AFP – April 16, 2007
At least 32 people were killed in a shooting rampage at a US university in Virginia Monday, Fox News reported citing federal sources.
"The numbers we have right now are 32 people killed and 28 being treated," Fox reported.
On its website, Virginia Tech University confirmed that 22 people had died, including a gunman, in the deadliest school shooting in US history.
Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum told reporters earlier the toll was "at least 20 fatalities." .
One of the dead was the gunman, but Flinchum had no information as to whether he killed himself or had been killed by others.
"At this time we believe it was only one gunman," Flinchum said. "He is deceased.
The university in Blacksburg, in western Virginia, was locked down as police combed the campus after shootings in two separate buidings, which went well beyond the toll of 15 dead in a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.
University president Charels Steger called the shootings a tragedy of "monumental proportion."
"The university is shocked and indeed horrified that this would befall us," he said at a press conference hours after the morning shootings.
Gunfire first broke out earlier Monday in a residence on the campus of Virginia Tech, a university of about 25,000 students located some 425 kilometers (264 miles) southwest of Washington.
Gunfire was then also heard in a second building, called the Norris Hall.
"Those on campus are asked to remain where they are, lock their doors and stay away from windows," the university initially announced before it began evacuating the students and faculty in waves.
Entrances to the campus were meanwhile closed as television images showed heavily armed police rushing across the school grounds in a light snowfall.
The shooting comes just days ahead of the anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999.
Amy Steele, the chief editor of the student newspaper, told CNN that she had spoken to students in the buildings where the shootings were heard, and was told many were running around in a panic.
"The police officers were trying to, you know, settle everyone down and keep everything under control," she said.
"One of the injuries happened from a student jumping out of a window."
Last August Virigina Tech was the site of another shooting when an escaped prisoner tried to hide on the campus, US media reported.
A security guard and a policeman were killed before the man was re-arrested. Virginia Tech's website also announced that a reward of 5,000 dollars had been posted on Sunday for information leading to the arrest of those behind two bomb hoaxes at the campus on April 2 and 13.
Last updated 17/04/2007