(Updated and bumped)
This has been a breaking story all morning, but the recent updates indicate that it's now one of the largest school shootings in history. From CNN:
(CNN) -- The Virginia Tech police chief said at least 20 people were killed in twin shootings on the Blacksburg campus Monday morning.
"Some victims were shot in a classroom," Chief Wendell Flinchum said, adding that the gunman was dead.
"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," said university President Charles Steger. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."
The attacks mark the worst school shooting incident since 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that 17 Virginia Tech students were being treated for gunshot wounds and other injuries.
The university campus is in lockdown. More details to come...
Update (Lorie): Bob Owens speculates about the type weapon likely used based on the information that has been reported. This is one of those stories I suspect will yield some inaccurate early reports until officials can get a complete picture of what happened. What is absolutely clear is that this is every parent's worst nightmare and those affected by the shooting will need much prayer and support.
Update II: (Kim): Reuters is now saying that at least 22 are dead:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 22 people, including the suspected gunman, were killed and many others were wounded at Virginia Tech university on Monday in the deadliest campus shooting incident in U.S. history.
The rampage took place in two separate areas of the huge campus about two hours apart during the morning. Police said they believed a single gunman was responsible.
"This is a tragedy of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech president Charles Steger told reporters.
Virginia Tech campus police chief Wendell Finchum said the suspected gunman was dead and that police were trying to determine whether he killed himself or was shot by officers.
"At this time we believe it's only one gunman," said Finchum.
The death toll was worse than a massacre at the University of Texas in Austin on August 1, 1966, when trained marksman Charles Whitman killed 15 people, including his mother and wife the night before, and wounded 31 others.
The first shooting on Virginia Tech, a state university known for its demanding science and engineering curriculum, was reported to campus police at about 7:15 a.m. (1115 GMT) in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dormitory housing some 900 students. It was followed by more shooting at another campus building, Norris Hall, Steger said.
Update III (Paul): ABC is Reporting 29 confirmed dead and many more wounded. They are also reporting that there where 2 bomb threats last week against engineering buildings on campus. -- NBC is reporting that the shooter had 2 (9mm) handguns.
Update IV (Kevin): Anecdotal reports are that the incident was sparked by a domestic disturbance in a dorm room this morning. The shooter found his girlfriend in be with an RA and it escalated from there...
From the FARK discussion thread, the guy in the picture above, who many thought to be a suspect, appears to be a student photographer with the school newspaper. Early reports said the shooter was Asian so apparently the officer stopped him. As far as we know there is no second shooter.
In hindsight, the recently completed assassin game Hokie War looks pretty bad - especially the FAQ, kill stories, and blog. Expect the mainstream media to freak out when they find that, but remember we noted it first. Unless there's some direct connection between the shooter and/or the victims and that game, it's just an unfortunate coincidence...
Update V (Kim): Fox News reports that at least 32 people are dead. This is horrifying.
Update VI (Paul) Cellphone video from a student:
Local hospital administrator says (per live interview) 17 wounded and they don't expect any more.
CNN has 22 dead (per local police) and Fox has 32 (as per Feds) as someone who lived thru Katrina, I'd remind you to be highly skeptical of the media during breaking news. They basically make it up as they go along.
CNN reports the Gov of VA says 22, AP say 31, a local Congressman says 32.
Update VII (Kim): From Sky News:
Police say the heavily-armed gunman opened fire in a classroom and dormitory.
Witnesses said he entered the college with an "ungodly" amount of ammunition looking for his girlfriend.
He reportedly locked students in a dormitory before opening fire. He was said to be a young Asian.
Update VIII (Kim): a Virginia Tech student, shot in the upper arm, spoke with MSNBC about what happened. The shooter walked into the classroom and started shooting without saying a word:
Link via Lucianne.
Update IV (Kim): According to ABC News, the gunman has not yet been identified because he didn't have any identification on him and he shot himself in the head, blowing off half of his face. The police will have to check his fingerprints and see if that has a match to anything.
Also, according to Fox News, students are really ticked off at college officials, understandably so, for not locking down campus after the first shooting. Apparently, the police labeled it a domestic dispute and, therefore, thought it was isolated. Needless to say, VTech officials were way, way off. However, domestic dispute or not, two people were murdered this morning and that college should have been shut down immediately. Instead, again according to Fox, students received emails about the first shooting after the second one had already taken place.
Update X (Kim): Officials are holding a press conference right now. The Sheriff speaking said that they have preliminarily identified the shooter but they won't release his name until they are absolutely certain.
Update XI (Kim): Curt at Flopping Aces has a different opinion on locking down the campus after the first opinion:
All of this talk about locking down the campus is missing the point in my opinion. We're not talking about a high school campus people. We're talking about a HUGE school with dormitories spread out in a huge area. Does anyone have any idea of the logistics of doing that? For ONE crime scene that everyone and their brother believed to be a isolated incident?
Come on, get a grip. A campus that size is almost as big as a good sized town! Are people now going to expect the police to lock down the whole town due to one shooting incident?
Be sure to check out all of Curt's post. He has links to posts by responders who were on the scene.