When Georgia Southern University student Christy Curry awoke Monday morning, she had no idea within one lecture period 33 people would be dead on a college campus in Blacksburg, Va.
The 21-year-old, like many college students spent the morning of April 16 going through her routine of preparing for the day’s classes and events before heading to campus.
But as she drove to her first class, she received the first sign the day would be anything but ordinary.
“I turned my radio to Fox and that’s when I found out about the first shootings at Virginia Tech,” Curry said. “And of course, then they just thought there was one guy wounded, one person killed and a gunman on the loose.”
After mentioning the report to classmates who did not seemed overly concerned, she decided not to “think too much” of the situation. Her feelings changed when she returned to her car after class.
“I got back in my car and suddenly 30 people were shot,” Curry said.
As the newscast played, she learned VT English major Seung-Hui Cho had shot and killed at least 30 people on his school’s campus. As police closed in on the 23-year-old South Korean native, he took his own life. Investigators also believe he was behind the two previously reported shootings in a campus dormitory.
The news left the student stunned.
“I was shocked and I couldn’t believe that would happen at a university. It really hit home with me because I’m going to school and I had just left a classroom where I could’ve been in a very similar situation,” she said. “I just kept putting myself in that situation and thinking that could’ve been here ... that could have been Georgia Southern.”
GSU University Police Chief Ken Brown agreed.
Brown said his department is staffed with fully certified officers, shares a common radio network with all public safety agencies in Bulloch County and remains open 24 hours a day, but cannot protect students from someone determined to commit such a tragic act.
“Unfortunately, to be brutally honest, if somebody makes up their mind to kill themselves and kill as many other people as they can, there’s just not a whole lot that you can do to stop that,” Brown said. “Not in our open society.”
But he noted the university is looking at new methods of alerting students about emergencies on campus.
“We’ve been exploring a text messaging system and this tragedy has certainly moved that up a little bit on our radar scope,” Brown said. “It’s a good system where you could text message kids because all of them have cell phones.”
At Armstrong Atlantic State University, some students worry about general security on the campus and are concerned an event similar to the VT shooting could be disastrously mishandled.
“I don’t think we have adequate security on campus. We got fake cops who ride around during the day,” senior Michelle Palang said. “We should get real cops instead of bootleg ones that don’t do anything even when something does happen.”
Other AASU students, such as Lady Pirate basketball star Kaneetha Gordon, do not think security at the school is in bad shape at all.
“I feel that the Armstrong campus is quite safe,” she said. “I really don’t worry about things such as crime, although crime is high in Savannah.”
According to AASU University Police Chief Mack Seckinger, his department will discuss possible revisions to its policies and emergency operations plan, but he reiterated Brown’s sentiment that campuses cannot prepare for every situation.
“There’s not a whole lot of precautions you can take to prevent something like that (the VT tragedy) because our society is so wide open,” he said.