It’s a Mad, Mad World.

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Early this morning, a gunman at Virginia Tech went on the deadliest gun rampage in U.S. history. The Washington Post is reporting 33 killings and more than 30 additional injuries as of 6pm. The Posts extensive coverage can be read here. Jamal Albarghouti, a student, caught the gunman on his cell phone’s videocamera and the recording is here.   Initial eye reports are saying that the shooter was probably familiar with the dormitory and other building in which he shot, as he moved very quickly throughout. President Bush will speak about the incident at 4:15pm.

A Columbia Journalism School student was raped and tortured at her apartment in Hamilton Heights on Friday night. Police are still looking for the assailant. President Bollinger has sent out an e-mail to the entire Columbia community in regards to the crime, and it can be read after the jump. The Daily News coverage (more graphic) can be found here


Dear members of the Columbia community,

I am very sorry to report that over the weekend a graduate student

in the Graduate School of Journalism was assaulted in her

off-campus apartment in Hamilton Heights. She is in a hospital, and

her family is with her. The police are searching for the assailant.

At this time, both out of respect for the privacy of the student and

her family and out of the need to assist the police investigation

actively underway, we cannot say more. I have, on behalf of the

entire University community, expressed to the family our deepest

concern and our wish to assist them in any way we can.

I know this horrible crime will be upsetting and troubling to all

members of the University but especially to our students and their

families. If anyone–students, staff, or faculty–feels the need

for assistance of any kind, we have a range of resources available,

including counseling and psychological services. Personnel are

available by appointment at (212) 854-2878 or walk-in on the 8th

Floor of Lerner Hall. They can be reached for emergencies by

calling (212) 415-0120.

I will continue to express our unconditional support to the student

and her family.

Lee C. Bollinger

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  1. alma  

    That picture of a gun is totally inappropriate.

  2. wow  

    sympathies to the victims at VA tech

  3. in Wien  

    There was a police evidence collection team on the 4th Fl of Wien over the weekend...anybody know anything about this?

  4. i dont think  

    that the link to the cameraphone video is working

  5. Just speculating  

    I've been watching CNN analysts talk about how the shooter might have been a student because he had to navigate around campus and had to have a good knowledge of the buildings. I read that the shooter chained the doors of the engineering building before he started the massacre.

    I don't know if this is in good taste at this time, but I wonder what the suicide rates are in engineering schools. Especially since finals time is rolling around, maybe he decided to lash out on others instead of himself.

  6. sobering  

    a loss of life like this grants some perspective on our day to day squabbling, i think.

  7. agreed...please  

    there'll be lots of time to argue later. out of respect for those affected by these horrific events, please don't do it here.

  8. Sobering Indeed  

    And here I was this morning bitching to myself about how it was still lightly raining. Goes to show you just how F-ing lucky most of us really are.

    And to those arguing about the graphic, please go do it privately.

  9. I have to wonder  

    Was it really appropriate for Bollinger to send this e-mail out? I mean, does this really concern the university? If it was the kind of thing where a student had committed the crime, or students were at risk, I could understand, but it seems like it wasn't necessary to broadcast this...

    • Would you  

      rather not know that a fellow student had been raped & tortured?

      • Well  

        I mean it's not that I'd rather delude myself into thinking that these horrific things don't happen...I just worry that e-mails like this (especially when they invite people to talk about how they've been affected by somebody else's trauma) do nothing but serve up these terrible events for our consumption and not any sort of serious consideration.

    • Yes  

      He has to acknowledge it happened as the president of the university, just like he does whenever a student dies. Also, an official announcement in times like this may help dispel rumors, even if it can't provide specific details.

  10. about the gun  

    While a gun in its own right might be in poor taste for this article, it could also be considered a statement (though I doubt bwog meant it to be one). Posting a photograph of a gun reminds us that this crime cannot be separated from the weapon that allowed it to happen. It was obviously a very powerful weapon to allow one shooter to kill and injure so many people. Perhaps the news should do more to make us think about how these crimes keep happening. The photo of the gun connected to such a horrible story makes me see it in a negative light. Gun control anyone?

    Honestly though, maybe we should take a minute to think about the events of today before we spend our time berating bwog instead of putting things in perspective.

  11. What a horrible day

    I haven't felt this shitty since 9/11.

