Cho apparently walked around Norris Hall’s second floor, peering into several classrooms before picking his victims. For reasons known only to Cho, he selected and first entered room 206, where a graduate engineering class, taught by Professor G.V. Loganthan, was in progress. He immediately killed Loganathan. Of the 13 students in the room, Cho killed nine and wounded two—only two students survive uninjured. The class was so paralyzed with horror that no one called the police.
Just moments before Cho entered Madame Jocelyne Couture-Nowak’s French class in room 211, Henry Lee saw the notice of the dormitory shooting on his computer. He apparently said something and both Ross Alameddine and Emily Haas started looking over Henry’s shoulder.
The gunfire was heard in other classrooms, but practically no one recognized the sounds. Sometime around 9:40 a.m. Colin Goddard, in room 211, vividly remembers hearing loud bangs. Madame Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, the French instructor, stopped momentarily, and her face took on a puzzled expression. All semester the class had heard construction noises coming from next door. That seemed to be the answer and the class resumed.
A moment later, however, they heard more loud bangs, this time they were clearly coming from within Norris Hall. Madame Couture-Nowak stopped again. She went to the door, opened it and peered into the hall. She turned around, her face dropped, and she told everyone to get under his or her desk. She asked someone to dial 911. Colin was apparently the first to do so. The emergency number his Nextel cell phone dialed, however, did not connect him with the local Blacksburg emergency services. It took him several moments to get the person on the other end of the line to understand where he was and what was going on. Only then was the call transferred to the Blacksburg Police Department. Goddard’s call was first word of what was taking place. By 9:42 a.m. other calls were coming in from other classrooms; some of these went to the Virginia Tech Police Department.
Meanwhile, Cho had walked across the hall to room 207, where Christopher James Bishop’s German class was in progress. Cho shot and killed the instructor first. He then turned his weapons on the students sitting at the front of the class. He methodically walked up and down the aisle shooting students in cold blood. Cho slaughtered four students, including Nicole White and Michael Pohle, Jr., and wounded six more in room 207.
The students in room 205, Haiyan Cheng’s class in Issues in Scientific Computing, heard Cho’s weapons. They quickly barricaded the door to prevent him from entering. Cho fired through the door, but was never able to enter the classroom.
Further down the hall in room 211, Couture-Nowak’s class, having heard the shots and called 911, tried without success to barricade the door with the instructor’s table. At that point, bullets began coming through the door. Cho pushed his way in and the murderous rampage continued. He shot Couture-Nowak first and then turned his weapons on the class.
Colin looked toward the front of the class from under his desk and could see boots, khaki pants, a white shirt and holsters. At first it looked as if the person was exiting the classroom. Colin thought it was the police who had somehow climbed up the side of the building and come in through the window .
Instead of exiting however, the figure started walking down the rows of seated students. He first started down Colin’s row. Colin was one of the last in the row. He tried to play dead—there was no place to go. The windows opened outward and escape was awkward if not impossible. He could hear Cho moving and the constant, repetitious gunfire.
Then Colin felt something; it was as if someone had kicked his leg. There was a sharp stinging, then numbness and a warm feeling in his leg. He realized he had been shot. Colin had been in disbelief up to that point. Cho, the shootings, the whole situation were surreal. But now reality was setting in. He remembers hearing more gunshots. He knew he had been hit but he felt no pain.
Now, fully aware of the magnitude of what was happening, Colin threw his cell phone away. It was still on and he wanted to get it away from him in case Cho heard it. The phone landed near Emily Haas who hid it in her hair and heroically stayed on the line.
Colin is not sure when, but Cho left the room. He did not see Cho leave but heard him. Cho headed back to room 207, the German class. But by now two uninjured students had run to the door and using their feet and hands held it shut in case Cho returned. Finding the door blocked he beat on it and managed to pry it open just enough to fire several shots into the room. Unable to gain entry, Cho went back to Madame Couture-Nowak’s French class.
There, Cho resumed his methodical march up and down the aisles, firing into the dead and wounded. Colin was shot again. He remembers hearing gurgling noises as his fellow students struggle to stay alive, but he did not look up—he continued to play dead. Once again Cho left room 211 looking for more victims.
At some point during the rampage Cho went to classroom 204 where engineering Professor Liviu Librescu (a survivor of the holocaust) knew the sounds of gunfire immediately. He had braced himself against the door to hold it closed and yelled to his students to head for the windows. The students pushed out screens and jumped to the bushes and ground below. Ten of the sixteen students in Librescu’s class escaped unharmed. The next two to try and get out were shot and Professor Librescu was fatally shot through the door. Professor Librescu sacrificed his life for others; his heroism prevented further carnage. A total of four students in his solid mechanics class were shot, one fatally.
