NEAL CONAN, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
At this hour, the Virginia Tech campus continues to remember the victims of yesterday's shooting. Thirty-two people were killed by a gunman who later killed himself. This is the deadliest shooting spree on a campus in American history. President Bush addressed the convocation last hour. He said he prays for comfort for those victimized in the attacks. Here's some of what he had to say.
President GEORGE BUSH: In such times as this we look for sources of strength to sustain us, and in this moment of loss you're finding these sources everywhere around you. These sources of strength are in this community, this college community. You have a compassionate and resilient community here at Virginia Tech. Even as yesterday's events were still unfolding, members of this community found each other. You came together in dorm rooms and dining halls and on blogs. One recent graduate wrote this: I don't know most of you guys, but we're all Hokies, which means we're family. To all of you who are OK, I'm happy for that. For those of you who are in pain or have lost someone close to you, I'm sure you can call on any one of us and have help anytime you need it.
CONAN: President Bush, speaking just about half an hour ago at Virginia Tech. The convocation there is just concluding.
NPR is confirming this list of fatalities from yesterday's shooting at Virginia Tech. These are victims we have confirmed their identities by way of multiple sources: Ross Alameddine, 20, English major from Saugus, Massachusetts; Christopher James Bishop, 35, professor, foreign languages and literatures; Ryan Clark, 22, biology and English major, Martinez, Georgia; Kevin Granata, 46, professor, engineering science and mechanics; Emily Hilscher, 19, majoring in animal and poultry sciences, equine science, from Woodville, Virginia; Jarrett Lane, a senior and a civil engineering major from Narrows, Virginia; Matthew LaPorte, 20, a university studies major from Dumont, New Jersey; Liviu Librescu, professor, 76 year old, aeronautical engineering; Caitlin Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, New York, majoring in international studies and in French; Reema Samaha, 18, studying French, from Centreville, Virginia - Virginia, excuse me - also, G.V. Loganathan, 51, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.
Joining us now on the phone is Min, a graduate of Virginia Tech, who studied under Professor Loganathan. Good of you to be with us today. Min, are you there?
MIN (Virginia Tech Graduate): Yes, I'm here.
CONAN: Can - what can you tell us about G.V.?
MIN: I'm sorry. Say that again.
CONAN: What can you tell us about the professor?
MIN: Dr. Librescu is one of the - past students say that he is one of the top talents in the department. I used to be a graduate student in (unintelligible) department from '92 to '94. He's one of - he's an advisor of one of my best friends at the time.
MIN: And he's always nice to everybody. He had a very good reputation. Then also he is one of those professors who at the high age and still so actively in academic research.
CONAN: Yes, he was 76 years old. Liviu Librescu, born in Romania, a Holocaust survivor.
MIN: Right, and also one thing unique about his research is his research really covers multiple areas. That is not everybody can do.
CONAN: And as I understand it, a distinguished professor, an Israeli citizen, but had he been teaching at Virginia Tech a long time?
MIN: As far as I know, yes. At the first day I get to the university, he was there, and when I left, graduated and left, he was still there. His smiley face is always in my mind.
CONAN: The accounts we're hearing about the way he died, as the gunman tried to barge into the classroom, he urged his students to get out through the window on the second floor classroom there and tried to prevent the gunman from coming in and was shot to death in the process. Does that sound like the man you knew?
MIN: That's something I knew today, and that's something also struck me deeply. It's hard to - hard for anybody to imagine that a 76-year-old professor threw himself fighting against this gunman and while those young kids are running away. This is something - it struck me very, very deeply, and I feel so sad.
CONAN: Thank you, Min, very much, and we - condolences on your loss.
MIN: Thank you.
CONAN: Joining us now is another graduate of Virginia Tech, a man named Adrian. He knew another of the professors killed there yesterday, G.V. Loganathan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Adrian, thanks very much for being with us.
ADRIAN (Virginia Tech Graduate): You're welcome, Neal.
CONAN: And what can you tell us about - I understand he was called G.V.
ADRIAN: G.V. - I knew him as Dr. Loganathan.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: I suspect we all knew our professors as doctor this or professor that.
ADRIAN: Right, I - he was an outstanding professor. He was always very professional in the class, but I knew that he had a family. He, you know, wore a wedding ring. And as a professor, he was, actually, a big inspiration for me to pursue sort of an academic career, and he was just a great man that always had time in his office for any concern you might have with all the stuff you were studying.
