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Community college students got back to work, but police uniforms were highly visible.
MATT GENTRY| The Roanoke Times
Sgt. Phil Townley of the Christiansburg Police Department stands in the lobby of New River Community College on Wednesday, inside New River Valley Mall. Some students admitted to being nervous about returning to classes after Friday’s shooting.
MATT GENTRY| The Roanoke Times
Sgt. Phil Townley of the Christiansburg Police Department stands near faculty, students and staff in the New River Community College lobby inside New River Valley Mall on Wednesday. The college had just reopened after a Friday shooting that injured two people.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
CHRISTIANSBURG - New River Community College students returned to the satellite campus Wednesday morning to new security measures, put in place after a Friday shooting that left an employee and a student injured.
A Christiansburg police officer and a college security guard patrolled the area Wednesday morning around and inside the facility, located at the New River Valley Mall.
About 1,300 students are enrolled in courses held inside a converted movie theater in the mall.
Chase Holderby of Blacksburg said he had left the mall campus early Friday to go home for lunch - a departure from his normal routine.
"It was the best decision I've made," he said.
A general studies major in his third semester at the college, Holderby returned to campus Wednesday morning for a history class.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling pretty nervous about it," he said. "But I feel better seeing the police and the security."
Holderby said the attack in which a part-time employee, Taylor Sharpe, and a student, Kristina Bousserghine, were injured was "absolutely sickening."
Police and Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital have not confirmed the victims' medical conditions, but college spokesman Mark Rowh has said they are recovering.
Police arrested Neil Allan MacInnis, 18, of Christiansburg in connection with the attack and charged him with two counts of malicious wounding and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
MacInnis was enrolled at the college at the time of the shooting, Rowh has said. Police said the suspect brought a 12-gauge, pump action shotgun into the school and fired it several times inside the facility.
Police have obtained several search warrants in relation to the shootings, including three warrants filed in the county circuit court clerk's office Wednesday for an iPhone, Toshiba laptop and information about a 4chan.org message that was posted minutes before shots were fired inside the college.
On Friday, a user identifying himself as MacInnis posted a message on the Internet board 4chan.org implying that he was about to fire a shotgun inside the mall. The user posted a picture of the entrance of the New River Community College mall site on the board at 1:52 p.m., saying "It's time," along with a link to the local police scanner feed.
The site, www.4chan.org, was launched in 2003 as an Internet bulletin board for posting images and has become a place where "hackers like to hang out," The Washington Post reported in 2009.
According to one of the search warrants filed Wednesday, MacInnis' iPhone was located after the shootings. Once the screen was accessed, the 4chan.org message was immediately visible, according to the warrant.
Another warrant returned Wednesday states that the suspect admitted to typing a longer article about the shooting on his laptop "but was unable to find a wireless connection to submit the article online."
Police have also applied for a search warrant to access the account information of the user who posted the Friday 4chan.org message.
According to a bail determination document in his court file, MacInnis was described as being "polite and cooperative" during his bond hearing on Friday in front of a magistrate . He was being held Wednesday without bond at Western Virginia Regional Jail, according to online records.
During a news conference Monday, mall security director Jim Gorman told the story of how he apprehended the suspect in the shooting.
Gorman said he saw the suspect walking toward a car in the mall parking lot. Gorman, off-duty and unarmed, said he shouted to the suspect to put down his weapon and get on the ground. The suspect did as he was told. Police responded soon after.
Justin Wyer of Christiansburg, a distance learning student at the college, said he arrived Wednesday unaware that the shooting took place near the computer lab he often uses to complete assignments.
"I thought it was in the mall somewhere," Wyer said.
When he found out the shooting was inside the college facility, he said, a pall fell over him.
"It was kind of creepy," he said. "It slowly crept up on me. I can't imagine how the students felt who were in there."
But the incident didn't stop Wyer from shopping in the mall after registering for his summer courses. He came out smiling after buying a gift for his girlfriend.
College officials continue to evaluate security for the mall site, and to provide counseling services for everyone who was inside the facility on Friday during the attack, Rowh said Wednesday.
Several agencies, including Virginia Tech, have sent security officers and counselors to help in the aftermath of the shooting, Rowh said.
Before the shooting, Rowh said, the college relied on mall security guards who patrol common areas in the mall and the parking lot. No final decisions have been made on security issues going forward.
"We plan to review everything exhaustively," Rowh said.
The college has set up a website where anyone affected by the attack can find counseling and other resources. It's available at www.nr.edu/support.
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