'On the scene' blog retired

Posted: Friday, April 20 at 05:14 pm ET by

This blog, "On the scene," which has chronicled happenings on the sprawling campus in Blacksburg, Va., in the wake of Monday’s massacre, is being retired as MSNBC.com’s coverage shifts away from the scene of the crime to the investigation and the issues raised by the attacks.

We will continue to offer complete coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy and the healing of the Hokie Nation in our news reports and will post a representative sample of readers’ comments on existing posts through Friday, April 27.

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Time to leave

Posted: Friday, April 20 at 12:21 pm ET by Mike Taibbi, NBC News

At dinner Thursday night, Frieda Morris, bureau chief for the NBC News team covering this awful tragedy, was comparing the arc of this story to the coverage of the Columbine High School Massacre, eight years ago Friday.

"Four days into Columbine," Frieda said, "most of us hadn't had a substantial catnap, let alone a full night's sleep; it was nonstop."  All of us at the table at what was essentially a team dinner knew what Frieda was talking about; during the day -- the fourth day of so similar a story of immeasurable grief following an act of madness -- there was a sense both in the press corps and across this vast university campus that the main storylines of the Virginia Tech massacre had been identified, explored and broadcast or written.

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Pro-gun student: I told you so

Posted: Friday, April 20 at 09:21 am ET by Bill Dedman, MSNBC.com

Bradford Wiles has been saying it all week: I told you so.

A graduate research assistant in the department of human development at Virginia Tech, Wiles wrote an op-ed in the Virginia Tech school newspaper in August pleading for the right to carry a gun on campus. He wrote the piece shortly after a shooting near campus triggered a lockdown.

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Exercise exorcises demons

Posted: Thursday, April 19 at 07:03 pm ET by Petra Cahill, MSNBC.com

The gym in Virginia Tech’s McComas Hall has been unusually busy considering the campus is largely deserted in the wake of Monday’s deadly shootings, providing an aerobic outlet for stressed-out students.

“I actually think it’s been really helpful,” said Mordecai Harvey, a 22-year-old senior who both works and works out in the weight room at McComas Hall, one of the two main student gyms on the Virginia Tech campus. “It made sense, I guess people were trying to blow off some steam, get rid of the stress, and take their minds off of things.”

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New information on Cho's weapons

Posted: Thursday, April 19 at 05:23 pm ET by NBC News

New information emerged Thursday on how Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui acquired one of the guns used in the attack and a military knife seen in photos he sent to NBC News.

Eric Thompson, owner of Thegunsource.com in Green Bay, Wis., told NBC News that he processed an order from Cho on Feb. 2 for a Walther P-22, a .22-caliber handgun. The site shipped the gun to a licensed weapons dealer in Virginia, where Cho picked it up on Feb. 9, Thompson said. 

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Signs of media discontent

Posted: Thursday, April 19 at 01:00 pm ET by Petra Cahill, MSNBC.com


A sign posted on a wall in front of Virginia Tech's Burruss Hall suggests that patience is wearing thin with media coverage of Monday's massacre. (Mannie Garcia / AFP – Getty Images)

The attention given to Virginia-Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui’s rambling, rant-filled manifesto drew a mixed reaction Wednesday from Virginia Tech students and supporters gathered at the victims’ memorial on the campus Drillfield.

The scene at the impromptu memorial to Cho’s 32 victims was subdued on a cold-gray morning. Placards covered in messages had been moved under a tent to protect them from the weather.

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Slain students to get posthumous degrees

Posted: Thursday, April 19 at 11:58 am ET by Bill Dedman, MSNBC.com

All students killed will be awarded posthumous degrees during the Virginia Tech commencement on May 11, Provost Mark G. McNamee announced Thursday morning.

"The families are very happy about this," he said.

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Local papers spurn Cho's image

Posted: Thursday, April 19 at 09:36 am ET by Bill Dedman, MSNBC.com

Cho Seung-Hui's self-portraits made front pages around the globe -- but not here.

The daily paper located 30 miles from the Virginia Tech campus, The Roanoke Times, published five of the photos -- on pages 2 and 3. But Page 1 bore the headline "Healing together," with a photo of a campus memorial.

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A powerful pull

Posted: Wednesday, April 18 at 09:23 pm ET by Petra Cahill, MSNBC.com

Bud Kick drove five hours from Gaithersburg, Md., on Wednesday to be with his daughter, Danielle, a 20-year-old sophomore at Virginia Tech. Asked why he waited until two days after Monday’s horrific bloodbath to make the trip, he replied, “She asked me to come.”

The powerful desire to be close to family members in this time of tragedy has brought many parents to the Virginia Tech campus, in some cases simply to pick up devastated students and take them home.

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The shortest news conference

Posted: Wednesday, April 18 at 05:44 pm ET by Bill Dedman, MSNBC.com


April 18: Col. Steve Flaherty, of Virginia State Police, and Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker talk about photographs, videos and writings sent to NBC by the gunman.

It was the shortest news conference on record, and it ended with reporters yelling after the Virginia Tech spokesman as he fled the room.

It began somberly, with spokesman Larry Hincker reading a list of victims who have been newly identified.

Then came the surprise: Col. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of Virginia State Police, announced that NBC in New York had received a package sent by Cho Seung-Hui, the gunman who killed 32 students and teachers on Monday before taking his own life. Inside were photos, video and writings by the killer, he said.

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As officials, students and families struggle to come to terms with the tragedy at Virginia Tech, a team of MSNBC.com reporters and editors and NBC News producers and correspondents is on the scene.