  12. Fucking  

    Harlem. I guess we really aren't that safe with it around

    • Harlem is wonderful  

      Please don't reduce this one incident down to Harlem being unsafe. Unfortunate crimes like this one happen in many places. and to reply to another message, it is appropriate for President Bollinger to send out an email so that worried students dont speculate and he can show he hears our concern. It was a nice gesture in the wake of a terrible incident affecting our community.

  13. KER  

    Apparently a system glitch de-tagged the post, but another editor put it back up as soon as he noticed.

  14. Concerned

    As a society, we could have a serious discussion about gun control, for instance.

  15. ok well

    i thought it took place in hamilton heights. or do all of you think 125th and above is harlem?

  16. Harlem is great, but  

    incidents like this happen far too frequently. Not long ago there was that incidents of a Dunkin' Donuts clerk being shot & killed around 135th. Not the best place to have a university I'm afraid.

  17. mad world  

    The police said the suspect was a black man in his 30s, about 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. He is bald with a goatee and has a scar on his abdomen.

  18. and people  

    say that gentrification is a bad thing.

  19. Not only...

    ...is Hamilton Heights PART of Harlem, it also is, according to our police precinct, the poorest, most crime-ridden, and most dangerous neighborhood in Manhattan. And we're living right next to it. THAT puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

    • Harlem  

      Harlem is not the culprit here. The closest tragedy I can think of to this 19-hour rape is the 13-hour rape of a woman in 2005, by a guy named Peter Braunstein, in a building in Chelsea.
      Horrible things happen regardless of location.
      Just look at VATech, and Columbine...nice, upscale schools in small, idyllic towns. Sadly, in these times, there is no safe area. We're no worse off at Columbia than we would be at Dartmouth, at least safety-wise. Yeah, you might get your wallet stolen more frequently here, but you have just as much of a chance to come to some random violent end here as you do there.
      So stop worrying, live your life, and say some kind of non-denominational nice thoughts/prayer-like thing for the VATech victims and the Journalism student.

  20. disgusting  

    you people discussing how terrible harlem is and how great gentrification is are just little. in light of the tragic events of today I won't pique any debate, bit it had to be said. shame on you and your ignorance.

  21. amazing

    do you seriously think that columbia's in a poor, crime-ridden area?

  22. Amazing...

    ...how many people misunderstood me. I meant that we're right next to a poor, crime-ridden area, but living out our Ivy League existence virtually oblivious to it, and THAT is what puts things in perspective...

  23. Maybe  

    if CU kids weren't so sheltered and actually watched the local news once in a while, they would realize that most murders, rapes, and burglaries in New York don't happen in midtown. or downtown. or in quiet Italian neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

  24. hmm

    Do you think all this bickering undermines the severity of what happened?

  25. ...

    @33: it's easier to put it all out of sight and mind and ignore it. sit around, concentrate on grades and popularity contests, how to strategize for the future. all the while with eyes shut, expecting that somehow, if the ignorance and mental occlusion is fierce enough, the outside world will just disappear and everything will be fucking hunky dory.

    it's sad, it's shameful, and the act of willful ignorance is as inhuman as the VT incident today, or the brutality wrought upon the poor woman who we've probably passed on the way to class. maybe we've shared a subway car with her, in the past few months, on the ride up to 137 and beyond.

    my heart goes out to all those who were affected by today. i am proud to care, and i am proud not to shut my fucking eyes.

  26. Disgusted

    I feel so awful for that poor girl who was tortured for 19 hours with her eyelids slit open and still had the courage to save herself in the midst of a fire! No one deserves that! I am so pissed! That neighbor hood is seriously fucked up! I would go so far as to say that it was not only an attempted murder and rape but a hate crime as well. A white chick moves into the neighborhood and gets tortured 2 months later by a big black dude. I love CU but it is surrounded by filth! I'm sick of being bullied on the trains and streets by stupid ass black thugs yelling racist shit at me because I'm white and if I don't like it then I'm labeled a hatemonger! Now this rape shit is going to far! I wish Columbia would buy the entire upper Manhattan area and kick out all of the scum on welfare! Violence is going to keep escalating around CU because the local thugs hate and resent us!

    • Sprinkles  

      Oh come on, now you're just trying to get a reaction. Have a little respect for the solemnity of the situation (and for the neighborhood, where people may resent drunk college students).

    • Anonymous  

      To the person who thinks "we" at CU are living next to "filth":
      in 2001 two Dartmouth College professors (a German prof and an Earth Sciences prof), a couple, were slain in their NH home. And as someone else wrote in a previous post, there are other examples of horrific crimes that do not support your "filth" theory.

