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The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history happened Monday, April 16, when a 23-year-old student Cho Seung-Hui, from South Korea, shot and killed 32 people and wounded at least 15 others on the campus of Virginia Tech. The rampage ended when he killed himself.
    Interviews with associates in his program and a roommate have revealed that others thought he was "eccentric" and a "loner" who might be the one person capable of doing something like this. Apparently his plays and writings were very dark and macabre, dark enough that other students showed his work to administrators concerned that his plays could be a sign of emotional or psychological problems.
    The first two killings in a dorm took place shortly after 7 a.m., while the conclusion of the rampage occurred about two hours later in a classroom building. Reports indicate that people in as many as four classrooms or perhaps more were targeted. A note was found in his dorm/apartment blaming in part, rich kids and moral depravity for this.

L.A. Youth asked its writers to share their thoughts about what happened. (Latest post at the top.)

When I heard about his mental illness, I wasn’t surprised at all. I mean, no one in their right mind would attempt to murder anyone. I also watched the videos and pictures Seung-Hui Cho sent to NBC News. I was speechless. I could not believe how he had the nerve to send that abominable nonsense after he murdered two people. Added to that, I heard that this massacre was planned beforehand, which is even more unbelievable. I feel very compelled to say that he is such a disgrace to Koreans.
    What really aggravated me was that the school didn’t warn the kids about a crazy maniac lurking around during that TWO-HOUR PERIOD after the first two students were killed in the dorm room! They should have warned the kids right after they learned about a murderer on campus. But, no they didn’t! They just allowed the crazy guy to kill 30 more people. I think that all schools and all offices must have tighter security now. After what happened at Virginia Tech, I believe every school staff and just everyone should get out of their comfort zone, and make serious improvements.
—Rebekah Ihn, 13, Rosemount MS
(La Crescenta) Posted Thursday, April 26

When I first heard about the shooting, all I could really think about was how one person could kill so many people. It just didn’t seem possible. But as the story developed, people kept dwelling on the racial issue and repeating how it was an Asian guy who caused so much damage.
    People think that one Korean guy’s action has smudged the entire Asian image, that one person has ruined the Asian goody-goody reputation. They think casting the blame on the Korean race is unfair. And I agree—blaming a race based on one person’s actions is unfair.
    But this goes back to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Imagine how Middle Eastern people felt being constantly assumed that they were terrorists. Throughout history, everyone tries to find a scapegoat for anything tragic or devastating that happens. We try to find a person or a race to lay the blame upon. And it just so happens that this time, Koreans are being used.
    I think everyone should stop dwelling on Seung-Hui Cho’s race and think more about trying to prevent this from happening again.
—Charlene Lee, 14, Walnut HS Posted Tuesday, April 24

I feel remorse for the families who have to deal with the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech. But I somehow feel a surprising sense of pity for 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, who took out his anger on innocent lives. Seung-Hui clearly felt like an outcast and didn’t feel like he had a place to belong (look at the painful video tape courtesy of NBC). Seung-Hui clearly felt he had to release the anger he felt from being a reject and unleash the pain on America, and yes, the wounds sting. Just seeing the eyes of those victims brings to me, utter sadness. But hopefully, unlike Cho, we can rise above this trial of pain and use it to make ourselves better.
—Malcolm Parker, 15, Mayfair HS
Posted Friday, April 20

I was really appalled when I heard about this horrific incident. I just could not believe how this one person could kill so many people, and cause such chaos within this world. I’m very disappointed, too, because I’m also Korean. His careless decisions ruined the Korean reputation. I was also aggravated to hear that other races were spitting at the Koreans and throwing out rude comments at them! I think this is very harsh to Koreans.
    I believe there were other incidents in which other races killed people, too. However, I did NOT think that the members of the murderer’s race were just as bad as the murderer.
    Added to that, I don’t stereotype races based on one person’s actions. Sure, this Cho Seung-Hui messed up big time. But why blame the Koreans for this one person’s misleading actions?! Just because Cho Seung-Hui messed up real bad, that does NOT mean that ALL the KOREANS are just as bad. We Koreans did not tell him to kill that many people. In fact, we’re just as upset as the rest of the world due to this devastating event.
—Rebekah Ihn, 13, Rosemont MS (La Crescenta) Posted Friday, April 20

