The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, April 30, 2007

When Two Winnipegs Collide

How precious is that?

The Mayor (of South Winnipeg) Sam Katz is positively gushy about the Asper Museum for Human Rights in his monthly column in the Winnipeg Sun.

"This truly is one of the greatest visions, projects or events to occur in Winnipeg this century."

That said, how long will it be before Katz decides that $20 million of Winnipeg taxpayers' money isn't enough for this magnificence. What's it going to be? $40 million? $50 mil?

After all, swoons Katz, it's our "opportunity to showcase to the world our dedication as a city, our committment to breeding tolerance and acceptance, and our solidarity for the preservation and education of human rights. It gives Winnipeg the chance to offer hope to the world from right here at home."

Remember, he says, "Winnipeg's reputation as a rich centre for arts and culture, as a spirited community of humanitarianism and as a hub for fast-expanding economic opportunity doesn't always make national headlines."

Right, Sam. And do you know why?

BECAUSE THAT'S NOT WINNIPEG'S REPUTATION.


Winnipeg's reputation throughout the country is as the Murder Capital of Canada, the Gang Capital of Canada, and the Car-theft Capital of Canada. Your failure to understand, or even acknowledge that, demonstrates the extreme disconnect between politicians and the public in this province. To suggest that anyone other than your network of well-to-do neighbours in South Winnipeg values a billionaire's vanity project over public safety is an insult.

Just ask Joan Pawlowski.

She came to Winnipeg to bury her younger brother.

Erin Pawlowski was beaten to death at a bus stop on Selkirk Avenue near Powers. He was coming home from work. He lived one block away from where he was attacked.

Maybe you heard about it, Sam. But you didn't care. Just like you didn't care when Thomas Roy Phillips was murdered in cold blood in broad daylight on Magnus Avenue in front of kids home on spring break.

These attacks happened in a different Winnipeg from yours.

We haven't heard a single word from you. No stirring declarations about "taking back the streets". No special task forces to patrol the area 24/7. Not like when a surgeon's son got killed in the West End. Then it only took you 15 days to create Operation Clean Sweep, use Chief Ewatski as a prop and get your mugs on television playing macho-men.

You declared you were "not going to sit around anymore and do nothing". Well, you did something after the murder on Magnus.You went on vacation. And you had your spokesman blow the citizens of Magnus off with a stirring claim of your commitment to their welfare.

He said YOU HAD A LIST. Yes, a real list of crack houses and sniff houses and booze cans that should be closed down. Sometime, when there's resources and money and... hell, have you folks heard about the Museum for Human Rights?

What do you think Joan Pawlowski is going to tell everyone she knows in B.C. about Winnipeg? Will she talk about some sad museum ?

Or about the street gangs that rampage through the city unimpeded ?

Here's a hint.

See how she described the killers of her brother...

"They're savages," she told a reporter. "I don't know why you don't have vigilantes on the street getting rid of them."

You better listen, Sam.
Because she spoke what everyone in Winnipeg is thinking.
And that's your legacy. You want to talk about human rights? Start with the right to live in a safe neighbourhood.

* The right to walk the streets without fear of being attacked.
* The right to come home after a day's work and not worry about being murdered in the street.
* The right to leave your wife or your mother and not be concerned of a home invasion.
* The right to see your kids play in the front yard without fear of a gang execution down the street.

That's what people will pay for.
That's what the residents of North Winnipeg and the West End and the East End want their property taxes to go for.
Not to see their money handed over to a "uplifting" pet project of millionaires.

You want to talk about "tolerance and acceptance"? How much crime do we have to tolerate? Must we accept street gangs as the price of living in a part of the city that the mayor ignores?

Exactly one year ago we were told that Operation Clean Sweep was to become permanent. In his 2007 State of the City address Sam Katz bragged:

We launched Operation Clean Sweep to crack down on street crime and violence in the areas of our city that need the most attention.We then made Operation Clean Sweep a permanent entity to ensure that it can be deployed anywhere in the city that Crime threatens the safety of our neighbourhoods.

But when, after the latest murder on Magnus, we began asking where the 40 officers of Operation Clean Sweep were, nobody could tell us. It had become permanent, and invisible. Then, last week we learned where they were.

Tuxedo.


What a coincidence. Obviously Tuxedo had become one of "the areas of our city that need the most attention." Who knew? Most residents of Winnipeg pray for a crime problem like Tuxedo's. But obviously, when you have the ear of the mayor, you get police. The rest of the city gets -- a list.

This week we saw one politician try to bridge the chasm between politicians and people in Winnipeg. At the funeral of Erin Pawlowski, New Democrat MP Judy Wacylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North) offered her condolences to Pawlowski's family.

"I don't go to every funeral that comes along, but this one grabbed me -- disturbed me. And I just had to show the family that the community is there for them. Lots of people are outraged by this. And lots of people are going to take a message from Erin's death and try to do something to change our society," she told the Winnipeg Sun.

You might cynically say she's trying to get a jump on the issue of crime ahead of a federal election, but at least Judy had the shame to show her face. Sam Katz has yet to show his on Selkirk Avenue, or Magnus. After all, what's going to say? "What do you expect me to do? I've already given you Crimestat."

You know, Crimestat, a.k.a. a map on the internet showing where crimes happened and a counter showing the crimes add up week by week.

Like the red dot at the corner of Selkirk and Powers.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The War in Afghanistan 2007 Weeks 14 and 15

Even as the Canadian news media do their best to undermine the country's mission to Afghanistan, the past two weeks have been filled with signals from the enemy that NATO is winning.

The Analysis

Let's start with the pep talk Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar gave his followers last week. Taliban commander Mullah Hayatullah Khan told Reuters by satellite phone that Omar had contacted senior and regional commanders and congratulated them for carrying out "successful" attacks in recent weeks.

"Taliban mujahideen (holy warriors), through unity in their ranks, should continue and increase their guerrilla and suicide attacks on occupation forces and the infidels will soon run away," Khan quoted Omar.

Tough talk from two guys who spend their lives hiding in caves.

More importantly is that Omar, who almost never goes public, chose this time to pop up, namely when the Feared Taliban Spring Offensive has been such a complete disaster.


And if you need more proof, there's this celebrity endorsement:

Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's main military commander in southern Afghanistan, told Al-Jazeera this week that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden personally masterminded the suicide bomb attack outside Bagram military base during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"You may remember the martyr operation inside the Bagram base, which targeted a senior U.S. official. ... That operation was the result of his wise planning. He (bin Laden) planned that operation and guided us through it. The operation was a success," Dadullah told Al-Jazeera.

The Feb. 27 bombing killed 20 Afghan civilians, a U.S. soldier, a U.S. contract worker and a South Korean soldier. The bomber never got past the first checkpoint, detonating his explosives in a crowd of civilians. Cheney was in meetings half a mile away.

This is what the Taliban call a success, but at this stage they have to start grasping at straws.

Operation Achilles, the British-led expedition in Helmand province to drive Taliban fighters out of the district centre of Sangin achieved its goal and more. It humiliated Mullah Dadullah, who had supposedly moved into Helmand province to personally lead the Spring Offensive. And it took the initiative away from the Taliban which has been unable to coordinate any kind of offensive.

Taliban leaders conceded this week they have been driven out, although they put different spins on their defeat.

"We don't care about Operation Achilles," a top Taleban commander in Sangin district, who asked not to be named, told IWPR (a student journalism project in Helmaned). "We will never leave Sangin. We withdrew from the centre [town of Sangin] because the tribal elders asked us to. They told us, 'You can't fight here any more right now because it's time to harvest the poppy. You have to go.' So we left, and ISAF came in.

