The investigation is ongoing, and all information leaked to the media is necessarily sketchy. One report has it that the shooter used two 9mm pistols; another that his body was found with one 9mm and one .22 pistol. The body count is *extremely* high for that level of armament, especially if one was a .22. This asshole murdered more people than Charles Lee Whitman did, and Whitman was a trained Marine firing rifles from an elevated, fortified position. Either a lot of wounded people died waiting for evacuation, or the shooter was skilled and very, very methodical. Some accounts have the piece of shit in question wearing a bulletproof vest; some say just that he wore a vest with pouches for lots and lots and lots of magazines (my guess would be the latter).
The murderer was reportedly a Virginia Tech student in his early twenties, and some reports have it that he came to VA Tech from China on a student visa. According to MSNBC, the authorities had some trouble identifying him: his suicide shot disfigured his face, he had no ID, and "an initial check on his fingerprints came up empty," so identification took a little while. I don't know if we're fingerprinting folks on student visas these days. I have seen handgun suicides before, when I worked as a death investigator, and I've never seen a pistol suicide that disfigured somebody. The only thing I can think of that would do it would be that he put the gun under his chin, got the angle wrong, and sent a bullet through the front of his face rather than his brain. If that's what happened, he would have spent his remaining time on earth in considerable agony, so I really hope that's what he did.
I posted something about Kimveer Gill's rampage in Montreal, but was off-line at the time of the follow-up murder in the Amish schoolhouse. Those of you in an academic setting: WATCH OUT FOR COPYCATS. I am dead serious on this one. The proliferation of the internet makes research easy on all subjects, and I believe that the Amish schoolhouse gunman was inspired, not by Gill, but by the Montreal college shooting years ago in which the gunman deliberately targeted women. That event was mentioned in lots of news stories, and I strongly suspect the schoolhouse gunman, who targeted girls, saw it as an inspiration.
I'll repeat what I said on Montreal: if you are ever in a situation like this, God forbid, you have two options: 1) run away or 2) jump the gunman. Unless you have solid cover for your retreat, you may be better off if you attack, especially if there is more than one of you. Get close fast, bring them down, *keep* them down, and yell like hell for people to help you.
My prayers are with those who died, and their families. Except for the gunman. Let him rot.