Aftershocks of Virginia Tech shooting massacre
felt throughout Bay Area
Virginia Tech university campus
Photo courtesy VirginiaTech
By Tamara Barak, Bay City News Service
April 16, 2007
Two shootings that left 33 people dead on the Virginia Tech
campus this morning shocked alumni who have settled in the Bay
Area and prompted the University of California president to vow
to review UC's safety procedures to avert a similar tragedy.
San Francisco resident John Emami, who graduated from Virginia
Tech in 2005, learned of the massacre through a friend's text-message.
Emami immediately began trying to contact friends who still attend
"I shot a group of people text messages to make sure they
were OK," he said.
Emami's friends are all accounted for this afternoon, and he
was able to speak to some of them shortly after the ordeal.
"It's just chaos down there, pretty much. They were making
everyone stay inside and they didn't know what was going on at
first," Emami said.
According to university officials, the incident began with a
911 call to the university police at 7:15 a.m. Officers responded
to West Ambler Johnston Hall to find two shooting victims. Both
West Ambler Johnston Hall is a co-ed dormitory that houses almost
900 students and is one of the largest residential buildings on
Two hours later, while police were investigating the incident,
another call came in reporting a second shooting, the university
The second attack took place in Norris Hall, an engineering building
about a half a mile away from Ambler Johnston Hall. Thirty-one
people, including the gunman, died at Norris Hall. Another 15
people shot in that location are hospitalized, the university
Walking briskly, it would take someone about 15 minutes to travel
the distance between the two locations, Emami said.
For Emami, the shooting hit especially close to home. The former
engineering student attended classes at Norris Hall and lived
for a time in West Ambler Johnston Hall, known to students as
"It's just shocking," he said.
San Francisco resident Nathan Frankel, who graduated from Virginia
Tech in December of 1995, was also shaken by the news. Frankel
said he heard the news from his father, who lives a couple of
hours from the campus.
"My dad e-mailed me this morning and he said there was a
shooting and that one person was killed. By the time I clicked
on the link to the news story, it was up to 20. I was really shocked,"
said Frankel, who also attended classes in Norris Hall.
The campus is located in the town of Blacksburg, which Frankel
described as a place where crime is relatively uncommon.
"It's a very quiet town. If there was one murder in the
year, people were surprised and took notice of it. I can't even
imagine an event of this magnitude," Frankel said.
Blacksburg is essentially a college town, Emami said. "It's
just a peaceful southwest Virginia town. Not much goes on besides
college," he said.
University of California President Robert Dynes said the UC system
would review its safety policies in light of the shooting.
"Clearly, University campuses are not immune from the threats
of violence that exist in our broader society," Dynes said
in a statement released this afternoon.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also issued a statement
today, saying her "heart nearly stopped" when she heard
about the attacks.
"In an instant, the hopes and dreams of students were destroyed
by a cowardly and terrible act of insane violence. My deepest
condolences go to all those touched by this violence," Feinstein
The senator also criticized the availability of guns.
"It is my deep belief that shootings like these are enabled
by the unparalleled ease with which people procure weapons in
this country. And I believe this will reignite the dormant effort
to pass common-sense gun regulations in this nation."
Virginia Tech President Steger called the shootings "a tragedy
of monumental proportions."
"The university is shocked and horrified that this would
befall our campus. I want to extend my deepest, sincerest and
most profound sympathies to the families of these victims, which
include students," Steger said in a written statement.
University officials are in the process of notifying the victims'
"I cannot begin to convey my own personal sense of loss
over this senselessness of such an incomprehensible and heinous
act," Steger said.
The university is providing counseling to those affected by the
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