"But now we're ready to fight again."

Mullah Qasem, a Taleban commander in northern Helmand, accepted that the overwhelming ISAF presence had also been a factor in persuading the insurgents to pull back.

"We did withdraw from Sangin," he said. "It was a tactic. NATO brought many troops to the area, and we did not want to fight them. But now we have dug trenches and we are prepared to take back the district centre very soon."

But then, as they say, action speaks louder than words.

When four Taliban fighters attacked a patrol of Afghan army troops from 1st Kandak, 209th ANA Corps and coalition forces in the Sangin district just before nightfall April 19, they found just how much things had changed in Helmand. Three of the four were captured.

Intelligence (or was it interrogation) led to an estimated 40 Taliban fighters attempting to set up ambush positions. U.S. Special Forces caught 'em red-handed. A seven-hour battle ended when the Americans called in air support. 24 Taliban fighters were killed and four vehicles were destroyed.


Another successful achievement of Operation Achilles was to give Afghan army forces firsthand experience in fighting insurgents. Trained and battle tested they will have front line roles in operations to keep the Taliban out.

Despite the bravado of late winter, Taliban forces have been bloodied like never before. In the first four months of 2007 almost 700 insurgents have been killed, according to figures compiled by AP from Afghan, NATO and U.S. officials. That's more than triple the Taliban dead over the same time period in 2006.

And using a conservative ratio of three wounded to every one killed (the World War 2 rule of thumb), you have over 2000 insurgent fighters wounded. In only four months.

Thirty-nine coalition and NATO soldiers have been killed, up from 15 during the same period of 2006. At least 280 Afghan civilians have been killed, mostly by sucide bombers and roadside bomb attacks.

the news media gave headline treatment to Taliban boasts of 10,000 fighters ready for the Feared Taliban Spring Offensive. How much coverage have you see of this fact:

Last year's ominous upsurge in Taliban strength prompted calls to boost the number of U.S. and NATO troops, which are expected to total 52,000 by summer's end from the current 47,000, NATO spokesman Col. Tom Collins said. That compares with about 32,000 at the start of 2006. (April 26, 2007, Afghan, Taliban death toll up sharply; As violence escalates, NATO forces upbeat about operations to combat insurgency By Denis D. Gray, Associated Press)

The Action

It's late April and the temperature in Afghanistan is climbing to 38 degrees C. (that's 100 degree F.) but the annual Feared Taliban Spring Offensive is late getting traction.

The insurgents tried twice to get some press.

Last week, April 17, about 100 Taliban fighters in the province of Kapisa, 60 miles from Kabul, cut the road to the capital north of the town of Sarobi and about 35 miles southeast of Bagram, the main American military base.

The road was reopened the next day, but not before many press commentators remarked how the attack was the furthest north since 2001 and marked a resurgence of the Taliban.

Three days later, an airstrike killed Fateh Gul Haqparast, who was described as a "significant regional Taliban leader." involved in assassinations, improvised-explosive-device attacks and assaults on Afghan and coalition facilities in Laghman and Kapisa provinces. Coincidence? Or connection?

"This strike marks the sixth senior insurgent leader killed or captured in Laghman province in the past three months," said Army Maj. Stephen Grabski, operations officer for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Perhaps more important was the target's "extensive ties" to the Hekmatyar Gulbuddin network. Hekmatyar broke with the Taliban a month ago and announced he would conduct his own personal jihad from now on. So the Kapisa attack was just as likely an independent operation as a Taliban raid.

On Friday insurgents overran a district in Ghazni province, 110 miles from Kabul, setting fire to buildings, cutting phone lines, and killing the mayor, police chief and 3 policemen. When a force of 250 government officers arrived, the raiders had fled. As usual.

The Taliban is desperate for a propaganda victory to show their efforts are doing more than just sending young men to their deaths.

They see the killing of a district governor as their ace. Tuesday they tried to kill the governor of Paktika province. A suicide attacker blew himself up close to the governor's car as the official was travelling to work. Only the bomber died.

Less publicized was an attempt a couple of weeks ago to kill the governor of Laghman province. He was under fire near Tirgari when at the request of a coalition ground commander a B-1B coalition aircraft arrived and dropped multiple flares in support of the Afghan police who were fighting the insurgents. The police won the day.

Taliban planners are increasingly targetting the Afghan police who are the weak link in the security chain. Two police were killed Monday by a remote bomb in Zabul.Four police guarding a hydroelectric plant under construction in Herat province were killed in an ambush Thursday. Three police were killed in Ghazni the same day. In Uruzgan province four police wre killed when a convoy was ambushed.

In Heart, Afghan authorities killed three Taliban who had set up an illegal roadblock. They discovered the men were wearing police uniforms. In recent weeks authorities have confiscated more than 100 police uniforms and false ID cards.

U.S. officials say insurgents have been stocking setting up phony checkpoints in western Afghanistan to discredit the national police force. Keep that in mind when you read the next mainstream media story about corrupt police.


Afghan and coalition forces had their success stories this week.

*A large car bomb was found and defused in Kabul. Intelligence officers discovered it in battered old taxi parked in a crowded civilian area where NATO and U.S. convoys often drive past. Authorities found a tank of gasoline, 3 gallons of explosive chemicals, three grenades and a mortar inside the car. There have been at least three suicide bomb attacks in Kabul this year, and more than 40 nationwide, mostly in the south and east, a threefold increase on the same period in 2006.
* A Taliban commander was arrested in Uruzgan province. Three vehicles, one of them packed with explosives, were also seized.
* And authorities in Khost arrested a man wearing a belt of explosives before he could blow himself up.

Taliban forces have retaliated by targeting intelligence officers.

An intelligence service vehicle in Laghman province driving was hit by a remote-controlled bomb killing six men. A similar attack killed two intelligence officers, a soldier and a driver in the provincial capital, Mehtar Lam, on Sunday. Also Sunday, an intelligence service employee was kidnapped and beheaded by Taliban at a home in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul.

The hotspot of the week appears to be Asabadad in Laghman province.

B-1B Lancers, A-10 Thunderbolts, and F/A-18 Super Hornets have been dropping 500-pounds bombs on cave entrances and sniper positions all week.

But the big picture is not the fighting.
It's what we're fighting for.

Here's just a sampling of the week's news:

April 27, 2007
In post-Taliban recovery, Afghan infant mortality declines/ Carlotta Gall

KABUL: Infant mortality has dropped by 18 percent in Afghanistan in one of the first real signs of recovery for the country five years after the fall of the Taliban regime, health officials said.
(Dr. Muhammad Amin Fatimi, the health minister, said) that means that 40,000 to 50,000 fewer infants are dying now than in the Taliban era, Fatimi said. "Thanks be to God, they are celebrating, laughing and smiling," he continued. "These infants are the future builders of our country."

(Benjamin Loevinsohn, a health specialist from the World Bank) attributed the lower infant mortality mainly to the expansion of health clinics to rural areas and to the better coverage of the population with basic vaccinations against measles, polio and tetanus. Immunization coverage in 2003 was 19.5 percent of the child population; in 2006 it rose to 35 percent. The target is 80 percent.

and this:

Progress being made in Kandahar
Friday April 27, 2007 (0448 PST) PakTribune

KANDAHAR: Hidden within the confines of a cobblestone courtyard, and just beyond the flaps of a large white tent, progress is quietly being made in Kandahar City. Within those walls, a class of young girls were doing what their counterparts could mostly only dream about just a few years ago - getting a daily education.

