Mason spokesperson comments on shooting incident at Va. Tech

Editor's Note, 4:15 p.m. 12/8/2011

George Mason University Press Secretary Dan Walsch said that the university would provide counseling services to Mason students after a shooting at Virginia Tech left two people dead.

“We’ll be sending out an e-mail to let people know that if anyone needs to talk or share their feelings the counseling center is available,” Walsch said. He added that he understood some students could be feeling “anxious because they know someone or because we’re a sister institution.”

A police officer and an unidentified victim have been confirmed dead in the incident, according to a Virginia Tech spokesperson. The unnamed Virginia Tech police officer was shot by a suspect during a routine traffic stop shortly after 12 p.m. and the second individual was killed in nearby Cage parking lot.

The suspect, who fled on foot, is described as a white male wearing gray sweatpants and a maroon hoodie with a gray hat rimmed in green nylon. As of 3:25 p.m., his status is unknown.

VT Alerts, which notifies student by e-mail, text, tweets, and other mediums when emergencies takes place, issued an alert at 12:36 p.m. that read: "Gunshots reported — Coliseum parking lot. Stay inside. Secure doors. Emergency personnel responding. Call 911 for help."

Bryan Wynkoop, a junior at Virginia Tech, confirmed that the university has been locked down.

“No one is allowed outside,” Wynkoop told Connect2Mason. “We are not allowed out because we were told if you are outside you are considered a suspect.”

Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said that the university has asked the Virginia state police to lead the investigation and added that the school had been closed to visitors.

Wynoop, who was on lock down in a classroom, reported that he had seen law enforcement officials “carrying automatic weapons.”

“I’m not sure who they were with,” he said. “The men were in uniform. We’re very safe here and no one’s panicking.”

Emma Cohen, a freshman at Virginia Tech, verified the lockdown.

“They’re not letting anyone on campus,” she said. “The shooter hasn’t been caught.”

Editor's Note, 4:15 p.m. 12/8/2011: The following message was sent out to the Mason community late Thursday.

Dear George Mason University Students:

By now, many of you have heard news reports of shootings at the Virginia Tech campus. As of this writing, Virginia Tech is reporting that two people have been killed by a gunman following a routine traffic stop on campus. The shooter has not yet been apprehended. It is our sincere hope there are no additional casualties.

We extend our heartfelt thoughts and concerns to the Virginia Tech community as they respond to this terrible tragedy. It is being requested that we do not access the Virginia Tech homepage; excessive traffic will limit Tech's ability to communicate critical information to its own community. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Members of the Mason community are reminded that our office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to anyone wishing or needing to share any feelings, thoughts or concerns they might have about this incident. CAPS is located in Student Union Building 1, room 3129, 703-993-2380.

As always, if you witness suspicious activity, call 911 to alert Mason Campus Police.



Sandy Scherrens
Vice President, University Life

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