I think this is a problem that should have been resolved a lot sooner, before it was too late. This student had already shown signs that he was capable of something terrible, in his writing and in his personality.
    At school they knew of some of his problems but they didn’t make much of an effort to help him. Though we can’t really blame them because our country is based on free speech and we cannot arrest a person based on what he says. Where were his parents when he had this problem? They either avoided it or didn’t speak to him at all.
    And we cannot  blame it on the fact that he is a "crazy immigrant." He has lived here for more than a decade. The worst and most tragic part is, that pointing the finger at anyone won’t save the people who were killed on that tragic day, people with limitless potential and a lifetime ahead of them.
—Victorino Martinez, 18, Daniel Murphy Catholic HS
Posted Thursday, April 19

When I first heard my mom tell me that there were shootings at Virginia Tech, my heart didn’t necessarily sink. My first reaction was quite the opposite, to tell the truth. A neighbor of mine attended Virginia Tech, so that was one thought. What this man looked like, was another thought; and I also became curious as to why this guy killed these, what I thought were three, people. (Later in the day I found out it was a much higher number, but the newspaper picture I looked at in the morning showed only three people, and I neglected to read the caption.) So overall, they weren’t “tear-provoking” thoughts, mostly semi-curious and sub-conscious, because it was so early in the morning.
    Eventually, after collecting all the information that had come out, it hit me. An Asian man had shot 32 people, one-by-one; nobody came to help and most importantly, THIS WAS AT A COLLEGE! A haven for a teenager, the main reason of debt for parents.
    Hurricane Katrina didn’t make more than an inch of impact in my dead, senseless, materialistic, apolitical, teenage brain; however, this incident, if you can even call it that, being that “incident” is such a PG-rated term, seemed to get me thinking about what I would do if I was in that situation. One of my other senseless, apolitical, materialistic friends asked me why no one thought to jump on him, realizing two things: 1) You’re going to get shot, regardless, and 2) it’s 30 against one. This is the same question that has been coursing my brain since 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.
    Don’t get me wrong, this is a tragic event and it makes me just as sad as the next person, but why would anyone not immediately think to jump on the guy or save, at least a small amount, of people. This is the one question that is going to make it hard for me to move on from this tragedy.
—Chelsea Augustine, 16, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies
Posted Thursday, April 19

I truly don’t know what to think … It’s just sad. Beyond sad. I wish it could have been prevented. I wish there was a reason to explain why it happened, why the killer did what he did, so at least we would have an idea of how to prevent these in the future, but perhaps no one will ever know. It’s awful.
—Sarah Evans, 16, Temple City HS
Posted Wednesday, April 18

When I heard about the shootings, I could not believe that one person could possibly kill that many people. I’m really confused why the school would not deal with the deaths of two of its students by acting right away and having a lock down. And it doesn’t make sense that the school administration would claim it’s an “isolated incident” when it was right on their campus. If they knew about the deaths of the two students that occurred in the morning and they had not yet caught the student who killed them, action should have been taken right away.
    I’m not necessarily scared to go to college because of this, but it does scare me that a school administration could be so nonchalant about the first two deaths, and it also scares me that we’ve learned so little since Columbine.
    It also makes me really sad the government decided to reassure the country after the incident that citizens still have the right to bear arms. In a press conference about the shooting Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for the President said, “As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.” I really do not think that’s the main issue right now.
—Genevieve Geoghan, 16, Marlborough School
Posted Wednesday, April 18

