Va. Tech Shooter Had Disturbing History

More details are coming out about Cho Seung-Hui, the 23 year old shooter in the Virginia Tech killings. To call them warning signs might be an understatement.

Cho had shown recent signs of violent, aberrant behavior, according to an investigative source, including setting a fire in a dorm room and allegedly stalking some women. A note believed to have been written by Cho was found in his dorm room that railed against "rich kids," "debauchery" and "deceitful charlatans" on campus.

Cho was an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service, the Associated Press reported.

He had been referred to counseling, but apparently no one followed up to see if he went. Authorities believe he was taking anti-depressant medication at some point.

Did he abruptly stop taking it? Shades of the Columbine killers seem to be emerging here.

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    mental illness seems to be a common denominator (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by nolo on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 02:59:50 PM EST
    in cases of mass killing.  My local public radio station did a program this morning on the issue, and one of the participants had been part of an attempt to conduct statistical analyses of mass killing incidents since 1945.  He said that killers came from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds, but that at least 50 percent of them had a documented history of mental illness.  He also said that most, if not all, had sent all sorts of signals that he or she was going to do something before the actual incident occurred.

    I don't think (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jen M on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:16:27 PM EST
    any SANE person would do this. Some people (ok, me during pms)  might FEEL like doing random violence but its just a feeling. Were sane, we don't.

    hes from the same (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jen M on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 02:15:17 PM EST
    town and high school as the kid that shot up the police substation in Centreville VA

    Whats in the water there, anyway

    Cho Seung-Hui killed 33 yesterday (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:04:46 PM EST
    George W Bush killed 5 yesterday, both have disturbing histories indicating they could be capable of such things without exibiting remorse.

    And that's not counting (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jen M on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:17:53 PM EST
    Iraqui civilians. Or did they have a very good day?

    124 killed in various bombings today (none / 0) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:06:25 AM EST
    Probably not a good day for them either.

    Disgusting (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 07:33:07 PM EST
    The use of the deaths of those killed at VT as a political comment about Bush and Iraq is just flat wrong.

    Why can't you have the decency to let the bodies get cold before you try and use them.

    Even in slaughter houses they let the animal bleed out before further cutting on them.


    Why is the wrongful death of 33 on American soil (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 08:12:32 AM EST
    any different than the wrongful deaths that take place daily in Iraq?  I know that the bodies in Virginia probably weren't even cold when I typed this but the bodies in Iraq weren't even cold yet either.

    Tracy - It is called good taste. (none / 0) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:14:04 AM EST
    What you are doing is using someone else's tradgey to make a political point.

    That someone wasn't involved in Iraq, may have approved of it, may not have approved of it. Makes no difference. You are doing things, using their names, their deaths, and yet they have no chance to approve or disapprove.

    Simpler. If you dropped dead now, would you agree that I would have the right to put up a billboard/newspaper ad/Internet Post/ etc., saying:

    Militraytracy Approved of the Iraqi War

    It is called common sense, and not taking advantage of someone who can not defend themselves. It is also plan old good taste.


    Tracy - I don't want to be misunderstood. (none / 0) (#36)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:15:23 AM EST
    I don't want to be misunderstood.

    When I write: "good taste." What I refer to is a lack of it.


    Taste is individual and often aquired (none / 0) (#38)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:20:50 AM EST
    What is in good taste for you may not be for me.  I understand that you find my comment tasteless.  There is always tomorrow though.  I haven't given up on you yet ;)

    Tracy (none / 0) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:44:26 AM EST
    Actually taste reflects on a variety of characteristics of the individual.

    I note:

    The Left in general sees all things political and seeks to control all things through politics. Thus they see no problem with using people such as you have just done. Fairness and consideration of the people, and their families, means nothing because they exist only to be used.

    I say again.

    Even in slaughterhouses they let the animal bleed out before they use them.

    You attempt at humor is noted. All I can do is just shake my head in sadness at such actions.


    What study are you citing (none / 0) (#45)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 11:59:16 AM EST
    as to how the left in general sees all things?

    hold on! (none / 0) (#59)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 08:30:06 AM EST
      I fully agree with you about the lack of character demonstrated by one who seeks to exploit a tragic event in the way he did.

