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US University Gunman Was South Korean Student, Police Say

The gunman involved in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history has been identified as a 23-year-old resident alien from South Korea. As VOA's Peter Fedynsky reports, the investigation and mourning period are just getting under way.

Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old South Korean who lived on campus and was an English major at the university. Flinchum says U.S. federal authorities have performed ballistics tests on weapons used in the massacre, which unfolded over two hours in two separate locations on campus.

"A nine millimeter handgun and a 22 caliber handgun were recovered from Norris Hall," he said. "Lab results confirm that one of the two weapons seized in Norris Hall was used in both shootings."

The Washington Post newspaper quotes a witness as saying Cho went about his deadly mission with a serious, but calm look on his face. Officials say it is reasonable to assume that he was the only gunman, but they are investigating whether he may have had assistance from an accomplice. The local medical examiner says it will take several days to positively identify all of the victims.

"We will be working with the family assistance centers and with families to collect the information needed for identification as well as working with the police to recover those items that we can use for, say, finger print confirmation," the examiner said.

Students at the campus have gathered around a makeshift memorial to grieve the tragedy. One student expressed his feelings this way.

"Really, I think we are still in shock. I don't know that the enormity of it has sunk in yet. Yesterday was a long day," he said.

Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who was in Japan at the start of a two-week Asian trade mission, immediately returned to the state after the shootings. President Bush will attend a memorial service at the university this afternoon. He said the nation is shocked and saddened by the rampage.

"Today, our nation grieves with those who lost loved ones at Virginia Tech," the president said. "We hold the victims in our hearts, we lift them up in our prayers, and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering today."

On Capitol Hill, representatives and senators joined in a moment of silence in both houses of Congress. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, speaking about the senselessness of the crime, said, "for now, all we can do is offer our thoughts and our prayers in a very individual way."