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Va. Tech report to be released today

Governor says lack of access to killer's writings at issue

RICHMOND -- Seung-Hui Cho's violent essays -- including one with details similar to the Virginia Tech massacre he carried out -- weren't widely shared with law enforcement, the governor said yesterday in a preview of a key report on the shootings.

Governor Timothy M. Kaine said the officers' lack of access to the student gunman's class compositions before the attack is "a significant feature" in the report, due for release today by the panel Kaine appointed to review Cho's killings of himself and 32 others.

"There's a lot of instances where information was out there or different people had information where it needed to be put together," Kaine said.

The governor said it was hard to understand why more was not done about a student who had shown a fascination with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting spree and, in his video manifesto mailed in the middle of the Blacksburg slayings, said he considered the two students who committed it martyrs.

"I'm troubled that a student who had talked about Columbine at an earlier point in his life, that that information was unknown to anybody on the Tech campus," Kaine said.

Kaine said he read about the writings in an earlier draft of the report.

He is to publicly discuss details in the final report for the first time today.

Virginia Tech turned over a compilation of Cho's writings to the review panel, including plays and other student writings so bloody that they horrified teachers and classmates. One 2006 fictional account of a planned campus shooting previewed Cho's deadly attack, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

That piece was not given to the review panel until recently because of an oversight by school officials, said Larry Hincker, school spokesman.

Some of the families of those killed and injured have demanded answers about how Cho was able to commit the worst mass shooting on an American college campus despite behavior that had alarmed fellow students, faculty, and police.

Among those questions: Why wasn't Cho monitored more closely after a judge deemed him a threat to himself more than a year before the shootings? And why didn't Virginia Tech alert the campus more quickly and cancel classes after the first two shootings in a dormitory, two hours before the main massacre in a classroom building?

"I know that some parents of the deceased are focusing on the mental health aspect of how Cho through all his life slipped through the cracks, and I understand that," said Suzanne Grimes, whose son Kevin Sterne was shot in the leg. "My focus is why they didn't cancel the classes that day."

Grimes's 22-year-old son was shot in Norris Hall, where 30 people were slain and Cho committed suicide. Sterne has returned to Virginia Tech to earn a master's degree in electrical engineering. The bullet remains in his body, and he receives physical therapy.

"If the panel report does contain some accountability in it, it will offer some closure to the families," Grimes said.

Kaine said he did not conclude from the report that either Virginia Tech's president, Charles Steger, or campus Police Chief Wendell Flinchum should resign.

"The points that I will raise tomorrow, I don't view that they would be solved by taking that step," Kaine said.

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