There is more unsettling news tonight about the gunman. It turns out police had crossed paths with the young man before. They revealed they had intervened after indications he was “disturbed,” but the measures weren’t enough to stop him from taking up a gun.
No one put the troubling pieces of Seung Hui Cho’s life together in time to prevent a tragedy, but there were plenty of red flags.
In 2005, two female Virginia Tech students told police that Cho was harassing them. Police talked to him then got a call saying Cho could be suicidal.
“Out of concern for Cho, officers asked him to speak to a counselor. He went voluntarily to the police department. Based on that interaction with the counselor, a temporary detention order was obtained and Cho was taken to a mental health facility,” said Wendell Flinchum, Virginia Tech Police chief.
Meanwhile, Cho’s disturbing writings were getting attention. An English tutor said she worked out a code for telling her assistant if there was trouble with Cho. The school insisted there was nothing they could do.
“It seemed they hit a wall themselves in terms of what they were permitted to do with a student on campus, unless he had made a very overt threat to himself or to others,” Cho’s tutor, Lucida Roy said, but clearly Cho was a threat.
The first funeral for one of Cho’s 32 victims was held April 18, 2007.
Despite Cho’s background it was still legal for him to buy a gun. Police have recovered two guns they believe Cho used in the shootings.