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'Pop, Pop, Pop': Students Down, Doors Barred, Leaps to Safety
On the first floor, custodian Gene W. Cole, 52, was preparing to clean a bathroom when someone reported a shooting in a second-floor lab. Cole took an elevator and got off at 2.
"I walked around the corner, and I saw something in the hallway there," Cole said in a telephone interview. "As I got closer, I saw it was a girl lying on the floor jerking around as if she was trying to get up. There was blood all over her and all over the floor around her."
A man dressed in bluejeans, a dark sweat shirt and a hat stepped out of a classroom and flashed a black handgun.
"He acted like he was angry," Cole said. "I just thought, 'Oh my God, he's fit to kill me.' He didn't say nothing; he just started shooting. He shot at me five times."
Bullets zipped past Cole's head. He ran down some back stairs, saw that several exits had what looked like new chains and locks on them, and escaped through an auditorium. Cole, who has worked at Virginia Tech for 20 years, said the chains and locks had to have been put on the doors shortly before the shooting because they were not there earlier that morning.
Back in Room 207, Perkins, a student named Derek and a female student headed toward the heavy wooden classroom door and held it shut with their feet.
Other students were crying. One vomited. Two minutes later, Perkins said, the gunman came back. But now he couldn't get in. So he started shooting through the door, Perkins said, before leaving again. "Fortunately, we were lying down and weren't in front of the door," he said.
Whispering and trying to compose himself, Perkins, an Eagle Scout, said he told Derek and the female student to keep their feet on the door in case the gunman returned.
Perkins said he went around the room, tending to the wounded students. A student named Garrett was shot in both legs. Perkins wrapped his gray pullover sweater around Garrett's right leg.
Perkins used Garrett's tank top to wrap the other leg. Perkins saw a sweat shirt on a desk and covered the girl with the mouth wound.
"He knew exactly what he was doing," Perkins said of the gunman. "I have no idea why he did what he decided to do. I just can't say how lucky I am to have made it."
In 204, the students had opened the windows and were jumping for their lives.
"It's kind of hard to believe that something like this would happen," Mallalieu said. "You hear things about Columbine. . . . But you never think you'd be involved in that. But at that point I realized it was really happening."
Mallalieu, the son of a chemist, said he climbed out, hung for a moment from the ledge, looked down and let go. "I kind of tried to roll when I landed," he said.
He suffered some scratches. He's not sure everybody got out. Those who did ran for a nearby campus building. As they did, Mallalieu said it sounded as though the gunshots, and the screams, were now coming from 204. He said he heard about 40 shots in all.
There was little conversation as the students fled. "At that point, it was just, get away," he said. "I think everybody kind of had the same feeling about what was going on. We didn't really need to talk about it.
"I don't think it's settled in yet," he said. "I haven't heard how my other classmates who I think were still left behind, you know, what happened to them, be it good or bad."
A man identifying himself as one of Bishop's relatives said the family had no comment. Last night, a woman who answered the phone at Librescu's home and identified herself as his wife said she did not know whether he had survived.