I woke up at nine during my second day of spring break because my mom kept chattering about something. I didn’t know what it was about so I went outside and heard my mom talking about some dude who shot people at his college. I didn’t really care. Shootings around the world were a typical issue and I heard it everywhere, in the news and newspapers. But the mention of a Korean boy stopped me from going back to sleep. I wasn’t being nationalist or racist or anything, but to hear that a Korean boy had done something like that in America was crucifying. My mom kept going on about what she’d heard on the radio. A Korean student in his 20s shot people at Virginia Tech. My mom predicted that he was lonely boy who had been betrayed by a girlfriend or his friend. I thought my mother had watched too many Korean dramas. The news must be mistaken, I thought, it must be a Chinese or Japanese man, or any other kind of Asian that had done it.
    My sister and I were curious to find out more, so we searched the Internet. It turned out that we didn’t even need to search. As soon as my sister typed www.nytimes.com, there was Cho Seung-Hui’s picture on the front page with headlines that read “Virginia Shooting Leaves 33 Dead” and “Virginia Gunman Identified as Student.” It was bizarre. Every news web site had his picture and every Korean radio station was talking about it. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history and it had been committed by a Korean. My mother and sister talked about our reputation as Koreans. “How will we raise our faces to society?” my mom said. “I’m Chinese!” my sister yelled as a joke. My mom said we should pray for the young people that died and Seung-Hui as well. I didn’t think he would like that very much seeing that one of the things he resented was his religion, Christianity.
    Looking at the headlines now, I think the people that wrote them are overreacting: “Chilling picture of Virginia Tech gunman emerges” to “Like Something Out of a Nightmare.” I didn’t think he looked scary and people should’ve been more kind to him. I also don’t think it right that the newspapers should call him “a sullen loner who alarmed professors and classmates with his twisted, violence-drenched creative writing.” “He was a loner,” school spokesman Larry Hincker told ABC News. I don’t think they even knew him and his life so they had no right to say that. Loners don’t become loners because they want to; I believe it is society that does it. I don’t understand how, now that he’s killed and committed suicide, people are recognizing who he is.
    As endless information is being revealed, I pity Cho Seung-Hui and the people he killed. Both of them were victims; Seung-Hui of society and the ones killed were victims of Seung-Hui’s acts. I don’t agree with what Seung-Hui did nor do I approve of his acts, but I do think something should’ve been done to help him. Sure, I read of professors who were concerned, but no student really tried to reach out to him.
    In the news, Koreans are worried that their reputation might be ruined and foreigners will discriminate against them. I don’t think that’s right. If a Korean person does something, it doesn’t mean all Koreans are madmen. It also doesn’t mean that because Afghanistan terrorists bombed the World Trade Centers that all Afghanistan people are terrorists. People are way over-reactive about races and should get a reality check on their stereotypes.
—Jisu Yoo, 14, Wilson MS (Glendale)
Posted Wednesday, April 18

We want to know what you think. Feel free to send in your thoughts about what happened to editor@layouth.com and we’ll publish selected comments on our Web site.

I was shocked to hear about the shootings at Virginia Tech, because of the unpredictable reality of how it happened.
    It’s too easy to under-appreciate simple things, like the ability to go to school without being terrorized, hurt or killed. However, the students at Virginia Tech would have prayed for the luxury of such safety, if only they had known what tragedy they were to experience April 16.
    Another factor that was surprising to me about the shooting is that the murderer was a familiar face to his targets. I’m conscious about the fact that one is never safe from the dangers of world, but one would never imagine that some university kid would shoot more than 30 of his schoolmates.
    Seeing pictures of the devastation in the faces of the survivors is very emotional for me. A catastrophe like this one could touch anyone. It occurred for no purpose, nor by some uncontrollable force of nature, but by a man. I can’t imagine what prompted Cho Seung-Hui to commit such a crime, but my deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims.
—Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 15, Beverly Hills HS
Posted Wednesday, April 18

When I heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech I really felt as though I was a part of that school in a way. I had the same worries, the same sadness. I know that sometimes people don’t really care about others and their problems because we can be so self-centered, but this massacre really made me stop and think about life in general. I think this is another example of innocent people dying for no reason at all; maybe it was God’s plan, maybe just an accident. Who knew that they would just wake up one morning and not return home from school? I cannot imagine what the victims’ families are going through right now. I hope that they know that many people as myself care about them and pray for speedy recovery.
—Iren Rivelis, 15, Taft HS (Woodland Hills)
Posted Wednesday, April 18

