Feds: Virginia Tech Violated Federal Law for Failing to Issue Timely Warning

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The next alert, which was sent at 9:50 a.m., a few minutes after Cho had begun his bloody rampage at Norris Hall, reported that a "gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows."

But subsequent investigations by family members, ABC News, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other news organizations, have revealed that Tech's initial statements about the "person of interest" were significantly at odds with the timeline of events that has since come to light.

In fact, for at least an hour after the authorities arrived at the dormitory shooting scene, most of what officials knew could be boiled down to this: An unknown assailant had shot two students, no gun had been recovered, and bloody footprints were discovered leading to a stairwell exit of the dorm.

It also emerged that the witness who provided the information about the boyfriend didn't even arrive at the dorm until 45 minutes after the university had first claimed they learned of him.

"There is really only one thing that matters," Carter of Public Policy for Security on Campus. "By approximately 7:30 a.m., officials knew that they had two students who had been shot with an unknown suspect at large. Nothing else mattered in terms of what the law required them to do."

The Department of Education has referred its findings to its enforcement arm for consideration of the penalties, which will be determined at a later date. The University cannot appeal the findings, but may appeal the penalties once they are issued.

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