S. Korean gunman’s dark side revealed

THE gunman behind the worst mass murder in American history was a lonely, brooding man who penned wildly violent thoughts.

So violent, in fact, that one of his teachers demanded that Cho Seung Hui, 23, be removed from his class.

The worrying behaviour of Cho, who shot and killed 32 people on Monday in a violent rampage at Virginia Tech University before turning a gun on himself, led to him being pegged as a ticking time bomb by some of his professors and classmates.

His first brush with trouble came in 2005, when two female students accused him of stalking them. However, no charges were filed and he returned to classes, police said yesterday.

He was also taken to a mental health facility later after his own parents worried that he might be suicidal.

Virginia Tech University police chief Wendell Flinchum said he knew of no other police incidents involving the South Korea-born Cho, until he exploded in rage on Monday.

But it emerged yesterday that in that same year, English professor Lucinda Roy shared her concerns about Cho to the authorities. She was concerned by his writings, which were laced with anger, profanity and violence.

She sent examples to the campus police, campus counselling service and other officials.

All were worried, but little could be done, she said. She added that students were also alarmed that Cho was taking inappropriate pictures of women under desks.

These snippets of the lonely life and problems of Cho, an English major in his senior year at Virginia Tech, emerged as police sought to piece together his motives for the bloodbath.

Meanwhile, continued shock and remorse were expressed in South Korea, the country from which Cho’s parents moved to the United States in 1992, when he was only eight.

President Roh Moo Hyun yesterday expressed his condolences to the victims, their families and Americans.

“I and my fellow citizens can only feel shock and a wrenching of our hearts. I hope US society can get over such immense sadness and find a sense of composure as soon as possible.”

Worried about a backlash against the large Korean community in the US, many parents in South Korea reportedly called on their children to return home.

Top South Korean officials here held a series of emergency meetings. Meanwhile, police yesterday also revealed that Cho had written a note that bitterly lashed out at women and rich children.

They described the note as a lengthy and rambling list of complaints focusing on moral laxity and double-dealing he found among what he viewed as wealthier and more privileged students on campus.

Investigators also uncovered a striking fact: The shooting was planned in advance and methodically executed. One clue about Cho’s intentions was contained in the letter, in which he wrote: “You caused me to do this.”

Yesterday, Americans continued to reel from the killings. Thousands of people, including President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, attended a memorial service for the victims in Virginia on Tuesday.

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