      Your attitude confirms a stereotype about CU students. There are times when I keep quiet about my CU affiliation, because I don't want to be mistaken for someone like you.

      Instead of pointing the finger or pretending this has nothing to do with me, I hope to see something happening in the Hamilton Heights community to address what happened in our neighborhood. A dialog, whatever. Of course the CU kids who live in Hamilton Heights, you can just continue to run from the subway to your apartment and pretend you don't actually live with such "filth".

  27. wfan

    i had no idea don imus is taking classes at columbia.


    For the love of God stop commenting.

    The contents of this post are too tragic and serious for us to post deleterious or combatitive comments.
    Let us all, for once, swallow our pride and show some respect for the student's and families effected by these two tragic events.

    Honestly, how big of a tragedy has to occur for us to just shut up, swallow our pride, and stop bickering with one another about petty insignificant details that don't matter?

    Please do not be so selfish as to continue posting on this thread unless you think that your comment is more important then the grief and loss of others.

    • what?

      Who the fuck are you to tell us not to post on a blog? This isn't a church or memorial ceremony! If people want to discuss or bicker here or anywhere get over it!

    • Dear lord

      You are ridiculous. You are the manifestation of political correctness gone FAR too far. What, so because there was a tragedy or a crime, we should all just stop talking and debating and become entirely silent? What else will we get out of something like the Virginia shooting today, other than good solid, honest debate about what happened and what we can do to prevent it in the future? If we don't take this opportunity, like Columbine and many others, to RAISE HELL about what the lack of gun control laws is doing in our country (not to mention the sheer EXISTENCE of the second amendment itself), then we are doing an injustice to these people who essentially died because of it.

      As Commenter #42 said, save your reverential silence for a church; if there is any place for discussion, it's on the internet, and if you don't like it, then YOU can be silent. I assure you your voice will not be missed.

  29. please

    Have respect? Fuck you, I'm mad as hell! Columbia kids aren't drunken party students! They are dorks who do their work, even so, its a far cry from rape and torture! I have no respect for "the neighborhood". I can't wait to graduate and get the hell out of there! Culture and local flavor, my ass, stabbings, muggings, hate crimes and rapes is what is really going on!

  30. Keep your heads  

    A black man raping a white woman is traditionally the most inflammatory crime there is in terms of bringing racial tensions to the surface; the crime was horrible, hopefully the reaction won't be.

  31. hmmm

    So we should just pat the sadistic rapist on the wrist because people are afraid to get angry and dare respond? And as for the insane jew rapist in Chelsea area, that area sucks also! There are tons of projects situated right next to upscale art galleries, remember the drag queen who was almost beaten to death by the local ghetto thugs not too long ago?

    • Umm  

      You do realize NYC is the safest big city in the United States, right? And that Manhattan Heights is a fairly low-crime area, especially in terms of violent crime? Sounds like your problem is really with urban areas which makes me wonder why you came to Columbia in the first place? There are plenty of suburban or rural schools, so why come here and then spend your time (and money) hating it and bitching?

  32. FYI  

    Not that it's the most important thing right now, but Columbine is not in what anyone would call "a small, idyllic town." It's in the suburban sprawl of Denver.
    I don't know what to think about what's happened today. I'm not leaning towards the "my racism was justified all along," though.

  33. Also...

    ...if this is what gentrification does...forcing young, poor, female students to live in neighborhoods where things like this can happen to them despite the outrageous rents they are paying...then i want none of it.

  34. On subject  

    I just called my cousin who goes to Virginia Tech. They still have no friggin idea what's going on there. They haven't named any of the victims or the gunman, and everybody is lying low. He was two buildings away from the first shot at 7:15, and I guess they kept it pretty hush as to what had happened, but by the 9:15 shootings there was no doubt as to what was going on. Everyone's been on their cellphones all day, and classes are canceled. I remember going to visit him for spring break last year and walking around the campus - it seems so weird to imagine a quiet little place like that getting shot up.

    • Question  

      I'm just wondering, if the first killings happened at 7:15 in a dorm, and the rest of them happened at 9:15 in an engineering building, why the hell was the entire campus not on lockdown for the two hours in between? Does anybody know? I know it's a pretty large campus, but if someone gets murdered and the suspect is at large...should precautions have been taken to prevent further loss of life? I'm kind of confused here.

