BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The families of two victims of the Virginia Tech lawsuit have won a multi-million dollar lawsuit. A jury rules the school should have done more to alert students.

Monique Griego has more on this landmark case.

The jury awarded $4 million to the parents of two students killed during the Virginia Tech massacre. One survivor tells WJZ this is a major step forward.

Tears in the courtroom as a jury rules Virginia Tech negligent in the deaths of two students. Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde were among the 32 killed when fellow student Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting rampage on campus in 2007.

“She always put herself in a position to speak for people that were too weak to speak for themselves. She couldn’t speak anymore so we had to do it,” said Celeste Peterson, Erin’s mother.

“We wanted to get a little bit more truth, a little bit of accountability and we weren’t just going to go away,” said Harry Pryde, Julia’s father.

The university waited two and a half hours to notify students of a double homicide inside a residence hall. By that time, Cho was already barricaded inside Norris Hall, where he opened fire in classrooms.

“If I had received word—any sort of word, text message, email, saw a post on the front of the website that there was a double homicide and a gunman on the loose—I would not have gotten in my car and gone to class,” said Colin Goddard.

Goddard was shot four times hiding under his desk. He spoke with WJZ via Skype following Wednesday’s ruling.

“I really hope that this decision does set a precedent and does put students around the country in a safer position,” Goddard said.

The school released a statement saying, “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 state has already filed an appeal to reduce the $4 million in damages awarded to the families.

The U.S. Department of Education has also fined Virginia Tech $55,000 for not issuing a timely campus warning. The school is appealing that decision.

Comments (3)
  1. Jeff says:

    Hindsight is 20/20. Law enforcement did the best with what information they had at the time. You can go back through their logs right after they found the double homicide in a dorm room and they had no reason to believe a gunman was going to go on a rampage. They thought it was isolated and they believed the gunman had fled campus with no other reports of a gunman coming in. Most law enforcment would have come to the same conclusion. The bigger problem is that our society feels that someone has to pay for everything that happens, even if it’s at the hands of a deranged lunatic. If he wanted to kill people, he’s going to do it. It doesnt mean someone has to pay for it.

    1. Debra says:

      As sad as I am about this situation for those that were lost and injured during this tragedy, I must agree with you. I do think that with the information that the police and campus had at the time they did what they thought that they needed too. No matter how much I wish this tragedy could be reversed or have been stopped I do not think that it could have been. This kid really never gave anyone any indication of what he was capable of, where they may have been clues of him having issues I do not think to this degree. If these things were predictable I beleive we would have the ability to stop so many tradegies that we see every day. The issue that they are saying is that they waited over two hours to report the initial killings, well if the killer had went straight from there to the building where the massive shooting took place who would they blame then. As you mentioned if he was determined that he was going to kill someone he was going to do it no matter what. And honestly I do not know how anyone before the massive shooting took place could say that if they had known about the double murder they would not have been out in campus but if they believed that it was isolated, I am sure that they would have. I can not begin to know the pain this person incurred from the shooting but honestly he really has know way of knowing if he had known of the first two murders that he would have done anything differently. Of course knowing the end result I would say that I would not have went to class that day either but the not knowing would be hard to say what you would do in that actual position. Sadly in the world that we live, we should all be afraid to walk out our front doors on a daily basis but no one can live like that. I wish the families involved all the best wishes in the world but I just do not see how the campus or police could have stopped this from happening or be blamed for it happening.

  2. Marci says:

    Truth is, nothing would have stopped that rampage, no matter how good the security was at the college.