October 16, 2017

The Chronology

Norris Hall

Turning to the background of the April 16 events, Ryan gave a summary of an official chronology, compiled by the Virginia Tech Review Panel, that starts with Seung Hui Cho’s birth in Korea and his immigration with his family to the United States:

Cho exhibits difficulties in grade school and high school, but it seems to have been dealt with quite effectively by mental health professionals. And one of the things you’ll notice in the report is that his family seems to be quite supportive, concerned, involved in his life, at least until he gets to Virginia Tech.

His freshman year here seemed to go pretty well. No reports of any major incidents. Sophomore year became more problematic. He came in as a business information technology major, but he switches to English. He exhibits quite a bit of interest in writing. He writes a novel and submits it for publication and it’s rejected and the report implies that might have been a significant incident in his life. Junior year is when the problems seem to become much more apparent. His family sees him withdrawing. He has problems in the poet Nikki Giovanni’s class. She is a very imposing powerful teacher and powerful person, so to read that she’s intimidated by a student is really quite shocking. Dr. Lucinda Roy was chair of the English department at that time, and she begins to petition the various offices on campus for help with the student. At the same time she takes him on as a student because Nikki Giovanni doesn’t want him in her class anymore.

Just before New Year of 2006, he’s admitted under a TDO [temporary detention order] to St. Albans hospital in Radford, 12 miles from here. He is evaluated the next day and released after I think two or three independent evaluations that he’s not a danger to himself or others. Under the family protection act, FERPA, his parents are not involved or informed of any of these difficulties, including the TDO, given his age and so on. So then we’re into the spring semester. The weapons, the ammunition are purchased. From my reading of the report, his contact with mental health services has stopped at this point.