Ceremony held at Capitol to honor Va. Tech shooting victims

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Today marks the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy. On April 16, 2007, Tech student Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people and himself in the worst massacre in U.S. history.

Governor Bob McDonnell hosted a ceremony at the Capitol Bell Tower this morning to remember and honor the shooting victims.

Thirty two bells rang, in rembbrance of the 32 people who lost their lives. The Virginia Tech massacre is the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history -- on or off a school campus.

Though time has passed -- the wounds are still there on this beautiful day.

"Three years ago today, we had cold, wind, snow flurries, heartbreak and tragedy in Blacksburg, Virginia," McDonnell said in his speech.

Seuning Hui Cho shot 58 students and teachers before turning the gun on himself. Twenty five were wounded.

Stacy Pendleton graduated from Virginia Tech in the 90s -- her husband and brother went there too.

She and dozens of others wanted to show support.

"It's all still so fresh I think, and anytime we are there, we see the reminders of that day and always think about it," she said.

The attacks received national and international media coverage, sparking intense debates about guns, mental health issues, and security on college campuses.

Action followed, with lawmakers cracking down on certain gun laws.

For instance, today, if your background check shows you have undergone voluntary and involuntarily mental committment, that would be a disqualifer, and you could not buy a gun.

"Within 30 days Governor [Timothy] Kaine and I had put together an executive order to correct the purchase of fire arms system to make sure that all all outpatient mental health records were reported to state police," McDonnell said, speaking of his role as the Attorney General at that time.

"I think it's very important to remember because it really did change not only people that went to Tech and feel apart of that community, but everybody, and it did change how we look at mental health and gun laws, it really did," McDonnell said.

To see more from the governor in the raw video clip from today's ceremony, click the RAW VIDEO link at right.

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