"The girls have joined the school since the Taliban regime collapsed and this new regime took over," Abdul Aziz, the school`s principal said. Aziz, who runs a mixed girls and boys school for almost 1,600 children in downtown Kandahar, acknowledged in an interview he faces great personal risk for running the school,

<>

In one class of almost 30 young girls at Aziz`s school on Tuesday, many of the students spoke proudly and confidently of their ambitions, and of their plans for the future.

"Engineer," said one girl when asked what career she wants to pursue.
"Doctor," added another.
"Teacher," called out a third.

It was a scene that would have been virtually unthinkable under a Taliban regime, one where women could only study the Koran until age eight, and then were banned from any kind of education

Aziz, who became a teacher about five years ago, said part of the reason he is able to operate his school is because the security situation in Kandahar City has been getting continually better. It was a position officials at Canada`s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar said reflected what they see happening throughout the city.

snip

On Tuesday, soldiers from the PRT brought almost 130 pairs of new shoes, pens and notebooks to Aziz`s school that he could hand out to children. The shoes were sent to Afghanistan by Sonya Bata, co-founder of Bata Shoes, Canadian officials said, explaining they were part of a donation of about 500 shoes meant for poor or orphaned Afghan children.

"I am very happy," said Hayatullah, 9, an orphan and student who wants to be a doctor. "I didn`t have any shoes. These are very nice and very good looking," he added as he pulled on a new pair of shiny black leather shoes.



Before military officials left, however, the principal made one final request.
"We need a good building for a school," he said, pointing out the schools` 11 tents are not sufficient to even carry the current load.
"If we have a good building and more classes I believe the numbers could increase to 3,000 or 4,000 students."

There's a reason stories like this don't make the front pages and don't make the nightly newscasts---they don't fit the preconceived view of the mainstream reporters that we're not winning, we can't win and we shouldn't win.

Look at how a CBC reporter blogging from Afghanistan has to twist himself into knots to deny the good news he sees with his own eyes:

Kandahar Dispatches
Visiting Kandahar's amusement park
Comments (5)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 10:44 AM ET
By Chris Brown

The other day, an Afghan journalist we work with from time to time called me and said that the amusement park was finally open. An amusement park? In Kandahar? Where it seems every day there's an explosion or a bombing or an attack of some kind or another?

And yet, there it was.
On the city's outskirts, there is indeed an amusement park, with rides, a ferris wheel, popcorn and families having fun, just like in Canada. Well, almost like you'd see in Canada. There were no women at this amusement park. Only fathers with their kids. Though pretty much all Afghan women in Kandahar wear the familiar blue burka, I didn't see any at the park.
But back to the main point - how on earth can people relax and go to an amusement park in the middle of an insurgency?
I was told it was an initiative of a former provincial governor. The park has yet to officially open but the manager told us staff opened it early because there is so much pent-up demand from Kandahar's population to go somewhere fun.
So, does this mean the Canadian military is right - and that the city of Kandahar really is a safer place now than it was, say, a year ago? It seems a cop-out, but perhaps the best answer is yes, and no.

And here he launches into a pre-programmed spiel on what's wrong with Afghanistan.Too little security for aid groups in Kandahar. Suicide bombings and roadside bombs. Hundreds of civilians killed. (He doesn't mention the Taliban are responsible. That would be impolite.)

"The military claims Kandahar's bazaars are busier, merchants are doing better and great progress has been made building new police stations, schools and other crucial bits of infrastructure." (A CBC reporter won't actually go to the bazaars and talk to merchants if what they might say threatens the official line.)

His rant leads to the inescapable fact (to him) that Canadian soliders are fooling themselves if they think they're making a difference.

He concludes:

... it makes me realize just ... how immensely difficult it is to measure progress. As the Taliban continue to fight NATO's presence and roadside bombs shake the city, Afghans will go about their lives, shopping at the markets, taking their kids out to play and visiting the amusement park along the way. As one family told us, in the last three years, they've just become used to it.

Note how he whitewashes the Taliban. All the Taliban are fighting for, according to the CBC, is for NATO to leave Afghansitan. Not the imposition of a fanatical brand of Islam on the country and ultimately the world through a campaign of unrestricted terror and barbarism.

Note also how he ends with a dismissive comment from an alleged family. They allegedly told him "they've just become used to it."

Just as we've become used to the undisguised bias of the CBC.

****************************

Finally a reader took the time to send us some facinating about the reasons behind the name of a recent Operation by the PPLI.

In your 2007 Week 11 coverage of the war in Afghanistan, you mentioned elements of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry participating in Operation Marguerite. You mentioned that you did not know the significance of that name.


Just for your info, the PPCLI was raised in 1914 by Captain Hamilton Gault, who donated the then-enormous sum of $100,000 for initial expenses. He asked the Governor-General, Lord Connaught, if he would permit his daughter, Lady Patricia, to be their Coronel-in-Chief (an honourary position). Approval was given, hence the regimental name.

Lady Patricia designed the regimental capbadge, which featured a daisy (or 'marguerite') after Gault's wife, Marguerite. As it happens, the Gaults entered into a bitter (and for those days, terribly scandalous) divorce action and Gault tried to have the marguerite in the cap badge replaced as he could not stand such a reminder of her infidelity. The badge however remained unchanged until 1933 or so when the flower was replaced by the VP cypher of Lady Patricia.

As a bit of a coincidence, the maiden name of Lord Connaught's wife (Patricia's mother) was also Marguerite.

The name Marguerite therefore is of some significance to the PPCLI - almost certainly the link to the name of the operation.

Great site - keep up the good work.

B.H.
Calgary "

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What's worse, the election campaigns or the media coverage ?

Quick. Somebody call Hugh McFadyen and tell him THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

There really is an election underway.

So far the suffering electorate has watched an Opposition that appears to be making it up on the fly mumble and bumble its way around a scandal-wracked government that's demonstrated its incompetence over the past 8 years.

And we don't know what's worse, the campaigns or the coverage.

The provincial Conservatives have had a year under new leader McFadyen to design a strong, focussed election platform. He was supposed to be the brains behind a slew of successful campaigns for other politicians and now, reins in hand, he would bring the hapless Tories in from the political wilderness.

Handed a short 34-day campaign, McFadyen has so far delivered "the 5 R's", a hodge-podge of unremarkable goals that's about as memorable as Spirited Energy, a photo of himself kicking a soccer ball, and---wait for it---radio ads.

Whoo hoo, radio ads. How 1950's. Expect him to take the train on the stump any day now.


The other day McFadyen was on Richard Cloutier's morning show on CJOB, the most-listened to show in the province. Asked what he would do to if elected to make Manitoba a more prosperous province, McFadyen announced that he would be making announcements in the days to come.

We're not making that up.

Given the opportunity of FREE AIR TIME to address tens of thousands of listeners, McFadyen passed. Later in the day, to an audience of two dozen reporters and party hacks, he promised to cut the provincial sales tax to six percent.

That got him 30 seconds as the fourth or fifth item on the 6 o'clock newscasts. What a media genius.


NDP leader Gary Doer announced that---wait for it---health care was the No. 1 priority for his party.

Astonishingly, not one of the reporters present challenged his credibility given the abject failure of the NDP to achieve their No.1 goal of the 1999 election--- eliminating hallway medicine in six months, not even after 16 months, or 60 months, or 66 months or six years.

Not a single question was asked about the pending closures of the Grace Hospital and Brandon General Hospital emergency wards -- which the NDP is propping up until after the election by paying huge sums to doctors willing to fill in for the emergency doctors who have left or are leaving the province.

Not a question as to why so many doctors are fleeing to greener pastures.