      • the poster of #60  

        Yeah, I suspect there are going to be some pretty big questions asked about that. According to the news, they thought it was an isolated incident and didn't want it to disrupt the daily life of VT. You can kind of understand that mentality; if everyone started panicking then maybe the gunman would have flipped and started shooting students at random. It seems to early to judge a lot of this though, everyone seems to still be very much in the dark.

        • Hmmm  

          I can understand that, I guess. But I was reading on CNN that when the gunman went to the classroom, he opened the door and peeked inside a few times before he actually came in and started firing. If this is true, a lockdown might have helped. (Or it might have led the gunman to shoot up a bunch of people somewhere else on campus, we can never tell)

  35. Reminder  

    There are criminals of every race, creed, and color.

    There are racists of every race, creed, and color.

    There are good people of every race, creed, and color.

    There are problems everywhere in the world - urban, rural, and suburban.

    Now back to whatever you were talking about.

  36. KER  

    Note to future commenters:

    Please re-acquaint yourselves with the commenter policy before posting. We reserve the right to delete commentary we deem unduly offensive and inflammatory.
    Thank you.

  37. six degrees  

    as far as the early wien question/comment, there was an incident with a stranger walking into the unlocked room of a female student in the late night/early morning. public safety has been by about 10 times. lock your doors at night people!

    And just a thought, this is not the moment to start a word-duel. A little respect.

  38. frustrated.  

    i'm sorry, i'm just sick of people referring to mourning as though it is some kind of apolitical event unaffected by media representation and popular prejudice. this kind of shit is the reason that america was able to be dragged into the war on terror and gulf war II: people being unwilling to debate and discuss the content of tragic events because of some vague, primitive notion of respect for the victims. how can you discuss brutal murder and school shootings without discussing issues like gun control, race relations, and the geographical distribution of wealth in new york?

    • THEN DO IT  

      Discuss gun control
      Discuss race relations
      Discuss gentrification

      Without making generic and random personal attacks


      • well?

        Well, Bwog? Give us an open post about one of these issues, and let us at it. Maybe we'll stay on topic with a little more structure.

        • Yeah...right  

          Have you looked at bwog posts over the last, say, year? No matter what the topic is, people always seem to digress into ad hominem attacks and petty bickering. Sometimes I can't believe it.

          A lot of people died yesterday, and an entire school of 25,000 was completely traumatized by it. 33 dead in Blacksburg, VA. A rape and attempted murder in Hamilton Heights. Perhaps this tells us that the ivory towers of universities can't stay insulated from the world anymore, that we have to face these issues dead on. But, as somebody else said, do it with respect. 32 people died yesterday because of one kid. Have enough composure and self-awareness to think about that before you yell at other people.

      • I don't see...

        ...how anythinbg #69 said would constitute a "generic and random" personal attack, much less a personal attack, period.

        Unless you took offense at the comment and thought the writer was skewering you personally, which would be, I hate to say (well, actually I don't), typical...

  39. Clarify  

    Don't jump to conclusions.
    I was addressing bwog commentators in general. Not just #69.

  40. maybe  

    we should just ban guns. kind of makes sense.

    oh wait, the nra has already come out to say that we need more guns. that will keep us safe. why don't we build a gun so big that we can shoot the earth in half with one single bullet.

  41. people love  

    tragedy and you are all obviously getting off on what has happened today. Getting off on being worried or feeling sad or being outraged. It's a tough world, bad shit happens everyday and for the sake of decency try not to claim other people's bad shit as your own.

    • Speak for yourself

      This is frightening; and all of this violence and rape-o shit is gonna fuck our in loco parentis lackadaisical relationship with the university... hello curfews, pat-downs etc. It's a real issue and worth debating amongst ourselves. If you don't wanna participate then go suck an egg.

  42. why  

    why did Bollinger send out an announcement about a J student attack that happened off campus, but no one notified anyone about the Wien incident? I live in Wien and this is the first I've heard of it. The J-student incident is a tragedy, but I'm a little more concerned about what's happening in my own building rather than uptown...

  43. weiner scnitzel  

    the wien incident did not involve any physical contact that I know of. the only thing that has come out of it was to remind people to lock their doors at night. no idea if it was a student who entered or not. so, use common sense.

  44. Alex  


    can you keep us posted on the wednesday-night vigil brought up in spec? any news about when and where?

  45. cindy

    It was important to me that Pres. Bollinger reported the rape to us at Columbia because Hamilton Heights is not only where I live, but it is located between the Morningside Campus and the Health Sciences Campus.

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