CONAN: He won, I know, several awards for excellence in teaching there at Virginia Tech. I suspect that comes as no surprise to you.
ADRIAN: Oh, no. He actually, I think, won the semester that I was taking the class, and I know that actually the class that I took from him was what he was teaching yesterday. And I actually knew somebody who was killed who was in that same class, not well, but she was in my old department.
ADRIAN: Her name hasn't been released, so I won't say.
CONAN: I'm so sorry about both of your losses. In a way, though, as one of Professor Loganathan's students, you're part of his legacy.
ADRIAN: Well, that's a - I mean I wish I could say that. He's a - he would definitely be a - something to aspire to. But I hope to, you know, live on knowing that, you know, what he taught me has been really beneficial to my career.
CONAN: And where are you teaching now?
ADRIAN: Well, I'm in - I'm still in school at Cornell. And I'd just like to say - I know this has been stressed a lot - but Blacksburg is literally maybe the last place that you would ever expect something like this to happen. I mean it is a very rural, small community, with a campus that's basically set up, you know, in a totally trusting - a lot of the buildings didn't even have, you know, locked doors when I was there just a few years ago, so...
I just think it - it really makes you think about how you secure something like that and, you know, if it's possible.
CONAN: Adrian, thanks very much. And again, we're sorry for your loss.
CONAN: Let's see if we can get a caller on the line. And this is Tom, and Tom's calling us from Pennsylvania.
TOM (Caller): Yes, hello, Neal, how are you today?
CONAN: Hi, I'm well, thank you.
TOM: At the beginning of the last hour you asked how we felt as a result of this and any other shootings that have happened. I was a classroom teacher when Columbine happened. Earlier this school year, out in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, only 60 miles from where I'm calling, I'm sure you'll remember and your listeners remember the terrible shootings that took place...
CONAN: Certainly, yes.
TOM: ...at the - in an Amish schoolhouse, killing a bunch of little Amish girls.
CONAN: Not long thereafter, five miles from where I'm calling, a boy shot up a - the hallway of the high school he attended and then committed suicide. So when I heard the news yesterday, I felt a little apprehension. I have a friend whose son attends Virginia Tech. My friend lives in Roanoke. And my initial response was, well, just to lay back and wait and see, you know, what would happen or not really do anything, expecting that if I read this morning's newspaper I'd see a list of casualties and hopefully I wouldn't see him there. They didn't list the names in our local paper, so I went to the Roanoke - I believe it's the Roanoke Times Web site.
CONAN: Yes, we've been there several times ourselves.
TOM: Yeah, and as I was looking at the various sad and unfortunate names, I came across a feature story that in fact had my friend's son's picture on it. He did survive. He was shot in the arm. He was one of the kids you may have heard about, or you may have read the article, that basically was in a German class, and he and another student, apparently, when the shooter came through, buttressed his legs up against the door...
TOM: ...so that the guy couldn't get back into the room. And apparently it wasn't until the third pass that he realized that he'd been shot. He was shot in the arm. Apparently after the incident, they took him to the hospital. From everything that I can tell from the paper - I haven't spoken to his parents yet, or to him...
TOM: ...apparently he's going to be physically OK. But it was - you know, I wanted to say - you had asked, I said, at the beginning of the other hour how we felt. I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, and I find myself weeping at these things. But there's one thing that I'm hopeful will happen as a result of all of this - and perhaps in your dialogue and in your position - when we look back at this example, I'm hopeful that when solutions are looked for for these types of incidents that the idea of inviting students to be a part of a very vigilant group and just watching. Random acts of violence like yesterday almost, I would expect, can never been stopped. But for 15 years as my role in the high school that I taught in, I was a sponsor of an organization called Peer Mentorship.
TOM: And in essence, we trained students to just watch, and when they saw something strange, they would contact us and we'd contact the administrators.
CONAN: It's a wise thought, Tom, and we'll take it up.
TOM: All right, thank you, Neal.
CONAN: Appreciate the phone call.
TOM: Take care.
CONAN: We've been talking with people remembering those who were lost and injured yesterday in Blacksburg, Virginia. When we come back from a break, we're going to be talking with Walter Mosley. His new book is "This Year You Write Your Novel."
I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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