Gunmen paused to post video

In the multi-media package mailed to television network NBC, the

Virginia Tech gunman railed against wealth and debauchery, portrayed himself as a defender of the weak, and voiced admiration for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

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"You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today," 23-year-old Cho says in a harsh monotone.

"But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."

The video shows Cho speaking against several backgrounds with a menacing expression on his face, while photographs show him brandishing the two handguns he apparently used to kill 32 people – the deadliest shooting spree in modern US history – before killing himself.

Others show the South Korean immigrant, wearing a black T-shirt under a khaki camera-style vest, a backward black baseball cap and fingerless black gloves, posing with a hammer and a knife, and with a gun pointed at his own head.

One photo shows 30 hollow-point bullets, while in the video he also refers to "martyrs like Eric and Dylan" – a reference to the teenage killers in the Columbine High massacre.

The bizarre new twist adds to an already chilling portrait of Cho from room-mates and teachers who described him as a disturbed loner who was mentally ill.

And as the world viewed the disturbing images, more questions were asked about how Cho, who in 2005 was briefly committed to a mental health facility, was able to buy the guns with which he carried out the massacre.

NBC said the package contained a rambling and often incoherent 23-page written statement, 28 video clips and 43 photos.

The package arrived at NBC headquarters in New York yesterday, two days after Cho's murderous rampage.

It bore a postal service time stamp showing that it had been mailed at a Blacksburg post office at 9.01am on Monday, about an hour and 45 minutes after Cho first opened fire.

That would help explain one of the biggest mysteries about the massacre: where the gunman was and what he did during that two-hour window between the first burst of gunfire, at a high-rise dorm, and the second fusillade, at a classroom building.

"Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats," says Cho, whose parents work at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington.

"Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfil your hedonistic needs. You had everything."

Cho repeatedly suggests he was picked on or otherwise hurt.

"You have vandalised my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience," he says, apparently reading from his manifesto.

"You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenceless people."

NBC News President Steve Capus said it was clear Cho had videotaped himself, because he could be seen leaning in to shut off the camera.

Earlier in the day, authorities disclosed that more than a year before the massacre, Cho was accused of sending unwanted messages to two women and taken to a psychiatric hospital on a magistrate's orders and pronounced a danger to himself. But he was released with orders to undergo outpatient treatment.

The disclosure added to the rapidly growing list of warning signs that appeared well before the student opened fire.

Among other things, Cho's twisted, violence-filled writings and sullen, vacant-eyed demeanour had disturbed professors and students so much that he was removed from one English class and repeatedly urged to get counselling.

Authorities disclosed that in November and December 2005, two women complained to campus police that they had received calls and computer messages from Cho. But the women considered the messages "annoying," not threatening, and neither pressed charges, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.

Neither woman was among the victims in the massacre, police said.

After the second complaint about Cho's behaviour, the university obtained a temporary detention order and took him away because an acquaintance reported he might be suicidal, authorities said.

On December 13, 2005, a magistrate ordered Cho to undergo an evaluation at a private psychiatric hospital. The magistrate signed the order after an initial evaluation found probable cause that Cho was a danger to himself or others as a result of mental illness.

The next day, according to court records, doctors at the hospital conducted a further examination and a special justice, Paul Barnett, approved outpatient treatment.

The court papers indicate that Barnett checked a box that said Cho "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness." Barnett did not check the box that would indicate a danger to others.

But despite encounters with the law and his past psychiatric treatment, Cho was able to legally purchase the two handguns he used in the attack.

The shooting has rekindled debate over US gun laws, the most lenient in the Western world.

One of the first Virginia Tech officials to recognise Cho's problems was award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni, who kicked him out of her introduction to creative writing class in late 2005.

Students in Giovanni's class had told their professor that Cho was taking photographs of their legs and knees under the desks with his cell phone. Female students refused to come to class. She said she considered him "mean" and "a bully."

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