Note from 360° Producer Kay Jones: A year ago, I went to the memorial at Cassell Coliseum on the campus at Virginia Tech, and afterward met up with student Andy Koch and his friend and former suitemate John Eide. They had agreed to tell us about Seung-Hui Cho, who hours earlier had been identified as the shooter in the Virginia Tech Massacre. After about an hour of conversation, they agreed to go on camera and tell their story to Gary Tuchman.
I have kept in touch with Andy, and recently asked him to blog about how his life has changed the past year. You can read that below, and watch Gary Tuchman’s interview with Andy and John from April 17, 2007... one day after 32 people were killed by Cho.
Former roomate of VA Tech shooter
It doesn’t seem like a year has past since last April. I have experienced a whole range of emotions from guilt, sadness, anger and disbelief. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the thirty-two lives lost that day.
Last April has changed me along with others in good and bad ways. It has an already close campus even closer. It has also robbed many people of their innocence. Before April 16th most students went about their day with out any worries. I can say for myself that when I go in to classrooms I now think about how I would protect myself in the event if something similar happened again. I was not even in Norris that day and I think about these things. I have wondered if some of these feelings will fade over time when I graduate this May and am no longer around Virginia Tech everyday.
Today there are reminders all over campus of that day. Whenever I walk on the drillfield and see the memorial I think of those who were lost. Walking by Norris I think about the senseless violence that occurred there. Going near the dining halls around Ambler Johnston makes me think of Emily Hilscher and Ryan Clark. Most of the time I think of the families of the victims and how tragic it is that their loved ones were ripped away from them with no warning. It makes me sick to my stomach ever time. It is a paralyzing feeling. It is hard to think about what these families are going through themselves.
I have seen campus divided by issues that have arisen from last April. Currently there is a debate over whether or not gun owners with concealed weapons should be allowed to carry their weapons on campus. Some think that if people had been allowed to carry weapons on campus we would have avoided this tragedy. It is hard to say if this is true. This is a solution to having an active shooter on campus, but not the answer. We should be looking for ways to stop shooters before they even get the guns in their hands. The debate should focus on closing gun loopholes and improving the mental health of people that are at risk. Keeping guns out of these people’s hands will make the argument about concealed weapons moot.
Certain events have helped bring some closure to last April 16th. The start of football season was a welcome return to normalcy. It was unbelievable to see all of Virginia Tech’s athletic teams go out and compete in honor of those lost. The concert put on the Dave Matthews Band was also a positive experience. It brought everyone together, but at the same time reminded us why we were there. Hopefully more closure will come over the years, but I will never forget about those lost.
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