After the April 16th, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that remains the deadliest attack by a single gunman in American history, the school received widespread criticism for not having an adequate emergency alert system in place. That shooting resulted in 33 deaths including the gunman, and 25 were wounded; many felt that lives could have been saved if the school had acted more quickly and efficiently. Following the tragic event, school officials put a new emergency system in place, and that system was tested Thursday when a campus police officer was fatally shot at 12:30 p.m. Virginia Tech was on lockdown within seven minutes, and tweets, e-mails and text messages went out to alert the students and faculty. After a second man was found dead, police presumed him to be the gunman (though he has not yet been identified) and campus officials eventually lifted the lockdown by evening. They chose to postpone final exams that had been scheduled for Friday.
This tragic incident forced Virginia Tech into a test that proved they learned a valuable lesson in 2007, because their response this time around was excellent. After the first gunshots rang out on that terrible day four years ago, campus officials waited two precious hours before issuing a campus alert, and were later fined $55,000 by the U.S. Department of Education for their negligence–ironically, this shooting occurred on the day of the appeal. This time, not only was the campus on lockdown within minutes, the digital messages went out on the half-hour, keeping everyone updated. Tweets described the suspect and asked those on campus to call 911 if they saw him. It was a massive improvement.