Rumors circulated that students and others on campus heard gunshots after the bodies were found by authorities. The university used its official Twitter account to debunk the swirling hearsay and direct students to the Virginia Tech website.

“Reports of recent sounds ID’d as gunshots and suspicious activity on campus have been investigated and are unfounded. Stay where you are,” the university announced in a tweet.

The campus of about 30,000 students in Blacksburg, Va. was eerily quiet Dec. 8 because it was Reading Day, the day before final exams. No classes were scheduled.

“Campus seems very calm,” Arielle Retting, a journalism student at nearby Radford University who covered the shooting as it unfolded. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this empty.”

Waddell said he was skeptical of the original campus alert because of an incident last summer in which children reported seeing a gunman on Virginia Tech’s campus.

“I wasn’t sure how serious to take it until a little later, after the reports started coming in,” he said.

Waddell commended the university for delaying final exams.

“Some people are obviously more prone to panic than others, so I could see it being a big distraction from their studies,” he said. “You’re supposed to be able to study unencumbered from distractions on Reading Day.”


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