Virginia Tech tragedy

Maryville grad at Tech describes campus mood as 'somber'

By Robert Wilson
For Blount Today

Jay Yarborough was in an engineering class when it all started.

The class is called the Mechanics of Deformable Bodies and deals, Yarborough said, with "how things bend under stress."
He won’t be in class today; they’re canceled.

But he will still be observing how things – and people -- bend under stress as his school, Virginia Tech, deals with the hideous act that was perpetrated on its sprawling campus Monday.

Yarborough, a 2005 graduate of Maryville High School was where he should have been Monday when the killing started and was unaware, as he listened to a lecture, of the scope of the incident until well after it was over.

"When I went into class," Yarborough said in a phone interview Tuesday from Blacksburg, "I heard someone say someone had been shot."

And while complex-sounding class proceeded, he said, Yarborough said he heard a "continuous stream of sirens" go by.
By the time the class was over, so was the killing.

"I went back to the dorm. I didn’t really know what was going on until I started talking to other people.

"No one really knew how bad it was until the press conference."

How bad it was: 33 people shot to death, including the gunman, who apparently who took his own life.

Sunshine and a chilly wind bathed the Virginia Tech campus the next morning, when the mood was "pretty somber,"
Yarborough said.

Yarborough said he did not know any of the victims who have been identified, but at the time he spoke, not all the names had been released, he said.

As the magnitude of Monday’s events began to spread across the community, Yarborough’s compulsion to call home was thwarted by jammed phone lines, a problem that also kept his family from contacting him

Yarborough’s mother, Emily Yarborough, said she was alerted to the events by her daughter – Jay’s older sister, Page Yarborough – who is a volunteer team coordinator for Americorps in Memphis.

"She called me when she saw it on the Internet," Emily Yarborough said. "She called to see if I had heard it, and I had not."
She tried to call, but the circuits were busy. So she logged onto a computer to send her Jay an e-mail.

Once she did log on, Jay was alerted to that fact and sent her an instant message.

Emily Yarborough said the 20 minutes between her daughter’s call and that IM were pretty intense. Hearing from him was a large relief, "absolutely."

Tuesday, Jay Yarborough was unsure whether he would come back to Maryville. Classes were canceled for the rest of the week, and he said he "probably would just stay.

"I’ve got some studying I need to do."

For her part, his mother encouraged him to go to a Tuesday afternoon convocation at which President Bush spoke and to "get out and talk to people and not stay isolated, not cover it up.

"I want him to talk about it."

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