16 April 2007

Seung-Hui Cho guns down 32 people and injures 17 before committing suicide at Virginia Tech.

On 16 April 2007, 32 people died after being gunned down on the campus of Virginia Tech by Seung Hui Cho, a student at the college who later committed suicide.

The Virginia Tech shooting began around 7:15 a.m., when Cho, a 23-year-old senior and English major at Blacksburg-based Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shot a female freshman and a male resident assistant in a campus dormitory before fleeing the building.

Police were soon on the scene; unaware of the gunman’s identity, they initially pursued the female victim’s boyfriend as a suspect in what they believed to be an isolated domestic-violence incident.

However, at around 9:40 a.m., Cho, armed with a 9-millimeter handgun, a 22-caliber handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, entered a classroom building, chained and locked several main doors and went from room to room shooting people. Approximately 10 minutes after the rampage began, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The attack left 32 people dead and more than a dozen wounded. In all, 27 students and five faculty members died in the massacre.

Two days later, on April 18, NBC News received a package of materials from Cho with a timestamp indicating he had mailed it from a Virginia post office between the first and second shooting attacks. Contained in the package were photos of a gun-wielding Cho, along with a rambling video diatribe in which he ranted about wealthy “brats,” among other topics.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, authorities found no evidence that Cho, who was born in South Korea and moved to America with his family in 1992, had specifically targeted any of his victims. The public soon learned that Cho, described by students as a loner who rarely spoke to anyone, had a history of mental-health problems.

It was also revealed that angry, violent writings Cho made for certain class assignments had raised concern among some of his professors and fellow students well before the events of April 16.

In 2011, Virginia Tech was fined by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to issue a prompt campus-wide warning after Cho shot his first two victims.

School officials sent an email notification about the dorm shooting to students and faculty at 9:26 that morning. According to the Department of Education, the message was vague and did not indicate there had been a murder or that the gunman was still at large.

16 April 1941

The Italian-German Tarigo convoy is attacked and destroyed by British ships during World War II.

The Battle of the Tarigo Convoy was a naval battle of World War II, part of the Battle of the Mediterranean. It was fought on 16 April 1941, between four British and three Italian destroyers, near the Kerkennah Islands off Sfax, in the Tunisian coast. The battle was named after the Italian flagship, the destroyer Luca Tarigo.

Control of the sea between Italy and Libya was heavily disputed as both sides sought to safeguard their own convoys while interdicting those of their opponent. Axis convoys to North Africa supplied the German and Italian armies there, and British attacks were based on Malta, itself dependent upon convoys.

In mid-April, 1941, a five ship Axis convoy sailed from Naples, en route to Tripoli. It consisted of four German troopships and an Italian ammunition ship. The convoy was escorted by a Navigatori-class destroyer Luca Tarigo and two Folgore-class destroyers, Baleno and Lampo, all commanded by Commander Pietro de Cristofaro. The convoy was delayed by bad weather, sailing in the evening of 13 April.

The British had been alerted to the convoy’s sailing by intercepted radio messages. On 15 April, a British Maryland reconnaissance plane sighted and shadowed the convoy. Two Italian SM.79s that were ordered to provide air cover did not arrive, due to the continuing bad weather. During the night of 15–16 April, the convoy was intercepted by the British 14th Destroyer Flotilla, HMS Janus, HMS Nubian, and HMS Mohawk, commanded by Captain Philip Mack. At least three of these destroyers were equipped with radar. The encounter took place as the Italian convoy maneuvered around the shallow waters surrounding the Kerkennah Islands.

By the use of the radar, the British force ambushed the Axis convoy in the dark. As the convoy passed a buoy marking sandbanks, the British opened fire at 2,000 yards and closed to as near as 50 yards. Three of the Axis transports were sunk, and the other two beached on the sandbar and became a total loss. Lampo was run aground and later salvaged, while Baleno sank in shallow waters. The flotilla commander, Commander de Cristofaro, on board Tarigo, had his leg shot off and later died of his wounds; he was posthumously awarded the Medaglia d’Oro launched two torpedoes which hit HMS Mohawk. Mohawk was subsequently scuttled by HMS Jervis, and settled on the sandy bottom at a depth of 12 metres. The outcome of the battle marked the end of the relatively unopposed Axis transport to Libya, which they had enjoyed since June 1940.

16 April 1990

Jack Kevorkian (“Doctor Death”)participates in his first assisted suicide.

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Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been known as “Dr. Death” since at least 1956, when he conducted a study photographing patients’ eyes as they died. Results established that blood vessels in the cornea contract and become invisible as the heart stops beating. In a 1958 paper, he suggested that death row inmates be euthanized, and their bodily organs harvested. In 1960, he proposed using condemned prisoners for medical experiments.

In 1989, a quadriplegic, too handicapped to kill himself, publicly asked for assistance, and Dr. Kevorkian began tinkering on a suicide machine. But a different patient — Janet Adkins, a 54-year-old with Alzheimer’s — was the first to test the device. It worked. Kevorkian then provided services to at least 45 and possibly more satisfied customers. Kevorkian was arrested and tried for his direct role in a case of voluntary euthanasia. He was convicted of second-degree murder and served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence. He was released on parole on June 1, 2007, on condition he would not offer advice nor participate nor be present in the act of any type of suicide involving euthanasia to any other person; as well as neither promote nor talk about the procedure of assisted suicide

In 1997, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans who want to kill themselves but are physically unable to do so have no Constitutional right to end their lives. Kevorkian is now serving 10-25 years in prison, and is reportedly in ill health.