians) rush in and in a feeding frenzy give false information and speculation. And the world watches like rubberneckers looking at a car accident. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and my prayers are with you.

Max | April 17, 2007 9:26 AM

On behalf of the University of Florida Gator Nation, please know that we are thinking of the Hokie Community during this difficult time. The nation mourns with you.

Evie Reakes | April 17, 2007 10:45 AM

A very bad thing happened at a very good university on Monday. Although this tragedy will always be part of Tech's history, it in no way diminishes the goodness of this great university, in my mind. My heartfelt wishes go out to all who are touched by this tragedy, whether directly or indirectly.
Courtney Haynes of Bland VA and Richmond VA

Coutney Haynes | April 17, 2007 10:51 AM

May GOD be with each and everyone of you. Don't try and deal with this tragedy alone turn to GOD and one another for support. Your Country is there in spirit supporting and grieving with you all. Prayers to the family, friends, classmates and Professors of VT. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

TINA-CARPINTERIA-SANTA BARBARA, CA

Tina Contreras | April 17, 2007 12:16 PM

May GOD be with each and everyone of you. Don't try and deal with this tragedy alone turn to GOD and one another for support. Your Country is there in spirit supporting and grieving with you all. Prayers to the family, friends, classmates and Professors of VT. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

TINA-CARPINTERIA-SANTA BARBARA, CA

Tina Contreras | April 17, 2007 12:17 PM

I'm so touched about this news, I'm a senior student of chemical engineering of Mexico and I visited recently VT, I cannot believe this could happen. My prayers are for all the relatives of the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as for the eternal rest of the souls of all of them. God bless you all.

Nadia | April 17, 2007 1:09 PM

I'm so touched about this news, I'm a senior student of chemical engineering of Mexico and I visited recently VT, I cannot believe this could happen. My prayers are for all the relatives of the victims of this terrible tragedy, as well as for the eternal rest of the souls of all of them. God bless you all.

Nadia | April 17, 2007 1:10 PM

May you remember that though the roads we take can sometimes be difficult and painful, those are often the ones that lead to the most beautiful view. Many prayers are with you all now. God bless.
karen, ft. collins CO

karen kingsley | April 17, 2007 1:22 PM

I am sure I can speak for everyone connected to the University of Kansas when I offer our deepest sympathies. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this terrible time.

Christy | April 17, 2007 1:42 PM

god help you allour sympatihy fom canada

b douglas | April 17, 2007 3:41 PM

I am deeply saddened and horrified at the events that took place. I hope that you all pull together and that God bleses each and every one of you!! I know you will pull through this and emerge stronger. You all will be in my thoughts and prayers. GO HOKIES!!!

Christy | April 17, 2007 4:48 PM

I am deeply saddened and horrified at the events that took place. I hope that you all pull together and that God bleses each and every one of you!! I know you will pull through this and emerge stronger. You all will be in my thoughts and prayers. GO HOKIES!!!

Christy | April 17, 2007 4:49 PM

I am deeply saddened and horrified at the events that took place. I hope that you all pull together and that God bleses each and every one of you!! I know you will pull through this and emerge stronger. You all will be in my thoughts and prayers. GO HOKIES!!!

Christy | April 17, 2007 4:52 PM

We are thinking of Va.Tech and watching cnn.We are so very sorry for the lose and for the remaining.God speed. Hi to my good friend Daina Reynolds who is living close to Blacksburg and who is also very disturbed by all this.

Jeanne Ooten Haynes-Defiance,Ohio | April 17, 2007 6:10 PM

As a proud father of a graduate of the Grado School of Engineering, words cannot
express the sadness I feel for the parents, fellow students, loved ones, faculty and staff of Virginia Tech. The last two days have been a blur of attempting to find out the true story
and trying to make sense of a senseless
situation. I learned a long time ago that God never closes a door without opening another. Watching the service
at Cassell Coliseum today gave me great
hope that the strength and resiliency of
the student body is already coming through. Go Hokies! Your Mountaineer cousins have you in our prayers and stand ready to assist your healing. Go Hokies! Rise from the rubble to even greater heights.

Bob Mayhew | April 17, 2007 7:35 PM

It is our prayer that God will grant you all grace, peace and comfort as you suffer the loss of so many of your own. Our thoughts are - and will continue to be - with you during this tragedy. From the Lamar University community in Beaumont, Texas, God bless and keep you all.

Gina | April 17, 2007 7:35 PM

I know Im not the only Aussie who has been to V.A tech. All our thoughts and support are with you. Blacksburg is a beautiful town, and will rise above this senseless tradgedy.

Cassandra | April 17, 2007 9:13 PM

I studied engineering at VT for 3 years until I transferred to another school. While I may not have graduated from Tech, it is there where I matured, forged true friendships, and enjoyed some of my most enjoyable and challenging times. Blacksburg and VT is full of truly good people and my prayers and thoughts are with everyone.

Joshua Rozovsky | April 17, 2007 9:58 PM

God bless you all. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Michelle Wright Ellijay, Georgia | April 18, 2007 4:50 AM

our hearts go out to the families and relatives on the victims , best wishes donna & family ( uk )

donna | April 18, 2007 7:37 AM

i would like to sad i,m so sorry this has happened to your school this is a bad thing to happen i pray to god for your pains and loss, have faith in the lord he will heal your pain godbless vt.from elkhart indiana

robert splittorff | April 18, 2007 7:43 PM

as someone who has lived here virtually all her life and considers Blacksburg here comfort zone, home sweet home, never could i ever have imagined in a thousand years that Blacksburg would have fallen victim to the heinous crimes of April 16, 2007. Not only has it shaken my world--the world I had repeatedly told others how truly lucky we were to live in such a safe community--but never again will i feel the balance and harmony I once felt (strongly) with Blacksburg, Virgina. We hear about this sort of tragedy and how it affects those whom have endured it but never do we realize that it could, in fact, happen so close to home--to those who we know, love, care for, or who we do not know at all, and now have the unfortunate circumstance of grieving for them without ever having the opportunity to speak with them, look in to their face, and recognize them not just as a friend, class mate, neighbor, but as a fellow human being.
We truly take for granted the sanctity we have around us and miss it, terribly, when it is gone.
If I could tell those of you who do not live in Blacksburg or Virginia or even the United States it would be cherish what you have, not what you do not have, and never take the specialties of life for granted. you never know when they will be unjustly taken away. As a fellow college student, daughter of a Virginia Tech professor, and a young woman who has fond memories of her hometown, I can only say that the shock and aftermath of such horrible events that unfolded have changed me forever--for better and for worse. Be thankful. You never know what fate holds.

Sally | April 20, 2007 2:14 AM