Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Commonwealth of Virginia Not Responsible for Virginia Tech Murder
State Supreme Court rules state not responsible; massacre was not reasonably foreseeable.

In a case of direct relevance to the legal duty of churches to employ security guards, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Commonwealth of Virginia was not legally responsible for the murder of 32 students by an armed assailant on campus property because the massacre was not reasonably foreseeable. At approximately 7:30 a.m. on April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech University Police Department received a call that an "incident" had occurred in a dormitory. The specifics of what happened were unknown. When officers arrived, they found two gunshot victims, a male and a female. Although officers from the university police department were the first on the scene, the municipal police department led the investigation.

During the investigation, police came to believe that they were investigating an isolated incident that posed no danger to others and that the shooter had fled the area. They did not believe that a campus lockdown was necessary.

At the crime scene, police learned that the female victim's boyfriend was a gun enthusiast and identified him as a person of interest. The police located the boyfriend at 9:45 a.m. As police spoke with him they received word that there were "active shots" in a Virginia Tech building.

The president of Virginia Tech learned of "a shooting" at approximately 8 a.m. and called a meeting of a group of administrators tasked with campus safety, named the University Policy Group, to assess the situation and handle the release of information. Shortly after 8 a.m., the president spoke with the chief of the Virginia Tech Police Department, and learned that a female and a male student had been shot, at least one of whom was dead, that the shootings were likely domestic in nature, and that the shooter apparently had left the campus.

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Assess the security of your church and learn how to prevent crime.

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