African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

University Massacre in the US

Posted by African Press International on April 18, 2007

A Norwegian professor working at the university that was struck by the biggest massacre in US history was among those asked to identify the dead gunman, who killed 32 persons before shooting himself as well.

The massacre at Virginia Tech University left many in shock.

PHOTO: KIM RAFF/AP


Jan Helge Bøhn, a Norwegian professor at Virginia Tech, was among those asked to help identify the body of the gunman.

PHOTO: VIRGINIA TECH


Students had a hard time coming to grips with the massacre at Virginia Tech.

PHOTO: SAM DEAN / AP PHOTO

Jan Helge Bøhn told Aftenposten.no on Tuesday that he was asked by police to view the body of the gunman, to see whether he could identify him as one of his own students.

“Fortunately he wasn’t, but just the same, he was so young and had the most innocent face you could imagine,” Bøhn wrote in an e-mail to Aftenposten.no early Tuesday.

“How could he have been so full of such madness?”

That was a question asked by many after the young gunman, a South Korean exchange student whose motive remained unclear, started shooting students in a dormitory at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He then moved over to a classroom building, Norris Hall, and shot dozens more before turning one of his weapons on himself.

“Now we’re beginning to find out who among our friends didn’t survive,” wrote Bøhn, director of the Virgirnia Tech Computer Aided Design Laboratory.

“One of my friends was killed by a shot to the head, and only four students in his class are now alive,” Bøhn wrote. “It’s a tragedy.”

Bøhn said hundreds of police arrived at the scene, and they didn’t hesitate to shoot through doors believed to have been locked from the inside by the gunman, so that those trapped inside could escape.

Another Norwegian who works as a programmer for the university’s continuing education division said he could see people running for cover from the window of his office.

Oddbjørn Hestnes arrived at his office next door to Norris Hall at about 9am local time, after the first round of shootings had taken place at a university dormitory.

Hadn’t heard any shots
“There was a short e-mail to all employees that there had been a shooting incident at the dorm,” Hestnes told Aftenposten.no. He said he then started working as normal, but within an hour, more tragic events started unfolding outside the window of his office.

Hestnes called his secretary, who worked on the floor above him, when he saw people running by his window. Then local and state police cars and ambulances started arriving en masse.

“It was scary, and I didn’t have a radio or TV in my office,” said Hestnes, who hadn’t heard any shots and wasn’t aware that the massacre was occurring in the building next door.

He instinctively stayed away from the windows. It wasn’t until around noon that an evacuation order came from university officials, and police told everyone to go home.

“No one knew about the scope of the shootings, it was total confusion,” Hestnes said.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no

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