     Stop there! HE did it and he was wrong, but then you leap to the false generalization that such abhorrent behavior exemplifies "the Left." It does not. Most people on "the Left" share your revulsion at such sick tactics and some people on "the Right" engage in them.

      You sink to his level when you use his individual behavior to smear a much larger group for political purposes.


    Reasonable distinctions (none / 0) (#40)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:24:36 AM EST
    I don't think it's about "good taste." But I do think it is about the capacity to make reasonable distinctions. People who say there is no difference between Virginia Tech and Iraq are willfully ignoring the fact that, well, they are very different situations. Yeah, there are violently killed innocents at both places. And that's about where the similarity ends.

    That willfully ignorance is rooted in nothing more than a shameful desire to score political points. Hmm, members of the "reality-based" community don't want to actually examine the facts of a situation. Shock me. It's so much easier to say "VaTech = Iraq" and "Cho Seung = George Bush" than it is to make the reasonable distinctions necessary for dealing with the separate situations.

    Virginia Tech, Iraq, people like Cho Seung, and George Bush all require different responses. If you pretend that we can solve these issues the same way, we will never solve them at all.


    I'm a soldiers wife (none / 0) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 12:00:23 PM EST
    I live Iraq and deaths from it everyday and there isn't much difference for me.

    Done. (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 12:20:13 PM EST
    You obviously have some other issues here, so let's just drop it. You think they're the same. I think they're totally different. We'll just agree to disagree.

    What is sad to me is how (none / 0) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 07:30:43 AM EST
    easily my countrymen dismiss what my family and other soldier's families are going through right now and purposefully stay disconnected from it because they can, they have no skin in the game.  Too many sit on the sidelines and continuously analyze it all as if you are doing someone a favor.  I don't have "issues".  If you are an American they are your "issues" too.

    Schizophrenia? (none / 0) (#6)
    by clio on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:21:02 PM EST
    Probably undifferentiated with increasing hallucinations and worsening disorganization.  

    Probably no one at school knew him well enough to really notice his deterioration (these people often withdraw as the voices take over), and he might have made excuses to avoid his parents.

    Incomparably tragic.

    To qualify him as mentally ill (none / 0) (#7)
    by Al on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:25:51 PM EST
    doesn't help. It just means that we can consider to whole thing a terrible accident, like a fire; a dangerous misconception.

    I question the mental health of anyone who kills someone else, or has someone killed. I question the mental health of Osama bin Laden, of Mohammad Atta, and of George Bush himself.

    We have to try to understand the mechanisms of violence, not just accept them.

    It does too help. (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by nolo on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:33:39 PM EST
    One of the things mentioned by the researcher I referred to in my earlier post is that many of these troubled folks who act out violently are likely to have had some prior contact with mental health care providers.  They are much less likely to have had prior contact with law enforcement or a history of criminal conduct.  Knowing this helps us understand who is really at the "front line" for purposes of trying to avert these tragedies.

    Besides, how does exploring the mental illness angle keep us from "understanding the mechanisms of violence?"  I don't understand your point.


    I blame God (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 04:23:49 PM EST
    Not serious, wingnuts.

    But this search for blame, so predictable and oh so stupid, is a waste of time.

    In a manner of speaking it was an accident. An accident of coincidence, bad mind, and everythng else involved.

    Don' seek larger lessons. You'll be wasting your time.


    In the sense that God (none / 0) (#11)
    by Peaches on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 04:55:41 PM EST
    is the Great mystery, or the unexplained, then I think it is not only appropriate to blame God, but I think it might actually help.

    This doesn't mean that we won't learn anything by researching the background of the killer and the circumstances leading to this tragedy, though.

    I do agree, though, that this act was the result of the confluence of several random and not so random circumstances, and acts like it will be repeated at some point in the future.

    I also think that the excessive violence that permeates our society in the US is a symptom of mental illness that affects not only many individuals, bue also society at large. We are living in ways that are not harmonious with God, nature, the Earth, and/or the great mystery.

    Finally, I don't think precautions such as more security and more or less gun control will alliviate the problem or go nearly as far as making a large and conscious effort as a society and nation to live peacefully with our foriegn neighbors around the world.

    War, huh good god y'all
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing. say it again
    War whoa lord
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing.


