When the Guns Spoke
When words got lost in autism
the guns spoke
When calls for help were not heard
the guns spoke
To students who knew him not
the guns spoke
And lives were lost in halls of learning
to cool the hate that kept on burning
envious of children who were happy in learning
while he chased the elusive ghost of longing
to be part of what he was not
and the guns spoke
He was silent but he taught his guns to speak
his fantasy he saved on disks numbered by lot
to preach to us, madness as ultimate truth
with dead people there is nothing to discuss
But we are speechless with hundreds of questions
He left us messages but gives us no answers
just condemnations of hurt perceived or ill conceived
done to him by us
He speaks now without restraint, praise for
other self professed murderers; his hero’s
complaining of things he thought insane
he, who stood outside looking in.
abundant are the tears of families
who are left with unquenchable sorrow
for their beloved children
there shall be no more tomorrows
Brian Bluhm, 25, a master's student in water resources, received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Tech and was getting ready to defend his thesis. He already had accepted a job in Baltimore. Bluhm grew up in Detroit and was an avid Detroit Tigers fan; his death was announced before Tuesday's game against Kansas City, which Detroit went on to win 7-6. "He went to a game last weekend and saw them win, and I'm glad he did," said Bluhm's close friend, Michael Marshall of Richmond, Va. Marshall said it was his faith and work with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries that his friend would foremost want to be remembered by.
Ryan Clark, 22, a student from Martinez, Ga., was a fifth-year student working toward a triple-degree in psychology, biology and English and carried a 4.0 grade-point average. He was a member of the Marching Virginians band. He was a resident assistant at Ambler Johnson Hall, the dorm where the first shootings took place. "He was just one of the greatest people you could possibly know," friend Gregory Walton, 25, said. "He was always smiling, always laughing. I don't think I ever saw him mad in the five years I knew him."
Austin Cloyd, 18, a freshman, was an international studies major. She moved to Blacksburg for her senior year in high school; her father is C. Bryan Cloyd, a professor of accounting and information systems at Virginia Tech. She was so inspired by an Appalachian service project that helped rehab homes that she and her mother started a similar program in their Illinois town, her former pastor said. The Rev. Terry Harter of First United Methodist Church in Champaign, Ill., described Cloyd as a "very delightful, intelligent, warm young lady" and an athlete who played basketball and volleyball in high school. But it was the mission trips to Appalachia that showed just how caring and faithful she was, he said.
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, a French instructor at Virginia Tech, was instrumental in the push to create the first French school in Truro, Nova Scotia, where she lived in the 1990s with her husband, Jerzy Nowak. He is the head of the horticulture department at Virginia Tech.
Peruvian student Daniel Perez Cueva, a 21-year-old international relations major, was killed while in his French class, said his mother, Betty Cueva. He grew up playing soccer on a potholed street outside his family's apartment in the crime-ridden Bellavista neighborhood the port district of Lima, Peru. He came to the United States with his mother and his sister Vanesa, who is married to a soldier now fighting in Iraq. "He dreamed of coming to Virginia Tech because of its prestige and he did it," his mother Betty told Peruvian radio station RPP by phone from Virginia. "For my children, I've made it through the good times and the bad in this country ... and we've worked it out little by little, until this happened."
Prof. Kevin Granata, 46, researched muscle and reflex response and robotics. Ishwar K. Puri, head of the engineering science and mechanics department, called Granata one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. A fellow professor Demetri Telionis, described Granata as a family man. "With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family, and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities," Telionis said. "We will all miss him dearly."
Mathew Gregory Gwaltney, 24, of Chesterfield, Va., was on the brink of finishing his master's degree in civil and environmental engineering, and planned on returning to his hometown of Chester, Va., to be near his parents. Gwaltney was completing his thesis on methods of predicting droughts and already had several job offers from engineering firms. An avid Hokies sports fan, Gwaltney was sports editor at his high school newspaper. Principal Robert Stansberry of Thomas Dale High School remembered him as being named "Best guy to take home to your parents."
