The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people, including himself, dead was identified today as an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school’s counselling service.
Police and university officials offered no clues to 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui’s motive in the massacre, the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history.
“He was a loner, and we’re having difficulty finding information about him,” school pokesman Larry Hincker said.
Cho, a fourth-year student, arrived in the United States as a boy from South Korea in 1992 and was raised in suburban Washington, DC, officials said. He was living on campus in a different dormitory from the one where yesterday’s shootings began.
Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university’s English department, said she did not personally know the gunman. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department’s director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as “troubled”.
She said Cho was referred to the counselling service, but she said she did not know when, or what the outcome was. Prof Rude refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws.
“There was some concern about him,” Prof Rude said.
“Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it’s creative or if they’re describing things, if they’re imagining things or just how real it might be. But we’re all alert to not ignore things like this.”
The Chicago Tribune reported on its website that he left a note in his dorm room that included a rambling list of grievances. The Tribune said he had recently shown troubling signs, including setting a fire in a dorm room and stalking some women.
Investigators believe Cho at some point had been taking medication for depression, the newspaper reported.