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Student Wrote About Death and Spoke in Whispers, But No One Imagined What Cho Seung Hui Would Do

Cho graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly in 2003. He turned 23 on Jan. 18 and had lived as a legal permanent resident since entering the United States through Detroit on Sept. 2, 1992, when he was 8 years old, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Cho held a green card through his parents, and he renewed it Oct. 27, 2003, according to Homeland Security. He listed his residence as Centreville.

Cho's sister, Sun Cho, graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics in 2004 after she completed summer internships with the State Department in Washington and Bangkok.

A State Department spokesman said Sun Cho works as a contractor specializing in personnel matters.

Investigators said Cho procured one of the guns he used in the rampage, a Walther .22-caliber pistol, Feb. 9 from a pawnshop on Main Street in Blacksburg near the Virginia Tech campus.

On March 16, he bought the second gun, a 9mm Glock 19, from Roanoke Firearms, a gun shop on Cove Road in Roanoke.

He used his driver's license as identification and had no problem buying the guns because he was complying with Virginia law, which permits the purchase of one gun a month, investigators said.

The Glock was used in two shootings, first in a dormitory and then in Norris Hall more than 2 1/2 hours later, officials said. A surveillance tape, which has now been watched by federal agents, shows Cho buying the Glock, sources said. Both guns are semiautomatic, which means that one round is fired for every finger pull.

Cho reloaded several times, using 15-round magazines for the Glock and 10-round magazines for the Walther, investigators said, adding that he had the cryptic words "Ismale Ax" tattooed on one arm. Although there are many theories, sources said, no one knows what it means.

As the university mourned Tuesday and the identities of the dead were made public, more details of Monday's tragedy emerged.

One of Cho's suitemates in Harper Hall said the killer began the day looking like he had every other day since moving in. Karan Grewal said Cho's face was blank and expressionless. "He didn't have a look of disgust or anger," Grewal said. "He never did. There was always just one look on his face."

In August, when Grewal, Cho and four others moved in, Cho's suitemates tried to talk to him but never got a word in return.

"My impression was that he's shy," said Grewal, 21, a senior accounting major who lived in a room across the hall. "He never looked anyone in the eye. If you even say hi, he'd keep walking straight past you."

The six students lived two to a room in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom suite. The others never saw Cho with any women or friends. He would turn his head away to avoid conversation. His room had the typical college dorm look, strewn with cereal boxes and clothes, Grewal said.

Recently, Cho had started going to the gym. Other than that, his suitemate had been behaving exactly as he always had.

"He had that blank expression," Grewal said, "nothing else."

Ruane reported from Washington.

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