The university will posthumously honor all 33 fallen at its commencement ceremony in June

By Stephen M. Silverman
April 19, 2007 12:00 PM

The students killed during Monday’s rampage at Virginia Tech will all be awarded their degrees posthumously during commencement ceremonies scheduled for June, university officials announced Thursday.

The news arrived as Col. Steve Flaherty spoke at a press conference and expressed disappointment with NBC for airing a disturbing video of the gunman, 23-year-old student Cho Seung-Hui, in which he delivered a tirade about rich “brats” and their “hedonistic needs.”

Cho had sent the video to the network between his two shooting sprees, which culminated in his taking his own life.

Flaherty also said the video was of only marginal value to the official investigation.

On NBC’s Today show Thursday, cohost Meredith Vieira said the decision to air the information “was not taken lightly,” while cohost Matt Lauer acknowledged that some survivors of those killed withdrew their willingness to be interviewed on the program Thursday because of the network’s decision to show Cho’s video.

“I saw his picture on TV, and when I did I just got chills,” said Kristy Venning, a junior from Franklin County, Va., told the Associated Press. “There’s really no words. It shows he put so much thought into this, and I think it’s sick.”

In the video, Cho speaks in a harsh monotone and often displays a snarl. “You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today,” he declares in one clip. “But you decided to spill my blood.”

Cho and his family left South Korea in 1992 to seek a better life in the U.S., his uncle – who requested to be identified only by his last name, Kim – told the Associated Press. The family never returned to their homeland, and Kim said he did not recognize his nephew when his photo appeared on TV in relation to the rampage.

“I am devastated,” Kim said between heavy sighs. “I don’t know what I can tell the victims’ families and the U.S. citizens. I sincerely apologize … as a family member.” The relative added that he has been unable to reach Cho’s mother since Monday’s massacre. She and her husband now work at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington. They have remained out of sight since the tragedy, say reports.

See PEOPLE’s complete coverage of the tragedy

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