DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RESPONSE TO SHOOTINGS AT VIRGINIA TECH
WASHINGTON – Following his expression of condolence and offer of support yesterday, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales pledged Department of Justice assistance to the victims of the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech and the state and local agencies that are leading the investigation.
The Department of Justice has every confidence in Virginia law enforcement authorities and stands ready to assist as needed. Below are key resources already deployed by the Department and resources presently available to assist with the state, local and campus response.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation dispatched 20 special agents to Virginia Tech, all from the Richmond Division. Additional agents are available for deployment from the FBI’s Norfolk Division and Washington Field Office.
- Additional FBI resources that can be deployed as needed include a mobile command post, evidence response teams, laboratory assistance, and its Victims Assistance Rapid Deployment Teams, which are specially trained in responding to mass casualty events such as the shootings in Amish country and Red Lake, Minnesota.
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) dispatched 12 agents from the Roanoke field office. ATF continues to assist the Virginia State Police and local authorities in processing the crime scene, firearms and ballistics recovery, tracing through the National Tracing Center, and ballistic analysis through the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
- The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia is on-site and has offered the assistance of his victim-witness staff to the operations center. The Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys also has a 10-person team of victim-witness specialists who have volunteered their services for emergency situations and are available to be deployed as needed. The Criminal Division’s victim-witness coordinators are also available to assist.
- The Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) has emergency funds available to aid the victims and survivors of, as well as the first responders to, the tragedy at Virginia Tech. These funds, from the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, can be used to support victim-assistance activities such as counseling and other state and local law enforcement services.
- The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) stands ready to provide support to the Virginia Division of Criminal Services, Virginia State Police, Virginia Tech Police, and law enforcement in surrounding counties.
- Five members of the U.S. Marshals Service Blue Ridge Task Force, located in Roanoke, responded and assisted yesterday with the evacuation of students.
- Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were part of the Blacksburg Police Department’s SWAT team that helped clear the campus dormitories immediately following the shootings. The DEA is offering its resources and assistance to the Virginia State Police, the Blacksburg Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies.
The Justice Department has posted a number of links to resources on its Web site, http://www.usdoj.gov, for those seeking to cope with the tragedy and to better protect America’s campuses, schools and children.
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