Gun shots were heard across the nation on April 16, 2007, as a shooting at Virginia Tech killed 32 students. It seemed so unexpected, Cho Seung-Hui was not some scary kid who flagrantly displayed his love of violence; he was a “brooding” albeit strange, English major according to The Washington Post’s report of what they called his “massacre.” Death. Killing. Guns. I am now afraid.
    I want to be able to blame the media for this latest school shooting. But I know this event far supersedes Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Kombat. I want to know why something like this could happen at a small-town American college. I want to know why the police didn’t meticulously investigate the earlier deaths, or why they didn’t notify the students and teachers of the potential threat of a shooter on campus. I want to know so many things, and, when it boils down to it, I probably never will.
    I hope this shooting won’t affect the nature of college; that schools won’t “crack down” on violence and force their students to sign into buildings or walk through metal detectors. That’s not what college should be. Colleges should be open and welcoming, not overbearing and frightened of other potential shootings. This singular outburst of violence need not alter anything. I cannot help but revert back to past national disasters: mass death, terrified citizens, and the repercussions of overzealous reactions. We should not manipulate these innocent people’s deaths to prove a point on our agenda; this is not the time for faux grieving and subliminal messages for, or against, gun control, campus security, or any other relevant cause. This is a time for reflection. Will we, as college-bound students, allow this to influence our decisions? The answer is, hopefully, a resonant “no.” I must concede that I, too, would hesitate before attending Virginia Tech; but that should not stop others. This random act of violence shouldn’t be the reasoning behind attending school outside of California; this could have happened anywhere. Nor should this deter any teens from branching outside the bubble of the Golden State.
    I am afraid, but of more than a crazed shooter in Blacksburg, VA; I am scared that the deaths of these students will become secondary to the investigation of the shooter, I am scared of the reactionaries waiting to come out of the wood work, but, mostly, I am scared that someone like this lived in our society and we didn’t notice until he picked up a gun.
—Alana Folsom, 16, Marshall HS
Posted Wednesday, April 18

I’m not surprised that this happened. I think it was just a really angry, lonely guy who felt invisible. Though he is still responsible for what he did, if he had received love while he was growing up this would not have happened. I think we need to, as a society, have more love for people who are not popular or good-looking. Our society puts so much value on people who are physically attractive, rich and popular that if anyone is far from these ideals, that person is shunned.
    One thing that worries the Korean community and I about this situation is that many people will now see Koreans or Asians in a bad way. Evident by the hate crimes committed against Middle Eastern people in the United States after 9/11, when a person of color does something good or bad, that action becomes associated with all persons of that race. This incident should not be used to create more racial violence. However, since Asians are the “model minority” perhaps most people will see this person as an individual because this kind of act does not fit the Asian stereotype.
    I don’t suppose people realize that Asian students are under a lot of pressure. Asian students are expected by society to be quiet, do extremely well in academics and to not express emotions or seek help. I’m sure the majority of Asian students do not take advantage of therapy or psychological help offered at school or in their community. The Korean community should try to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations by communicating more often. Parents must put less pressure on their children—we are not perfect!
    I don’t think that the university handled the situation well at all. When the first two victims were shot, the school warned people through e-mails, according to an article in The Washington Post. That is ridiculous. This should be a reminder to all students how unsafe their schools really are. I don’t think anyone expected this quiet Korean guy to go ballistic like he did.
—Esther Oh, 17, Cleveland HS (Reseda)
Posted Wednesday, April 18

