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UPDATE: Police Identify Virginia Tech Gunman

Funeral Arrangements Made

Funeral arrangements for Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse have been set.

The family will receive friends at the Horne funeral home, 1300 North Franklin Street, Christiansburg, Va., 24068 on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 3 to 8 p.m. The funeral service will be held Monday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at Virginia Tech's Cassell Coliseum.

Online condolences may be left by visiting Hornefuneralservice.com.

December 9, 2011

UPDATE

Police are identifying the Virginia Tech gunman as a 22-year-old college student at nearby Radford University.

Police said Friday that Ross Truett Ashley, of Radford, was responsible for killing a Virginia Tech police officer Thursday, triggering a campus-wide lockdown for thousands of students. Ashley killed himself approximately 30 minutes after shooting the officer.

Ashley has been identified by Radford City Police as the individual responsible for the theft of a white 2011 Mercedes SUV from a real estate office in the City of Radford on Dec. 7. The Mercedes was stolen at gunpoint at approximately 11:25 a.m. Wednesday from Gilbert Real Estate in the 600 block of Calhoun Street. The SUV was located the next day on the Smart Road at Virginia Tech.

At the time of the armed robbery, Radford City Police had issued a multi-state "Be On the Lookout" (BOL) for the stolen vehicle. When Blacksburg Police responded to a call of an abandoned vehicle on the Smart Road on Dec. 8, they immediately notified Radford City Police of its recovery.

At this time, there remains no prior connection or contact between Ashley, who was enrolled part-time at Radford University, and the Virginia Tech Officer he killed. Investigators are continuing their work to establish a motive in the killing and to recreate Ashley's movements in the days and hours leading up to the murder-suicide.

State police say Ashely acted alone in the slaying of a campus police officer.

Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Friday morning the gunman ran from the scene and changed clothes before killing himself in a parking lot a half-mile away. He was later found by an officer in the campus parking lot.

Geller says investigators are still trying to find out why Ashley ambushed the officer, Deriek W. Crouse. He was shot and killed Thursday, triggering a lockdown and police sweep of the campus that was the scene of the deadliest gun rampage in modern U.S. history in 2007.

Ballistics evidence testing has officially linked the two fatal shootings. Testing conducted by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science has confirmed that both victims were shot by the same weapon.

The bodies of both Officer Crouse and Ashley were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy.

Virginia State Police have been able to review Officer Crouse's in-car video. The video captured Ashley with a handgun at the officer's car at the time of the shooting. Later Thursday afternoon, Blacksburg Police recovered a discarded backpack at the Greenhouses on the Virginia Tech campus. The clothing found inside the backpack is similar to the clothing worn by the male subject in the officer's video.

A memorial fund has been set up to support the family officer Crouse. He was a married father of five children and stepchildren and joined the campus police force in October 2007. He previously worked at a jail and for the Montgomery County sheriff's department.

Virginia Tech says anyone who wants to donate to the memorial fund may do so by check to the National Bank of Bank of Blacksburg.





December 8, 2011

A gunman killed a police officer in a Virginia Tech parking lot Thursday and then apparently shot himself to death nearby in a baffling attack that shook up the campus nearly five years after it was the scene of the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

The shooting took place on the same day Virginia Tech officials were in Washington, fighting a government fine over their alleged mishandling of the 2007 bloodbath where 33 people were killed. Before it became clear that the gunman in Thursday's attack was dead, the school applied the lessons learned during the last tragedy, locking down the campus and using a high-tech alert system to warn students and faculty members to stay indoors.

"In light of the turmoil and trauma and the tragedy suffered by this campus by guns, I can only say words don't describe our feelings and they're elusive at this point in time," university president Charles Steger said. "Our hearts are broken again for the family of our police officer."

Virginia Tech Police have identified the officer as Deriek W. Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg. He joined the Virginia Tech Police Department on Oct. 27, 2007, and served in the patrol division.

Crouse was killed after pulling a driver over in a traffic stop. The gunman - who was not involved in the traffic stop - walked into the parking lot and ambushed the officer. Police did not know what the motive was and they didn't release the identity of the shooter. A law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the gunman was dead, but wouldn't say how he died.

While authorities wouldn't reveal specific details about the gunman, they released a timeline of events.

At about 12:15 p.m., the officer called in the traffic stop. After a few minutes passed without hearing from the officer, dispatch tried to get in touch with him, but didn't get a response. About 15 minutes later, police received the first call from a witness who said an officer had been shot at the Cassell Coliseum parking lot and the gunman had fled on foot.

Local, state and federal officials responded immediately. At 1 p.m., an officer saw a suspicious man in a parking lot known as The Cage. The man had a gunshot wound and a gun was nearby.

Authorities said they responded to numerous other calls of suspicious activity, but found no threats and lifted the campus lockdown, about four hours after the initial alerts.

Asked if police were still looking for the shooter, state police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said: "I think the investigators feel confident that we've located the person. I can't give you specifics and I don't want to confirm that but you can kind of read between the lines so I won't specifically address that question."

Officer Crouse had served four years on the campus police force, which has about 50 officers and 20 full- and part-time security guards. State police were still investigating whether he had been specifically targeted.

Many students were preparing for exams when they were suddenly told to hunker down. Heavily armed officers swarmed the campus as caravans of SWAT vehicles and other police cars with emergency lights flashing patrolled nearby.

"A lot of people, especially toward the beginning were scared," said Jared Brumfield, a 19-year-old freshman from Culpeper, Va., who was locked in the Squires Student Center.

The university sent updates about every 30 minutes, regardless of whether they had any new information, school spokesman Mark Owczarski said.

The school was a bit quieter than usual because classes ended Wednesday. About 20,000 of the university's 30,000 students were on campus when the officer was shot. Exams, set to begin Friday, were postponed.

The shooting came soon after the conclusion of a hearing where Virginia Tech was appealing a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Education Department in connection with the university's response to the 2007 rampage. The department said the school violated the law by waiting more than two hours after two students were shot to death in their dorm before sending an email warning. By then, student gunman Seung-Hui Cho was chaining the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more people and then himself.

The department said the email was too vague because it mentioned only a "shooting incident," not the deaths. During testimony Thursday, the university's police chief, Wendell Flinchum, said there were no immediate signs in the dorm to indicate a threat to the campus. He said the shootings were believed to be an isolated domestic incident and that the shooter had fled.

An administrative judge ended the hearing by asking each side to submit a brief by the end of January. It is unclear when he will rule.

Since the massacre, the school expanded its emergency notification systems. Alerts now go out by electronic message boards in classrooms, by text messages and other methods. Other colleges and universities have put in place similar systems.

Monica Borza, a senior majoring in biological studies from Virginia Beach, said in an email to AP that she chose to attend Virginia Tech because she thought she would be able to feel safe there.

"The dedication of the officers today confirmed my decision," said Borza, who was at the Blacksburg public library when she got a text alert about the shooting.

Officer Crouse was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team since February 2011. He received an award in 2008 for his commitment to the department’s Driving Under the Influence efforts. He formerly worked at the New River Valley Jail, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, and was a U.S. Army veteran.

He is survived by his wife, five children and step-children, and his mother and brother. Funeral arrangements will be announced at later date.


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