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Virginia mourns gun rampage victims
Killer's family "never could have envisioned he was capable of so much violence".
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2007 03:34 GMT

NBC received Cho's video package two days
after the Virginia killings [AFP]

The campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, emptied on Friday as memorial services for some of the 32 victims of Monday's shooting massacre began and the nation marked a day of mourning.
Thousands of grieving students headed home to family as the week drew to a close, and mourning shifted to hometowns across the US and around the world with the first funerals for students and teachers who died in the incident.
Overflowing crowd
 
A few blocks from campus, Blacksburg Presbyterian Church filled to overflowing for the service for Kevin Granata, one of four teachers killed by Cho Seung-Hui on Monday in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
 
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Granata, a biomechanics professor, lacrosse coach and father of three, was killed when he ran into the hallway to help students when the shooting began.
 
Moments of silence were observed on Friday on the trading floors of financial markets in New York and Chicago and church bells rang out from coast to coast to mark the tragedy.
 
Cho, 23, a mentally disturbed English major, killed himself before police could intervene in the shooting spree on this sprawling campus in the mountains of southwest Virginia.
 
The investigation continues.
 
Police revealed on Wednesday that Cho had a history of mental illness and had been investigated for alleged stalking incidents in 2005.
 
Family apologises
 
Meanwhile, the family of Cho told The Associated Press on Friday that they feel "hopeless, helpless and lost", and "never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence".
 
Cho's parents and sister, who live in a Virginia suburb of Washington, are under police protection.
 
Virginia Tech campus remains in shock
after Monday's shootings [Reuters]
"He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare," said a statement issued by Cho's sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, on the family's behalf.
 
"Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us."
 
Sun-Kyung Cho works as a contractor for a US state department office that oversees American aid for Iraq.
 
It was the Chos' first public comment since Monday's shooting.
 
Wade Smith, a lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina, provided the statement to the AP. Smith said the family would not answer any questions, and neither would he.
 
Day of mourning
 
George Bush, the US president, wore an orange and maroon tie on Friday, legislators on Capitol Hill sported maroon-and-orange lapel ribbons, Pentagon staff donned the school colours, and national news anchors wore orange ties or jackets.
 
Athletes and students across the country honoured the day of mourning.
 

"The world has endured a view of life that few of us would or should ever have to endure"

Steve Flaherty,
Virginia police chief

Four days after the attack, and on the eighth anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in which 15 people died, a heightened sense of alert gripped the US, especially at educational institutions.
 
Security alerts involving guns, bombs and suspects with explosives forced the evacuation on Friday of schools in Colorado and California, the Arizona State capitol and a Nasa building in Houston, as authorities dealt with a number of alarms.
 
After days of round-the-clock tears and vigils at Virginia Tech, only a small crowd of mourners gathered to observe a moment of silence at a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the university, home to 25,000 full-time students.
 
More funerals and memorial services were scheduled for Saturday near Blacksburg while other tributes were taking place overseas for victims from India, Israel and Peru.

Media criticised
 
US television networks have said they will limit broadcasts of what has become known as the "video manifesto" sent by Cho to broadcaster NBC.
 
The decision follows growing criticism from police and families of the victims.
 
On Thursday relatives of Cho's victims who had been scheduled to appear on NBC cancelled their interviews to protest against the broadcasting of the videos.
 
Police investigating the shootings also criticised the airing of the video.
 
A spokeswoman for CBS News said the broadcaster would use the images "only when necessary to tell the story".
Source:
Agencies
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