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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.—A Virginia circuit court jury Wednesday found Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University negligent for waiting to warn students about a gunman whose 2007 shooting rampage left 33 dead.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed in Montgomery Circuit Court in Christiansburg, Va., by the parents of two students killed in the April 16, 2007 shooting argued that if Virginia Tech had alerted the campus about the gunman immediately after the first two victims were shot in a dorm, the lives of others later killed in a classroom building might have been saved.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence that university officials waited more than two hours after the first shootings before sending out a campus-wide alert that a shooting had occurred. The university argued that the dorm shooting scene did not suggest evidence of campus-wide danger.
The jury awarded $4 million each to the families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, though the state sought to reduce the award under state caps that limit government liability to $100,000.
In a statement, a Virginia Tech spokesman said the university will discuss the verdict with the state's attorney general, review the case and consider available options.
“We are disappointed with today's decision and stand by our long-held position that the administration and law enforcement at Virginia Tech did their absolute best with the information available on April 16, 2007,” the spokesman said.