The true cost of the loss of more than 30 lives in the Virginia Tech massacre five years ago may never be known, but a report from the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates stricter gun control, calculates that the attack cost taxpayers $48.2 million.
That bill was picked up by the university, the state of Virginia, the local government, and the federal government in the form of three grants, the report says. The estimate costs of each aspect of the event and the subsequent changes to the university were assembled through public records and asking the university to compile information about any costs sustained as a direct result of the massacre.
The $48.2 million breaks down (not perfectly, as the center didn't group expenses together throughout the report, according to an article from the Washington Post) like this:
- $11.4 million for safety and security upgrades: This included the hiring of 11 new full-time campus police department employees, whose joint salary over the last five years has totaled $2.87 million. Virginia Tech also established an Office of Emergency Management and a joint dispatch office with local agencies.
- $6.4 million for cleanup, renovations and facility changes: The dorm where the shooter began his rampage has been renovated into a "residential college," and Norris Hall, the building where he barricaded the doors and killed 25 students and five faculty members, has been renovated and classrooms have been repurposed into a Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention. Virginia Tech also spent about $2 million replacing the handles and locks on more than 1,000 doors so they could not be barricaded again.
- $2.5 million for public relations and communications: The university retained a public relations consulting firm for a year, and spent nearly $1 million on "VT Alerts," an emergency notification system that reaches the school's six locations in Virginia.
- $4.79 million for settlement payment and other legal costs: This does not yet include the possible cost of a $55,000 fine from the Department of Education for not properly alerting students that a gunman was on campus.
- $324,258 for archiving all shooting-related documents
- $2.7 million to support survivors and families of victims
- $7.4 million for mental health services
- $3.2 million in other operational expenses: This includes providing lifetime health insurance for survivors who suffered serious injuries.
- $9.47 million in state expenses, including settlements
- $590,042 in healthcare costs