Instead, the mainstream election reporters parroted Doer's promise to train more nurses. Nobody asked how the NDP allowed the nursing shortage to triple from 500 in 1999 to 1500 a few years later, a shortage which is being whittled down a couple hundred nurses a year.

Nobody asked why the NDP is paying nurses full-time wages for part-time work which has created a culture of nurses refusing full-time shifts.

If you could collect a week's pay for three days work, with your choice of another shift or two per week at time-and-a-half or double-time, would you want a regular 8-hour, five day a week, shift?

If you could work 3 days a week, make enough money to put you in the top income bracket, and still make every weekend in the summer a long weekend, would you want a change in working conditions?


This has built an inexcusable inefficiency into the health care system which, in turn, means a reduction of surgeries, a shortage of hospital beds, and longer wait times for treatment.

The Tories discovered that the Winnipeg Health Authority alone has paid out $33.7 million in overtime costs to nurses since 2001.

No reporter asked Gary Doer about that.
No reporter has asked the Nurses Union about that.

Now you can understand why the nurses have been running round-the-clock ads shilling for the NDP for weeks. It's the least they can do.

Some members of the news media have even taken to running interference for the NDP.

While discussing the outrage in the community over the dismissal of the charges against the gang member accused of shooting Phil Haiart, a caller to Cloutier's radio show started to say we should hold politicians accountable for the gang problem in Winnipeg. Cloutier jumped in and launched into a rant about holding citizens accountable for their neighbourhoods, instead.

Obviously he didn't think an election campaign was the proper time to question the track record of the government that's been in power in the years the gangs have expanded and consolidated their power and extended their campaign of fear and intimidation.


He might have wanted to remind listeners how the NDP took office promising to take a "holistic" approach to gangs and asking the Justice Ministers, past and present, how that approach had turned out. But he didn't.

The news media did give us a look at the delicate sensitivities of Miss Erin, the NDP's own Southern Belle candidate for Southdale, and of the rest of the representatives of the gentler sex in the New Democratic caucus.

It seems Miss Erin, also known as Erin Selby, former model, former weathergirl, former CKY "reporter", swooned with the vapours when she saw a headline in the Winnipeg Sun that asked, about her, "Prop or Contender?"

She would have asked her husband to defend her honour by horsewhipping that awful Jack Reimer, the P.C. candidate, but that nice gentleman Mr. Doer stepped in and said he would unleash his attack dogs, also known as the NDP women's caucus, on Mr. Reimer.

"I find it offensive that (Reimer) would lash out in this way simply because he faces a strong woman candidate who has forced him to wage the political fight of his life," Status of Women Minister Nancy Allan sniffed.

Reimer's offence? He pointed out that Miss Erin's role in a Gary Doer news conference in her backyard seemed to be to stand around, look at her leader with affection, and look pretty. Doer even called the event "an announcement with Erin." AWWW.

The Winnipeg Sun pointed out she had "virtually no part" in the event and only spoke when the Sun asked her for a comment. Female voters, she said, "are excited to see a young woman running." Oh, and "I live in Southdale," she said. "I'm a young working mother."

Did we mention that Miss Erin is young. And Mr. Reimer is, well. old. Old, old. Old, not young, like Miss Erin.

Reimer, confronted with Miss Erin's indignation at being compared to a prop, confused the P.C. in his party's name for politically correct and apologized for saying what he said he didn't say. The ladies of the NDP went back to sipping their mind juleps and discussing whether Miss Erin should wear the pink dress or the lime green dress for her maiden speech. Oops. Tee hee. We said maiden. Sorry, Miss Erin. We meant no offence.

And the tempest blew over, but not before consuming one day of the 34-day campaign in which:

*The NDP is running as Conservatives on their record of cutting taxes.
*The Tories are running as Liberals, refusing to make crime an issue for fear somebody will blame the federal Grits for the lax laws that have allowed car theft and gangs to flourish and that will offend the Liberal voters Hugh McFadyen wants to attract.
* And the Liberals are running as independents, which is what they are.

The inadequacy of the news coverage is underlined by their inclusion of the Liberals in every newscast even though THE LIBERALS HAVEN'T BEEN A RECOGNIZED PARTY IN THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS.

There are six parties in this election - the main three plus Green, Communist and Freedom. Four have zero chance of forming a government. Yet one of them is treated as a legitimate contender when its clear that the two Liberal Party MLA's are nothing but two independents sitting together. We're just too polite to point out the obvious.

What's obvious is that voters are disgusted with politics and politicians.

To truly engage them, we need to offer an alternative vote on the ballot: NONE OF THE ABOVE.

This would ramp up the voter turnout because, for once, the electorate would get to register its dismay at the choices and go on the record that no matter who is elected, they DO NOT have the legitimate authority to govern as they wish.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Reconstructing the Virginia Tech shootings moment by moment Part Two

The April 22, 2007, Sunday New York Times provided us with the last pieces of the puzzle.

Integrating them into our examination of the mass murder on the Virginia Tech campus by Cho Seung-Hui, permits us to offer the best reconstruction you'll see anywhere of what exactly happened.

We've made a few changes to Part One to incorporate better information that's come our way and to clear up the odd misunderstanding of events. Before picking up the story, we recap Part One including vital new information.

Picture the second floor of Norris Hall, or at least the shorter leg of the L-shaped building. ( Or go to the interactive page of the NYT athttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/17/us/20070417_SHOOTING_GRAPHIC.html )

There's a row of classrooms on either side of a hallway. On the right are four classrooms---Rooms 200, 204, 206 and 210. Nos. 200 and 210, at the outer edges, were empty. On the left are three classrooms---Room 205 opposite 200, Room 207 opposite 204, and Room 211 opposite 206---and a set of offices opposite 210. There are stairs at either end of the left side.

As we described, Cho Seung-Hui began his killing spree with Room 206, where Dr. G.V. Loganathan was teaching a class in Advanced Hydrology. Leaving the room, he walked directly across the hallway into Room 207 where Prof. Jaime Bishop was teaching a class in Elementary German.

In Room 205 student Theresa Walsh and fill-in teacher Haiyan Cheng heard the commotion and looked into the hallway to see what was causing it.

As we wrote in Part One, Walsh made eye contact with Prof. Liviu Librescu in Room 204 who was doing the same. When she saw Cho leave Room 207, she ducked back into her room.

Here's where the NYT filled in a missing piece.

In Prof. Librescu's room, two students recognized the noise they were hearing and decided to make a run for it.


"One student shouted, "That's gunfire, I'm getting out of here." He grabbed his belongings and dashed into the hallway, trailed by one other student. But the killer was in the hallway. The first student was shot twice, but managed with assistance from his classmate to hobble downstairs."
( Students Recount Desperate Minutes Inside Norris Hall, Serge F. Kovakeski and Katie Zezima, New York Times, April 22, 2007. )

As we wrote, Haiyan Cheng "saw something that made her blood run cold---two young men running down the hall and the gunman shooting at them."

The New York Times anecdote explains why Cho, on leaving the German class, turned right, towards Room 205 and the students in the Issues in Scientific Computing course, instead of left and the Intermediate French class in Room 211.

The new chronology is clear.

Walsh, the first one out of her room because she was closest to the door, saw Cho leave German class. She went back into her classroom and the two boys dashed out of theirs. Cho went after them and Cheng, following Walsh into the hallway, saw the chase. And saw Cho headed her way.

The students of Room 205 managed to block the door to Cho. Frustrated, he turned on his heels and went into Room 204, Prof. Librescu's class on Solid Mechanics, as we described in Part One.

