National News

VT Gunman's Family Sorry for His 'Unspeakable Actions'

Posted April 20, 2007
Updated April 21, 2007

— Some have called him a loner, but Sun-Kyung Cho says her younger brother was quiet and reserved. She grew up with Seung-Hui Cho, but now says she feels as if she no longer knows him.

From afar, she learned her brother was the gunman who went on a rampage at Virginia Tech, killing 32 people before committing suicide to cap the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

"He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare," Sun-Kyung Cho said in a statement issued Friday to The Associated Press. "We feel hopeless, helpless and lost."

It was the Chos' first public comment since Monday's massacre. Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith provided the statement to the AP after the Cho family reached out to him. Smith said the family would not answer any questions, and neither would he. (Read the entire statement.)

"Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us," said Cho, a 2004 Princeton University graduate who works as a contractor for a State Department office that oversees American aid for Iraq.

"We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced," she said. "Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act."

The Chos' whereabouts are unclear, but Virginia State Police said they are under law enforcement protection.

"I actually feel sympathy towards their family," said Virginia Tech freshman Andrea Hacker, 19. "A lot of people are probably looking down on them now, but they have no reason to."

"It's gotta be tragic for them as well. They're going through just as much grief as we are, plus the added pressure of having a brother do this."

The family's statement was issued during a statewide day of mourning for the victims. Silence fell across the Virginia Tech campus at noon and bells tolled in churches nationwide in memory of the victims.

At Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, a memorial service was held for Kevin Granata, a 45-year-old engineering science and mechanics professor.

Some 600 people packed the pews and stood along the walls while friends described Granata as a devoted father to three children, a beloved professor, a world-class researcher and a humble man of good humor.

"It's a hard day, but a day of trying to celebrate his life and his legacy," said Pastor Alex Evans.

Several memorial services are planned for Saturday, including Emily Hilscher and resident adviser Ryan Clark - Cho's first two victims.

"We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced," said Sun-Kyung Cho, a 2004 Princeton University graduate who works as a contractor for a State Department office that oversees American aid for Iraq.

"Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act."

Authorities are in frequent contact with Cho's family, but have not placed them in protective custody, said Assistant FBI Director Joe Persichini, who oversees the bureau's local Washington office. Authorities believe they remain in the Washington area, but are staying with friends and relatives.

Persichini said the FBI and Fairfax County Police have assured Cho's parents that they will investigate any hate crimes directed at the family if and when they ever return to their Centreville home.

Cho's sister said her family will cooperate fully and "do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well."

Wendy Adams, whose niece, Leslie Sherman, was killed in the massacre, said of the family's statement: "I'm not so generous to be able to forgive him for what he did. But I do feel for the family. I do feel sorry for them."

"I do believe they're living a nightmare," she added.

Robert Jeffers of Idaho Falls, Idaho, a friend of slain 25-year-old student Brian R. Bluhm, said: "I hope people can see that the right action to take from all of this is love, not hate."

"Based on this sorrowful statement, it is apparent that the family grieves with everyone in the world," Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said.

Cho's name was given as "Cho Seung-Hui" by police and school officials earlier this week. But the South Korean immigrant family said their preference was "Seung-Hui Cho." Many Asian immigrant families Americanize their names by reversing them and putting their surnames last.

Although Cho clearly was seething and had been taken to a psychiatric hospital more than a year ago as a threat to himself, investigators are still trying to establish exactly what set him off, why he chose a dormitory and a classroom building for the rampage and how he selected his victims.

"The why and the how are the crux of the investigation," Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. "The why may never be determined because the person responsible is deceased."

During the campus memorial, hundreds of somber students and area residents, most wearing the school's maroon and orange, stood with heads bowed on the parade ground in front of Norris Hall, the classroom building where all but two of the victims died. Along with the bouquets and candles was a sign reading, "Never forgotten."

"It's good to feel the love of people around you," said Alice Lo, a Virginia Tech graduate and friend of Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, a French instructor killed in the rampage. "With this evil, there is still goodness."

The mourners gathered in front of stone memorials, each adorned with a basket of tulips and an American flag. There were 33 stones - one for each victim and Cho.

"His family is suffering just as much as the other families," said Elizabeth Lineberry, who will be a freshman at Virginia Tech in the fall.

