On a snowy, windy April day in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007, young Americans pursued a college education and their teachers engaged in providing it to them. Some of those students were attending Introductory German, Intermediate French, Advanced Hydrology Engineering, and Solid Mechanics classes in a building called Norris Hall.
Thirty-two of them died, 17 more were wounded, and six more were injured jumping out of windows. Their lives had collided with that of a tortured loner, whom a judge had written was “fundamentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and presents an eminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness,” or is so seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for self.
One of those wounded was a 21-year-old senior International Studies major from Richmond, Virginia, named Colin Goddard. Goddard played a unique role in the horrific drama that played out at Virginia Tech University on that blustery April day: he was the only person within the building to call the police. Urged by his French professor to dial 911 as the crackle of gunfire came closer to the door of their classroom, Goddard made the call. Shot for the first time, he passed the phone to a classmate who gave the police enough information to get them to the scene three minutes later. Police got into the building, which had been barricaded, six minutes after that. For all the terrible damage that the killer did, the toll of lost lives might have been much higher if it were not for the 911 call started by Colin Goddard and continued by Emily Haas.
By the end of the ordeal, the killer had fired at him at three separate moments during the eleven-minute assault. Goddard had been shot four times. He heard the rescue workers walking through his classroom, shouting ‚”red tag, black tag, black tag‚” a dire roster of the critical and the dead. He was later told he might not walk again, but fought his way through arduous physical therapy. And he grew a fire in his heart to do something about keeping dangerous people from having easy access to deadly weapons. The killer had two semiautomatic handguns, dozens of 10- and 15-round magazines, and 400 rounds of hollow-point ammunition.
After recovering and finishing his degree, Colin Goddard decided he was going to volunteer for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s largest gun control organization. And he was going to convince them to sponsor him in wearing a hidden camera and going undercover into gun shows all across America, to prove how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun, with no identification, no Brady background check, and just a wad of cash.
Living for 32 is his story.