Share this article

print logo

Shootings terrify WNY students at Virginia Tech

Dean Waldron picked up the telephone at his Oakfield home shortly after 10 a.m. Monday to hear his son screaming.

"Dad! Did you get my text message?!"

Waldron had no idea what his 19-year-old son, Matt, a football player at Virginia Tech, was talking about.

Had there been a car accident? Waldron recalled thinking.

His son had, in fact, been calling from his cell phone while running as fast as he could across the expansive Drillfield -- directly in front of Norris Hall, where America's worst shooting spree had just taken place.

"He was pretty terrified," Dean Waldron said.

Like at least a dozen other parents in Western New York and thousands more across the nation with children at the Blacksburg, Va., campus, Dean Waldron said he was gripped with fear as the horrific details of the campus massacre began to unfold -- and relieved to know his child had been spared.

"We can't imagine being the parents picking up the bodies of their children," Dean Waldron said Tuesday as he tried to make arrangements for his son to fly home. "We're very blessed, even though he was so close to it."

Matt, who spoke to the The Buffalo News after attending Tuesday's convocation on campus, recounted his terrifying experience.

The Oakfield-Alabama high school graduate said he was listening to his iPod while walking near Norris Hall toward his 10:10 a.m. class when he noticed that all the students around him had stopped in their tracks.

"They had this weird look on their faces," he said. "I was like, 'What's going on?' "

Suddenly, police cars -- one after another -- came racing toward them.

Almost simultaneously, a professor from the next building over, Holden Hall, screamed at Waldron and the other stunned students: "Get inside!"

Inside Holden, he said, a group of people hovered around a young man and woman who had been carried from the outside. The two apparently jumped from the third floor of Norris to escape the gunman.

"They were in pretty rough shape," he said.

Screams could be heard as about 150 students burst out of Norris.

Matt Waldron sat down on a bench and tried over and over to call his parents on his cell phone. But the circuits were jammed with so many calls coming in and out.

"So I texted my dad," he said. "I said that I'm OK for now. 'I'll call you.' "

Then, police officers poured through the doors of Holden and yelled at everyone to get out because they were afraid the gunman was still on the loose and that they were in danger of being hit by bullets.

Matt Waldron bolted out of the building.

"We didn't know what was going on," he said. "It was scary."

At about the same time, Asha Glorioso of Clarence, who turned 19 Monday, was in her dormitory with her friends as they frantically flipped through the TV channels to find out what was going on outside -- and tried to reach their parents back home.

"I was freaking out for [my mother] not to be freaked out about me," she said.

The freshman recalled how she had walked past West Ambler Johnston, the co-ed dorm where the first shootings had taken place, a little before 9 a.m. The first shootings had already taken place but the second, even bloodier rampage, had not yet begun.

"I saw 15 cop cars," she said. "I was assuming it was a drug bust."

She went to her 9 a.m. appointment, walked past the dorm again at around 10 a.m. and thought it was "really odd that I wasn't being shooed away."

As she returned to her dorm room, she and her friends began hearing rumors of the second shooting.

Her mother learned something was wrong when she found two messages on the answering machine.

The first was from her daughter. "I'm OK," the message said.

"I had no idea what she was talking about," Melissa Glorioso recalled.

The second message: a florist informing the Gloriosos that it had been unable to deliver the flowers they had ordered for Asha's birthday "because the school is under some type of martial law."

Grateful that her daughter was unhurt, the mother said she was stricken with guilt over knowing other parents were not so lucky. "I feel so awful because my daughter is safe," she said.

On Tuesday, she questioned the Virginia Tech president's decision to wait two hours after the first shooting to alert the campus that an incident had taken place.

"In my gut, I don't feel he made the right move," she said. "This is a man who is responsible for thousands of children. When there was a gun on campus, everything should have stopped. Immediately."

In Niagara Falls, Cathy Lowery, stepmother of Brittany Pryor, a third-year student at Virginia Tech, also demanded to know why there was a two-hour delay.

"I just didn't understand why there was a two-hour break," she said. "I still don't have a full understanding. . . . And how did this guy get all these guns in the school?"

Pryor, who is on the women's track team at Virginia Tech, was panicked for much of Monday until she reached her classmates. "She sounded shaky at first, but that was before she heard from her friends," Lowery said. "She's calmed down now."

Asha Glorioso and Matt Waldron said with classes canceled this week, they were making plans to come back to Western New York.

"I just want to be with my family and my friends," Glorioso said.

"I've got to get away from here and do something different," Matt said. "I want to walk through the woods and clear my head for a few days."

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment