Hero at Virginia Tech: A Holocaust survivor

The horror that consumed Virginia Tech on Monday produced an unexpected hero: Professor Liviu Librescu, who gave his life to save some of his students:

In Monday morning’s lecture on solid mechanics, all was quiet except for the sound of Professor Liviu Librescu’s voice.

Then came the gunshots — in the classroom next door. In an instant, Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall, a building dedicated to the science of engineering, was torn apart by the worst shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

Junior Richard Mallalieu said he and about 20 classmates instantly dropped to the floor, ducking under and behind desks for what sounded like the first 10 shots.

“It wasn’t like an automatic weapon, but it was a steady ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ‘pow,’ ” Mallalieu, 23, said in a phone interview with The Sun. “We didn’t know what to do at first.” Then the sound of the gunshots shifted. Coming closer.

Their next move became instantly clear: Get out.

Mallalieu said his professor held the door shut while students darted to the windows. Some climbed on desks, ledges and a radiator cover to pull down the screens and kick at the metal-framed glass, Mallalieu said. Three windows easily gave way and swung open on hinges as the gunshots got louder.

Closer.

“It sounded like he was going out into the hallway,” said Mallalieu, a civil engineering major from Luray, Va.

Once the windows for the sec ond-floor classroom were open, Mallalieu and most of his classmates hung out of them and dropped about 10 feet to bushes and grass below, he said.

Some students ran to a nearby building. Others waited to help students who had been injured in the fall, Mallalieu said.

But then the sound of gunfire filled their classroom, sending all who had escaped toward nearby Patton Hall, he said.

Mallalieu said he never saw Librescu escape. “I don’t think my teacher got out.”

Sadly, he didn’t, but his heroism in blocking the door as long as he did appears to have allowed many of his students to escape the gunman’s rampage.