    Peaches (none / 0) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:17:59 AM EST
    God gave us free will.

    Who said anything about [passive] acceptance? (none / 0) (#9)
    by clio on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 03:59:36 PM EST
    Schizophrenia can be treated and its symptoms controlled, but it must be diagnosed first.

    I can agree that no one who directly massacres people is mentally well, but I do not agree that George Bush, Mohammad Atta or Osama bin Laden are mentally ill.  Their actions may be reprehensible, but they are neither hallucinatory nor delusional.  [Bush may be in denial about certain things, but that is  not mental illness.]

    It is a great disservice to the treatment of psychosis, and to society at large, to lump illnesses which have defined symptomatic parameters, effective treatments and, increasingly, proven physiological changes on MRI and PET scans in with consciously chosen actions.They are not at all the same.  

    To conflate rationally chosen behavior, which a person consciously choses to do, however much we may disagree with that choice, with mental illness which is irrational and uncontrollable returns us to the Dark Ages. It short-circuits any understanding of, and chance of treating, the abnormal brain, and ultimately of preventing tragedies that mental illness may cause.

    Understanding mental illness is understanding one of the mechanisms of violence.

    Having said all that I have no proof that the VT shooter was schizophrenic, but his age and emerging history are consistent with that possibility.  It is beyond tragic that his disease outran the help available.


    My point (none / 0) (#16)
    by Al on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:32:00 PM EST
    The point I was trying to make, perhaps not very effectively, is that it's too tempting to pigeon-hole the shooter as a crazy loner, an aberration, that we just shake our heads at and then forget. I don't like this; it's too facile. It reminds me too much of other crazy loners who convince themselves that they have political reasons to massacre people. Or invade countries.

    I'm afraid we may not learn anything from this massacre before the next one happens, whether it's a school shooting or a conventional terrorist attack. Or dropping tactical nuclear weapons on Iran.

    I don't buy this distinction between "crazy" violence and "sane" violence.


    I hear ya.... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 09:36:11 PM EST
    I think I've been trying to make the same point...you simply cannot be of sound mind and kill a bunch of people you have never met.  Whether it's a diagnosed homicidal mental disorder, or deranged political or religous beliefs that brings about the killing.  In laymens terms...terrorist attack, nutjob shooting spree, attacking Iraq...what's the difference?  It's all incomprehensible madness to me.

    Al (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:22:47 AM EST
    I think what we have learned is that administrations MUST respond to reports such as the professors gave the VT admin.

    You can do everything in the world. Study, develop plans, have focus groups, pass laws, etc., etc.

    But in the end it is the execution of all of this that is required.


    "Or has someone killed" (none / 0) (#24)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 06:10:05 PM EST
    Good point (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:03:25 PM EST
    Finally, I don't think precautions such as more security and more or less gun control will alliviate the problem
    The mayor of Nagasaki, Japan, was shot and killed today.

    No citizen is allowed to own a gun (nor a sword) in that nation.

    Your Point? (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:09:25 PM EST
    The United States leads the world's richest nations in gun deaths -- murders, suicides, and accidental deaths due to guns - according to a study published April 17, 1998 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

    The U.S. was first at 14.24 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Two other countries in the Americas came next. Brazil was second with 12.95, followed by Mexico with 12.69.

    Japan had the lowest rate, at 0.05 gun deaths per 100,000 (1 per 2 million people). The police in Japan actively raid homes of those suspected of having weapons.



    I assume the Japanese govt. agents.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:27:15 PM EST
    raiding the homes have guns...how is the guy whose home is being raided supposed to defend his freedom, his family, his property?

    The only thing worse than an armed populace is an unarmed populace governed by people with arms.  Recipe for tyranny, imo.

    I'm as anti-gun as they come, but my love of freedom trumps my displeasure for firearms. We can't un-invent them, unfortunately, but I sure as hell don't want potential tyrants and their agents to be the only ones to have them.


    You want guns (none / 0) (#18)
    by Al on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:33:54 PM EST
    just in case you need to start an armed revolution to overthrow a tyrant? Give me a break.

    In part, yes..... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 10:09:22 PM EST
    but an armed revolution is a longshot, but it is not outside the realm of possibility. It could be necessary one day.  If Rome can fall...  

