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Killer's images 'a second assault on us'

Story Highlights

• Victim's father calls Cho's videos "a second assault on our children"
• Governor's panel will analyze events before, during, after shooting
• Great-aunt describes Cho as "cold," says mother was always worried about him
• Virginia Tech will award degrees to slain students, provost says
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BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- Angry students, faculty and loved ones urged the media to focus on the 32 victims of Monday's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, not the twisted words and images of the man who gunned them down.

Peter Read, father of victim Mary Read, pleaded for media outlets to stop broadcasting the images that Cho Seung-Hui mailed on the day of the shooting.

"It's a second assault on us," he said. "It's a second assault on our children. Please put the focus back where it belongs: on these wonderful, vibrant, young human beings who were bringing so much to this world." (Honoring the victims)

"It's made victims out of many of us a second time," Virginia Tech professor Richard Shyrock said on CNN amid a plea for the network to reconsider its decision to air the photographs and rambling, angry videos.

The package was mailed after two people were killed at a dormitory early Monday and before Cho entered the university's Norris Hall and exacted the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history.

NBC broadcast some of the angry images and video clips from the package and other media outlets -- including CNN -- quickly followed suit.

Doctoral student Ken Stanton, 29, said he resented that Cho was getting airtime while many of the victims, such as his friend, Jeremy Herbstritt, remained anonymous.

"I'm sick of it," he said. "It's like you can't get away from it -- every time I walk by a TV, there it is."

Stanton vowed to try to appear on as many news shows as possible.

"My focus now is getting on TV and taking time away from [Cho]," he said. "Every minute I can get on is one less minute he'll be on." (Read more about Herbstritt)

Karan Grewal, who once shared a dorm suite with Cho, said one video appears to have been filmed in a common area of the dormitory.

"It's just a scary feeling that maybe he was sitting out there the entire year trying to figure out our schedules so he could make these videos," Grewal said.

Quiet campus

On campus Thursday, many students had gone home or to other locations away from the scene of the massacre.

Many who remained were still in shock, still looking for healing, and hoping that Friday's events will help in that process.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has declared Friday a day of mourning, and the university's alumni have also organized a "Hokie Hope" day.

The university announced that it will award posthumous degrees to the slain students at the scheduled May 11 commencement. University provost Mark McNamee also said the school is working to provide current students with choices about how they wish to complete the semester.

"We're going to encourage them strongly to continue in their classes, to get as much out of the learning process as they possibly can," he said, "but also to do it in the context of what they're capable of handling under the current circumstances."

To bring some cheer to wounded students at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, the university marching band stood in formation in the parking lot and played the school's fight song and other tunes to the windows, where some wounded students could be seen peering out and wiping away tears.

In response to the outcry after the shooting, Kaine named an independent panel to review the tragedy.

Former Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Gerald Massengill will lead the panel.

Other members of the panel, which was requested by university President Charles Steger, will include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and experts in higher education, law enforcement and mental health.

"This panel will provide a thoughtful, objective analysis of the circumstances leading up to, during, and immediately after Monday's horrible events," Kaine said in a written statement.

"What we learn could result in fresh ideas that will help bolster the safety of our young people on campuses in communities across the country."

Massengill called the task before his panel "an awesome one."

"It is important to me that this process be filled with integrity," he said at a news conference.

He stressed that the purpose of the panel was not "to second guess anyone or any decision" but to "make Virginia safer."

Fury at media

At Virginia Tech, Cho's manifesto made the tragedy even more terrifying for some students. The materials were released while the 26,000-pupil school was still in shock from Cho's shootings, which left 33 people dead, including Cho. (Watch what the name on the package -- Ax Ishmael -- could mean Video)

"It was absolutely terrible. For someone to purposely know what they were going to do to our school and the community, there's no words for it," said sophomore Britney Rockwell, holding back tears.

The reaction of others was anger, not only at Cho for meticulously premeditating his rampage, but also at the media for airing his last recorded words and images. (Gallery: Images in Cho's manifesto)

Meredith Vieira, co-host of NBC's "Today" show, said some victims' relatives had canceled interviews with the network because "they were very upset with NBC for airing the images."

Robert Bowman, managing editor of the school newspaper, told CNN that he was conflicted. As a journalist, he wants to disseminate information, but as a student, he'd prefer that the tapes weren't released.

"It's difficult to tell what we want to uncover and what we don't want to uncover, but of course with the Collegiate Times our main goal is getting the information out there," Bowman said. (Watch Cho's menacing last messages Video)

Col. Steven Flaherty of the Virginia State Police said Thursday that he had hoped the package would contain new clues about Cho's motive and crime, but after reviewing the content, investigators found it "simply confirmed what we already knew."

Flaherty also said he appreciated NBC cooperating with authorities, but said he was disconcerted that the videos and images were aired.

"We're rather disappointed in the editorial decision to broadcast these disturbing images," he said. "I'm sorry that you all were exposed to these images."

NBC released a statement Thursday defending its decision, saying it took "careful consideration in determining how the information should be distributed."

"We believe it provides some answers to the critical question, 'Why did this man carry out these awful murders?' " the statement said.

Cho declared 'imminent danger'

Experts said the delusions evident in the messages were typical of mass murderers, and they advised people to be on the lookout for warning signs from others who could be emboldened by the coverage. (Watch why warning signs don't always predict behavior Video)

"These individuals feel out of control. They feel like they're victims, and they want to get even by taking charge," said criminologist James Alan Fox.

In 2005, Cho was declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice, who found he was "an imminent danger" to himself, a court document states.

Cho's great-aunt, Kim Yang-soon, described Cho as "very cold" and said her niece was constantly worried about him, according to a translation from The Associated Press.

"Every time I called and asked how he was, she would say she was worried about him," Kim said from her home in South Korea. "Who would have known he would cause such trouble, the idiot."

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.


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