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University Gunman Was Accused of Stalking Female Students

  • Willian Ide

New evidence is emerging about the student who killed 32 people Monday at Virginia Tech University. Police say the gunman was previously accused of stalking two female students, and acquaintances expressed concern that he might be suicidal.

Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum says authorities met with Cho Seoung-hui on two separate occasions in 2005, after his phone calls, e-mails and contacts with two women raised concerns.

In both incidents, police say, they spoke with Cho, a 23-year-old student at the university. But they say he did not make any threats. One of the women who filed a complaint against Cho told police that he was "annoying," but neither of the two women pressed charges.

Authorities say Cho was also referred to the school's disciplinary system. University officials did not comment on whether any action was ever taken against Cho.

In December 2005, police chief Flinchum says, acquaintances called police.

"Our department received a call from an acquaintance of Cho, who was concerned that Cho might be suicidal. Officers again met with Cho and talked with him at length. Out of concern for Cho, officers asked him to speak to a counselor. He went voluntarily to the police department. Based on that interaction with the counselor, a temporary detention order was obtained, and Cho was taken to a mental health facility."

Flinchum says police heard nothing more after that.

"Since those contacts in November and December of 2005, more than a year ago, I am not aware of any additional incidents or reports that were made to our department."

Mental health officials at the university say they are vigilant about monitoring students who might turn violent, but also note that that can be difficult to predict.

This is Campus counselor Chris Flynn:

"Clearly, if anyone had any warning of a violent incident people would have stepped in and acted. This university is extremely proactive at meeting and discussing students of concern."

As the nation continues to mourn the tragedy, leaders from around the world sent condolences.

Among those killed in Monday's shooting rampage was Liviu Librescu, a engineering and math professor, and Holocaust survivor, who is being called a hero for his action to protect his students from the gunman.

President Bush noted his sacrifice, during a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which is marking the National Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust.

"With the gunman set to enter his class, this brave professor blocked the door with his body, while his students fled to safety. On this day of remembrance, this Holocaust survivor gave his own life so that others may live."

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said Tuesday he will appoint an independent panel of law enforcement experts to evaluate whether Virginia Tech reacted appropriately to the shootings.

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