Including Emily Hilscher, the woman murdered in the first shootings in Ambler Johnston dormitory who was first identified as a girlfriend he’d quarrelled with, then as someone he might have stalked, and now … what?

In an interview Tuesday night with The Associated Press, State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty said authorities have found no evidence that could begin to explain the massacre that ended when Cho took his own life.

Authorities also have no link between the 23-year-old loner and his victims…

Flaherty said investigators also have been unable to answer one of the investigation’s most vexing questions: Why the spree began at the West Ambler Johnston dorm, and why 18-year-old freshman Emily Hilscher was the first victim.

He said police have searched Hilscher’s e-mails and phone records, but come up empty. Hilscher’s mother said she had not been updated on the investigation Friday night and declined to comment.

“We can’t make a link at this point,” Flaherty said. “We haven’t found anything to link Mr. Cho and Ms. Hilscher.”

My “target of opportunity” theory is sounding more likely. From last week’s post:

Just thinking out loud about the first shootings, but it seems to me there are two possibilities. One is that Cho was fixated on Emily Hilscher and targeted her specifically on Monday morning. That’s certainly plausible given his history of stalking, although in that case it’s odd that she doesn’t appear to have been mentioned in his rantings (or else NBC probably would have said so). The other possibility is that he was looking to kill someone, anyone, on Monday morning just to get a taste of what it felt like, and Hilscher ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s also plausible when you consider that her roommate, Heather Haugh, told the LA Times that “she and Hilscher typically spent Sunday nights with their boyfriends, but met at their dorm on Monday morning to head to their 9 a.m. chemistry class.” I.e., in all likelihood, Hilscher wasn’t asleep in bed in Ambler Johnston when Cho came calling; she was outside, on her way home from her boyfriend’s room. Imagine Cho standing around outside his own dorm at 7 a.m. or so, looking around for a victim but finding the pickings slim given the hour and the fact that it was Monday. And then, suddenly, here comes pretty Emily Hilscher passing by. You can picture the creepy bastard following her or even approaching her to ask whatever bizarre question he had in mind (“Are you a hedonist?” or what have you) while she kept walking and tried to ignore him while becoming increasingly alarmed. If he followed her into the dorm and upstairs, she must have been terrified by the time she got to the fourth floor. That would explain the “argument” she and Cho allegedly had — she was probably screaming for the freak to get away and leave her alone. Ryan Clark, hearing the commotion, would have come out of his room to intervene and that would have brought about the moment of truth.

Again, just thinking out loud. But it won’t surprise me at all to find that Hilscher was purely a target of opportunity.

There’s a presser scheduled for this afternoon so that the cops can update everyone on any new leads. Sounds like it’ll be a short one, but I’m sure there’ll be updates here of some kind. Stay tuned.

Update: Decision time for VTech admittees. Well, look at it this way — by the law of averages, the campus is probably uniquely safe now.

Update: Via Slublog, some of the families are angling to sue VTech. The question is whether they were negligent or grossly negligent.

Update: What will Hitchens make of this, I wonder:

Queen Elizabeth II will pay tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings when she visits the U.S. state next week, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.

Though it was not immediately clear what sort of ceremony will be held, a trip to the campus in Blacksburg, Va., was ruled out, a palace spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with royal rules.

Update: The press conference was uneventful. Bob Owens notes a report from USA Today, though, that despite having fired 170 shots, Cho still had rounds to spare when the cops finally arrived. The theory right now is that he shot himself when he heard them shoot through their way through the front door of Norris Hall. Which makes the fact that VTech was a gun-free zone that much harder — if he’d heard a gunshot in the building earlier in his rampage, he might have turned his own gun on himself sooner thinking it was the police.

Tags: Virginia