    Don't worry, if I were to personally start one as you suggest, it would be unarmed, maybe torches and pitchforks at most for effect.  I'm old-school.

    My main point is I'm glad each citizen has the right, if they so choose, to own a firearm for protection against a potential tyrant, home invader, or what have you.  If they actively raid homes in Japan looking for weapons, I'm glad I don't live in Japan.  

    Now if we could get the authorities to stop actively raiding homes here at home looking for illegal drugs...that would be an improvement.  I think there is a chance the right to bear arms gives the authorities at least some pause before running roughshod. We certainly don't need to give the them new reasons to actively raid American homes.

    If you don't see the troubling trend of rising authoritarianism that I see, I'll give you a break and agree to disagree.


    One of the main reasons I support (none / 0) (#44)
    by Peaches on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 10:45:40 AM EST
    the second amendment is because I believe citizens should have arms to protect themselves from the potential of an armed and dangerous government. I believe the founders had the same idea in mind. We, citizens have a duty to protect our freedoms from foreign and domestic threats. If our goverment threatens our freedoms and we begin to march down the road towards tyranny, an armed populace is the last defense.

    kdog (none / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:43:17 PM EST
    You often write about how guns give you the heebee jeebees. What is your experience with them?

    Just don't like them..... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 09:50:47 PM EST
    never held one, hopefully never will.  What gives me the creeps is the ease in which they kill.  To easy to make a mistake...as opposed to my Louisville Slugger home security system. My bat will never accidentally go off or club an innocent bystander if the sh*t hit the fan.

    I think part of what shaped my views on this issue is reading a Huey Newton biography. When the cops raided his house in the middle of the night he was powerless to protect his family.  He told himself never again would he be caught powerless.  I can respect that, even though I choose to live another way myself.


    kdog (none / 0) (#41)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:25:39 AM EST
    Never, never, never take a bat to a gun fight.

    True... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 04:56:57 PM EST
    but I never go to fights.  If one comes to me, I'll take my chances with the bat.

    kdog (none / 0) (#54)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 06:43:51 PM EST
    Trust me. You have better changes to catch a runner runner straight.

    And I'm glad... (none / 0) (#52)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 05:01:49 PM EST
    you agree with Huey on that one.  

    I bought a .22 rifle w/a scope (none / 0) (#48)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 12:08:59 PM EST
    when I lived in Tucson. I can't tell you how many hours I whiled away with friends plinking cans and stuff out in the desert.

    Hitting what you're aiming at is a skill; the farther the distance the more skill is required.

    Like sinking the 8 ball on a bank shot or dropping a 3-pointer or throwing a strike, it's very engaging.

    Bigger caliber weapons take some getting used to, imo.


    More power to you..... (none / 0) (#51)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 04:59:24 PM EST
    If I was hanging out with you and your boys, I'd make my exit when the rifle came out with no hard feelings.

    Just ain't my bag.  


    Right on. (none / 0) (#53)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 05:15:48 PM EST
    kdog (none / 0) (#55)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 06:57:01 PM EST
    I keep a 12 guage pump with as legal as possible short barrel. It is very easy to operate, loaded with buckshot it will take anybody down, and you don't have to be Deadeye Dick to hit'em. It has the added advantage of not killing somebody a 100 yards away by accident. Plus it has such a wonderful attention grabbing sound when you chamber a round.

    You might consider one of these.

    Plus, you can club'em with it if they are still coming at you.


    My wife won't allow a gun in the house. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Peaches on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 08:14:45 AM EST
    I hunted as a child. Shot many ducks, pheasants and Grouse. I went deer hunting when I was sixteen. Shot a 10 point Buck and was the envy of my high school. It waqs the only big animal I ever killed. It took me six shots to kill him. First shot, broke his back. Second one, took his front leg out as he was trying to crawl away. I emptied the rest of my chamber into his neck as I pleaded with him to die. I was proud when I show off the photos, but troubled over the way he died. Big animals don't always die easily. Humans are big animals. There was a lesson there, I took away. The next year I stayed home from the deer hunt and shot birds all fall instead.

