Local mother reacts to final report on Virginia Tech massacre

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A final report on the Virginia Tech April 16th, 2007 massacre finds  university leaders at fault for their response. The mother of a student who survived is talking about this development. 

Lori Haas isn't surprised by the final report by the U.S. Department of Education, but said she's relieved. Haas' daughter Emily took two bullets to the back of the head that morning. 

Lori Haas wears around her neck a subtle, yet poignant tribute to the 32 victims. Her daughter Emily nearly lost her life when a student gunman went on a shooting rampage then killed himself.

"She told me she pointedly played dead," said Haas.

According to the final federal report: the university's warnings were not prepared or disseminated in a clear and timely manner and the university did not follow its own policy for issuing timely warnings.

An email alert did not go out until two hours after the first two shootings. Tech maintains there was nothing to indicate that an ongoing threat faced the campus.

"Letting people know there was a shooting and a gunman at large then those persons would have been able to make their own decisions and they took that decision away from them," said Haas.

Haas said she can't help but think about what could have happened had administrators did what they were supposed to.

"I know that hindsight is 20/20 but having been through Morva with her in August of '06 I think if she would have called me on the morning of April 16th, 2007 and said 'Mom I just got an email there's a gunman on campus. I'm not going to class' and I would have said 'Of course not. Stay put. Stay safe,'" said Haas.

Tech disputes the findings saying the response was well within the standards and practices in effect at that time.

"To continually look for scapegoats other than to themselves is inexcusable," said Haas.

Virginia Tech could be fined up to $55,000 or lose federal student financial aid. A university spokesman says Tech will likely appeal if sanctioned. Meantime, Emily Haas is now an elementary school teacher in Orange County. 

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