Students, faculty, community members and a number of political leaders, including President Bush, have gathered on the campus of Virginia Tech University in the eastern U.S. state of Virginia for a memorial service for the 33 people killed in a massacre on campus Monday.
President Bush said today is a day of sadness for the entire United States. He urged grieving students and faculty members to look for sources of strength in their college community, in their families and in their faith.
Thousands of people filled the seats at Cassell Coliseum at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine praised students for the spirit of community they displayed to the world in the midst of a bitter tragedy. Muslim,
Buddhist, Jewish and Christian leaders from the community spoke at the memorial service.
Faculty member and poet Nikki Giovanni stirred the audience with closing remarks, calling "We are Virginia Tech". She said the community "is not moving on" and will embrace its grief, but she said it will prevail.
University counselors urged students to take care of themselves and to seek help if they need it. They said classes are canceled until Monday.
Police have identified the gunman who killed at least 30 people in a classroom building as a South Korean student at the university, Cho Seung-hui. The 23 year old English major was in his final year of undergraduate studies and was in the U.S. as a legal resident alien. The gunman killed himself before police arrived.
Police have not given a motive for the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. Media reports say Cho left a rambling note with a long list of grievances, including a complaint about "rich kids." Cho has been described as a quiet loner.
Virginia state police say ballistics tests found that one of the guns used in the brutal massacre in the classrooms also was used in a separate incident at a campus residence hall two hours earlier that left two people dead.
Some Virginia Tech students and their parents are expressing anger over the failure of officials at the university to warn students and lock down the campus immediately after the first dormitory shootings.
Virginia Tech is a state university with about 26,000 students.