Authorities are still sorting out why a Virginia Tech police officer was killed in a campus parking lot by a gunman who then apparently shot himself to death. The university on Thursday identified the officer as Deriek W. Crouse, a 39-year-old Army veteran and married father of five who joined the campus police force about six months after the 2007 shooting rampage that left 33 people dead.
Crouse was killed after pulling a driver over in a traffic stop. The gunman, who wasn’t involved in the traffic stop, walked into the parking lot and ambushed the officer. Police say ballistics tests have confirmed that the officer and a man suspected
in his slaying were shot by the same handgun. The Virginia State Police said in a news release early Friday that the tests have “officially linked the two fatal shootings.”
State police said a review of Officer Deriek Crouse’s in-car
video showed a male suspect with a handgun at the officer’s car at
the time of the shooting Thursday afternoon. Crouse had pulled over
a motorist, and police suspect that the gunman killed Crouse and
then took his own life nearby.
The press release says clothing found inside a discarded
backpack recovered by Blacksburg police seems to match that of the
male subject in the officer’s video. Police said they were awaiting
confirmation of the deceased suspect’s identity as well as autopsy
results from the medical examiner in Roanoke.
Before it became clear that the gunman in Thursday’s attack was dead, the school locked down the campus and used a high-tech alert system to warn students and faculty members to stay indoors.
150 Attend Candlelight Vigil
About 150 students gathered silently for a candlelight vigil at Virginia Tech after a police officer was gunned down and the shooter apparently killed himself on campus.
The students showed up Thursday night on a field facing the
stone plaza memorial for the victims of the 2007 massacre. In that
bloodbath, 33 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in
modern U.S. history.
Though the official candlelight vigil was moved to Friday
evening, many turned out anyway to show their support. One student
came forward to invite everyone back for Friday night’s event. He
shouted, “Let’s go!” The crowd responded, “Hokies!”