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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Virginia Shooter's Family Feels 'Lost'

BLACKSBURG, Virginia -- The family of Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-hui said they felt "hopeless, helpless and lost," and "never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence."

"He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare," Cho's sister, Cho Sun-kyung, said in a statement issued Friday on the family's behalf.

It was the Chos' first public comment since the 23-year-old student killed 32 people and committed suicide last Monday in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

"Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us," said Cho, a 2004 Princeton University graduate who works as a contractor for a U.S. State Department office that oversees U.S. aid for Iraq.

Authorities are in frequent contact with Cho's family, but have not placed them in protective custody, said FBI Assistant Director Joe Persichini, who oversees the bureau's Washington office. Authorities believe they are in the Washington area but are staying with friends and relatives.

Persichini said the FBI and Fairfax County Police have assured Cho's parents that they will investigate any hate crimes directed at the family if and when they return home.

The family statement was issued during a statewide day of mourning for the victims. Silence fell across the Virginia Tech campus at noon and bells tolled in churches nationwide in memory of the victims.

"We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person," Cho said of her brother. "We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence."

She said her family would cooperate fully and "do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well."

"I actually feel sympathy toward their family," said Virginia Tech freshman Andrea Hacker, 19. "A lot of people are probably looking down on them now, but they have no reason to.

"It's got to be tragic for them as well. They're going through just as much grief as we are, plus the added pressure of having a brother do this."

While Cho clearly was seething and had been taken to a psychiatric hospital more than a year ago as a threat to himself, investigators are still trying to establish exactly what set him off, why he chose a dormitory and a classroom building for the rampage and how he selected his victims.

Seven people hurt in the rampage remained hospitalized, at least one in serious condition.

Authorities over the weekend sought Cho's cell phone records on the chance that he warned someone about the shooting. They also hope to take any relevant information from his e-mail and that of Emily Hilscher, one of the first two victims.