Rich Galen

They were asked why they hadn't "locked down" the campus after the early morning shootings in the dorm. The President patiently explained that the campus is 2,600 acres. One square mile is 640 acres so Virginia Tech is almost exactly four square miles in area.

Virginia Tech is not a gated community - like most colleges, one side of the street is the city the other side is the campus. And, he said, about half of the students - some 11,000 - live in Blacksburg not even on the campus and were, assumedly, driving in for their morning classes.

In spite of the modern requirement that reporters immediately apply blame in any situation, the realities of the Virginia Tech Horror was that the killer waited two hours between the time he shot two people in the dorm and the time he chained the doors shut in the engineering building.

The assumption was he had fled the campus. Reporters wanted to know why the President of the University and the Police Chief didn't know the killer was going to the engineering building.

Here's a good lesson: You cannot apply logic to foresee and forestall the actions of someone who is acting in a utterly illogical fashion.

The President of the University and the Chief of Police will live with this forever. Those students and professors were under their care and protection and they will - unfairly even to themselves - feel they let them down.

No words. No words can ever erase that.

On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The cover of an early Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College catalogue.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at