Virginia Tech officials criticized

first_imgBy Kristen Gelineau and Dena Potter THE ASSOCIATED PRESS RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Tech officials might have saved lives if they had notified faculty and students sooner about the first two shootings on campus, a panel investigating the April shootings that left 33 dead concluded. “Warning the students, faculty and staff might have made a difference. ? So the earlier and clearer the warning, the more chance an individual had of surviving,” said the report, which was released late Wednesday night. “The points that I will raise tomorrow, I don’t view that they would be solved by taking that step,” Kaine said. The report also concluded that while Cho had demonstrated numerous signs of mental instability, the university did not intervene effectively. The panel sharply critiqued the university’s counseling center, where Cho was referred for treatment in 2005 after a stretch of bizarre behavior and concerns that he was suicidal. The panel concluded that the center failed to provide needed support and services to Cho, due to a lack of resources, misinterpretation of privacy laws and passivity. The report also noted that records of Cho’s “minimal treatment” at the counseling center are missing. Cho showed signs of mental health problems as far back as middle school, the panel found. His middle school teachers found suicidal and homicidal thoughts in his writings after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. He received psychiatric counseling and was on medication for a short time, the report said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! However, the report concluded that while alerts might have helped students and faculty to protect themselves or alert authorities of suspicious activity, a lockdown on April 16 of the 131 buildings on campus was not feasible. It may not have prevented the determined gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, from carrying out the shootings. As a student, he had access to campus buildings and the ability to get the same messages as everyone else. He could have gained access to a dormitory or begun shooting people in the open. “From what we know of his mental state and commitment to action that day, it was likely that he would have acted out his fantasy somewhere on campus or outside it that same day,” the report said. The eight-member panel, appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, spent four months investigating the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Panel chairman Gerald Massengill declined to comment when reached Wednesday night. Kaine said earlier Wednesday he did not conclude from the report that either Virginia Tech President Charles Steger or campus police Chief Wendell Flinchum should resign. last_img