Now, he was way over at one end of the hallway. Yet he eventually wound up at the other end, at Room 211 where Prof. Jocelyne Couture-Nowak was holding a class in Intermediate French.

Did something attract him back down the hallway? Based on the timing of the events at Norris Hall, we think so.

As Cho left Librescu's classroom, less than 10 minutes had elapsed in his killing spree.

*************************


Biomechanics Professor Kevin Granata, 46, was in his office on the third floor on Norris Hall when he heard the shooting. He found a class of 20 frightened students and ushered them into his office. As a military veteran, he was less intimidated by gunfire than another academic might be, and, as student researcher Gregory Slota put it to the Washington Post, "aware that other students might be in danger on the second floor, he and another professor, Wally Grant, went downstairs to investigate."

NPR (that's National Public Radio for the uninitiated) carried a story April 17 saying two members of the Virginia Tech staff "were shot---one in the arm and the other in the face."

Wally Grant was shot in the arm. He ran into a washroom to hide. Student Zach Vane was just leaving. He told the story to 6 News Reporter Adam Longo in Knoxville, Tennessee.

"He had just left, in the middle of class, for the restroom."As I was leaving the bathroom, I heard a teacher say, 'I'm hit, I'm hit.' He came running into the bathroom and was holding his arm and so I didn't go into the hallway. He proceeded to call 911. I pushed myself up against the door because the door did not lock. He simply said he had been shot by a shooter on the 2nd floor of Norris Hall. He did not get a clean look at him. He heard shots, felt himself get hit and ducked into the nearest doorway," said Zach."

It's obvious that Kevin Grenata was the other professor shot by Cho, the one shot in the face.

Grant fled toward the rear of the building. His colleague lay in the hallway.

Advancing on the two men would have taken Cho to the door of Room 211 and the terrified class within.

**********

Prof. Jocelyne Couture-Nowak had looked out the door of her classroom to see what was making the racket.

"Immediately she pulled it back in with a terrified look on her face, told us all to get on the ground..." said student Colin Goddard.

Clay Violand, 20, a junior from Potomac, Maryland, had a suggestion.

"I pointed at the teacher and said, "put that desk in front of the door, now." he told the Washington Post. The teacher and some students pushed her desk in front of the door.

She said "Someone call 911." She told her students to get to the back of the room and get under the desks, recalled Emily Haas.

Colin Stoddard used his cell phone to make the call. But the 911 operator kept repeating the wrong number. Suddenly, bullets started coming through the door.
"It looked like he was trying to shoot the lock out. When he started firing at the door, I hit the floor." said Goddard.

Cho pushed his way in.

Clay Violand dove under a desk -"t hat was the desk I chose to die under."

He said Cho began "methodically and calmly" to shoot people. "After every shot I thought, "OK, the next one is me." Sometimes after a shot, I would hear a quick moan, or a slow one, or a grunt, or a quiet, reserved yell from one of the girls." Colin says he refused to look at the gunman's face.

"I saw his boots, I saw his pants, I saw his shirt, and I saw two holsters over each of his shoulders, pistol holsters, and then that's as much of him as I wanted to see. I didn't want to make eye contact. I thought if I looked at him, then he would know I'm here, I'm alive, I've seen you, and I think I would be in a lot worse position than if I had done that."

At the back of the room Emily Haas tried to make herself small and invisible. She kept her eyes closed tight.

Cho walked up and down the rows of desks, calmly shooting people.

Hilary Strollo, a Virginia Tech freshman from Gibsonia, just outside of Pittsburgh, was shot in the stomach and buttocks, and that a bullet also grazed her head. One bullet lacerated her liver. She later told her brother the gunman "fired approximately 5-6 clips --- around 3 bullets into each person in the classroom."

Goddard still held onto his cell phone, with the 911 Operator on the other end. Wanting to draw as little attention as possible, he dropped the phone to the ground. He said "a girl named Heidi picked it up, begging the police to hurry." That was likely Heidi Miller, who would be shot three times in the leg.

Cho turned toward them. "I think he heard the police on the phone," Goddard said. "He shot some people near me, he shot the girl across from me in the back. Then I felt a very forceful rush of air and a pinch or a sting in my leg."

Kristine Heegan had been shot in the back. A bullet hit Colin in the knee.

Goddard said he flinched when bullet hit, but played dead. "Nobody tried to get up and be a hero," he said.

He's wrong. There was one hero in Room 211.

*********************


A Virginia Tech professor who was also a deacon of St. Mary Parish in Blacksburg rushed to Norris Hall as soon as the shooting stopped and was met by a state trooper who was a parishioner from St. Mary. The trooper allowed Deacon Michael J. Ellerbrock to speak to law enforcement officers at the scene.

This is what Ellerbrock told CNS (Christian News Service):


"One officer told me an ROTC student grabbed (Cho) from behind and got a bullet right to the head," Deacon Ellerbrock said recalling the awe that struck him in the first minutes afterward as he stood on the lawn of the classroom building where the massacre took place. "It's beyond comprehension how one person could kill so many with just two guns."

That ROTC student was 20-year-old Air Force ROTC sophomore Matthew La Porte, of Dumont, N.J.

The parents of fellow ROTC cadet Paul Jarrett supplied more chilling detail of what happened in Room 211. They told the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, that Paul was too shaken up to talk because of what he had learned.

"They said Paul was not ready to talk about his experience. A cadet in Paul's Navy ROTC unit died trying to take out the gunman in Norris Hall as he lined up victims against a wall, Stephen Jarrett said. He said the cadet's last name was LaPorte."(Canceled class kept student from Charleston out of shooter's path, Prentiss Findlay, The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, April 18, 2007)

Eventually, the shooting stopped and Cho left the room.

It looks like Cho went directly across the hall to Room 206, Hyrdology class to finish off the wounded.

*********************


In what appears to be a pattern, Cho walked along the rows of desks, shooting everyone execution style.

Guillermo Colman had already been shot by Cho. A 9 mm. bullet grazed his head and the bleeding helped fool Cho into thinking Colman was already dead.

Still, Colman's heart must have skipped several beats when Cho returned to the room and his shoes literally touched Colman's.

"I couldn't see him because my face was buried in the ground in blood," Colman said.

Then he heard the familiar sound of shots. Colman said the bullets struck Lumbantoruan, who had also been hit earlier and whose body had fallen over Colman, likely sparing his life. Colman believes his colleague was already dead when Cho returned...

By the time Cho stopped shooting, nine of the 15 students and the professor were dead. Only two students escaped without any injuries---Lee Hixon, a 31-year old grad student, and Nathanial Krause.

Hixon has said he played dead and was lucky not to be shot. Krause has not been interviewed, but we found this account of his experience from an e-mail sent by a friend of his.

One of the two men was so sticken with survivor's guilt that he sent his friends to Virginia radio station WDBJ7 Roanoke to pass on a message to the family of one of the victims of the massacre who probably saved his life.

" There was also one friend, Nathanial, and he told the most horrible story, I don't know how he will ever be able to live with this memory. Nathanial was in one of the classrooms the shooter went in and he reported the following: The shooter entered the classroom, shot the professor in the head and then every single student in the classroom, all of them in the head...all of them but Nathanial. He stood 2 feet away from him but he didn't shoot him. Then the shooter left, went on to the next classroom shot people there and came back. Nathanial, in shock still in the classroom. The shooter tried to spot everybody who was still moving and shot them again...but again spared Nathanial...then he left. "

One of the men who walked out of Room 207 was so sticken with survivor's guilt that he sent his friends to Virginia radio station WDBJ7 Roanoke to pass on a message to the family of one of the victims of the massacre, the man who saved his life.

