BLACKSBURG, VA (WWBT) – There was a somber mood on the Blacksburg campus Thursday night as students coped with yet another tragedy, all while they are supposed to be preparing for finals. But nearly 200 students gathered for an impromptu vigil.
NBC12 got word just minutes before it was set to begin, the University's official vigil had been postponed until Friday evening. Still, students flocked in droves to the one place that embodies their spirit of survival.
Even the smallest of Hokies could feel the importance of the "let's go Hokies" resounding chant. They lit candles united in their solemn silence.
"Just to see everyone come out just to support what happened it's just really touching," said freshman Alexandra Lee.
The group of more than a hundred was obviously touched by the university police officer, who was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.
"I'm just shocked," Lee said. "There's not words to describe it, someone who has dedicated their life to protecting us then gets shot and killed."
Even emergency personnel thought it was important to come to the memorial site. A number of Virginia Tech Police officers and EMTs stopped by.
Hours earlier fear once again overwhelmed the campus, which was an unfamiliar feeling for freshman Lucas Fenstermacher.
"We heard someone was down and we heard it was a police officer, all of the sudden everything was so real," Fenstermacher said.
"There was the SWAT team surrounding us outside, which was really intense because we'd look outside and everyone was like 'stay down. Stay away from the windows,'" Lee recalled.
The two, along with the world had watched from afar during the 2007 massacre. Like many, their minds couldn't help but go back to that place. Thursday night once again, this community came together to take the first step in healing.
"This is just going to make us stronger together because we're going to stuck together no matter what," Lee said.
The official vigil has been rescheduled for Friday night at 6:30 at the April 16th Memorial on campus.
We're told counseling services will be available for anyone who needs them.