This is the last bit I'll write today about the shootings at Virginia Tech - day-long updates, for anyone who hasn't followed, are in the post immediately below this one. There is not much specific information there that has not now been broadcast around the world and dissected in detail by much more powerful outlets.
Already, the president of the university is conducting a press conference in which he essentially is covering official ass for its understandable belief that the initial killing of two students in a dormitory was an isolated incident whose perpetrator posed no immediate threat to the rest of campus. They're not the sadistic murderers here, but they were wrong about that threat. Maybe fatally wrong, and maybe just caught in a no-win situation.
What we learned at that briefing: there is a preliminary identification of the dead shooter in Norris Hall. It has not been released. Police did not engage him in gun fire. Campus police are "following all leads," and have contacted a "person of interest" initially sought in the first shooting. This person (a male) was being interviewed at the time of the second, larger wave of carnage and is not the man later identified as the suicidal mass killer in the classroom. This "person of interest" also has not yet been identified as a shooter his own self or an accomplice. No one is in custody. Murder/suicide in the dorm has been ruled out. Chief Wendell Flinchum was asked point blank "it sounds like you were chasing the wrong guy and you're waiting for ballistics to confirm that," which Flinchum said could be the case, or could not be. Earlier, he was asked, "what is the difference in this shooting that so many lives, 30 lives, were lost?" Obviously, he didn't know that, either.
CNN interviewed a freshman who hit the floor and pretended to be dead when the gunman entered the room. She said he "peeked in" earlier in the period before returning, opening fire, leaving, returning again and firing again. After he left a second time, she said students barricaded themselves against the door, because it wouldn't lock, and when the shooter couldn't get into the room a third time, he began firing into the door. He was dressed "almost like a boy scout," decked in ammunition, and "very thorough about it."
Keith Olbermann is citing a confidential but "trustworthy" ATF source who believes the shooter has been positively identified as a man who is not a student but would have access to the dorm. The guns have been identified as a .9 mm semiautomatic pistol and a .22 caliber handgun with serial numbers "obliterated" - those with any knowledge of guns, of which I have none at all, can draw conclusions from that. Now, Olbermann is more specific: a 24-year-old Chinese national who came to San Francisco on a student visa last year and made the bomb threats that shut down the university to test authorities' responsiveness. Not confirmed.
The demands of the news cycle have already devolved into psychological assessments from analysts who have never spoken with the killer, gun control harangues from partisan ideologues. I don't have much use for either, like I don't have much use for senselessly violent video games and movies whose virtual bloodshed stands in as scapegoat for the complete, homicidal insanity so many reasonable people find impossible to accept. I don't think any of those discussions, or dissection of official indecision, can account for homicidal insanity. A CNN guest at the moment who blames the social and media obsession with violence and "crappy" parenting for such bloodshed insists "this will keep happening...our children will continue to get shot down," and I agree, in the sense that people have consistently found every possible way to kill one another since the beginning of history. Way before Max Payne. We're getting a little better at that, actually. It will keep happening, absolutely, like kindness and love and charity and dancing and football will keep happening. That's humanity for ya. How's the graphics department coming with the "College Columbine" banner? Confirm again that this is the absolute worst massacre on record. Gettysburg does not count.
Really, television networks have done a good job today, they were solid in the immediate aftermath; listen to reporters in those press conferences. They're tough. I thought it was important enough to break routine today to keep up with the grisly, gripping events being broadcast from a campus that also happens to host a major college program, but I don't report at this site. This is a blog about football, and so it will be again in the morning. Relevant information tonight is everywhere. Unless there's something really, unavoidably interesting to parrot, I'll just move on here.
For Virginia Tech, for families who can't just move on, every condolence and prayer tonight is directed towards their health and sanity. Nothing else ultimately matters very much.