Monday, April 16, 2007

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Responds to Virginia Tech shootings

At least thirty-one people were killed in the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. Another 29 people were injured. Many of the victims were students shot in a dorm and a classroom building. This shooting is the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, topping the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas at Austin where 16 people were killed and the Columbine High School shootings where 12 people where killed.

Police say the campus is now secure and that the gunman is dead. No motive was given for the shootings. It was not known if the gunman was a student.

Three members of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team (NRT) are on their way to the campus to be a presence and resource to the community. Over the years, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been very engaged in helping communities and student survivors that have been affected by school shootings.

NRT members have been in contact with Catherine Snyder, Presbyterian campus minister, George Goodman, of the Presbytery of the Peaks, and with Alexander Evans, Pastor of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. Evans is also a chaplain with the fire department.

A convocation service will be held on the campus Tuesday to help the community cope with the tragedy. Counselors are available to students and staff in the West Ambler Johnston residence hall where some of the shootings occurred and in another school building.

Please keep the loved ones of those killed and injured, the school administrators and teachers, the residents of the reservation, and the care givers in your thoughts and prayers.

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