(WTVR) The five-year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech has left Colonel Gerald Massengill pondering what has been learned following what happened in Blacksburg five years ago.
“There’s been a lot of reflection as to what’s really been accomplished, what’s really been learned out of this unbelievable tragedy,” said Massengill.
Massengill, former superintendent for the State Police, chaired a panel of experts appointed by then Governor Tim Kaine that focused on investigating the shooting and what could have been done to prevent it.
“All the things that we could have paid attention to but we didn’t. And try to look at what the panel identified as impediments to really identifying those red flags that came in clusters,” said Massengill.
Glaring signs of the mental instability of the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, would no longer be overlooked said Massengill. Assessment teams with access to information that could identify students who may act violently have been implemented in Virginia’s public universities.
Massengill said that improvements have been made at spotting those red flags earlier on, but he also adds that some of the panel’s recommendations still need to be addressed.
“If we really want to learn from Virginia Tech, we really need to look closely at our privacy laws,” said Massengill. “You had several individuals who knew some things. You had very few if any, that knew it all.”
So does Massengill think a similar scenario could play out again?
“There are very few absolutes in public safety. All you can do is look at the possibilities and try and change the probabilities, and I think that’s been done.”
Massengill said throughout the panel’s entire investigation, remembering those lost was the main priority.
“We know not what we lost that day,” he said. “These 32 individuals that were killed were people, and they had families, and we’ve got to keep them in our minds, keep them out there, and never forget it.”