Law enforcement officers take up positions on Clay Street on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., Monday, April 16, 2007. A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom on the campus, killing at least 30 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman is killed but it's unclear if he was shot by police or took his own life. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Alan Kim)
Christiansburg, VA (AP) - A jury found Virginia Tech negligent on Wednesday for delaying a campus warning of the first shootings in a 2007 campus massacre that left 33 dead.
Jurors returned the verdict in a wrongful death civil suit brought by the parents of two students who were killed on April 16, 2007, in the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Jurors deliberated for 3 1/2 hours before awarding $4 million to each family, and the state immediately filed a motion to reduce the award. State law requires the award to be capped at $100,000, but jurors weren't told of the cap.
The families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde said the two might be alive today if Virginia Tech police and administrators warned the campus of two shootings in a dorm 2 1/2 hours before Seung-Hui Cho (sung wee joh) ended his killing spree, then killed himself.
Virginia Tech officials said they believed the first shootings were isolated.
The verdict was met immediately by sobs from Peterson's mother, Celeste, while the Prydes didn't show much emotion.
Circuit Judge William Alexander said it was the hardest case he had been a part of.
"My heart goes out to all of you," he said to the Prydes and Petersons.