The gunman who killed 32 people and then himself at Virginia Tech university on Monday was identified by police on Tuesday as Cho Seung-Hui, a South Korean studying at the university.
Police said Cho (23) was studying English literature. They gave no motive for the shooting rampage, the worst in United States history.
Police said one of two guns recovered was used in both of the two separate shooting incidents at the campus that killed a total of 33 people, including Cho.
”The evidence has not led us to say with all certainty that the same shooter was involved in both shootings,” Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, told a news conference. ”It’s certainly reasonable for us to assume that Cho was the shooter in both places.”
Victims were found in at least four classrooms as well as a stairwell, he said.
”The gunman was discovered among several of the victims in one of the classrooms,” Flaherty said. ”He had taken his own life.”
The rampage sent the sprawling rural campus, where there are more than 25 000 full-time students, into shock and grief.
President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were to attend a memorial service at Virginia Tech later on Tuesday.
Television images of terrified students and police dragging out bloody victims revived memories of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and are likely to renew heated debate about US gun laws.
Police said the gunman appeared to have used chains to lock doors and prevent victims from escaping. Fifteen people were wounded, including those shot and students hurt jumping from windows in a desperate attempt to flee the gunfire.
Many students expressed anger that they were not warned of any danger until more than two hours after the first attack at a dormitory — and then only in an email from the university.
”We knew that there was a shooting, but we thought it was confined to a particular setting,” Charles Steger, the university president, said on Monday.
He defended campus police from criticism they failed to take adequate safety measures after the first shooting. ”They have worked very professionally and handled this as skilfully as anybody might be able to do it,” he said.
The first shooting was reported to campus police at about 7.15am local time in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory housing about 900 students. Two hours later, dozens of shots were fired about 800m away at Norris Hall, site of the science and engineering school.
Authorities have not released the names of the victims, but Israeli media reported one of the dead was Liviu Librescu, an Israeli citizen and engineering professor at the university. — Reuters