It’s hard for a number of reasons to remain capable of some sort of feeling at this point in my life. As a 16-year-old who has everything she could ever need or want, I find myself void of reactions to things that I really should feel; hugs, passing of relatives, anything bigger or greater than my measly, self centered sum.
    I watch the news and read the paper every day, but very seldom do the stories ever truly pierce the surface. I know I’m not alone, we’re all like this to a point; we’ve simply immunized ourselves to so many things. Monday was any other morning, and I was no different than I had been on any other day, yet when I woke up, turned on my laptop, and saw what was on CNN.com, I suddenly became a different person. 
    All of these people, these poor defenseless people who woke up on a Monday morning like all other Mondays, and who were no different than they had been on any other morning, suddenly were thrown into a tragic and life-changing situation, and suddenly all of these people; students, professors, janitors, the whole Virginia Tech family were thrust into American history in a way that even the most fame-hungry person would never want. 
    As the story developed, I became, as so many Americans did, shocked and horrified at what was playing out before my eyes; immediately overwrought with emotions. Where a selfish, spoiled teenager had been, was a more aware and deeply moved American, incapable of fully comprehending what she was witnessing.
    I know I am not alone in my feelings or emotions. In a country so divided, so detached, and so set in our ways, we are now brought together in our pain and sympathies. When so many, young, beautiful people are taken away so tragically; a universe of possibilities is forever stamped out. We’ve all lost possibilities with this shooting, possibilities of friends, family, lovers, enemies; neighbors, roommates, colleagues. So much lost in only so much time. Now, we ask. We ask why, we ask how, we ask each other, we ask. We ask questions and more questions: Who do we blame? Who do we punish? Who do we mourn? So many questions with so few answers, which seems to be the only thing I’m sure of.
    We, as a people, as a group, as a country, will rise again. We will rise again as we always have, and always will. We will come together, we will argue, we will mend until the next heartbreak, until the next big thing. It’s sad, but it is inevitable, and it is how it will always be. We will cry, we will remember, we will memorialize. We will be raw to the bone, and we will feel. We will have been changed, and then we will morph back into what we were. Immune once again.
    Hopefully though, the shock and horror, the feelings, all of the overwhelming feelings, will always be there to remind us of who we were and are and always will be. Hopefully, we’ll always remember all of them, all of the people who went along as they always did and who didn’t realize that it wasn’t going to be an average day. Hopefully. Always hopeful.
—Hannah Matthews-Ward, 16, Arcadia HS
Posted Wednesday, April 18

To me, one of the worst parts of this tragedy is the fact that in only a number of weeks, students in other parts of the country will no longer be affected. In society today people cannot help but feel defenseless against such extreme crime. People all over want to prevent it, but feel it is close to impossible to do so. Thus, they feel bad for a week or two then move on with their lives. There has to be more though. There has to be something else out there. Some other way to get through to the rest of the nation. Most of all, there must be a way to continue to come together to look out for ourselves and for one another. We should be proud of our society; not scared of it.
—Jamie Goldstein, 17, Calabasas HS
Posted Wednesday, April 18
  
My religion teacher told us at the end what happened at Virginia Tech. When I heard how many students had been killed and injured, I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t believe anyone could go to a college campus and start shooting people. It was so surreal. I kept thinking, next year I’m going to be living in a dorm. Could something like this happen to me or my friends? I felt incredibly sad for the victims and their families. Why did this even happen?
—Katherine Trujillo, 17, Notre Dame Academy
Posted Wednesday, April 18

The morning of the shooting, I had not yet realized how substantial the number of deaths was. My family rarely watches television in the morning, so I learned of the shootings only through word of mouth. By the time I had gotten home that afternoon, I turned on my computer to access my e-mail. Headlines titled “Shooting at Virginia Tech” or “Many Dead After Mass Shooting” were placed at the top of different Web sites, sparking my interest. It was then when I began to read the articles online that I realized the seriousness of the event. From that point on, I was consumed by the live broadcasts from Blacksburg, VA, on every major television network, waiting to find out more information on the developing story. While watching some students at the college being interviewed, I really didn’t know how to react—I felt saddened, angry and numb all at the same time. The broadcasts raised many questions in my mind, such as why the police didn’t catch the suspect immediately after the first shootings and whether or not we are ever really safe from acts of violence such as this. Most feel as though their home is the safest place to be, and yet two of the victims were killed in their dormitory, a place they called home.
    Although I don’t know anyone who goes to Virginia Tech, I somehow felt connected to the students that day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Virginia Tech community, the families of those who passed away, and, especially, to the family of Cho Seung-Hui.
—Noelle Cornelio, 16, Notre Dame Academy
Posted Wednesday, April 18


L.A. Youth wants to know what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts about what happened by sending an e-mail to editor@layouth.com. We’ll publish selected comments on our Web site.