Shock, grief for those with ties to Blacksburg

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Dacula resident who grew up in Virginia said she was shocked, stunned and saddened to hear of the massacre Monday at Virginia Tech that left at least 32 people dead.

"Young people with amazing potential to do amazing things were stopped in their tracks," said Dawn Siska, who grew up in Virginia and Maryland. "They say time heals all wounds. I can't imagine there being enough time to heal from this. ... How does one recover?"

Siska didn't attend the school, but she said many of her high school friends and their children went to Virginia Tech.

"You go to the University of Richmond or Virginia Tech, if you go to high school in Virginia," she said.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who lives in Gwinnett County, said in a statement he was "shocked and deeply saddened about the tragic loss of life" that took place at his alma mater.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones involved in this terrible tragedy," he said. "It is my hope that the university community can pull together to help the students cope with this senseless and unfortunate ordeal."

Vick's fellow Falcon, DeAngelo Hall, also said in a statement his prayers and thoughts are with the families.

"Words can't describe how sad I am right now," Hall said. "Everyone who knows me understands the affinity I have for Virginia Tech."

Siska has three teenage boys, and one of her sons will be going to college in two years. School shootings bring to mind such events as the one that took place nearly eight years ago at Columbine High near Littleton, Colo., she said.

At Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, officials have plans in place in case such an emergency were to happen, said Jennifer Stephens, spokeswoman for the college.

"The safety of all our students, faculty and staff is the college's top priority every day," according to a statement released Monday by the college. "We are fortunate to have a highly skilled security force whose sole purpose is to ensure the safety of everyone on campus."

Georgia Gwinnett's emergency plan says the college would contact local authorities to provide any necessary backup and support.

"At the same time, the senior leadership team would gather in a command center to make appropriate and coordinated decisions as necessary," according to the college's statement. "As soon as information is acquired, it will be communicated immediately throughout the campus and the community using all available means of communication."