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Virginia Shooting Victims Mourned across the US

Friday was a day of mourning in southern U.S. state of Virginia and across the United States in memory of the 32 students and teachers who died Monday at Virginia Tech University in the worst mass shooting incident in U.S. history. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Bells in Virginia's capital of Richmond tolled 32 times for each one of the victims in the Virginia Tech massacre.

Similar tributes in the forms of vigils, prayer services and memorials were held in state capitals and churches throughout the country.

There was silence at midday Friday on the Virginia Tech campus, as students reflected on the scope of the tragedy and those who lost their lives.

"They are just not here, and you cannot hug them and you cannot talk to them. It just hurts," a student said.

At a memorial service in Richmond, mourners read aloud the names of the 32 victims who died Monday at the hands of deranged gunman Cho Seung-Hui.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said the feelings of grief evident on the Virginia Tech campus were shared by millions of people around the world, along with the hope for a brighter future.

"And that universality of hope is something that all around this world and I know here in this audience have embraced," he said. "We need to embrace that, we need to hold on to that spirit of hope and community, celebrating the lives of those who have been lost."

President Bush also focused on the tragedy at Virginia Tech in his weekly radio address.

"This week, we reflect on what has been lost and comfort those enduring a profound grief. And somehow we know that a brighter morning will come," said President Bush. "We know this because together Americans have overcome many evils and found strength through many storms."

"And we know there will be a day, as promised in Scripture, when evil will meet its reckoning and when every tear shall be wiped away," he added.

The president has asked officials from several government departments to make recommendations on how to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

Virginia Governor Kaine has also appointed an independent panel to look at how university officials handled the situation at Virginia Tech this week and what might be done to better secure colleges and universities.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is among those on the panel. He spoke to CBS television.

"We will never be able to eliminate the risk," he said. "But our goal is to be as comprehensive as we possibly can and then make some recommendations to reduce the risk that this could happen again."

Students and faculty at Virginia Tech said they were pleased that the focus of the tragedy in recent days had shifted back to the victims, and away from the gunman responsible.

In addition, U.S. television networks drastically cut back their airing of Cho's rambling video diatribe, which had received prominent media coverage earlier in the week.

Questions are also being raised about why university officials did not know more about Cho's psychiatric problems and what can be done to detect dangerous individuals in the future.

Jack Levin is a criminologist at Northeastern University who has studied mass murderers for the past 25 years.

"There are many warning signs," said Levin. "The problem is that they apply to hundreds of thousands of people who have not killed anyone and do not intend to. The warning signs tell us who is troubled, not who is troublesome."

Students have been invited to return to classes at Virginia Tech on Monday, but only if they feel emotionally ready.