Remember that UK Metro headline blaming one of the Virginia Tech victims for “sparking” the shooting spree, and the unsourced speculation that she was the girlfriend of the shooter, and the whole “it was a domestic disturbance” reason offered by school officials to explain why they didn’t warn their students about the guy?
And new information emerged that may help explain a fateful two-hour delay by university officials in warning the campus of a gunman at large. According to search warrants and statements from the police, campus investigators had been busy pursuing what appears to have been a fruitless lead in the first of two shooting episodes Monday.
After two people, Emily Jane Hilscher, a freshman, and Ryan Clark, the resident adviser whose room was nearby in the dormitory, were shot dead, the campus police began searching for Karl D. Thornhill, who was described in Internet memorials as Ms. Hilscher’s boyfriend.
According to a search warrant filed by the police, Ms. Hilscher’s roommate had told the police that Mr. Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his town house. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Mr. Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman.
But as they were questioning Mr. Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in, making it clear that they had not contained the threat on campus. Mr. Thornhill was not arrested, although he continues to be an important witness in the case, the police said.
At the time of the dormitory shootings, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said, “There was certainly no evidence or no reason to think that there was anyone else at that particular point in time.”
Now, a boyfriend with guns makes a good suspect when a woman is found shot dead. And this may explain the rumors that Ms. Hilscher was the actual shooter’s ex-girlfriend.
But this doesn’t get us anywhere in terms of finding out just why the school officials treated this crime as over just because it was tagged a domestic incident. Maybe it explains why students at Virginia Tech weren’t warned of a gunman, but what about students at Radford? Did they find the boyfriend at home immediately, and that was why they didn’t do anything else? Did they figure they had their guy in custody?
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