Ten years after the fact, the April 16 shootings have become a singular unit in the Virginia Tech ethos. The community commemorates the tragedy as a whole rather than as 32 individual deaths and 23 non-fatal injuries. This piece explores the minute-by-minute breakdown of the incident, commemorating the singular tragedies, heroes, and critical decisions university and emergency officials had to face on April 16, 2007.

Timeline events are taken from the Virginia Tech Review Panel’s 2007 “Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech” report to then-Gov. Tim Kaine.


8:45 p.m.

The last deceased victim is transported to the medical examiner’s office.

5:00 p.m.

The first deceased victim is transported to the medical examiner’s office.

1:35 p.m.

A report of a possible gunshot near Duck Pond proves to be another false alarm.

12:42 p.m.

Charles Steger announces that police are releasing people from buildings and that counseling centers are being established.

10:57 a.m.

A report of shots fired at the tennis courts near Cassell Coliseum proves false.

10:52 a.m.

A fourth email from the Virginia Tech administration warns of “a multiple shooting with multiple victims in Norris Hall,” saying..Read More

10:51 a.m.

All patients from Norris Hall have been transported to a hospital or moved to a minor treatment unit.

10:17 a.m.

A third email from the Virginia Tech administration cancels classes and advises people to stay where they are.

10:08 a.m.

A deceased male student is discovered by police team and suspected to be the gunman: No identification is found on..Read More

9:53 a.m.

The 9:42 a.m. request for all EMS units is repeated.

9:52 a.m.

The police clear the second floor of Norris Hall. Two tactical medics attached to the ERTs, one medic from VT..Read More

9:51 a.m.

Cho shoots himself in the head just as police reach the second floor. Investigators believe that the police shotgun blast..Read More

9:50 a.m.

Using a shotgun, police shoot open the ordinary key lock of a fourth entrance to Norris Hall that goes to..Read More

9:45 a.m.

9:45 a.m.
The first police officers arrive at Norris Hall, a three-minute response time from their receipt of the call. Hearing shots,..Read More

About 9:45 a.m.

The police inform the administration that there has been another shooting. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger hears sounds like gunshots..Read More

9:42 a.m.

The first 911 call reporting shots fired reaches the VTPD. A message is sent to all county EMS units to..Read More

9:41 a.m.

A BPD dispatcher receives a call regarding the shooting in Norris Hall. The dispatcher initially has difficulty understanding the location..Read More

9:40 until about 9:51 a.m.

9:40 until about 9:51 a.m.
Cho goes across the hall from room 206 and enters room 207, an elementary German class. He shoots instructor Christopher..Read More

9:31 – 9:48 a.m.

A VSP trooper arrives at the traffic stop of Thornhill and helps question him. A gunpowder residue field test is..Read More

9:26 a.m.

Virginia Tech administration sends an email to campus staff, faculty and students informing them of the dormitory shootings.

9:25 a.m.

A VTPD police captain joins the Virginia Tech Policy Group as police liaison and provides updates as information becomes available.

9:24 a.m.

A Montgomery County deputy sheriff initiates a traffic stop of Hilscher’s boyfriend, Karl Thornhill, off campus in his pickup truck...Read More

9:15 – 9:30 a.m.

9:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Cho is seen outside and then inside Norris Hall. He chains the doors shut on the three main entrances from..Read More

9:15 a.m.

Both police ERTs are positioned at the BPD (next door to campus) in anticipation of executing search warrants or making..Read More

9:05 a.m.

Classes begin for the second period across campus, including in Norris Hall.

9:01 a.m.

Cho mails a package from the Blacksburg post office to NBC News in New York that contains pictures of himself..Read More

9:00 a.m.

The Policy Group is briefed on the latest events in the ongoing dormitory homicide investigation by the VTPD.

8:52 a.m.

Public schools in Blacksburg lock their outer doors upon hearing of the incident at WAJ from their security chief, who..Read More

8:25 a.m.

The Virginia Tech Policy Group meets to plan on how to notify students of the homicides.

8:20 a.m.

A person fitting Cho’s description is seen near the Duck Pond on campus.

8:19 a.m.

Crannis requests BPD ERT to respond for the same reason as the VTPD ERT.

8:16 – 9:24 a.m.

Officers search for Hilscher’s boyfriend. His vehicle is not found in campus parking lots, and officers become more confident that..Read More

8:15 a.m.

Flinchum requests the VTPD Emergency Response Team (ERT) to respond to the scene and then to wait at the BPD..Read More

8:13 a.m.

8:13 a.m.
Flinchum requests additional VTPD and BPD officers to assist with securing WAJ entrances and with the investigation.

8:11 a.m.

Blacksburg Police Chief Kim Crannis arrives on scene.

8:10 – 9:25 a.m.

Flinchum provides updated information via phone to the Virginia Tech Policy Group regarding progress made in the investigation. He informs..Read More

8:00 a.m.

Classes begin. Flinchum arrives at WAJ and finds VTPD and BPD detectives on the scene and the investigation underway. A..Read More

7:57 a.m.

Flinchum notifies the Virginia Tech Office of the Executive Vice President of the shootings. This triggers a meeting of the..Read More

7:51 a.m.

7:51 a.m.
VTPD Chief Wendell Flinchum contacts the Blacksburg Police Department (BPD) and requests a BPD evidence technician and a BPD detective..Read More

7:30 a.m.

Additional VTPD officers begin arriving at Hilscher’s room. They secure the crime scene and start a preliminary investigation. Interviews of..Read More

7:30 – 8:00 a.m.

A friend of Hilscher’s arrives at WAJ to join her to walk to chemistry class. The friend is questioned by..Read More

7:29 a.m.

VT Rescue Squad 3 arrives at Hilscher’s room.

7:26 a.m.

VT Rescue Squad 3 arrives on scene outside WAJ.

7:25 a.m.

Cho accesses his university email account (based on computer records). He erases his files and the account.

7:24 a.m.

The VTPD officer arrives at Hilscher’s dorm room in WAJ, finds two people shot inside the room and immediately requests..Read More

7:21 a.m.

7:21 a.m.
The VTPD dispatcher notifies the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad that a female student had possibly fallen from her loft bed..Read More

7:20 a.m.

The Virginia Tech Police Department receives a call on its administrative telephone line advising that a female student in WAJ..Read More

7:17 a.m.

Cho’s access card is swiped at Harper Hall. He goes to his room to change out of his bloody clothes.

About 7:15 a.m.

Cho shoots Hilscher in her room at WAJ. He also shoots Ryan Christopher Clark, a residential advisor. Clark, it is..Read More

7:02 a.m.

Emily Hilscher enters WAJ after being dropped off by her boyfriend (the time is based on her swipe card record).

6:47 a.m.

6:47 a.m.
Cho is spotted by a student waiting outside the West Ambler Johnston (WAJ) residential hall entrance, where his mailbox is..Read More

Around 5:30 a.m.

One of Cho’s other suitemates notices Cho clad in boxer shorts and a shirt, brushing his teeth and applying acne..Read More

5:00 a.m.

5:00 a.m.
In Cho’s suite in Harper Hall, one of Cho’s suitemates notices Cho is awake and at his computer.