Today, a jury has found Virginia Tech negligent in its response to the first shootings in the massacre committed at the school in 2007.
On April 16, 2007, at about 7:15 AM, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed two students in the Ambler Johnston Hall dorms. About two hours later, Cho entered Norris Hall and opened fire on the students and faculty within. He killed 30 and wounded 17 more before killing himself.
The university informed the students about the first shootings via email at 9:26 AM.
A wrongful death civil suit was filed by the parents of two of the students killed in the second attack: Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde. Their families said the two might be alive today had the police and school administration immediately informed the campus of the dorm shootings.
The families were each awarded $4 million but the state immediately filed a motion to reduce the amount as state law dictates a cap of $100,000 – a fact the jury was apparently not made aware of.
Robert T. Hall, an attorney for the parents, said the families were interested only in holding school officials accountable for their actions; it was not about the money.
"Today we got what we wanted," said Erin Peterson’s mother, Celeste. "The truth is out there, and that's all we ever wanted. We came here for the truth."
For its part, the school insists that the massacre following the first shooting could not have been foreseen.
“We do not believe that evidence presented at trial relative to the murders in West Ambler Johnston created an increased danger to the campus that day,” said university spokesperson Mark Owczar. “We will discuss this matter with the attorney general, carefully review the case, and explore all of the options available. The heinous crimes committed by Seung-Hui Cho were an unprecedented act of violence that no one could have foreseen.”
What does this have to do with GamePolitics? Longtime readers will remember that the Virginia Tech massacre was blamed on violent video games by the likes of attorney Jack Thompson (pre-disbarment), Dr. Phil, and the Lyndon LaRouche PAC. No evidence was ever found to support such speculation and the final report of Governor Tim Kaine's Virginia Tech Review Panel did not identify videogames as a factor in the shootings.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen