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Massacre hits home for one
ASU student

 by Jed Dougherty
 published on Wednesday, April 18, 2007

REMEMBER | Tens of thousands of students attend a candlelight vigil to remember, as well as support, the Virginia Tech Community Tuesday at Virginia Tech University in Blackburg, Va. a day after a 23-year-old student shot 32 people to death Monday before committing suicide. /issues/news/700899
Olivier Douliery / ABACAUSA.COM
REMEMBER | Tens of thousands of students attend a candlelight vigil to remember, as well as support, the Virginia Tech Community Tuesday at Virginia Tech University in Blackburg, Va. a day after a 23-year-old student shot 32 people to death Monday before committing suicide.
 

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Days after a tragic shooting spree claimed the lives of 33 students and faculty at Virgina Tech, ASU students with friends and family at the school are just starting to cope with the attack.

Meanwhile, students with and without ties to Virginia Tech used the Internet to express their sympathy for the victims.

Undeclared freshman Sarah Carle went to high school in Virginia with Emily Hilscher, the first victim of Monday's killings.

"Honestly I think she was the nicest person that I've ever met in my life," Carle said. "She was my first friend that I met when I moved to Rappahannock, [Virginia]."

The two went to different colleges, but kept in contact through their freshman year.

"I talked to her probably about a week ago," Carle said. "We were going to go swimming this summer."

Students across the country rallied to provide support and condolences to the victims' families by way of facebook.com, a social networking site where people can join groups with others who have similar interests.

A group on the Web site memorializing the victims reached more than 100,000 members from around the country in less than 24 hours.

The group was removed Tuesday morning, but hundreds of smaller groups have taken its place, including one in memory of Emily Hilscher, titled "Why Emily Hilscher was cooler than me."

The group now has more than 500 members.

"I think it's honestly incredible," Carle said about the online outpouring of support. "I never thought that so many people would join the group dedicated to just [Hilscher]. It shows that people really do care."

The largest ASU-created group, ASU for VT, had 136 members Tuesday evening.

Political science senior Casey Jones, who created the group, said she made it with the intent of spreading the word of a candlelight vigil being held on campus at 7 p.m. Thursday.

"There is an unintentional disregard for the news within our generation," she added. "Although everyone recognizes that the massacre is, in fact, a tragedy, many of those not directly afflicted by it are quick to dismiss it."

Not everyone thinks facebook.com is the correct way to express sorrow for the victims.

One group titled "Don't cheapen the Virigina [sic] Tech tragedy by making Facebooks about it!" argues that facebook.com users are making the tragedy about them instead of the victims. The group has six members.

Police identified the lone gunman in the mass killing, the most deadly in U.S. history, as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, a creative writing student at Virginia Tech.

The Associated Press reported that after shooting and killing two students in West Ambler Johnston dormitory, Seung-Hui allegedly waited two hours before opening fire again in Norris Hall, killing 30 and injuring dozens more before turning one of his two guns on himself as police closed in.

Police said Seung-Hui is likely responsible for the first two murders, but there is not currently enough evidence to say so for sure, according to the AP.

Facebook.com is not the only technological innovation that separates this shooting spree and the reaction to it from past killings.

Virginia Tech students received e-mail alerts in class about the shootings, according to school officials.

Videos taken by students with cell phones popped up on television within hours, allowing viewers around the country to hear the pop of gunfire and watch students scramble for cover.

The Chicago Times also reported that Seung-Hui posted a note on an online message board early Monday morning. "im going to kill people at vtech today," it said.

Carle said she thought the exposure brought about by new media could be a good thing.

"It lets people who weren't there see how serious it was," she said. "Maybe people will take it more seriously when there is a bomb threat or someone threatens to come to school with a gun."

ASU President Michael Crow said University officials are making sure ASU is safe.

"We had a meeting today looking at our own policies and procedures for situations such as this," Crow said. "So ASU students can be assured that they are as safe as possible."

The tragedy affected the whole country, Crow added.

"Violence such as this is terrible and tragic," he said.

University counseling is ready to engage anyone who wants help, he added.

Reach the reporter at: john.dougherty@asu.edu.



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