The Senseless Violence Began in West Ambler Johnstonby Kevin Tosh, Contributing Writer
April 16, 2007
As a bitter wind blew and a light snow fell over the campus of Virginia Tech, the morning hustle and bustle of an average Monday morning was quickly quieted by a senseless act of violence.
A lone gunman entered West Ambler Johnston Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech and killed two people - one of them identified as Resident Advisor Ryan Clark - shortly after 7 Monday morning.
A resident advisor is a student dorm monitor.
West Ambler Johnston is a co-ed dorm that houses 895 students near Cassell Coliseum.
At approximately 8:15 a.m. students on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston were notified by their resident advisor of an emergency and then moved to a another location, according to Ramon Mata, a computer science major and fourth floor resident of West Ambler Johnston.
“ I was woken up by my RA banging on my door at around 8:15 a.m. this morning,” said Mata. “All he said was, there’s an emergency, go to the third floor crossover.”
According to Mata, no gunshots were heard and he slept through the incident.
By mid-afternoon the central elevator, stairwell and fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston were still closed as the investigation continued.
The Virginia State Police, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies were armed and stationed throughout campus and around West Ambler Johnston as the day progressed.
This police presence continued to keep order and instill a sense of safety for the students.
“I think we’re pretty safe,” said Mata in afternoon interview. “Altogether, I think the situation was handled fine.”
This incident will no doubt affect a multitude of people and strike the university as a whole with grief, and sadness as authorities struggle to identify the 33 deceased victims, as well as perhaps 20 more in hospitals around the region.
“It was very unfortunate, the result of one person’s actions affecting this many people,” said Mata.
The incident at the dorm and the ensuing shootings in class rooms at Norris Hall staggered both students and university officials seeking to comprehend the scope of the carnage.
As the day progressed, more information and the idea of what had happened began to take form and settle on this routinely quiet campus in a small town in Virginia’s New River Valley.
The flag was flown at half-mast in the Upper Quad section of the campus, and a somber, stunned mood settled over the entire campus. Time seemed to stop for students, many of whom had spent the morning huddled on floors in darkened classrooms waiting for word that it was safe to evacuate campus.
In comparison to prior school shootings this incident greatly overshadows the rest in magnitude.
This school shooting marks the deadliest in United States history topping the 1999 Columbine High School incident and the 1966 University of Texas incident.
The Columbine High School incident on April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colo., involved two student gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others.
The University of Texas incident took place on August 1, 1966, in Austin, Texas, in which Charles Joseph Whitman killed 15 people and wounded many more.
With the current numbers of fatalities reaching over 30, this incident will leave its mark as the deadliest school shooting in history and will leave a community in disbelief and utter shock.