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WALES: Bethan in shock at Virginia massacre; N.Wales student saved by email grieves for victims.

Byline: By ROLAND HUGHES

A NORTH Wales student told of her terror at being caught up in the US college massacre which claimed 33 lives.

Bethan James, of Sychdyn, near Mold, is on a tennis scholarship at Virginia Tech.

The only North Wales student at the eastern American university the 20-year-old was last night still in shock. But Bethan echoed students' concerns over the authorities' failure to close down the campus after the first shootings.

South Korean student Cho Seung-hui, 23, was yesterday named as the mass killer who gunned down 32 people at the campus. He later turned the gun on himself.

Bethan was just about to set off for college about a mile away when the first two victims were killed. She stayed in her room keeping in touch with friends via instant messaging.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Post from Virginia Bethan said: "The first thing I heard was from a team-mate of mine whose sister is a freshman living in the floor where the first girl was murdered. She sent me a message saying her sister was in a building and they were in lock-down because a gunman was on the loose.

"There were rumours going round it was a domestic dispute and the boyfriend was responsible.

They were hearing shots.

"My friends were trying to get to class and I wasn't sure whether I should go. Then we all got an email from the university saying there was a shooting at West AJ West Ambler Johnston Hall. "Then we got another e-mail at around 9.30am saying we should stay in our rooms, there was a gunman loose.

"It didn't really give anyone much warning and a lot of people were already on campus by then.

"I feel very, very bad for the people on campus who didn't have the chance to see the e-mail and were caught up in it.

"This is just not normal for Blacksburg. Everyone is in complete shock. I am numb. It still doesn't feel like it's actually happened here.

"Everyone has been affected in one way or another. Everyone is coming together really well for each other but it feels like something is missing for all of us.

"There are some real horror stories coming out - about people jumping from fourth-floor windows just to get out."

One Chinese-born engineering lecturer, who taught former Ysgol Argoed Bethan's housemate for the past three semesters, was among those murdered.

Themassacre comes a year after another shooting death on the same campus, and a week after two bomb alerts-one of which led to a full lock-down.

Communications student Bethan said: "The vibe I am getting is that everybody is really mad that the warning wasn't put out at 7.30am - especially given that the bomb warning led to them shutting down the whole campus.

"That was a big deal, and it came to nothing. But then when this happened, there was not a complete shut-down."

Bethan's mum Eleri, a teacher, said: "It has been quite frightening for us here but at least we knew fairly early on that she was OK and not affected.

"It is a quiet, beautiful place in a rural setting. She has been to all sorts of cities when she's been in the US, and had no problems.

"But then this happens on her doorstep, it's shocking."

Bethan's dad Tudor, 16-year-old brother Matt, a fellow tennis star, and his twin sister Catrin have also been following events in the US.

Gunman 'troubled loner'

THE gunman carried out the Virginia Techmassacre that left 33 people, including himself, dead was identified yesterday as an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counselling service.

Police and university officials offered no clues to 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui's motive in the massacre, the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history.

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

Cho, a fourth-year student, arrived in the US as a boy from South Korea in 1992.

Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university's English department, said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department's director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as "troubled".

The Chicago Tribune reported that he left a note in his dormroom that included a rambling list of grievances.

The Tribune said he had recently shown troubling signs, including setting a fire in a dormroom and stalking some women.

rolandhughes@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Bethan James (left) and a friend at Virginia Tech before Monday's tragedy; Among the many victims of Monday's horror identified yesterday were, clockwise from top left, Ryan Clark, Liviu Lubrescu, Daniel Perez Cuevas and Matthew LaPorte; Cho Seung-Hui, who police have identified as the gunman behind the Virginia Tech massacre.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2007
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