The story by reporter Rachel Depompa said that Egypt born Waleed Shaalan had been shot twice the first time Cho came to the room, but he deliberately put himself in the line of fire the second time as Cho tried to shoot a fellow student.

The third bullet he took was a fatal head shot; Shaalan was killed, giving his life for the other man.

***************

While this was going on, Virginia Tech caretaker Gene Cole was looking for a colleague, Pam Tickle, after being informed police were evacuating Norris Hall. He had gone up to the second floor when he spotted a person lying in the hallway with "blood all over him, all around him." In a Southern accent as thick as Manitoba gumbo, Cole told NPR it looked like the man wanted to get up, but he couldn't "because he hurt too bad."

Cole was about to go to the man's side when Cho stepped out of a classroom " three doors down"---20 to 30 feet away. Cho raised his gun and fired five shots at Cole who ran for his life down the back stairs, taking them two at a time. He said he could feel "the bullets whiz by my head."

Cho may have followed Cole to the stairway. Student Tina Harrison was writing an accounting test on the third floor of Norris Hall when the class became aware of the shooting one floor below. They listened until:

"We heard him coming up the stairwell. We heard people being shot on the stairwell, which is very close to the room we were at."

If Cho did, indeed, chase Cole to the stairs and contemplate going up, he may have been deterred by the police who were swarming the building by this time.

In any event, he returned, one last time, to the French class in Room 211.

****************

The terrified students, those who were alive and conscious at least, had had a brief respite estimated at between 3 and 10 minutes by Colin Goddard.

Emily Haas told CNN she picked up Colin Goddard's phone "so they would know we were still there. The 911 operator wanted me to keep talking and I said No I want to be quiet so he doesn't know we're here and she was in my ear the whole time saying 'just breathe, just breathe.' "

Goddard "heard the voice of the 911 operator, still squawking into his cell phone, and saw Christina, the girl who had been shot in the back. A male student on the floor near him was making a low, constant gurgling sound."

"The room was silent except for the haunting sound of moans, some quiet crying, and someone muttering "it's OK, it's going to be OK. They will be here soon," said Violand. "I [propped] my head up just enough to mutter in a harsh whisper, "play dead. If he thinks you're dead then he won't kill you."

But what he saw horrified him. "I think I'm screwed up for life," he later told a fellow student. "I never seen a dead person or a mauled person."

Asked what he meant by "mauled", he said: "
People's faces screwed up from bullets. People gurgling with blood. People moaning and wheezing with gunshots in their eye. Stuff like that I never thought I'd see."

He was about to see more when Cho came back into the room.

"My head was down the whole time. He began unloading what it seemed like a second round into everyone again - it had to be the same people. There were way more gunshots than there were people in that room. I think I heard him reload maybe three times," he told a reporter later.

Even in this time of trial there was time for a moment of humanity.

"There was a girl in front of me - I didn't know her well. I didn't know her name. (it was Kristine Heegan - ed) We kept eye contact from time to time. She was brave. I don't think she cried. We just stared at each other under the desks. She would have been the last person I had made eye contact with on this earth if I had died."

Goddard saw him walk down the rows of desks shooting people. When Cho reached Colin's row, the gunman shot him in the shoulder and the hip.

"My chest and torso were kind of underneath a desk, that's why I think I got shot in my extremities," he told NEWSWEEK.

"I squealed and I squirmed, you know, when I got hit, but that was one of the last bullets I heard."

Within seconds, Cho walked to the front of the room and fired a bullet into his own head.

*********************

Very shortly, police arrived at the door to Room 211. They asked the students to get up and leave. Only Clay Violand and Kristine Heegan could stand on their own.

The police swept through Norris Hall, clearing room by room.

They reached Pam Tickle's group in the student lounge. "When we heard police out in the hallway after 11, we let them in. They body searched us, and led us away to evacuate from the building."

Janis Terpenny, an associate professor of engineering, was holed up in the dean's office.

When police showed up, she told them about the note she found on one of the doors before the shooting began. It said there was a bomb and not to open the doors.

The note was written on white notebook paper, and she described the writing as so "scratchy" that it was either intentionally disguised or written by someone with very poor penmanship.


"Having gone through two bomb scares" on campus recently, she said, she did not take the note seriously and opened the door. It was then she saw another door that was chained from the inside. She went back to the dean's office.

Ambulances rushed the wounded and the dying to hospitals where, one final irony awaited their friends and family.

When Graham Doeren went to a hospital to try to find a friend who had been in class at Virginia Tech when the massacre started, he discovered "all the entrances and waiting areas near the emergency unit were being guarded by police holding automatic weapons."

With the worst shooting rampage over, authorities were out in full force-at the hospitals, protecting the victims from -- what?

**********************************

Killed in Room 206 were:

Jarrett Lane, 22
Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26
Julia Pryde, 23
Matthew Gwaltney, 24
Brian Bluhm, 25
Daniel Patrick O'Neil, 22
Partahi Lumbantoruan, 34
Waleed Shaalan, 32
Jeremy Herbstritt, 27
Prof. G. V. Loganathan, 51,

Killed in Room 204 were:

Minal Panchal, 26
Prof. Liviu Librescu, 76

Killed in Room 207 were:
Maxine Turner, 22
Lauren McCain, 20,
Nicole White, 20
Michael Pohle, 23
Prof. Christopher Jamie Bishop, 35

Killed in Room 211 were:

Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20,
Daniel Perez Cueva, 21
Caitlin Hammaren, 19,
Matthew La Porte, 20
Mary Karen Read, 19,
Reema Joseph Samaha, 18
Leslie Sherman, 20
Erin Peterson, 18
Austin Cloyd, 18
Rachel Elizabeth Hill, 18,
Henry Lee, 20
Prof. Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, about 43 (High school Class of '81)

Killed in Norris Hall
Prof. Kevin Granata, 45

Friday, April 20, 2007

Reconstructing the Virginia Tech shootings moment by moment Part 1

Classes at Norris Hall started at 9:05 a.m. A minute later the halls on the second floor would be emptied of students. Cho Seung-Hui knew this very well.

Erin Sheehan was in her German class in Room 207.

"It's a small class, about 25 people," she told the Collegiate Times. "And I would say no more than 2 people didn't show up, were absent."

The instructor was 35-year-old Christopher Bishop, called Jaime by everyone whose smile and shoulder length hair often worn in a ponytail had won the hearts of his students. Ten minutes into the class, there was a mild disruption. Cho opened the door and looked in. Two times.

"...he peeked in twice, earlier in the lesson, like he was looking for someone, somebody..." observed Erin.

"He peeked into my German class, a very small class, and no one usually shows up late. So it was very strange that someone was peeking in twice. And the teacher stopped because he was bothered by this twice, and we all thought it was a little bit funny. ... It was strange that someone at this point in the semester would be lost, looking for a class," she told CNN.

The class resumed. Where Cho went next and what he did will likely never be known, but its fair speculation that this would have been the opportune time for him to chain shut the exits from the second floor, something discovered not long afterward.

Daniel Stumpf, 21, had just finished an auditing exam and was heading to the on-campus Deets Coffee shop when he discovered someone had chained and padlocked all three double-door exits from the inside. He and another student took it up with a custodian.

"We were asking why the doors were chained and she had no idea," he said.

The Norris Hall housekeeper, Pam Tickle, told People magazine:

" I was dust-mopping the hall, and when I got to the end, a student was trying to get out the door, but it had a chain around it with a lock. That was weird. I've never seen that. The student said, "What's going on?" I said, "I don't know, but I'm going to call my boss."

