In memoriam

The Victims

Virginia Tech Shootings

April 19, 2007|By New York Times News Service

Matthew G. Gwaltney

Gwaltney, 24, was on the brink of finishing his graduate degree and was planning to return to his hometown for a new job and to be near his parents.

He was a master's student in civil and environmental engineering and was attending Virginia Tech on a fellowship, his father, Greg Gwaltney, said yesterday from his home in Chester, Va., near Richmond.

Gwaltney had been the high school school newspaper's sports editor and named "Best guy to take home to your parents," said his principal, Robert Stansberry.

"He went to every women's and men's basketball game, and went to every football game," his mother, Linda Gwaltney, said. "If there was a football game, we knew he wasn't coming home that weekend."

Associated Press

Henry J. Lee

Lee, 20, a freshman from Roanoke, Va., had achieved much despite significant odds.

He was born in China as Henh P. Ly, and his parents came to the United States when he was in elementary school, said Susan Lewyer Willis, the principal at William Fleming High School. She said he changed his name to Henry Lee when he became a citizen last year.

In high school, in addition to working at a Sears store, he was such a diligent student that he won nearly all the awards in his senior year, including the Burger King award, which entitled every classmate to a card with Lee's picture on it that could be exchanged for a free Whopper sandwich.

As salutatorian, he was asked to give a speech but was so nervous that he had to be coaxed into it, Willis said.

"He said to them," she recounted, "`Imagine sitting in class not knowing the language. Now I am No. 2 in my class.' It was such a proud moment."

New York Times News Service

Partahi Lombantoruan

Lombantoruan's family in Indonesia said that they sold off property and cars to pay his tuition and that his goal was to become a teacher in the United States.

Lombantoruan, a 34-year-old doctoral student, had been studying civil engineering at Virginia Tech for three years, said his father, Tohom Lombantoruan, a 66-year-old retired army officer.

"We tried everything to completely finance his studies in the United States," he said. "We only wanted him to succeed in his studies, but ... he met a tragic fate."

Associated Press

Erin Peterson

Peterson, a Westfield (Va.) High School classmate of the gunman, was 6-feet-1 and played center for the school's girls basketball team, helping lead it to a district championship.

"She could do a layup on anyone," said Anna Richter, a high school teammate. She recalled how Peterson's parents attended nearly every game and were among the most enthusiastic fans.

"She was just a super child," William Lloyd, Erin's godfather, told the Washington City Paper. "Her and her dad, man, you couldn't separate them. He lost a child from cancer -- a daughter, 8 years old. A week later, [Erin] was born."

Associated Press

Michael Pohle

Pohle, 23, of Flemington, N.J., was expected to graduate in a few weeks with a degree in biological sciences, said Craig Blanton, Hunterdon Central's vice principal during the 2002 school year, when Pohle graduated.

"He had a bunch of job interviews and was all set to start his post-college life," Blanton told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

At the high school, Pohle played on the football and lacrosse teams. One of his lacrosse coaches, Bob Shroeder, described him as "a good kid who did everything that good kids do."

Associated Press

Julia Pryde

Pryde, a graduate student from Middletown, N.J., was an "exceptional student academically and personally," said Saied Mostaghimi, chairman of the biological systems and engineering department where Pryde was seeking her master's degree.

"She was the nicest person you ever met," Mostaghimi told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

Last summer, Pryde had traveled to Ecuador to research water quality issues with a professor. She planned to return this summer for follow-up work in the field, Mostaghimi said.

Associated Press

Waleed Shaalan

Shaalan arrived at Virginia Tech from northern Egypt last year to study engineering. He was in his late 20s and had a wife and son who live in Egypt, said a fellow student, Sherees Sadek.

Equally social and studious, Shaalan was active in the Muslim Student Association at Virginia Tech, and he especially enjoyed participating in the group's community activities.

"He was a nice guy," said Sadek. "He was really focused on studying, but he was also really easy to talk to."

New York Times News Service

Leslie G. Sherman

Sherman, 20, a sophomore history major from Springfield, Va., loved running, history, foreign languages and making friends laugh.

"She was just amazing," said Deepika R. Chadive, 19, a fellow sophomore who played basketball with Sherman when they were students at West Springfield High.

"Not only was she very good, she was very spirited," Chadive said of Sherman's skills on the court. "She was always very enthusiastic. Even if we were down 50 points, she would always give us a pat on the back."

Sherman never seemed to have "anything bad to say about anyone," she said. "She was always joking around and smiling. She was always trying to make people smile."

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