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In Norris Hall

'Pop, Pop, Pop': Students Down, Doors Barred, Leaps to Safety

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By Michael E. Ruane and Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yesterday morning. Second floor. Norris Hall. In Room 207, Mr. Bishop's German class is underway. A few doors down, Professor Librescu is posting slides for his engineering students in 204. Outside, the Virginia Tech campus is gray and chilly but pretty normal for a Monday.

"It couldn't have been much more normal," said Richard Mallalieu, one of Liviu Librescu's students.

Suddenly, sometime after 9 a.m., a young man walked into the German class with two handguns and shot instructor Christopher James Bishop in the head.

Then he began firing at the students. Shot after shot, "some 30 shots in all," said Trey Perkins, who was seated in the back of the German class. He shot a girl in the mouth, a boy in the legs.

There were about 15 students, and Perkins said the relentless gunman had a "very serious but very calm look on his face."

"Everyone hit the floor at that moment," said Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va., a sophomore studying mechanical engineering.

The gunman left, and Perkins, sounding shaken in a telephone interview yesterday, said "three or four" students appeared to be dead.

In Room 204, the engineering students were watching Librescu's slides on the subject of virtual work when they began to hear shots from what sounded like an adjacent classroom, said Mallalieu, 23, a student from Luray, Va.

"At first I tried to convince myself they weren't gunshots, that if anything, maybe a presentation was going on, to try to convince myself it wasn't," Mallalieu said in a telephone interview from his Blacksburg apartment. "It became evident pretty quick what was going on."

Plus, he said, "there were a few screams." At first, he got down and hid behind a desk as Librescu held the classroom door closed. Then the students went to the windows.

As they pondered whether to jump, the gunshots went on. "A steady pop, pop, pop, pop," Mallalieu said. The gunfire was "more or less continuous." He said he heard 20 to 30 shots as he and other students noticed there was grass below and decided it was time to jump. "It was scary," he said, "but it wasn't as panicked as you might think it was."

The engineering students pushed open the windows.


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