Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 20:28 UK

Virginia Tech remembers shootings

Witnesses speaking about the massacre

Thousands of people have gathered at Virginia Tech for a day of remembrance for those killed in the massacre at the US campus last year.

Twenty-seven students and five staff died when 23-year-old student Cho Seung-hui went on a shooting rampage on 16 April 2007 before killing himself.

It was the most deadly shooting spree in modern US history.

The names of the victims were read out at the memorial to the dead and a candle-lit vigil will take place later.

No relief

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger welcomed the crowds, many wearing the university's colours of maroon and orange, saying the community had found strength in each other.

Mourners at Virginia Tech
Their lives were just too short for all the promise and the good that was within them
Timothy Kaine
Virginia governor

"While the passage of time has helped us in many ways, we remain deeply and profoundly saddened by the events of that tragic day," he said.

"Neither the heat of summer nor the winds of winter have relieved our pain."

The memorial of 32 granite blocks, for each of the victims, was covered in flowers, bouquets and mementos.

The reading out of the list of names was personalised with descriptions and tributes.

Maxine Shelly Turner, or "Max", was described as follows: "Enjoyed swing dancing, Tae Kwon Do, schoolwork, violin, and talking to herself while playing 'Zelda', her favourite video game."

Classes at the campus were cancelled and some students were visibly moved - hugging each other, some in tears.

A candle was lit at midnight that will burn for 24 hours, while exhibitions and workshops will take place on campus throughout the day.


State governor Timothy Kaine ordered state flags to be flown at half-mast and a moment of silence at midday, followed by the tolling of bells.

"The world was cheated on 16 April a year ago," he said.

Cho Seung-hui

"Cheated out of the accomplishments that were surely to come from these extraordinary lives. Their lives were just too short for all the promise and the good that was within them."

The anniversary brings back memories for those who were on campus when Cho started his shooting spree.

Heidi Miller, 20, from Harrisonburg, was shot three times and was one of six survivors in a French class.

"It's like a big question mark," she told the Associated Press. "Should we be in mourning all day, or should we try to do something normal?"

Some of the families of the victims said they would not be attending the official events and planned to grieve privately.

Private tribute

A Virginia Tech professor, Bryan Cloyd, whose daughter Austin was killed, plans to plant an oak tree with his wife Renee.

He told AP he wanted to honour their daughter's life by looking forward, rather than reflecting on the horrors of that day.

"I won't be able to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. I won't be able to bounce her children on my knee," he told AP. "And I don't think it's helpful to dwell on that, because where that leads is just more sadness.

"I think what's helpful to do is to dwell on what can be. What can we do with what we have?"

The events of 16 April 2007 prompted the US Congress to pass the first major gun legislation since 1994, improving background checks on buyers.

Further information about the events of the massacre is expected to be released as the result of a recent settlement totalling $11m (5.5m) between survivors and victims' relatives and the US state.

Lawyers said the settlement - designed to prevent future lawsuits - would help families meet medical and other costs.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific