Va. Tech student had local ties Gwaltney’s aunt lives in Blounts Creek

Published 10:53 pm Monday, April 30, 2007

By By NIKIE MAYO News Editor
Matthew Gwaltney didn’t have to be in class the day he was shot and killed at Virginia Tech.
But Gwaltney, a 24-year-old graduate student who was nearly done with his master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering, was in Norris Hall that Monday morning because he wanted to make the labs he taught more understandable for his own pupils.
Gwaltney and Brian Bluhm were sitting near the door in one of the engineering building’s classrooms when gunman Seung-Hui Cho began the second round of shootings on the morning of April 16, Rowe said.
He (Cho) had already shot the people at the dorm and those two boys in the classroom, because of where they were, were the next in line to get shot,” Rowe said.
Gwaltney and Bluhm were two of 32 victims killed that day before Cho turned the gun on himself. The Virginia Tech Massacre is the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.
Rowe said she isn’t the least bit surprised her nephew was sitting in on an early morning class when he could have been sleeping in.
When Gwaltney was 3, he was passionate about “Sesame Street.”
An athlete and avid sports fan, Gwaltney was a pitcher for his baseball team at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va. He also played basketball there and was on a team that made it to the state championship.
Gwaltney, an honor student, had left Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg, Va., the Thursday before the shooting to interview with an engineering firm in Richmond, Va.
A tribute to Gwaltney on his high school’s Web site sums up “the unreal, raw loss,” Rowe said his family feels.
Cathy Epps, Gwaltney’s high school physics teacher, said of Gwaltney:
Contributions to the Matthew G. Gwaltney Memorial Fund may be sent to First Market Bank, 3107 Boulevard Suite 16, Colonial Heights, VA 23834. Rowe also plans to set up a local fund at a Bank of America branch in Washington.