A total of 33 people, including the gunman, were killed in a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, university president Charles Steger said at a press conference on Monday. The massacre stands as the worst mass shooting ever seen in the United States.
"It is now confirmed that we have 31 deaths from Norris Hall, including the gunman .... There are two confirmed deaths from the shooting in Ambler Johnston Dormitory," Steger said at a news conference. He added that the gunman had not yet been identified since he had been carrying no ID. 29 other injuries were also reported as a result of the shooting.
In a White House statement, President Bush spoke of his shock and sadness for the shooting, and pledged a full investigation into the matter.
"Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community," Bush said. "Today our nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino spoke Bush being "horrified" by the shooting.
"He was horrified and his immediate reaction was one of deep concern for the families of the victims, the victims themselves, the students, the professors and all the people of Virginia who have dealt with this shocking incident," Perino said in a statement. "His thoughts and prayers are with them."
The White House chose to stand behind the 2nd Amendment, which gives US citizens the right to bear arms, and has been a contentious issue. "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," the statement added.
It was not know whether any international students were among the dead or injured, with US media reporting that half of the college’s 2000 international students come from India and China.
Any motives for the shooting are so far unclear. It is even unknown whether the gunman was a student.
University police chief Wendell Flinchum revealed that the gunman opened fire in a dormitory and classroom over a two-hour period.
"The university was struck today with a tragedy of monumental proportions. There were two shootings on campus. In each case, there were fatalities," Steger said in a statement posted on the official website of Virginia Tech. "The university is shocked and horrified that this would befall our campus."
The university, situated in Blacksburg, southwest Virginia, is closed for now with all faculty and staff members ordered to return home.
In lieu of being able to identify the gunman, the finger of blame is being pointed at the slow reaction of police who were unable to apprehend the shooter in the two hours following his first double murder in the Ambler Johnston dormitory. During this time, he made his way to Norris Hall where he shot a further 30 people dead.
Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in the country took place in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, in which 17 people, including the gunman, were killed.