As they stood in the hallway, a professor passed and told them she had found a note taped to one of the doors. It read, "Open the doors and a bomb will go off," Stumpf said later. There had been two separate bomb threats in the past two weeks which targeted engineering buildings at Virginia Tech so the note was a cause for concern.

Yet the last thing the group would have imagined was that someone had created his very own killing zone. And they were standing right in the middle of it.

Even as they talked, the administration was sending an e-mail to all students and staff regarding the double murder on campus roughly two hours earlier.

9:26 a.m.
A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.
The university community is urged to be cautious and are asked to contact Virginia Tech Police if you observe anything suspicious or with information on the case. Contact Virginia Tech Police at 231-6411
Stay attuned to the www.vt.edu. We will post as soon as we have more information.

Given what transpired almost immediately afterward, it's no stretch to suggest that it was this e-mail that triggered Cho to act.

********************

Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior in Room 204 for a lecture on solid mechanics, was startled to hear ''what sounded like an enormous hammer'' banging away next door in Room 206.

It was about 9:30 a.m., and the massacre had begun.

27-year-old engineering student Park Chang-Min was sitting at the back of Room 206 when Cho walked in.

"HELLO, how are you?" said Cho to 51-year-old India-born Prof. G.V. Loganathan.

Then he started shooting.

"He shot the professor and then started to shoot at us. In the blink of an eye it turned into a nightmare," said Park, who like Cho is from South Korea. "I didn't even feel the bullet hit me in the chest and arm."

Sometime since he was spotted by Erin Sheehan, Cho had put on a bizarre disguise (which he later discarded).

" He hid his face behind a mask and had his brown-coloured cap lowered to his eyes. He wore glasses and something like a black ammo jacket," said Park to reporters at his hospital bedside.

"We were only minutes into the class. There were about 15 students in the room. I was sitting in the back. The man came in with two handguns and a lot of ammo.He shot the professor first and spread bullets toward us. In a moment, the room turned into a bloody hell."

There were 13 graduate students in the class on Advanced Hydrology.

Guillermo Colman, 38, was shot in the head and shoulder. He told friends who visited him in hospital that Cho "started going right down the row. Bam. Bam. Bam." Colman was at the end of the row of desks and as he fell he was covered by the body of Partahi Lumbantoruan, an Indonesian doctoral student, who was hit fatally by a bullet. This likely saved his life.

By the time the nightmare was over, only four students in Room 206 were alive. A wounded Colman; a wounded Park Chang-Min; Nathanial Krause; and an unscathed Lee Hixon, who dropped to the floor and pretended to be dead. Only....the nightmare wasn't over.

The fusillade of shots didn't go unnoticed, although it was mainly unrecognized. In a study of human perception, most of the immediate listeners put what they heard into a more familiar context. There was construction ongoing on campus and many dismissed the sounds as construction-related.

In Room 205, student Ruiqi Zhang, a computer engineering major, heard the shots. "I was sitting in class when we heard loud popping noises a couple rooms down," he told the online student publication Planet Blacksburg.

Clay Violand, a 20-year-old junior, was in French class in Room 207. "About halfway through class we heard the noises. Someone said something like, "It's probably just construction." The noises didn't stop. The teacher stiffened up and said "That's not what I think it is, is it?" he told Time magazine.

Outside, freshman Hector Takahashi had been in a class in Pamplin Hall, near Norris Hall, around 9:30 a.m. Students were talking about the administration e-mail. "Then all of a sudden, we were like, 'Whoa -- were those shots?'" he said. He had heard two quick bangs, then a pause, then a fusillade of at least 30 shots.

In the hallway of Norris Hall, the group including Daniel Stumpf and Pam Tickle heard noises, first thinking it was construction equipment outside except that it was coming from down the hall.

"Eventually it was too rapid and too regular intervals--it couldn't have been anything else," Daniel said later. The small group ducked into a break room, turned off the lights, hid under a table and called the police.

Back in Room 206, having emptied his two handguns into the class of engineering students, Cho reloaded, ditched his disguise, and walked across the hall to Room 207, German class.

**************

It was about 10 minutes since Cho had first stuck his head into Room 207.

A poster on LiveJournal recounted what his girlfriend, Katelyn Carney, told him happened in German class.

"... they heard a banging. Her teacher opened the door to find out what was going on, and after not seeing anything, closed the door. Not more than two seconds later, a gunman entered her room." wrote boyfriend Paul.

Associated Press, in its summary of the events, said that "Someone suggested that (Prof.) Bishop should place something in front of the classroom door, just in case. The words were no sooner uttered than the door opened and a shooter stepped in."

"All of a sudden a door just opened real fast, a guy came in with a gun. I mean, he was very, very deliberate. He didn't say anything. Just came in and started firing," said student Garrett Evans.

The first bullet hit Bishop in the head.

"I remember looking at my phone. It was about 9:40," sophomore Trey Perkins told MSNBC."We started hearing some loud pops. None of us thought it was gunshots. It was not loud like that. Then somebody came into our room, he shot our teacher. And then we all got on the ground real quick."

The survivors of Room 207 agreed Cho was emotionless.

"He never said a word the whole time. I've never seen a straighter face." said Perkins, a 20-year-old from Yorktown, Virginia.

"He was just a normal-looking kid, Asian, but he had on a boy scout-type outfit. He wore a tan button-up vest, and this black vest, maybe it was for ammo or something," said Erin "He seemed very thorough about it, getting everyone down," she said."I was screaming 'oh my God' and then I realized I should stop because he'll know I'm alive."

Perkins remembered: "There were a couple of screams, but for the most part it was eerily silent, other than the gunfire.

"Erin Sheehan dove under the bodies piling up and played dead. "I saw bullets hit people's bodies. There was blood everywhere." Her clothes, she said, were soaked in the blood of the other students.

"I'm not sure how long it lasted. It felt like a really long time but it was probably only about a minute or so. He didn't say a single word the whole time." said Perkins, who sat at the back of the class and hid behind some overturned desks.

" He stopped to reload twice. The shots seemed to last for ever."

"Some 30 shots in all," he said.

Derek O'Dell, a 20-year-old biology student who was shot in the arm said: "He was very calm, very determined, methodical in his killing. He shot as he opened the door.""He was going along the front row shooting people," said O'Dell, who sat in the second row.

O'Dell remembered Cho firing about eight shots and then reloading. He fired another eight to 10 shots, then left the room he told USA Today.

Garrett Evans, who was shot once in the leg said, "Then he walked out of the door, went back (into the hallway), started shooting again, bang, bang, bang, other rooms."

Perkins and two classmates, Derek O'Dell and Katelyn Carney, ran up to the door and put their feet against it to make sure he could not get back in.

Perkins said "I told people that were still up and conscious, 'Just be quiet because we don't want him to think there are people in here because he'll come back in.' "

Trey Perkins, Derek O'Dell, Erin Sheehan and Katelyn Carney were the only ones from the class still able to walk.

Carney, who was hit in the hand, and O'Dell braced their feet against the door to keep it closed in case the gunman returned.

Perkins, an Eagle Scout, tried to give what medical attention he could to the wounded and Sheehan went to the window and yelled for help.

*****************


Next door in classroom 205 Zach Petkewicz began to realize what was happening.

"Basically, after the initial gunshots I heard a scream. I didn't know if the gunshot - I didn't know it was gunshots at first until I heard that scream. It all kind of sunk in."

Student Theresa Walsh told ABC News she first heard shots at "9:40 exactly, I was looking at my watch, and seeing how many minutes were left for math class to be over with."

