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Va. Tech Killer's Motives Pursued
But police said it might be months before they finish interviewing witnesses and reviewing the mass of evidence collected. "Quite frankly, the evidence we've gathered just in Norris Hall fills up a significant-sized trailer in a storage area," Flaherty said.
Flaherty said investigators have been unable to establish a motive for the shootings. "We haven't been able to determine what precipitated the event," he said. "We talk about possible motives and theories, but we don't have any evidence to support anything." Cho left a note in his dorm room and sent material to NBC railing against the rich and privileged and comparing himself to the downtrodden, but officials said the material does not explain his actions.
Investigators are examining several possible scenarios, law enforcement sources said. One theory is that Cho planned to shoot people at only the dormitory but found that students' doors were locked. He then accidentally found Hilscher about 7:15 a.m.
One problem with this theory, the sources said, is that if Cho had limited his attack to the dorm, he would not have been able to mail the package of videos and written diatribes to NBC. Sources said, however, that witnesses have been unable to place Cho in the Blacksburg post office where the NBC package was received at 9:01 a.m., raising the possibility that someone else mailed it.
Flaherty said the evidence so far indicates that Cho acted alone and that "we can't find anybody who seems to have assisted him in any fashion." He added that it's too soon to say "categorically" that there was no accomplice.
Another theory is that Cho committed the first shootings as a diversion, wanting police to be at the dormitory while he continued at Norris Hall. But investigators still remain puzzled about Cho's motives, where he went between the shootings and the connection between the two events.
"We may never know," said one investigator.
What does seem clear is that Cho planned the killings for months.
On Feb. 9, he picked up the Walther .22-caliber pistol at a pawnshop across from the campus, more than a month before he bought the Glock 9mm and a box of 50 cartridges at Roanoke Firearms.
Police said Cho practiced firing the weapons at several local shooting ranges. He also began working out at a gym in recent months, his suitemates have said.
He bought the chains in March at a nearby Home Depot and Wal-Mart, though investigators are not sure which chain was bought where, the sources said. On April 8, Cho rented a room at a Hampton Inn in Christiansburg, near the Blacksburg campus. Investigators believe it was there that he filmed part of the video that was mailed to NBC between the shootings at the dorm and at Norris. Cho also was visited by a dancer from an escort service when he rented another local hotel room in late March, the sources added.
Tracy Harmon, a spokeswoman for Quality Oil Co., which owns the Hampton Inn, said employees "are in the process of cooperating fully with law enforcement."
Cho is also believed to have recorded some of the video footage in a burgundy Kia Sedona van that he rented March 12 from Enterprise Rent-a-Car at Roanoke Regional Airport. Sources said he returned the van April 10. A spokesman for Enterprise declined to comment.
Frustrating the police investigation is the fact that Cho revealed himself to so few people. "I guess the thing that is most startling to me . . . is a young man who's 23 years old, that's been here for a while, that seemed to not know anybody," Flaherty said.
Horwitz reported from Washington.