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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

May 6, 2007

Written by C.N.

Interview With Earlier Asian School Shooter

I was rather surprised to learn that Seung-Hui Cho was not the first high-profile school shooter in recent American history. In fact, 15 years ago, another young Asian American student at Simon Rock College (in Massachusetts) named Wayne Lo shot and killed two people on campus and wounded four others. Newsweek magazine recently interviewed him to get his reaction to the shootings at Virginia Tech:

Newsweek: What was your reaction when you heard about the Virginia Tech shooting?
Wayne Lo: When they said it was a perpetrator who was Asian, that really shocked me. The stereotype is that Asians don’t do these things. The Secret Service came and interviewed me for a report on school shooters that they put out in 2002, and even they said Asians don’t really do this.

Did you relate to Seung-Hui Cho because you’re both Asian?
At first I thought it was just a coincidence, but as more details came out, there were just too many eerie similarities to me. He was an immigrant, like myself. The events leading up to the shooting, the warning signs he gave out really reminded me of what happened at Simon’s Rock. They said he had mental-health issues. I don’t really think I had mental-health issues, but I did give out those warning signs. He harassed women, and I also had an incident where I was accused of stalking a female classmate. He went and purchased a gun at a store 40 minutes out of town; so did I. He wrote papers that got people’s attention; I did that, too. . . .

Do you think that Cho’s writings should have been more of a red flag than they were?
It’s ludicrous that they didn’t stop this guy with all the warning signs. I mean, come on, I did this 15 years ago. I was one of the first school shooters. The question is, how don’t we learn from it? They’ve done studies; they know the typical warning signs now. How could they not see this coming? . . .

You also mentioned relating to Cho because you are both immigrants.
The issue of mental health and stuff like that is not talked about in the Asian community, even within families. It puts a lot of pressure on you as a young person. As it builds up and builds up and builds up, [Cho] acted out just like I did. Asians tend to be passive aggressive: we don’t get in fights, so it doesn’t come out in little bits; it all comes out in one big act.

For someone who committed a heinous, unforgivable act, Lo actually makes a lot of good points in this interview. He pointed to authorities missing warning signs that could have prevented Cho’s rampage, and to how the strong stigma associated with mental illness may have prevented Cho from getting the psychological and emotional help that he desperately needed.

Finally, he makes a point that should ring true for everyone involved — with all of these schools shooting that have taken place within the past 15 or so years, haven’t we learned anything from them? Or more specifically, why couldn’t we have used what we’ve learned to prevent Cho from doing what he did?


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Interview With Earlier Asian School Shooter" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/05/interview-with-earlier-asian-school-shooter/> ().

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