Remember the Faces of the Victims

Lauren McCain, a 20-year-old international studies major, became a Christian some time ago, her family said. The love of her life was Jesus Christ, as she listed in her MySpace page.
Apr 22, 2007 01:27 PM EDT

Lauren McCain, a 20-year-old international studies major, became a Christian some time ago, her family said. The love of her life was Jesus Christ, as she listed in her MySpace page.

McCain was one of 33 people who were killed in the Virginia Tech shooting massacre Monday morning. She was part of Campus Crusade for Christ and her mission was to glorify God through her life, according to a comment posted by Jeanne Meadows of Hampton, Va., on CNN.

"Lauren was such a witness for Christ that I am sure she was praying for the gunman in her last moments on this earth," Meadows stated.

Rachael Hill was 18 and a freshman at Virginia Tech when she was shot by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. News of her death hit hard at Grove Avenue Christian School in Richmond, said Mark Becton, pastor of its affiliated church, Grove Avenue Baptist, on The Washington Post.

The young student was one of only 10 people in her graduating class.

"She was a wonderful young lady, very bright, very gifted. She had a close relationship with her parents and her fellow students here," Martha Isaacs, a former employee of the school, told Baptist Press. "She was very spiritually mature. She loved the Lord and was just an asset to our school."

Parents of Austin Cloyd, 18, tried contacting her the day of the shooting – the worst in U.S. history. Before a list of names was released or photos of victims were identified, friends wrote notes on a Facebook page on Monday saying they were praying for her.

Nearly a day after the shooting, her parents finally got word, according to the Rev. Terry Harter, pastor of the family's former church in Illinois. Unable to speak that night, they sent an e-mail that ended: "The world has lost a very special person," according to The Washington Post.

Profiles of the victims have drawn sympathetic comments from people across the nation, some expressing deep sorrow and others trying to strengthen the families with hope and prayers.

While silence on the Blacksburg campus had only been broken by grieving and prayers, raw hate-filled videos and photographs of the shooter who had mailed the package to NBC News on the day of the massacre began airing all over the media. The image of the Cho holding up guns with an angry face along with his recorded messages blew another shock to the Virginia Tech campus and the rest of the nation.

Family members of victims were upset over the airings.

"For the love of God and our children, stop broadcasting those images and those words. Choose to focus on life and the love and the light that our children brought into the world and not on the darkness and the madness and the death," said Peter Read, father of Mary Karen, who was killed on Monday, according to The Associated Press.

With a backlash developing against the media, NBC and its MSNBC cable outlet, along with Fox News Channel and other major news outlets said they will limit the use of pictures going forward.

NBC had released a statement saying the decision to run the video was "reached by virtually every news organization in the world."

"We have covered this story – and our unique role in it – with extreme sensitivity, underscored by our devoted efforts to remember and honor the victims and heroes of this tragic incident."

While images of Cho will be appearing less often in the media, parents of a 19-year-old victim ask that people turn away from the face of the gunman glaring at the camera and instead gaze at the face of a bright-faced brunette – Mary Karen Read – as well as the faces of other victims.

"We want the world to know and celebrate our children's lives, and we believe that's the central element that brings hope in the midst of great tragedy," said Peter Read, according to AP. "These kids were the best that their generation has to offer."