Portrait of a Killer

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 18, 2007 9:58 AM
The must-read of the morning is the in-depth WaPo profile of Cho Seung-Hui, which reveals a guy so simmering and withdrawn that he frightened teachers and students:

Cho (whose full name is pronounced joh sung-wee) appears first to have alarmed the noted Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni in a creative writing class in fall 2005, Giovanni said.

Cho took pictures of fellow students during class and wrote about death, she said in an interview. "Kids write about murder and suicide all the time. But there was something that made all of us pay attention closely. None of us were comfortable with that," she said.

The students once recited their poems in class. "It was like, 'What are you trying to say here?' It was more sinister," she said.

Days later, seven of Giovanni's 70 or so students showed up for a class. She asked them why the others didn't show up and was told that they were afraid of Cho.

"Once I realized my class was scared, I knew I had to do something," she said.

It seems many on campus tried to reach out, referred him to counselors, and the like, but to no avail. Cho turned his head and shoulders to avoid conversation when addressed, and kept headphones on most of the time.

He bought the two handguns used in the shooting in February (the .22) and March (the 9mm), and did not use high-capacity clips, which I point out because that's become the hook of the very first gun-control legislation to hit Congress. 

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is already pushing it. Today is Wednesday. That's two days, folks.