College students around North Carolina are also reaching out to the victims in the Virginia Tech shooting.

At N.C. State, they are helping out the Hokies by selling ice cream. All of the proceeds raised next Friday will benefit the Virginia Tech Memorial Fund.

At Peace College, a group of students plan on selling orange bracelets that read "love thy neighbor" and the date of the tragedy.

Another Peace student, with ties to one of the victims, is asking fellow students to write letters to the victim's family.

President Bush wore an orange and maroon tie in a show of support. The White House said he also asked top officials at the Justice, Health and Human Services and Education Departments to travel the country, talk to educators, mental health experts and others and compile a report on how to prevent similar tragedies.

Seven people hurt in the rampage remained hospitalized, at least one in serious condition.

61 Comments

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  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 21, 2007

    PPS refiman...one last comment...if cho has a brother and he is a real CHRISTIAN, I will send him the phone number. I am not so full of hate I can't see past my nose. and even though you appear to be a troublemaker, if you needed food, clothes, or some other type of help, i would help YOU too

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 21, 2007

    hey refiman you didn't ask and I wouldn't give my dog's phone number to you because it is obvious that your main goal in life is to be a troublemaker. also don't know where you get off saying someone will not be part of the discussion. you may continue your troublemaking with others but i will ignore you...until the day one of your kids shoots up the neighborhood. good day and GOD BLESS YOU.

  • pedsRN Apr 21, 2007

    Let's learn from the Amish back in October. Donations were being made to help with their medical expenses brought on by another crazy man. They wanted donations to be shared with the killer's family. They were victims, too. The Cho family deserves sympathy & understanding. The Cho family has remained secluded even with the media outside their townhome within hours of his name being released as the gunman. They didn't ask for this attention & the sister's statement sounds very sad & heartfelt. They have lost someone they loved, too. PLUS, he committed such terrible acts that we can't understand the why & he wasn't our family member. I can't even begin to imagine what this family must be feeling at this time(Grief at their loss but anger for what he did?????).

  • Retired nurse Apr 21, 2007

    This young man's parents are not to blame nor is his sister. He was grown and knew right from wrong. He apparently was a sick man that needed help but they should not be held responsible for what he did. Let them live in peace, they have suffered too and probably will for a long time to come. We need to pray for all families of the victims, all are suffering now!!!

  • xchief661 Apr 21, 2007

    for someone to blame for the worlds problems? If that is the case then we should all look no further than what is in our hearts. Its time to try to heal! I hope that you find all of the answers that you are searching for.

  • xchief661 Apr 21, 2007

    Ninenine and Refinman everyone who cliams to be christian is not. Christianity is not about religion. If I made a tape and told you I was a millionaire and killed myself would you believe that too. He was insane! His parents are not to blame for that, nor is christianity. There are many people who want to find blame for such acts. The truth is that if you look for blame you create hate because you don't understand. There are sick people in this world all over the world. You cannot change that but hating them and blaming them doesn't change anybody or anything. You only hurt yourself and you leave no room in your heart for love, understanding or forgiveness. You hate what he did but you cannot hate a person you don't know and never did. I do understand all that you say but just because you say it doesn't make it anymore true than this child saying he was a christian. Who would you blame if he said he was an atheist or a buddist, or a muslim or any other religion. Are you just looking

  • refiman Apr 21, 2007

    KATMAMA, thank you, finally the sound of reasoning here. Thank you

  • refiman Apr 21, 2007

    JustDontUnderstandPpl, I have not received a response with your daughter's phone number to forward to cho's brother. Are you a hypocrit?? Of course you have already invited the brother and the family over for dinner, haven't you?????

  • SOCLOSE Apr 21, 2007

    I haven't read this article, (and I don't intend to) so I don't know all the details, but, I was listening to the Russ Par Morning Show yesterday, and he made a vital point. All of these articles are about Cho. DON'T MAKE THIS ABOUT HIM, MAKE IT ABOUT THE VICTIMS. Out of all the stories I've read thus far, I've only seen ONE article about the victims. I beleive this is what Cho wanted, and we are giving it to him.

  • refiman Apr 21, 2007

    chris, I don't remember comparing myself to Christ. you were not part of the earlier discussion and shall not be now, it is finished. have a good day, I am

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