Aw. Maybe they can give him a cutesy nickname to help ease the feelings of alienation.
I suggest “Cho Cho.”
Cho mercilessly slaughtered 32 people in the worst shooting in modern U.S. history. But there has been surprisingly little outrage directed toward him around campus.
He is memorialized alongside his victims, and students preach forgiveness and talk about him like a troubled family member…
After a student organization placed the stone memorials in a semicircle last week on the main campus lawn, senior Katelynn L. Johnson added a 33rd stone for Cho. Johnson said she told almost no one about the stone because she feared a backlash.
She came forward after someone took it away, because she was outraged by the brief removal of the rock. She says she accepts all “fellow students, faculty and alumni as Hokies” no matter what problems they have…
Johnson said she has received hundreds of messages supporting placement of the stone for Cho. She only got a few negative responses, and only one from the Tech community.
We had the debate over when it’s appropriate for religious (and non-religious) people to forgive a killer last year, after the Amish school murders. So I won’t rehash it, but…
Jeff Highfield, Virginia Tech campus director for Campus Crusade for Christ, said the students he’s been working with are angry and frustrated, but “they’re able to understand that he must have been hurting and confused in some way and made a horrible decision.”
During group prayer, he said Campus Crusade members have not offered prayers for Cho, but have prayed often for his family “because they’re still alive” and dealing with the pain of Cho’s actions.
“It seems very natural for us as Christians,” Highfield said. “It takes different times for different people, but I believe most of our students have forgiven.”
In fairness, plenty of people are angry, per the article. Although whether they’re angry at Cho or the system, man, is a separate question.
Shifting gears, I got an interesting e-mail from reader JA yesterday following up on my post about how Cho’s package to NBC might have been mailed. Because no one at the post office remembers seeing him there, the cops are working off the theory that he might have given it to someone else to mail for him. Maybe not, says JA. Here’s a photo of the envelope for ease of reference followed by his comments:
The postage label (upper right hand) could only have been obtained at the Post Office (as opposed to online postage, or prepaid Express Mail envelopes).
The time of package processing indicated is 9:01 am. No USPS office in the US opens before 9 am [Update: Not true. See below.], but if the facility is like mine, the building is open 24/7 to allow access to PO boxes, and there’s always access to mailing slots, large and small, to drop off prepaid packages and letters.
If this package was processed at 9:01 (which might be a record for a public service clerk at the USPS, but may be routine for someone working in the behind-the-scenes processsing area), Cho would have been waiting with bated breath for the first clerk to open a line — and they didn’t notice a freaky Asian kid with maybe blood-spattered clothes — even the clerk who initialled the package?
Here’s my guess: he filled out the label in the dorm sometime in advance (it’s free and readily available, along with the envelope, at any PO branch, any time), took it to the PO after editing the final QT movie in his dorm at 7:24, taped the $14 bucks to the package and dropped it a mail slot, sometime before 9 am. If you look closely, there’s a vertical strip of the paper label missing at bottom right, which might indicate that there was some tape on the package. He might have done it before, and it might be a common practice; at any rate it’s the only explanation I can think of, other than some postal clerk lying through their teeth.
Of course the USPS wouldn’t want it advertised that they’re in the habit of doing business that way, even in a college town, where things can get pretty abnormal, especially with a lot of foreign students needing so much sensitive cultural accommodation, so the story — at least for public and press consumption — is just that no one remembers him.
I don’t know about that last part. A likelier explanation would be that he taped a large bill to the envelope, maybe a $50 to make absolutely sure it’d be able to cover the cost of the postage, and the rest got pocketed by someone. I’m not sure about the 9 a.m. opening time either; remember, it was tax day so they might have opened earlier to handle the extra volume. The other points are well taken, though, especially re: the blood-spattered clothes. Although if he really was out and about near the post office mail slot in blood-spattered clothes, how did no one notice?
JA goes on to say:
As far as Cho’s derring-do in evading the cops, I don’t believe there’s any evidence they were looking for an Asian male until the first 911 calls came in from Norris when he began shooting. The campus police locked themselves prematurely into the theory of Hilscher’s boyfriend as the “domestic” shooter, based on Hilscher’s girlfriend showing up and telling them that the boyfriend had (gasp!) guns, and had (further gasp!) been to a shooting range recently. As long as Cho kept his cool, he didn’t attract any suspicion, because no one was looking for anyone fitting his description — until the second shootings.
As far as the WaPo reporting that Cho “did not follow Emily Hilscher upstairs,” insert “immediately” before follow — he knew where he was going. Remember his roommate’s story about his obsessive staring at the dorm where Hilscher lived? He’d been living in dorms on that campus for four years, he knew his way around, and though the cops can’t discover a link, that doesn’t mean he didn’t know who she was and what floor and room she lived in. Walter Mitty, meet Psy-Cho.
Re: the derring do, right — the cops most definitely were not looking for an Asian male after the first shooting. They were looking for Hilscher’s boyfriend, Karl Thornhill. But Cho didn’t know that. The reasonable assumption for him would have been that someone had seen him on his way in or out of the dorm, at least well enough to recognize him as an Asian male. The natural thing to do in preparing for the Norris Hall shootings would have been to change clothes and put on a hat and sunglasses so that he matched the presumptive description of the Ambler Johnston shooter as little as possible. But he didn’t. And yes, I know, there’s no trying to reason out the motives of a lunatic. But if the cops’ theory about the AJ shootings being a diversion is correct, then Cho’s lunacy obviously hadn’t completely crippled his ability to reason. In fact, we’ve already got proof of that from the foresight he used in chaining the doors to Norris Hall, which kept the cops at bay for five extra bloody minutes.
As for him stalking Hilscher, good point. I wonder if the reason he was standing outside AJ before she got home on Monday morning was because he’d been tracking her movements and knew that she spent Sunday nights with her boyfriend and returned to campus early the next day. His roommates did say he’d been getting up earlier and earlier in the weeks/months before. Maybe he was out there waiting for her and when he saw her, that was the trigger. Strange, though, that he apparently made no attempt to contact her before that given that he had communicated with his previous stalking victims. Or, at least, the ones we know about.
This will probably be the last VTech post for awhile given that I’m on vacation starting tomorrow, so no need to whine at me in the comments about how “there’s no deciphering madness!” or whatever.
Update: Reader tort_feasor makes a nice catch that I should have made myself — both Blacksburg post offices open at 8:30.
Update: Reader Joel A. offers his own theory:
All post offices near my home and office have automatic postage centers. The lobby is open 24/7 and you can weigh your package, buy postage using a credit or debit card, and drop it in a special APC drop box. I’m not sure, but the postage label looks a lot like the type of postage label that an APC machine prints. Could be that he bought the postage at the APC, dropped it in the box, and a clerk processed it later. In that case, Cho would have had no interaction with a clerk (the APC machines are usually out in the lobby in an area that can not even been seen by the clerks behind the counters).