Iowa’s governor is a graduate of Virginia Tech – Virginia Tech is the campus where a gunman shot and killed 33 people Monday morning before killing himself.
Governor Chet Culver enrolled in Virginia Tech in 1985 on a football scholarship and has been a frequent visitor on campus in the years since his graduation. "My prayers go out to the students, the faculty and the staff whose lives will be forever changed by today’s events," Culver said Wednesday afternoon, reading a statement to open a news conference held on the steps of the Iowa statehouse.
Culver, who lived near the campus dorm where the shooting started, suggested the shootings cast a "mournful pall" over his alma mater. "On a personal note, I am distraught that the peace and joy I enjoyed during my time as a student at Virginia Tech has been shattered for the thousands of students who live and study there," Culver said.
Virginia Tech is that state’s largest university, with about 25,000 students. Authorities did not find an I.D. on the gunman’s body, and have not determined whether he was a student.
Culver said Monday’s shootings bring back memories of the shooting rampage a doctoral student at the University of Iowa went on in 1991. "We as Iowans feel a sense of empathy and compassion because a similar event occured in our state 16 years ago and because of that event, stole the innocence of the University of Iowa," Culver said. "A lone gunman claimed the lives of five people and himself in a senseless shooting."
That student, Gang Lu, was apparently distraut that his scientific paper had not received an award, but another colleague’s paper did.
Culver said the Virginia Tech shootings may spark a renewed discussion about gun control. "We need to take the steps, through the public policy arena, to do whatever we can to prevent this from happening ever again," Culver said.
Culver said he and Virginia Tech’s president are friends, but Culver hasn’t called the campus yet because administrators there are overwhelmed with the aftermath of the shootings. That call will come later. "All’s you can do in a situation like this is to lend your prayers and your thoughts and any assistance," Culver said.
To hear Culver’s entire news conference, click on the audio link below.