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Virginia Tech shooting: `We are looking absolutely everywhere'

December 8, 2011 | 12:25 pm

An intense search is underway at Virginia Tech for the gunman who shot and killed two people -- a campus police officer and a student -- and authorities have ordered students and staff to stay indoors and secure themselves until the shooter is found.

"We are looking absolutely everywhere," university spokesman Mark Owczarski said Thursday afternoon. A media briefing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST.

State police officers, FBI agents and officers with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are searching the campus.

PHOTOS: Virginia Tech shooting

Officials have not released the identities of the shooting victims. Finals, which were scheduled to begin Friday, have been postponed.

During a traffic stop on campus, the suspect shot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer and then fled on foot through a nearby parking lot, officials said.

A second person was later found dead in that parking lot, the university said.

A university alert released after the shooting described the possible shooter as a white male wearing gray sweat pants, a gray hat with a neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and backpack.

The campus is the site of the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, and that tragedy led to widespread security changes at Virginia Tech and other institutions nationwide.

The April 2007 massacre left 33 people dead, including the gunman, Seung-hui Cho, who turned his weapon on himself before authorities could capture him.

In a revision to Virginia's 2007 report on the shooting, it was found that university officials warned their own family members of the gunman more than an hour and a half before the entire campus was alerted.

Parents of the 2007 victims were testifying this week that they believe the university contributed to the death toll by failing to do more to alert students, teachers and the public about a gunman on campus.  

As a result, they say, victims never had the chance to take cover somewhere safe, or even stay away from the campus altogether. The testimony comes as an administrative judge in New York considers Virginia Tech’s appeal of a $55,000 fine levied against it by the U.S. Education Department.

The Education Department says the school violated the law by waiting more than two hours after two students were fatally shot in a dorm before sending out a warning by email.

Cho, 23, fired more than 100 shots at his 32 victims, many of whom were crouched in defensive positions at the time they were killed.

Earlier, Cho had been detained by campus police investigating allegations that he was stalking female students, and he was held at a nearby private mental health facility. Officials deemed him to be an "imminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness," but he still ended back on campus.

ALSO:

Virginia Tech shooting: Lockdown lifted, weapon found

2007 Virginia Tech massacre led to changes nationwide

Officer shot, potential second victim on Virginia Tech campus

-- Stephen Ceasar and Rene Lynch

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