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UPDATE: News Outlets Expose Killer's Background

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

UPDATE: News Outlets Expose Killer's Background

Article excerpt

Print and Web news outlets continue to dig deeply into the background of -- and troubling warning signs displayed by -- the shooter in the Virginia Tech slaughter. They ranged from visits to his parent's home in Centerville, Virginia, to blog postings by friends and the complete texts of two violent plays he wrote for a class at the school.

The Chicago Tribune and Washington Post revealed that he had "Ismail Ax" tattoed on his arm when he was found dead.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post revealed that famed poet Nikki Giovanni witnessed him at close range in a teaching visit to the school in 2005. Cho took pictures of fellow students during a creative writing class and wrote about death. "Kids write about murder and suicide all the time. But there was something that made all of us pay attention closely. None of us were comfortable with that," she said.

The students once recited their poems in class. "It was like, 'What are you trying to say here?' It was more sinister," she told the Post.

The Los Angeles Times revealed that Monday morning, according to school officials, "Cho even had time to post a deadly warning on a school online forum. 'im going to kill people at vtech today,' they said he wrote."

Joseph Aust, the killer's former roommate at the school, told the L.A. Times that Cho was always on his computer listening to rock, pop and classical: "He would spend a lot of time downloading music."

Along with another roommate, he told CNN on Tuesday night that Cho had stalked at least three girls, telling one of them that she had "promiscuity" in her eyes.

Earlier today, school officials said that Cho's writings in one English class caused them to "intervene" in some way.

Once again, The New York Times' blog, The Lede, came up with much of interest, including quoting from Ian MacFarlane, a former classmate of the killer, who now works for AOL. Macfarlane passed the two plays on to AOL News, and also explained: "When I first heard about the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, my first thought was about my friends, and my second thought was 'I bet it was Seung Cho."

Back at school, he added, "When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. …

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