Roanoke, Va. As the sixth-month anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre approaches, a lawyer representing 20 people killed or injured in the April shootings has begun notifying the town and the state about possible lawsuits.
Blacksburg Town Attorney Larry Spencer said he received notices Friday from Peter Grenier, a personal injury lawyer in Washington, D.C., of possible lawsuits claiming negligence by the town and its employees.
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office said it received notice Friday from Grenier's law firm of a possible lawsuit on behalf of injured student Kevin Sterne. Tucker Martin said he could not say whether it was a possible lawsuit against Virginia Tech or the state itself.
No lawsuits have yet been filed stemming from the shootings on the university's Blacksburg campus, where mentally disturbed student Seung-Hui Cho killed two people in a dormitory and 30 in a classroom building before taking his own life.
The notice does not necessarily mean lawsuits will be filed, but such notification is needed by Tuesday, six months after the shootings, if lawsuits against a locality are to be filed in state court. A notice of a claim against Virginia Tech or the state must be filed within a year.
More than two hours elapsed between the dormitory slayings and Cho's rampage at Norris Hall, and police initially thought the first shootings were an act of domestic violence. Grenier's notices to the town alleged that Blacksburg police, who were among officers who responded, "failed to conduct a reasonably thorough and professionally appropriate investigation."
Grenier also contended town officials failed to take steps to protect Virginia Tech students.
University students and employees were not notified of the first shootings for more than two hours, and Grenier said the e-mail notice sent by school officials "was inaccurate and incomplete."