The Governor’s Review Panel Report erroneously has Cho going to Librescu’s class after his last shooting rampage in the French class. That is impossible. Cho committed suicide in the French class. The killings in Librescu’s class, therefore, must have taken place earlier. This timeline mistake is a critical error, raising questions about the professionalism and thoroughness of both the Review Panel and TriData, the firm hired to write the report. See Chapter V for a detailed discussion and analysis of the numerous errors, inconsistencies, and flaws in the Governor’s Review Panel report.
It is not clear where Cho had gone, but he was not through with room 211. He came back a third time and resumed his murderous march. Again Colin Goddard became a target; he felt a shot graze his chest and enter his armpit. The bullet exited through his upper shoulder. The force of the bullet turned him over. Colin Goddard was then shot a fourth time—this time in the right hip.
Colin could hear the police outside as they tried to get in the building. He first heard them yelling and then a deep boom of a shotgun blast. Then he could hear the police moving about in the building both above and below where he was as they began clearing rooms. Next, Colin heard one last shot, Cho’s suicide.
Unlike the double homicide some two and a half hours earlier, the police, in this instance, knew what they were dealing with and acted accordingly. They had learned from Columbine. They did not hesitate; they broke in. At Norris Hall, in contrast to West Ambler Johnston, the police conducted themselves in exemplary fashion, applying the lessons learned from previous school shootings. Their actions brought Cho’s rampage to an abrupt end—his suicide at around 9:51 a.m. The police undoubtedly prevented more killings through their quick, professional assault on Norris Hall.
Later, one of the officers who participated in the storming of Norris Hall walked the Goddard family through the crime scene and explained the police’s actions. The shotgun blast that Colin had heard had blown off the lock on a service door to a lab on the west end of Norris Hall. The police had entered and then gone into an inner corridor, some going up to the second floor, others moving along the first-floor corridor. The police had secured the second floor by posting officers at each end of the corridor, while others went to the third floor.
At that point, Colin could hear the police moving about, but lay still. There was a gap between Cho’s last shot and the arrival of the police; Colin, not knowing Cho was dead, feared that all was quiet because Cho was waiting for the police and there would be a shootout.
Emily Haas, who was wounded, had hidden Colin’s cell phone in her hair and kept the line open. After the shooting stopped she kept asking the dispatcher, “Where are the police? ... What is taking so long ... People are hurt. We need help ...”
When the police did come to room 211, Colin could hear them trying to push the door of the classroom open, but the bodies of Madame Couture-Novak and Henry Lee blocked their entrance. The police called for help to get in. By now Colin had crawled closer to Kristina, who was also seriously wounded but would survive, and they were holding hands. He remembers thinking, ‘Help from us? You are here to help us.’ At the time Colin did not know it, but eleven of his classmates were dead, four others were wounded, and only one survived unscathed.
Finally, the dispatcher responded to Emily Haas saying, “The police are at the door.” At that point, Emily went to the door to push a body out of the way. The police arrived at room 211 sometime around 10:08 a.m., the time given for their discovery of Cho’s body at the front of the French class. The police immediately took Emily outside where she was given emergency medical treatment.
Colin remembers putting his hand up as the police entered to signal where he was and that he was alive. He could see the police and remembers the startled, almost shocked, look on the officers’ faces; he could see they were “on edge”—and the gruesome scene they found probably haunts those officers to this day. The first thing he heard after the police entered the room was, “Shooter down.”
Cho ended his rage at approximately 9:51 a.m. by shooting himself in the head. (By this point, the Policy Group was aware of the mass shootings, but the Review Panel Report did not specify the precise time they were told. They were in Burruss Hall across from Norris and probably didn’t have to be told a shooting was taking place.) Within a nine-to-eleven-minute shooting spree, Cho murdered 25 students and five faculty members. He had coldly and systematically walked up and down the second-floor corridor of Norris Hall killing at will. He entered most of the classrooms more than once. He fired from the doorway or walked around inside the rooms. To quote the Governor’s Review Panel Report, “It was very close range. Students had little place to hide other than behind the desks. By taking a few paces inside he could shoot almost anyone in the classroom who was not behind a piece of overturned furniture.” They were execution- style killings.
At least 17 students were shot and survived, and six more were injured jumping out of windows. Cho expended at least 174 bullets from two semiautomatic guns—his 9mm Glock and his .22 caliber Walther. Most of his shots were fired at point-blank range, making his slaughter the worst school shooting in this nation’s history. The police found 17 empty magazines, each capable of holding 10-15 bullets. Ammunition recovered included 203 live cartridges, 122 for the Glock and another 81 for the Walther. (To be continued)