CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia Tech official is defending the delay in alerting students to two shootings on campus hours before the massacre of 30 others.

Robert M. Byers, executive director of government relations at Virginia Tech, said on Wednesday that officials did the best they could in unprecedented circumstances.

Byers testified at the civil trial brought by the parents of two Tech students who were among the 33 left dead in the April 16, 2007, attack by a lone gunman who killed himself after the carnage. The wrongful death suit seeks a full accounting of events the morning of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Byers gave jurors a glimpse into a meeting of university officials who struggled after the first shootings with how to deliver the news to the campus without causing a panic or unduly worrying parents.

Virginia Tech police had deemed the first two shootings in a dormitory as likely domestic-related violence. One victim was found dead, the other died later.