Va. Tech Students Flock Online During Tragedy

After a day of tragedy on Virginia Tech's campus -- a day one student described as "unreal" and another said had gotten "worse by the moment"-- the dawn breaks on Day 2.

Many will look to the morning's scheduled news conference for answers to new questions about the shooter, the second person of interest cited in the latest news reports and the 32 victims who died in Monday's attack.

But, as family members provide tearful and grim confirmations to the student body, the campus community counts the students who walk among them and who don't.

Like many friends and families of Va. Tech students, senior Ryan Clark's family used Facebook, the online social community, to post the message his friends most feared.

Clark's sister Nadia wrote, "God needed a good angel to come home. So he called my brother, Ryan."

As his death was confirmed by the family, other details began to emerge. Clark was the resident adviser in West Ambler Johnston Hall, the scene of the first shooting.

"The girl got shot that was his residence. And he was trying to protect her," Kristine Obusek told ABC News' "Nightline." "In doing so, he actually got shot. And then both of them ended up passing."

Liz Hart, a senior at Virginia Tech, spent most of Monday on the phone and online trying to assess what was happening based on the e-mails from campus officials, news reports and the firsthand accounts from students on campus that were posted in online communities. It seemed to be an activity that consumed most students Monday as details of the campus attack unfolded.

For Owen Nielsen, a senior who had a test at 9 a.m in Norris Hall and who left the building minutes before the shooting occurred, said he took firsthand accounts and news reports of the events with a dose of "skepticism."

"I put most of my trust in the e-mails I was getting from the university," Nielsen said.

A simply worded e-mail he received from University Relations at 9:50 a.m. -- after Nielsen said he had already left Norris Hall -- came with the subject "Please stay put."

The e-mail read: "A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows."

And in Nielsen's 10:10 a.m. class in Pamplin Hall, the students did just that, trying to assess what was happening on campus based on that information and what was being reported on the news.

The next e-mail, at 10:16 a.m., reiterated that message and asked those off campus not to come to campus.

It read: "Virginia Tech has canceled all classes. Those on campus are asked to remain where there are, lock their doors and stay away from windows. Persons off campus are asked not to come to campus."

Hart said personal accounts from her friends were "different from what the news said was happening."

At one point, she said, when news outlets reported the death of only one student, a friend said to her online in a chat room, "I'm not trying to scare you, but I think the number is much higher than that."

Moved by the outpouring of support from different universities, a tearful Hart said, "This hit us in a different way. We're talking about relationships. We're talking about people we've lost. We're talking about people we didn't know who are reaching out and finding us."

As facts emerge, timelines are established and some of the confusion dies down. Hart says the student community is "trying to find out how closely related some of the people were who we lost."

"Putting names with numbers will only get worse over the course of the next day," she said

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