Inside Cho Seung-Hui's Dorm

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Stephen Voss / WPN for TIME

Harper Hall at the Virginia Tech campus on Tuesday, April 17, 2007 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Harper Hall is where shooter Cho Seung-hui lived.

Harper hall is nothing special, a four-story stone dorm on the south side of the Virginia Tech campus, small by comparison to its neighbors on the outside and on the inside today, quiet — just the way Cho Seung-hui had liked things.

A reporter was able to enter and go up to the second floor wing where Cho lived. It's a nondescript place: students live two to a room in three-room suites, each of the suites attached to a smallish common area. The dorm is co-ed by room. The second floor was being patrolled by a security officer. "You have to leave here now," he said.

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It is no accident that very few of the several dozen students entering or exiting Harper today knew Cho. According to two who were aware of him, he was quiet, serious and, in the words of one, "gloomy."

"He seemed like a down person," said Mike Lee, a freshman from Fairfax, Va. "Like, gloomy."

Another student, a 21-year-old from Woodbridge, Va., recalled having lunch with Cho two years ago when both were sophomores. The chief reason for the lunch was to see if Cho could be made to laugh.

"I didn't know him," said the student. "He was quiet." But a roommate who had known Cho in high school in Chantilly suggested during their sophomore year that they ought to try to bring Cho out of his funk. "We'd try to talk to him. but he'd barely respond. So one day my roommate challenged himself to get him to talk to us. We told him a joke." Cho did laugh that day, according to the student.

Harper houses more than 300 students, and today it was clear that even those who lived down the hall didn't know Cho. The white corridor walls inside are largely undecorated; there's a Jewish awareness week flyer, a poster about recent thefts in the dorm, announcements for various groups on orange or purple paper. The campus is now quiet and unpopulated. All across the south campus, it looked like moving day, with students packing up their rolling bags and departing with a parent or sibling for a week off.