Gunman Kills 21 in Rampage at U.S. University

BLACKSBURG, Virginia -- A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech on Monday, killing at least 21 people in the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.

The gunman was killed but it was unclear if he was shot by police or took his own life.

"Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said. "The university is shocked and indeed horrified."

The university reported shootings at opposite sides of the 1,050-hectare campus, beginning at about 7:15 a.m. at West Ambler Johnston, a co-ed residence hall that houses 895 people, and continuing about two hours later at Norris Hall, an engineering building.

The name of the gunman was not released.

Up until Monday, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history took place in 1966 at the University of Texas, where Charles Whitman climbed to the 28th-floor observation deck of a clock tower and opened fire. He killed 16 people before he was gunned down by police. In the Columbine High School bloodbath near Littleton, Colorado, in 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

On Monday, one student was killed in a dorm and the others were killed in the classroom, Virginia Tech police chief W.R. Flinchum.

After the shootings, all entrances to the campus were closed and classes canceled through Tuesday.

"There's just a lot of commotion. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on," said Jason Anthony Smith, 19, who lives in the dorm where the shooting took place.

Aimee Kanode, a first-year student, said the shooting happened on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston dormitory, one floor above her room. The resident assistant in Kanode's dormitory knocked on her door about 8 a.m. to notify students to stay put. "They had us under lockdown," Kanode said. "They temporarily lifted the lockdown, the gunman shot again.

"We're all locked in our dorms surfing the Internet trying to figure out what's going on," Kanode said.