Caitlin Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, N.Y., a sophomore majoring in international studies and French. "She was just one of the most outstanding young individuals that I've had the privilege of working with in my 31 years as an educator," said John P. Latini, principal of Minisink Valley High School, from which she graduated in 2005. "Caitlin was a leader among our students."
Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, was a graduate student in civil engineering from Bellefonte, Pa. He did his undergraduate work in civil engineering, biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. "He loves to talk. He's a very talkative guy. You know, you can just hold a conversation with him any time of day," his friend Ken Stanton said on CBS News' The Early Show.
Rachael Elizabeth Hill 18, was a graduate of Grove Avenue Christian School in Henrico County and was a freshman at Virginia Tech. Her father, Guy Hill of Glen Allen, Va., said his daughter was studying biology at the university.
Emily Jane Hilscher, a 19-year-old freshman from Woodville and an animal and poultry sciences major, was known in rural Rappahannock County as an animal lover. County Administrator John McCarthy, a family friend, said she worked at a veterinarian's office "and cared about them her whole life."
Jarrett Lane, 22, of Narrows, Va., a senior majoring in civil engineering, liked Christian Alternative music, "The Simpsons" and "ESPN SportsCenter." The valedictorian of his high school class in Narrows, Va., Lane was described as fun-loving and "full of spirit" by his brother-in-law Daniel Farrell.
Matt La Porte, a sophomore, of Dumont, N.J., was a 2005 graduate of the Carson Long Military Institute in Perry County, Pa. He was majoring in political science and leadership, and aspired to an Air Force commission.
Henry J. Lee — also known as Henh Ly — was the ninth of 10 siblings whose family fled to the United States from Vietnam, arriving in Roanoke in 1994. Friends described the diminutive Lee — a first-year computer engineering and French major — as a serious student who wasn't necessarily a serious person, "an extremely bubbly guy, always ready to go." Lee enjoyed racquetball, engineering and Frisbee: "I'm just your typical short Asian (Chinese) guy," he wrote.
Prof. Liviu Librescu, 76, an Israeli born in Romania, survived the Holocaust and built an international reputation for his research in aeronautical engineering. He taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years. "With the gunman set to enter his class, this brave professor blocked the door with his body while his students fled to safety," said President Bush Wednesday. Librescu will be buried in Israel.
Prof. G.V. Loganathan, 51, an Indian-born civil and environmental engineering professor, had been a professor at Virginia Tech since 1982. "For us it was like an electric shock. We've totally collapsed today," his brother G.V. Palanivel said from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. "Our parents are elderly and have broken down completely."
Partahi Lumbantoruan of Indonesia, a 34-year-old graduate student, had been studying civil engineering at Virginia Tech for three years. His goal was to become a teacher in the U.S. His family sold off property and cars to pay his tuition, said his father, Tohom Lumbantoruan, a 66-year-old retired army officer. "We tried everything to completely finance his studies in the United States," he said. "We only wanted him to succeed in his studies, but ... he met a tragic fate." His stepmother, Sugiyarti, says he had called almost daily to talk to the family; in their last conversation, he had asked for the latest news on Indonesian politics. She wept as she asked why people can bring guns to campus.
Lauren McCain, 20, was originally from Oklahoma but most recently lived in the Hampton, Va., area. Home-schooled, she had worked at a department store for about a year to save money for college. The freshman, who was an avowed Christian, planned to major in international studies. Her uncle, Jeff Elliott, speaking to The Oklahoman newspaper, described her as an avid reader who was learning German and had almost mastered Latin.
Daniel O'Neil, 22, a graduate student in engineering from Lincoln, R.I., was a teaching assistant. O'Neil played guitar and wrote his own songs, which he posted on a Web site, www.residenthippy.com. A high school friend, Steve Craveiro, said O'Neil wrote was in the folk and acoustic vein. "He would never talk himself up as a musician," Craveiro said. "He had a personal relationship with his music." Katlyn Duquenoy, 22, who lives across the street from the O'Neil family and graduated in the same high school class, described him as extremely intelligent. "He probably would have gone really far in life and been successful," she said.