    My Wife's father had guns around the house when she was young. He was a hunter as my father was. One day, when she was seventeen, she came home to police sirens and ambulances and met her mother in the driveway. Her father came home and found his son (her brother) in his bedroom with a shotgun in his hand and a hole in his head. No guns in my house, needless to say.


    My husband agrees with you (none / 0) (#57)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 19, 2007 at 07:38:27 AM EST
    We don't own a gun.  We have some big dogs though ;).  It is odd too that when my husband does have to qualify on a weapon he usually does so as expert.  He had to qualify on a SAW two years ago and stunned everyone by doing it his first time out, I guess you have to time your shots or something.  The instructors told him even they didn't qualify the first time they shot it.  My husband doesn't like firearms.  He says that when he is at work and responsible for one that is all the responsibility concerning them he can handle or ever wants to handle.

    We could trade examples (none / 0) (#15)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:28:53 PM EST
    all day squeaky
    The [UK firearm] ban has had no discernible effect on gun crime, which has continued a steady rise dating back more than 25 years and which accounted for some 4,000 injuries in the UK last year. Immediately after the ban, the number of shootings actually went up and has stayed up
    but why bother?

    I'll agree to disagree.

    SUO (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:57:02 PM EST
    I wasn't arguing the issue. Just thought your example kind of funny as Japan is often used to argue gun control.  

    OK, I get it now. (none / 0) (#25)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 06:11:46 PM EST
    This is a law blog (none / 0) (#17)
    by JSN on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:33:40 PM EST
    can you use preventive detention on the basis of the evidence in this case? It does not appear that there were any specific threats.

    Not yet (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:53:57 PM EST
    please don't give Congress any ideas. :)

    Hypothetically Civil Commitment (none / 0) (#26)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 06:16:22 PM EST
    Though the facts as cited in the Newsday story are pretty thin.

    According to the Chicago Tribune... (none / 0) (#19)
    by desertswine on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 05:35:49 PM EST
    "Cho also died with the words 'Ismail Ax' in red ink on one of his arms."

    Any speculations as to what Ismail Ax is?

    A name? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 06:07:07 PM EST
    I heard on the TV that he signed the suicide note with the same words, but I cannot find that in any news reports on the Internet. We may have to wait for more information.

    There is plenty of speculation about what it means, including Biblical references.


    The Question No One is Asking (none / 0) (#27)
    by kaleidescope on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 06:23:26 PM EST
    Is Cho a christian?

    The Question No One is Asking? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Beonda Pale on Tue Apr 17, 2007 at 07:28:48 PM EST
    "Is Cho a christian?"

    Except everyone is asking it, and before the blood on the floor of that class room has been removed, baselessly linking this with islam and accusing him of being a "mudslime" or "mooselimb"


    And then there is the immigrant slant that O'Reilly is going to go ballistic over.

    Other ways the hysterical right wing noise machine is ALREADY gearing up for this a mere 24 hours after the incident:

    "Liberals" are destroying America!!!!!! ALL students, teachers, aunts, uncles and kindergartners should own and carry a concealed firearm for this very reason.

    "Liberals" are destroying America!!!!!! Video games out of Hollywood!!!!!! are full of violence that force our children down paths like these.

    "Liberals" are destroying America!!!!!! What has happened to our culture when all the male students just sat in that classroom and ALLOWED themselves to be shot without fighting back????? Liberal values have feminized our once masculine nation.

    "Liberals" are destroying America!!!!!! Keep an eye on the person next to you at all time and report all suspicious activity to the proper authorities IMMEDIATELY!

    THIS is the question that no one is asking:

    What is seriously wrong with American culture that this happens with such regularity, making it unlike anywhere else on the planet in this one regard?

    Beonda - no no no (none / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 09:38:12 AM EST
    As much as O'Reilly makes me shake my head, his point was that citizens should have the right to own/carry guns. Immigrants, who are not citizens, should not.

    Who knows what the words on his arms meant to him?
    They come from the Old Testament, of which both Christians and Moslems think important. So those were valid questions given all the attacks of Moslems. But I have seem no one formenting attacks on Moslems. Would you also have the same problem if it had been: "Christ Cross?"

    I totally disagree that our society is worse now that it was years ago. It is diffierent, and much more open. Could these changes ignite more nuts and freaks?