RICHMOND, Va. - The panel studying the shootings at Virginia Tech held its first public meeting yesterday, with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine asking for details on the gunman, how the events unfolded, and how the state and other agencies responded.
The eight-member commission, appointed by Kaine and headed by retired State Police Superintendent W. Gerald Massengill, will examine issues surrounding the April 16 shootings, in which 23-year-old student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on campus before committing suicide in a classroom building.
"We owe it to the victims," Kaine said, to prevent another such tragedy.
Kaine asked the review panel to develop a detailed factual analysis of the slayings, focusing on three areas:
Find out more about Cho, including how he obtained the guns used in the slayings, the history of his mental-health treatment, and his interactions with the mental-health system.
Plot the time line of events from the first two shootings at West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory, to the rest of the shootings inside Norris Hall, "including efforts to stop events at Norris," Kaine said.
Study the response of state, university and local agencies to the tragedy, including medical care for those who were injured, medical examination of those killed, counseling for university students and employees, and services for victims' families.
Kaine hopes the panel can complete its factual review before the start of the academic year in August.
Several panel members said privacy and civil rights must be balanced with the need to safeguard the public.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge also urged caution in jumping to conclusions about the response to the attack.
"We have to put ourselves in the shoes of those who acted at the time based on what they knew at the time, not what we know now," he said.
The university is cooperating with the review panel and is doing its own reviews of safety, telecommunication and information-exchange protocols.