From a law enforcement perspective I often look at these tragedy's with an eye on what we can learn from this. Within a year or so after a major tragedy leaders in law enforcement usually have national seminars geared towards "lessons learned". I have attended, "lessons learned from Columbine", "lessons learned from 9-11", "lessons learned from the Mathew Shepard Case", and one of the most eye opening seminars I have ever attended "Tools for Tolerance which included lessons learned from the Holocaust".
As I watched the Virgina Tech news footage the first thing I saw was the fact that when officers arrived at Norris Hall they immediately breached the locked door and entered, as they did so the shooter took his own life on the second floor. In the past it was standard protocol for initial officers on the scene to surround and secure a building with an active shooter and have swat teams arrive and plan the assault. Columbine taught us that while that was considered the best plan for officer safety and reducing possible unarmed victims being shot by police, it was not the best plan for saving children's lives from a mass murderer. Lesson learned.
At such a large campus an initial crime scene as what was found in the first two deaths in the dorm at Virginia Tech it is understandable why the isolated incident theory was first developed and was the basis for the time period between the first shootings and the first warnings sent out to students. Also why not commit the mass shootings in the dorm? The fact that mass school shootings had primarily occurred at grade schools and not colleges meant that lock downs and other security measures quickly adopted by grade schools had not been fully implemented in large campus colleges as well as private schools etc. Lesson learned. You will see lockdowns, better ways of notifications bieng developed for large campuses and more use of text message, email, and mass telephone dialers bieng used in all school settings.
More training that once was reserved for SWAT team members will now be taught to patrol officers so quick response and immediate assaults on active shooters will be another tool in an officers box. I am sure many more lessons will be learned as this tragedy is studied. I only hope some better ways to deal with mental health issues will come out of this. It is so frustrating for law enforcement to pick up those with mental health issues both with and without criminal charges, take them to the hospital and then be forced to either let them go or place someone with mental health problems in jail. Beds at treatment centers are always full and waiting list are long. That is why some who could really use inpatient treatment are often released and referred to outpatient treatment with the hopes that the mentally ill will follow up on their appointments and their medications. Too often that is not the case.
As a parent of a college age son and a high school age daughter I grieve for the parents of all the young adults lost at Virginia Tech. We could only imagine what they are going through. I think back to my biggest loss when my mother died while I was only 21 and my siblings were all children. It changed our lives forever. The faculty who died on that fateful day left behind family who's lives have also been forever changed. May god bless you all and comfort you in this time of need. My family's prayers are with you.
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along
the beach with the Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed
two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life there is
only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most
you would leave me."
The Lord replied "My precious, precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you."