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'Looking Back . . . We Should Have Done Something'

Andy Koch shared a suite with Virginia Tech gunman Seung Hui Cho and others in 2005. When he heard that Cho had committed the murders, Koch recalled occasional incidents that by themselves had seemed odd but not necessarily threatening at the time.
Andy Koch shared a suite with Virginia Tech gunman Seung Hui Cho and others in 2005. When he heard that Cho had committed the murders, Koch recalled occasional incidents that by themselves had seemed odd but not necessarily threatening at the time. (By Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press)

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Cho mentioned he had an imaginary girlfriend. "He said her name was Jelly and she called him Spanky, and that she was a supermodel and she traveled through space," Koch said.

"We were like, 'Really?' " he said.

"I told my parents, and I told other friends, and they kind of laughed," he said. Then one day Koch went to Cho's room and Cho wouldn't open the door, saying he was with Jelly: "We're making out," Cho said.

Koch said it seemed weird mainly in hindsight. His first real worry came the Sunday night campus police arrived to speak to Cho about bothering a female classmate.

Koch said he was asleep when two uniformed officers banged loudly on the suite door. Koch opened and the police asked for Cho.

Cho later told the roommates that he'd apparently frightened a girl when he went to her room to "look her in the eye." He said he'd gone there to see if she was cool, and instead saw "promiscuity" in her gaze. What she saw in his was enough for her to call police, Koch indicated.

Cho communicated with classmates, in part, via his Internet Facebook profile. But instead of the usual photograph people post, Cho posted an illustration of a Zorro-like figure whose face was blank except for a large question mark. Thus was born the "question mark" persona, Koch said.

Cho again began bothering girls. He frightened a friend of Koch's by writing on her door board lines from "Romeo and Juliet," in which Romeo says: "My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself. . . . Had I it written, I would tear the word."

Cho was again admonished by police. Then Cho e-mailed Koch: "I might as well kill myself now." Koch asked if he meant that, and phoned his father. Koch said both he and his father voiced concern to campus police.

Shortly after that, Cho was taken to the psychiatric clinic. The next semester Cho seemed to behave, and this year Koch lived off campus.

Tuesday morning, when Koch learned that Cho was the killer, he was stunned. "I was freaked for a couple minutes," he said, "then I realized I needed to write everything down."


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