Blacksburg, VA, United States (4E) – The Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a county jury ruling finding the state and Virginia Tech negligent in warning students and staff of a gunman’s threat that led to the shooting dead of 32 people in the university in 2007.
In its 15-page ruling, the court said police found the initial shooting of two people at the school’s campus dorm by massacre suspect Seung-Hui Cho an isolated incident and posed no danger to the school because they thought he fled, so a campus lockdown was not ordered.
“Based on the limited information available to the Commonwealth prior to the shootings in Norris Hall, it cannot be said that it was known or reasonably foreseeable that students in Norris Hall would fall victim to criminal harm,” said the seven justices, according to CNN.
The Virginia Tech massacre, considered the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history, started with Cho shooting two people at a dormitory around 7:30 a.m. on April 16, 2007. Two hours later, he continued the shooting rampage at the Norris Hall killing another 30 people before turning the gun on himself. The shooting rampage also wounded 17 people.
The families of two massacre victims, Julia Pryde, 23, and Erin Peterson, 18, sued the school and the Commonwealth for wrongful death claiming that if a lockdown was imposed after the first shooting, the subsequent shooting in another building could have been prevented or mitigated.
The High Court also found that school officials were kept informed of the situation over time and they informed students on campus of the incident through blast e-mail. When the Norris Hall shooting began, school officials sent another blast e-mail stating that a gunman was on the loose and calling for students to stay in buildings.