Haiyan Cheng, a doctoral candidate, was teaching the computer class of 10, a temporary replacement for a professor who was away at a conference. She found the sounds distracting even before the scream. She opened the door to see what was making the noise. Walsh went with her.

"I'm the closest one to the door so I got up and went in the hallway," said Walsh, "and that's when I saw the professor across from me had this horified look on his face and then a few seconds later I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and I saw the shooter and he had just walked out of the classrom, and was walking down the hall towards our classroom."

Teacher Haiyan Cheng saw something that made her blood run cold--- two young men running down the hall and the gunman shooting at them. "They ran back in and said 'Everybody get down.'" recalled Ruiqi Zhang.

The room went into a panic. Zach took cover behind the podium where his teacher had been lecturing seconds ago. Then he realized "there was nothing stopping this guy from just coming in. And so I said, "We need to barricade this door."

"I was completely scared out of my mind originally, just went into a cowering position, and then just realized you have got to do something," he told CNN.

There was a heavy table in the room, and he and two other students pushed it against the door.

"One of our classmates, Zach, says, 'we need to block the door, he's coming for our classroom next,'" said Lisa Kaiser, 21, a junior at Virginia Tech. "And we threw a table up against the door, and sure enough, two seconds after we threw that table against door he was at our handle trying to get in, pushing against the door.

Cho threw his six-foot frame against the door, but couldn't force it open.

"He had tried twice to push it open and they were like stronger than him. I mean, four people or so, pushing on the table," said Kaiser.

"He tried to force his way in, got the door to open up about six inches, and then we just lunged at it and closed it back up. And that's when he backed up and shot twice into the middle of the door, thinking we were up against it, trying to get him out." Petkewicz said.

"Then he started firing bullets through our door and we were lying on the ground and they were going over us," Kaiser said.

"A couple of my classmates were on the phone with 911 the whole time while all this was going on" Zach said. Even better incentive to hold on--- "we - I could hear police shouting all around the building. I mean, they were there really fast. It was just a matter of getting up and getting to us and getting this guy out of - out of the picture."

And then, just like that, Cho left. "I was up against the side holding this desk up against there, and I just heard his clip drop to the ground. He reloaded, and I thought he was coming back for a second round and trying to get his way in there. And, I mean, he just - he didn't say a word, and he just turned and kept firing down the hall and didn't try to get back in." said Petkewicz.

If he had managed to force his way in, said Walsh, "(we would have been) the easiest kills he had done that entire day, with nowhere to run."

As it was, they could still hear his murderous rampage through the barricaded door.

"...you could feel the bullets, like you could feel... the vibrations of each gunshot... He shot, 'bam, bam, bam, bam' and he didn't stop until his clip was empty and you heard the clip hit the ground right outside our door. He reloaded and started again. And the only silence you heard the entire time throughout shooting was when he had that to reload." .

Cho had moved on to his next prey, across the hall in Room 204.

******************

Professor Liviu Librescu had already exchanged a horrified look with Theresa Walsh as Cho approached their rooms. He shut the door to Room 204 and planted himself behind it, determined to stop the gunman or at least buy time for his students to escape.

The engineering students had been watching slides on the subject of virtual work when they heard what sounded like shots from an adjacent classroom, said Richard Mallalieu, 23, an engineering student from Luray, Va.

"It started about 9:30ish. I put my head out to see what was going on. I head a girl scream and it sounded like gunshots." said 23-year-old Matt Webster.

"I was in a mechanics class, engineering class," said Josh Wargo. "We were sitting in class and all of a sudden heard loud banging noises - (we) thought it could be construction."

"We could hear people screaming "Oh my god" from next door."

"...and everyone started to panic."

"Once we heard the screams, there were no longer any questions about what was happening," said Andrey Andreyev, 19.

Wargo said 15-20 students ran to the windows at the back of the class and started to kick the screens out.

As they pondered whether to jump, they could hear continuous gunfire. "A steady pop, pop, pop, pop," Richard Mallalieu said. He said he heard 20 to 30 shots by the time he and other students decided it was time to jump.

Male and female students began jumping the two stories to the ground. One broke both legs. A woman landed on her back.

Mallalieu hung from the ledge a while before letting go.

Caroline Merrey looked back at Prof. Librescu before she leapt.

"We had heard the gunfire coming from the classroom behind us, and we just reacted to it and headed for the windows," she said. "Professor Librescu never made an attempt to leave. . .I really don't think me or my other classmates would be here if it wasn't for him."

"His English was not good, and it must have been hard for him to communicate in this situation, so he talked to us with his hands. He used his hands to tell us to get back. We heard the sounds getting closer. The shots were moving toward us, down the hallway," said Andreyev, who grabbed Librescu and tried to pull him to safety.

But the professor wouldn't desert his post.

"He pushed me back. He stood at the door and wouldn't move. He pushed me toward the back of the room, a corner. He himself would not move. He just stood there."

Alex Calhoun, 20, flipped some desks over to act as hiding places, but he soon joined the jumpers, becoming the 8th or 9th out. The two who jumped after him were both shot by Cho who had forced his way into the room past the 76-year-old Prof. Librescu.

Librescu was the first to die, shot in the head at point-blank range.
But by the time Cho entered the room, only four students were left.

Matt Webster was one of them. He curled up in ball, and heard Cho shoot a girl near him. Then, only three feet away, Cho fired one shot at Webster's head. Amazingly, the bullet grazed his head and ricocheted into his upper right arm.

"I lay there and let him think he had done his job. I wasn't moving at all, hoping he wouldn't come back.''

But Cho had already gone. He was retracing his bloody steps. He was going back to Room 207. German class.

*****************

While Derek O'Dell, Erin Sheehan and Katelyn Carney manned the door, Trey Perkins tried to comfort some of the wounded.

Student Garret Evans, 30, from the South side of Chicago, had been shot in both legs. Perkins tied his pullover sweater around the right leg and used Evans' tank top to wrap the left. He held a hoodie sweatshirt over the face of a female student who had been shot in the mouth.

Only about two minutes had passed. How much time does it take to shoot twice through a door and to shoot four unarmed people in a room?

O'Dell was calling 911 when Cho reappeared at the door to 207. "I guess he heard us still talking," said Sheehan.

The able and semi-abled students had no sturdy table to block the door; they could only use their feet and their bodies.

"I sprinted on top of the desk to the door, because the aisle was clogged with people, and I used my foot as a wedge against the door," recalled O'Dell. " It was almost like you had to fight for your life. If you didn't, you died."

Cho was determined to get in.

"The door opened about 3 inches and I saw his face," said Evans. "I thought he would put the gun thru and shoot, but they pushed the door closed."

"Bang bang, 4 shots through door," he said.

"Fortunately, we were lying down and weren't in front of the door," Perkins said. The shots, at waist level, hit no one.

And with those parting shots, Cho was gone.

"I saw Satan at work and God at work at the same time. Evil, evil spirit was going thru that boy, that shooter, I know, I felt it. I felt god move me away so he didn't shoot me in my head," said Evans.

But Cho hadn't gone far.

Only back to Room 206, where the nightmare was to start all over again.

Guillermo Colman was on his cellphone to his wife when Cho returned and started shooting the students in the room---again.

Colman played dead. Lee Hixon played dead. And both dodged lead a second time. But others did not have their luck.

"It took a long while after everything became quiet before police entered the room," said Park Chang-Min. "They said, 'Anyone who is okay, raise their hands'. Me and two others got up. All the others were either lying face down on their desks or sprawled on the floor."

Cho, meanwhile, was already on the move again and bringing death with him.