Confirmation that Angie was Targeted
The “good cop,” Officer Santolla confirmed our suspicions that Peter Odighizuwa had targeted Angie specifically. Officer Santolla theorized that the killer was headed for the library after shooting the two faculty members, but when he got in the student lounge, he saw Angie sitting diagonally across the room. Odighizuwa walked around a number of students, up to Angie and fired his pistol hitting her three times. He then turned his pistol on two other female students sitting with Angie, wounding both but not killing either of them.
Why Angie? The only glimpse we have into Odighizuwa’s motive for targeting her is a comment he reportedly made that since leaving the school’s staff and becoming a student, “Angie had not been nice to him.”
No one present could answer the question of who transported Angie to the hospital—we are still waiting for someone to tell us.
Officer Santolla confirmed that a medevac helicopter landed on the school grounds shortly after the shooting, but none of the officers would tell us who was evacuated first or who made the decision about what order the victims would be removed from the crime scene.
The doctors we consulted in the aftermath of the tragedy told us that in the event of a disaster, triage procedures dictate that the most seriously wounded is evacuated first. Angie’s injuries were the most serious. Given the serious nature of her gun shot wounds, she should have been the first evacuated. Because no vital organs were hit; Angie would have had a chance if she had been evacuated to the hospital. In fact, she bled to death because did not receive medical attention. The helicopter was there, the hospital was close. None of the officers could or would give us any information on how the decisions were made on who was evacuated. They did remember many other details.
We did, however, learn that Dr. Sagan was at the shooting site within minutes of the first reports. He has now left Grundy. No one apparently bothered to ask him about his triage procedures. As far as we know, no one bothered to ask him if he saw Angie and if he did, why he didn’t get help for her--help that might have saved her life.
Odighizuwa and Domestic Violence
One question that has bothered all of us was Peter Odighizuwa’s domestic violence. Our question was how someone with a restraining order against him can have a gun? In fact, as we were to learn it was not a restraining order. Mrs. Odighizuwa had an Emergency Protection Order against her husband. This was explained to us as a three-day cooling off period and does not carry the restrictions of a restraining order. At the end of the three days, Mrs. Odighizuwa had the right to get a restraining order, but didn’t. The whole question was moot.
What isn’t moot is that in Virginia, a man can threaten to kill his wife and family, an Emergency Protection Order or a Restraining Order can be placed against him, and he can go right out and buy a gun. He can buy bullets. There is no provision in Virginia statutes to search and seize weapons in the home of a man or woman whom the law has deemed a threat to others. There are however, strict rules for off color jokes. A man or woman can lose his or her job for an off color remark! Touch someone in Virginia “inappropriately” and you lose your job.
We then asked the officers about a threatening e-mail Angie had received over a year before her death. They said they were aware of it, and asserted that while they did not know who sent it, the e-mail had nothing to do with Angie’s death. The question that bothers us is, if you don’t know who sent the e-mail, how can you say with such certainty that it had nothing to do with the shooting? It was equally puzzling to us that the Commonwealth’s Attorney bought this assertion.
As far as we can put the pieces together this is what happened: Angie’s computer had accidentally sent a virus to another student’s computer. The virus destroyed some or all of the student’s files and he sent the threat. She told her family about the e-mail but refused to show it to them. She did, upon the urging of a friend, report it to the police and the school.
The threatening e-mail read:
You f**king cocksucker, If you ever try to send me another virus again, I will track you down, cut your nipples off, and stick jumper cables in you and connect them to my truck. I’m not bullshittin. Maybe the sheriff will find you hanging from a tree in Longbottom.
It is against the law to send threats via the Internet. And, an investigation took place, but “nothing” turned up. Ms. Tolliver arranged for us to talk with the investigating officer, Don Lambert.
Ms. Tolliver got Officer Don Lambert on a conference call in her private office. Joe Dales, Ms. Tolliver, and I went into the office for the call. Officer Lambert said he took over the investigation from an Officer Whitmore, who had apparently left the state police for a federal job. Lambert was not clear at what point in time he took over the investigation and could not remember details such as who filed the complaint or whether the school was aware and following up on it. He “thought” the school had made at least one inquiry with regard to the investigation, but he couldn’t be certain.
An Incomplete Investigation
To my request to see the police report of the investigation, he responded by saying he could not give it to me or any member of the family because it was “confidential.” He did volunteer to retrieve the report from Richmond, call me, and answer any questions I might have. I am still waiting for that phone call.
Officer Lambert said that his predecessor had gone to the Internet provider and tracked down the PC that had sent the e-mail. To the best of his memory, the computer belonged to another student, not Peter Odighizuwa. Officer Lambert volunteered that the student had been questioned by the police and denied any knowledge of the e-mail.
There would have been only one way to find out for certain where the threat came from and that was from the Internet provider. In order to get the specifics from the Internet provider, the officer needed a court order. Neither officers Whitmore nor Lambert got the court order, and after 60 days the Internet provider automatically erases all e-mail traffic. That Internet provider now says there is no way to retrieve the information. As a result, the state police claim they cannot identify who sent the e-mail for certain. We still ask the police, if you cannot identify the sender of the e-mail, then how can you say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it does not factor into the shooting?
Punishment in the Hereafter?
When I got up to leave conference call and go back into the room where Angie’s parents were sitting, I heard officers Parker and Santolla try to comfort the Dales. They implied that the Dales should be content with the knowledge that Peter Odighizuwa would get his punishment in the hereafter.
Sue Dales was furious. After the meeting, Sue said she could hardly contain her anger, especially at Officer Parker. To this day, her anger boils over when she thinks of Parker’s behavior. All of us could not help but think, what hypocrites! In other words, what the two highway patrolmen were really saying was—“If you are thinking of a civil lawsuit, why don’t you drop it?” In effect, they were patting the Dales on the head and saying, “There, there, be good. Don’t say anything, don’t question anything. Now run along home.”
Indeed, we did “run along home” because none of our questions were being answered. The only thing the meeting had settled was our determination to get at the truth. The meeting was a turning point for us, there was no doubt in any of our minds—we would get an attorney, there would be a lawsuit. We would do whatever needed to be done to get some answers. (To be continued)