In the deadliest shooting rampage in US history, it was reported on Tuesday that an Israeli, Professor Liviu Libresc, was among the 32 people massacred on Monday at Virginia Tech College.
The 77-year-old victim was a senior professor of mechanics and engineering at the college.
The victims were killed in a matter of two hours before the university realized what had happened and could warn students. The bloodbath ended when the gunman committed suicide making the death total 33.
One of Prof Librescu's students, Alec Calhoun, who was with him in the classroom when the shooting started, told The Associated Press he heard “a thunderous sound from the classroom next door, what sounded like an enormous hammer.”
When students realized what happened they did all they could to evacuate the classroom, including jumping out of the windows on the second floor. Librescu stayed behind to block the door.
“Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. “The university is shocked and indeed horrified.”
Librescu’s wife, Marlina, and two sons, Arieh and Joe, have already begun making arrangements for his burial in Israel. It was only an hour earlier that Marlina had driven her husband to work, not knowing it would be her last time.
Professor Librescu and his wife, who are both Holocaust survivors, immigrated to Israel from Romania in 1978, where he was an accomplished scientist. When the Communist regime had attempted to prevent the Librescu’s from moving to Israel, it was only when the Israeli prime minister at the time, Menachem Begin, appealed to President Nicolae Ceausescu on their behalf that they were allowed to leave. A number of years later Professor Librescu went to the United States on a sabbatical and remained there since.