Juan Ortiz, a 26-year-old graduate student in civil engineering from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He also taught, said his wife, Liselle Vega Cortes. The family's neighbors remembered Ortiz as a quiet, dedicated son who decorated his parents' one-story concrete house each Christmas and played in a salsa band with his father on weekends. Ortiz's father said he was "an extraordinary son, what any father would have wanted." Marilys Alvarez heard Ortiz's mother scream from the house next door when she learned of her son's death. The 22-year-old said she had wanted to study in the United States, but was now reconsidering.
Minal Panchal, a 26-year-old graduate student in building sciences, was a native of India, who wanted to be an architect like her late father. "She was a brilliant student and very hardworking," said Chetna Parekh, a friend who lives in the bustling middle-class Mumbai neighborhood of Borivali, India, where Panchal lived before coming to Virginia Tech last year; "She was focused on getting her degree and doing well." Another neighbor, Jayshree Ajmane, called Panchal a bright, polite girl who would help the neighborhood children with their schoolwork.
Erin Peterson, 18, from Centreville, Va., was a member of Phi Sigma Pi — Alpha Rho chapter. She was planning to major in international relations. She attended the same high school as the gunman. Athletic (the 6-foot-1 Peterson played center for her high school girls' basketball team, helping lead it to a district championship in her sophomore year), she was described as inseparable from her father, except when it came to their pro-football allegiances: "She was a Redskin," her godfather, Williams Lloyd, said. "He was a Cowboy."
Michael Pohle, 23, of Flemington, N.J., was a senior in a five-year program, majoring in biological sciences. A football and lacrosse player in high school, one of his former coaches described him to the Newark Star-Ledger as "a good kid who did everything that good kids do."
Julia Pryde, 23, a biological systems engineering graduate student from Middletown, N.J., was known for being an exceptional student as well as for her sweet demeanor. A professor says Pryde had traveled to Ecuador last summer to research water quality issues. She had planned to return for follow-up work.
Mary Karen Read was born in South Korea into an Air Force family and lived in Texas and California before settling in Annandale, Va. Her aunt, Karen Kuppinger in Rochester, N.Y., said her 19-year-old niece had struggled adjusting to Tech's sprawling campus, but had recently begun making friends and looking into a sorority. "I think she wanted to try to spread her wings," she said. Read was an interdisciplinary studies major.
Reema Samaha, 18, a freshman, of Centreville, Va., liked dancing and was a fan of ballet and belly dancing (a nod to her family's roots in Lebanon), as well as a member of the school's Contemporary Dance Ensemble. "She just danced, and laughed and smiled," said Linda D'Orazio, a neighbor. Friends said she was captivating to watch on stage: "She was just beautiful and when you watched her, I thought she was one of the most gorgeous girls in the world inside and out," said Lauren Walters, a Westfield graduate who is now enrolled at Clemson University.
Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, 32, of Zagazig, Egypt, was a doctoral student in civil engineering. Shaalan came to Virginia Tech to work with G.V. Loganathan, an engineering professor who was also killed in Monday's shooting. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Egyptian embassy in Washington was taking necessary measures to fly his body home. Shaalan was married and the father of a 1-year-old son.
Leslie Sherman, a sophomore from Springfield, Va., was a history and international studies major. An avid traveler, she was headed to Russia this summer to study. Her grandmother, Gerry Adams, said Sherman loved reading and socializing with her "gaggle" of more than 15 cousins spread out at colleges across the country. She text-messaged one of them the evening before she died.
Maxine Turner, a senior from Vienna, Va., was a chemical engineering major. Her father, Paul Turner, says she had finished her required credits and was preparing for her May graduation, but wanted to take German as an elective. Turner recently helped found a chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in engineering. Her interests included Tae Kwon Do, Shakespeare and Red Hot Chili Peppers. She had accepted a chemical engineering job with W.L. Gore and Associates, in Elkton, Md. Her father wept today as he described the loss of his child. He asked why legislators don't put in more laws to protect people.
Nicole White, 20, a international studies major from Hampton Roads, Va., was a junior. She had also worked at a YMCA as a lifeguard.