Critical Questions Linger on Virginia Tech Campus

April 16, 2007— -- Thirty two victims, one dead shooter. Now the critical question is why did it take two hours to notify students at Virginia Tech that there was a shooting on campus?

Students want to know why university officials didn't cancel all classes immediately and place the campus under lockdown.

"The information we had on the first incident led us to make the decision that it was an isolated event to that building and the decision was made not to cancel classes at that time," explained Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum.

The first 911 call for help came in at 7:15 am.

Some Virginia Tech students say the first e-mail warning they received from the university about the shooting rampage didn't come until 9:26 a.m.

"Not everyone knew, no one was there saying , you know, this is what's going on everyone get inside," said Virginia Tech senior Michele Billman.

"We concluded first that the incident and the Amber Johnson was domestic in nature and you can only make the decision based on information you know at that moment in time," said university president Charles Steger.

They were wrong about that, and about a key detail about the shooter.

"We had information from witnesses and the evidence at the scene that led us to believe the shooter was no longer in the building and more than likely off campus," said Flinchum.

The two buildings that became scenes of the shootings are within five minutes walking distance on a campus that is completely open to pedestrians. If there was only one gunman, it is unclear what he was doing between the two attacks.

And there are other important questions that remain unanswered.

How was the gunman so easily able to get inside the dorm?

And could anything have been done to keep the suspect or others from entering a second building?

Former emergency management official Jerry Hauer explained part of the problem, saying: "Most university police departments are not prepared to deal with hostage situations, mass casualty incidents, mass shootings."

Mutiple shootings are rare on college campuses, but when they do occur they are often deadly--in part because of the openness of colleges.

August 1, 1966, at the University of Texas -- a lone gunman in a tower sprayed the campus with bullets and killed 14.

November 1, 1991, at the University of Iowa, a physics student killed five people.

And in January of 2002, a law student at the Appalachian Law School fatally shot his dean, a professor and a fellow student.

As the Virginia Tech community begins to deal with the aftermath of the shooting spree, the University is expected to conduct a full-scale security review.