US gunman’s video yields little for police

A videotaped diatribe by the Virginia Tech gunman shocked students and mesmerised television viewers, but police said on Thursday it yielded little value for the investigation of the campus massacre.

Students at the university expressed disgust and disbelief at self-made photos and a disturbing video the killer mailed to NBC News as he paused on Monday in the midst of the deadliest shooting rampage in modern United States history.

Police handling the investigation expressed disappointment at the airing of the images and rants by Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people and then himself.

”I’m sorry that you all were exposed to these images,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Steve Flaherty told a news conference.

Some family members of the victims were so outraged at NBC’s decision that they cancelled interviews with network, which turned the package over to law-enforcement authorities.

”While there was some marginal value to the package, the fact of the matter is we already had most all of this information and most all of this evidence,” Flaherty said. ”The package simply confirmed what we already knew in many, many cases.”

Half-a-dozen Virginia Tech students gathered silently around a bank of televisions in the student centre late on Wednesday, watching images of Cho posing with his guns and a video of him railing against rich kids and debauchery.

The package received by NBC News on Wednesday carried a time stamp showing Cho mailed his rambling manifesto after he killed his first two victims on Monday morning but before he went on to cut down 30 more people in classrooms.

”That’s crazy. He kills two people and then goes to the post office and then he’s ready for round two? It’s creepy,” said graduate student Nick Jeremiah (34).

The images and long monologue suffused with paranoia and feelings of persecution painted a different picture of Cho, a 23-year-old student who has been described by teachers and other students as silent and withdrawn.

”He just goes on and on — that’s got to be more than he’s spoken, ever,” Jeremiah said. ”I thought, ‘well, he does talk’.”

While acknowledging that the material from Cho was likely devastating to the victims’ families, NBC News President Steve Capus defended the decision to broadcast it, arguing it showed only a small amount of the images the network received.

”This is I think as close as we will ever come to being inside of the mind of a killer, and I thought that it needed to be released,” he said.

”Pretty much every single news organisation all around the world has made the same decision, that it was appropriate to release this information,” Capus said.

Flaherty said investigators appreciated NBC’s cooperation over the material.

However, he added, ”We’re rather disappointed in the editorial decision to broadcast these disturbing images.” — Reuters

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