Still waiting for more info on the Virginia Tech shootings. Not so much the 'why' as that is less important for preparedness and mitigation at the individual level than the 'how'. Often people want to know why such tradgedies happen, but knowing that someone is homicidal, a loner, mentally unstable, et al, has very little bearing on how the average person can protect themself. In other words, it is virtually impossible to prepare for a potentially lethal situation just by knowing that a person is more likely to start shooting everyone in the vicinity because they suffer from mental illness. Often victims of these types of mass shootings are random targets who had no prior knowledge of the shooter or their mental status.
Which is why the 'how' part of these incidents becomes so important. Logistics, timelines, what security measures were in place, what security measures would have made a difference and prevented loss of life, what individual preparedness tactics, if any, would have made a difference, how training, heightened personal and group awareness, advanced personal safety planning, etc. could have made a difference...all of these are important facts to know.
As a side note, it is interesting to see the huge role technology played in this incident. Students immediatly started posting details of what was happening on their blogs and webpages. Notices to students from the school were sent out via email. Contact with families was made via email or cellphones. Video of what was happening was immediatly relayed via cell to news outlets. One teacher pointed his webcam out the window so he could see what was happening outside via his computer while at the same time keeping himself concealled under a desk.
We may never fully understand why these tradgedies happen but with learning how these incidents happen we can better prepare and hopefully mitigate the outcome of future incidents.