The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the suspected gunman, who killed 32 students before killing himself yesterday, left a note in his dorm room that may shed some light on his motivation behind the rampage. The newspaper described the note as, “invective-filled.” The note listed complaints about, “rich kids,” “debauchery” and “deceitful charlatans” on campus. The shooter has now been identified as Cho Seung-Hui, and from the information that is slowly coming forward, it would appear that Cho was a very troubled young man.

According to the Tribune, Cho had recently been showing signs of violent behavior. He set a dorm room on fire, and is alleged to have stalked women. He was majoring in English, but the AP has reported that at least one of his professors found his creative writing so disturbing that she referred him to the school’s counseling service.  Cho has been described by others as a quiet person and a loner. Some may try to find fault with VA Tech for not doing more to intervene with the student before his rampage, but to me that would not be justified. There are all sorts of people in any university community. At VA Tech there are 26,000 students, and it is impossible to monitor all student behavior.

Unlike the situation at Columbine, Cho was a legal adult. No one could force him to do anything that he didn’t want to do. Even if the university would have taken the extreme step of kicking him out of school, Cho probably still would done the same thing either at VA Tech or somewhere else. I think the legacy of this terrible incident will be much like that of the Columbine shootings almost eight years ago. After Columbine, schools around the country reassessed their security plans, along with their counseling and intervention programs. Columbine forced many changes in the way that all schools handle potential threats. I think the same thing will end up happening in higher education. It is so very tragic that 32 people died this way, but hopefully there are lessons to be learned that may save lives in the future.

Link to the Chicago Tribune story

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at
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