RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Saying his state still has painful memories from the April 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday extended his sympathies to Connecticut as it deals with 20 children and six adults being shot to death at an elementary school.
The death toll is surpassed in modern U.S. history only by the Virginia Tech shootings in which a disturbed gunman killed 32 people on the Blacksburg campus, then shot himself to death as police closed in. The shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown also is dead.
"Unfortunately, Virginia has our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and we continue to grieve for all those lost on that April day," McDonnell said.
Sen.-elect Tim Kaine was governor at the time. After the massacre, he pushed a package of mental health reforms and heightened requirements that people ordered to undergo treatment for mental problems be added to a national database of people barred from purchasing firearms.
"Words fail to express the profound sadness I feel for the families of those who were lost and those who will carry the scars of this tragedy," Kaine said in a one-paragraph statement. "Our Commonwealth knows too well the pain of senseless gun violence."
Virginia Tech's president, Charles Steger, released an open letter addressing Friday's atrocity in Connecticut.
"We of the greater Virginia Tech community know, from our experience, of the unending sorrow and horror that has now descended on the Newtown, Conn., community," Steger wrote. "Our words seem so inadequate in light of their plight. Still, we extend our deepest condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the Newtown community as it begins to cope with their grief and blackness."