Students console one another Tuesday at Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA
Most Saturday afternoons in the fall, Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium is filled with Hokie football fans. On Tuesday, though, it was flooded with students, staff, faculty and community members who came to watch the convocation service on the stadium Jumbotron.
As early arrivals watched the service in the university’s basketball arena, the overflow crowd packed into the football stadium -- almost every one of them wearing the school colors of orange and maroon.
Bonnie Potter broke down in tears when I visited with her shortly before the event began. For the last three years, she has recruited students for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, promising them Virginia Tech is "one big community, one big family."
She said the massive turnout was the community's act of defiance in the face of senseless violence.
"People could have packed up and gone home," she said, "but they didn't because this is home."
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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.