Virginia Tech lawsuit: School officials defend actions

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Attorneys for the state have maintained that officials believed the first two killings were domestic violence and did not pose a wider threat to campus. Steger stuck to that narrative during his testimony, saying he heeded the advice of Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum, who informed him that the dormitory deaths were an isolated act of violence.

"I was told that it was domestic and targeted," Steger said.

Steger said he was prepared to issue an earlier warning but a member of the leadership team that he gathered that morning said the parents of the dorm victims should be notified first.

The dorm shootings happened shortly after 7 a.m. but no campus-wide alert was issued until 9:26 that morning. An email only stated a "shooting incident" had occurred but did not mention the gunman remained at large. It urged students to "be cautious" but did not recommend any other action.

Asked by Robert T. Hall, an attorney for the parents, if the specific warning about the homicides and a gunman at large should have been issued earlier, Steger said, "There was no way we would know what would happen at Norris."

Norris Hall was the classroom building where Cho killed 30 of his victims. At the conclusion of Hall's questioning, he asked Steger if he cared to say anything to the parents who filed the lawsuit.

An attorney for the state, William Broaddus, immediately objected before Steger could answer.

The warning that a "gunman is loose on campus" was released through "blast" emails to everyone on campus at 9:50 a.m., nearly 10 minutes after Cho had chained the doors of the building.

Broaddus then asked Steger if he called his wife and son, who were both on campus, to alert them of the earlier shootings or if he locked the door of his office. Steger replied: "No, sir."

The parents of Pryde and Peterson looked intently at Steger during his testimony.

During earlier testimony, a crisis manager hired by Tech said Steger believed he did not owe parents an apology for his actions on April 16 because an apology would imply errors on his part.

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