Guest Post by Lisa Garvin
As if the horrific spectacle of 32 people killed by a crazed gunman isn’t enough, people are already wanting someone other than said gunman to take the blame. From calling for Virginia Tech president Charles Steger’s resignation to comparing the campus police to Barney Fife, the outrage was immediate and incredulous.
Say you’re a cop called to a shooting scene in a dorm. After ruling out what appears to be a lovers’ murder-suicide, you suspect a double murder. You assess the scene and interview witnesses. Based on the evidence, how on earth do you deduce that the gunman is going to go across campus and kill 30 more people? It’s a huge leap from double murder to mass murder, and even the best TV-psychic detective could not have made the connection in two hours’ time.
Students are complaining that they didn’t get fair warning and that a more timely e-mail could have saved lives. Given the inherent difficulties of communicating urgent news to a spread-out campus of 26,000 students, the fact that they got e-mails at all was more than many campuses could muster in the same situation. We’ll never know the “what if” in this situation, but since the gunman chained the doors closed on Norris Hall, the fates of those poor victims were probably already sealed and couldn’t be saved by an e-mail.
Unfortunately, we can expect a wave of litigation in the coming months. The person responsible for this is dead. Trying to extract a pound of flesh from well-intentioned people who could neither have predicted nor prevented this massacre just creates more victims. Will these lawsuits make lawyers rich? Yes. Will it make college campuses or safer? No. And that is perhaps the worst tragedy of all.
Lisa is a Former radio news reporter/anchor (15 years); now writing about cancer for the Internet. Horse-lover, poker player, weather nut, queen of the road trip. Full of righteous indignation about politics.