At approximately 7:00 p.m. on January 21st, Xin Yang and Haiyan Zhu, a 25 year old Chinese national student, and several of their friends were having coffee at the Au Bon Pain Café located at the Graduate Life Center on the Virginia Tech’s campus. Haiyan Zhu apparently was a friend who Xin Yang listed as her emergency contact. Shortly after 7:00 p.m., the Virginia Tech campus police received two 911 calls from the Graduate Life Center. Shortly after the calls, police arrived and discovered Xin Yang’s decapitated body at the location. There were seven witnesses who observed the horrific incident.
According to the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s newspaper, the police affidavit stated that the first arriving officer found Zhu holding Yang’s head and blood on his clothing. The murder weapon was a kitchen knife was recovered at the scene.
Virginia Tech’s Campus Police Chief Wendell Flinchum stated that, “It was a horrific crime scene and the victim had been decapitated. There was no motive for the slaying.”
The alleged suspect, Haiyan Zhu, was charged with first degree murder and is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail. There have been no police reports or any kind of problems with Zhu in the past. Zhu is an international graduate at Virginia Tech from Ningho, China.
This incident comes shortly after the Virginia Tech Massacre that occurred on April 16, 2007. The massacre was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Seung-Hui Cho, a 23 year old Virginia Tech student, killed 32 people and injured 21 people in two hours. The first shooting occurred at approximately 7:15 a.m. at a residence hall where he the two victims. Cho then proceeded to the opposite side of the campus to another residence hall and continued his rampage and shot additional victims. He eventually turned the gun and shot himself in the head.
Cho had a history of mental illness beginning in middle school where he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression. In 2005, a judge deemed Cho mentally ill and that he was “an imminent danger to himself and others”. One professor asked Cho to seek professional counseling. Additionally, Cho was accused of stalking two female students in 2005.
It appeared that Cho was planning the shooting massacre for months. Police officials traced the handguns that were found by Cho’s body and found he had purchased the handguns back in February and March of 2007.
This brought on the debate of gun control laws again in the United States. As a result of this incident, there were rapid changes that were made to the Virginia gun laws. In addition, a major federal gun control law was signed that created tighter measures and standards with NICS-National Institute Criminal Background Check System signed by President George W. Bush on January 5, 2008.
This Wednesday incident only brought back the horrible memories to the Virginia Tech students and faculty members.
In light of recent school campus violence, Congress and the Senate passed the School Safety Law Enforcement Improvement Act on February 26, 2008. Senate bill S.2084 was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act provides the following:
-assistance programs to improve safety and security of school institution of higher education
-firm pilot programs to develop cutting edge programs for schools
-funding for school campus police
-improvement to the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2003
-focuses on prevention
-incorporates the Terror’s Hoax Improvement Act of 2007
The question still remains of why there has been an increase in school violence over the years and what solutions and programs will improve the safety and security issues.