BLACKSBURG, Va. - A gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead, the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, was identified Tuesday as a senior English major from South Korea.
Ballistics tests show one gun was used in two attacks on the campus Monday morning â€” at a dormitory were two people were killed and in a classroom building where 31 people, including the gunman, died locked inside, Virginia State Police said.
Police identified the classroom shooter as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui (pronounced Choh Suhng-whee) of South Korea. There was no indication Tuesday of a possible motive for the attacks.
"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.
Cho was in the U.S. as a resident alien with a residence established in Centerville, Va., but living on campus in Harper Residence Hall, the university said.
Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of because the information had not been announced, said Cho's fingerprints were found on the guns used in both shootings. The serial numbers on the two weapons had been filed off, the officials said.
One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol.
Col. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said it was reasonable to assume that Cho was the shooter in both attacks but that the link was not yet definitive.
"There's no evidence of any accomplice at either event, but we're exploring the possibility," he said.
A memorial service was planned for the victims Tuesday afternoon at the university, and President Bush planned to attend, the White House said. Gov. Tim Kaine was flying back to Virginia from Tokyo for the 2 p.m. convocation.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry also expressed its condolences, saying there was no known motive for the shootings and that South Korea hoped that the tragedy would not "stir up racial prejudice or confrontation."
"We are in shock beyond description," said Cho Byung-se, a ministry official handling North American affairs. "We convey deep condolences to victims, families and the American people."
The first deadly attack was at the dormitory around 7:15 a.m., but some students said they didn't get their first warning about a danger on campus until two hours later, in an e-mail at 9:26 a.m. By then the second attack had begun.
Two students told NBC's "Today" show they were unaware of the dorm shooting when they walked into Norris Hall for a German class where the gunman later opened fire.
The victims in Norris Hall were found in four different classrooms and a stairwell, Flaherty said. Cho was found dead in one of those classrooms, he said.
Derek O'Dell, his arm in a cast after being shot, described a shooter who fired away in "eerily silence" with "no specific target â€” just taking out anybody he could."
After the gunman left the room, students could hear him shooting other people down the hall. O'Dell said he and other students barricaded the door so the shooter couldn't get back in â€” though he later tried.
"After he couldn't get the door open he tried shooting it open ... but the gunshots were blunted by the door," O'Dell said.
A federal law enforcement official said Tuesday he had been told by other federal law enforcement officials that the two guns recovered in the shooting had had their serial numbers scraped off. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not been announced.
The slayings left people of this mountain town and the university at its heart praying for the victims and struggling to find order in a tragedy of such unspeakable horror it defies reason.
"For Ryan and Emily and for those whose names we do not know," one woman pleaded in a church service Monday night.
Another mourner added: "For parents near and far who wonder at a time like this, 'Is my child safe?'"
That question promises to haunt Blacksburg long after Monday's attacks. Investigators offered no motive, and the gunman's name was not immediately released.
The shooting began about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory where two people died.
Police were still investigating around 9:15 a.m., when a gunman wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus.
At least 20 people were taken to hospitals after the second attack, some seriously injured. Many found themselves trapped after someone, apparently the shooter, chained and locked Norris Hall doors from the inside.
Students jumped from windows, and students and faculty carried away some of the wounded without waiting for ambulances to arrive.
SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. A student used his cell-phone camera to record the sound of bullets echoing through a stone building.
Inside Norris, the attack began with a thunderous sound from Room 206 â€” "what sounded like an enormous hammer," said Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior who was in a solid mechanics lecture in a classroom next door.