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For hospitalized students, Hokie spirit marches in

Times Staff Writer

The raindrops had just started falling late Thursday afternoon in front of Montgomery Regional Hospital when the Marching Virginians showed up, instruments in hand.

Inside, six of their Virginia Tech classmates -- including four who remained in intensive care -- were being treated for gunshot wounds. Three others were being treated at nearby hospitals. All had witnessed Monday’s carnage firsthand, both in body and in spirit.

And so, in full orange and maroon marching regalia, some three dozen members of the band raised their tubas, trumpets and trombones toward the patient rooms above and belted out the Virginia Tech fightsong.

From one of the windows, 19-year-old freshman Hilary Strollo peered out, her arms clutched across her hospital gown. An IV tube trailed from her neck. But on her face was a radiant smile.

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“Let’s go!” she called out after one of the songs. True to their school, the band boomed back: “Hokies!”

As other students injured in Seung-hui Cho’s shooting rampage were released from area hospitals Thursday, the community of Blacksburg continued to grieve -- while taking the first steps on a long road of healing.

Six students -- three men and three women -- being treated at Montgomery Regional were listed in stable condition.

“They appear to be heading in the right direction,” said Demian Yakel, an orthopedic surgeon treating some of the patients.

Four of the students underwent major surgery when they arrived Monday, Yakel said. Several arrived with gunshot wounds to the back, legs and buttocks.

“I haven’t seen any anger. I haven’t seen any shock,” he said. “They’re all very calm and collected.”

One patient remained in serious condition Thursday at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital; two others at Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Christiansburg, Va., were in good condition.

Yakel said that some Montgomery Regional staff members came in to work without being asked after learning of the shootings on television. And they are drawing inspiration, he said, from the progress students are making.

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“They’re holding in there,” Yakel said of the staff. “They’re all feeding off each other’s energy.”

Still, there were signs that this community -- not just the university campus, now largely empty -- remained severely shaken. The tragedy evoked an outpouring of support from the town, and several businesses downtown have posted signs pledging solidarity with the university. But there is also anger and fear, and an overwhelming sense of innocence lost.

A local mental health association invited residents to what it billed as the first of several “community grief gatherings” Thursday night. Turnout was light, but those who attended vented their frustration at the intense media spotlight, their anger at the university, their sadness at lives lost and their regret that a mentally ill young man didn’t get the help he needed. And they talked about their guilt -- about loved ones’ safety, about not doing enough to help, about surviving at all.

“Everybody here is tied to Tech in some way or another,” whether it’s through work, school or church, said Carl Pauli, a resident of nearby Christiansburg who with his family watched the band serenade students outside the hospital. “Emotionally this has put a big black mark on us. Practically, it’s put a stop to everything.”

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adam.schreck@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Where they fell

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Here is where the dead, wounded and the gunman were found Monday after the shootings at Virginia Tech. The locations indicate where authorities found the victims or the class they were scheduled to attend at the time of the shootings.

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Ambler Johnston dormitory

Killed

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Ryan C. Clark, senior

Emily J. Hilscher, freshman

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Norris Hall

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French class, Room 211

Killed

Jocelyne M. Couture-Nowak, French professor

Ross A. Alameddine, sophomore

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Austin M. Cloyd, student

Daniel A. Perez Cueva, sophomore

Caitlin M. Hammaren, sophomore

Rachel M. Hill, freshman

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Matthew J. La Porte, freshman

Henry J. Lee, studentErin N. Peterson, freshman

Mary Karen Read, freshman

Reema J. Samaha, freshman

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Leslie G. Sherman, junior

Gunman Seung-hui Cho took his own life

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Wounded

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Colin L. Goddard, student, shot in leg and shoulder

Kristina Heeger, sophomore, shot in stomach

Kevin T. Sterne, senior, shot in leg

Hilary C. Strollo, freshman, shot in stomach, head and buttocks

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German class, Room 207

Killed

Christopher James Bishop, German professor

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Lauren A. McCain, student

Michael Pohle, student

Maxine Turner, senior

Nicole White, junior

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Wounded

Derek J. O’Dell, student, shot in arm

Garrett Evans, senior, shot in leg

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Solid mechanics class, Room 204

Killed

Liviu Librescu, engineering professor

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Minal H. Panchal, graduate student

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Wounded

Matthew R. Webster, student, shot in arm

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Hydrology class, Room 206

Killed G.V. Loganathan, engineering professor

Brian R. Bluhm, graduate student

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Matthew G. Gwaltney, graduate student

Jeremy Herbstritt, graduate student

Jarrett L. Lane, senior

Partahi Lombantoruan, doctoral student

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Daniel P. O’Neil, graduate student

Juan R. Ortiz, graduate student

Julia Pryde, graduate student

Waleed M. Shaalan, doctoral student

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Second-floor hallway

Killed

Kevin P. Granata, engineering science and mechanics professor

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Note: Complete list of dead, partial list of wounded

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Sources: Times staff and wire reports.

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