As news of the massacre at Virginia Tech spread across campus, those with friends at Virginia Tech began their search for information.
For those with ties to Virginia Tech, concern immediately turned to the well-being of their friends. Stacy Hsu, Virginia native and sophomore in political science, has 20 friends at Virginia Tech. He used Facebook to get in contact with them and make sure they had survived.
“When I first heard about the shooting, the first thing I wanted to do was get in contact with my friends at Virginia Tech,” he said, and added that he was surprised the situation at Virginia Tech got so out of control.
None of Hsu’s friends were injured, but two of his friends knew victims of the attack. His friends are trying to deal with this difficult time by talking to each other, he said.
Carter Cross, a sophomore pre-majoring in business, also has friends who attend Virginia Tech. Shock was the first emotion he experienced after learning about the shootings, he said.
“It shocked me and I was kind of concerned because I know people up there,” Cross said.
None of his friends were harmed in the shooting.
William Jennings, a political science lecturer, was also struck hard by news of the killings. Jennings was a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1995 when a shooting occurred there. A student opened fire, killing two people on a street. Jennings had just left the area where the shooting occurred. Since then, Jennings said he has been more attune to school shootings.
Jennings, a Virginia native, was stunned by the details of the Virginia Tech shootings.
“The scale of the carnage was what was so shocking,” Jennings said of the death toll, which reached 33.
While Jennings is not worried about a shooting occurring at the University of Tennessee, he said the thought had crossed his mind that similar violence could happen here.
“I don’t think we’re in any more harm at UT than in wider society, but the possibility exists,” he said.
UT Police Chief August Washington, in a press conference Monday, said UTPD was saddened and concerned about the Virginia Tech shootings. He said the department had taken many steps to ensure the safety of the campus.
“We put in a lot of measures to minimize the possibility of victimization,” he said, and cited keycard access locks in the residence halls and the blue-light phones as examples of safety precautions on campus.
Having a good campus security force helps decrease the possibility of a shooting at UT, Washington said. Also, the UTPD’s relationship with city and county police departments allows it to respond appropriately to a major incident, he said.
Washington also said the university is committed to safety by having a fully comprehensive police department. The UTPD operates just like a regular police force, he said.
Washington said he did not believe the shooting at Virginia Tech happened because of a lapse in security, though.
“This incident at Virginia Tech, I don’t feel is a lack of security at Virginia Tech. It’s a modern-day tragedy,” he said.
Washington held another press conference Tuesday at 1 p.m. where he spoke of Monday’s massacre and gave updates on UT’s phony bomb threat.
The campus community took a moment of silence Tuesday at 2 p.m. in remembrance of the Monday shooting.
In an e-mail message sent early Monday afternoon to all UT students, faculty and staff, Chancellor Loren Crabtree said university officials are prepared to assist the Virginia Tech community in any way they can.
“While we are not at any heightened state of alert at this time, we do remind all members of our campus community to be familiar with safety procedures in their departments, residence halls and classes,” Crabtree said in the e-mail.