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Police Identify Virginia Tech Gunman

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
Courtesy: WJLA

Courtesy: WJLA

Police Identify Virginia Tech Gunman

Blacksburg, VA (AP) -- December 9, 2011 --

A dean's list student who killed a Virginia Tech police officer had no ties to the university and did not know the patrolman, authorities said Friday without offering a motive for a crime spree that spanned two days and ended in suicide.

Ross Truett Ashley, 22, first drew authorities' attention when he robbed his landlord's office at gunpoint Wednesday in Radford, where he studied business part-time at Radford University. He took the keys to a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle later found in Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech, about 10 miles away.

It was there on Thursday that Ashley walked up to officer Deriek W. Crouse and shot him to death as the patrolman sat in his unmarked cruiser in the midst of a traffic stop. Ashley was not involved in the stop and did not know the driver, police said.

Ashley then took off for the campus greenhouses, ditching his pullover, wool cap and backpack as police sent out a campus-wide alert that a gunman was on the loose, terrorizing students on a campus still coping with the nation's worst mass slaying in recent memory.

A deputy sheriff on patrol noticed a man acting suspicious in a parking lot about a half-mile from the shooting. The deputy drove up and down the rows of the sprawling Cage parking lot and lost sight of the man for a moment, then found Ashley shot to death on the pavement.

Ashley lived in an apartment on top floor of a gray, three-story brick building that looked a little beaten up on the outside.

On Friday night, students popped merrily in and out of the building visiting friends. Mandy Adams, a Radford grad student, said had Ashley had recently shaved his head. Other than running down the hallways, he was quiet and normal, she said.

"He would just run down the hallway, never walk, always run," said Adams, who was out on a rear fire escape with a glass of white wine and a cigarette to calm her nerves. "It's going to be really creepy when they come to take his stuff out of here."

Ashley's apartment was above a yogurt shop, consignment store, barber shop and a tattoo parlor. It overlooked the business section of Radford's main drag.

Neighbor Nan Forbes, a Radford senior, said he was rarely seen or heard from. She said she knew he was in trouble when she saw two police officers guarding the door to Ashley's apartment

"It does freak us out because we live in this building, but there was not one peep of trouble, nothing unusual," she said.

Ashley studied business management and made the dean's list in 2008 at the University of Virginia-Wise, which is located in southwest Virginia, far from Ashley's hometown of Partlow. Officials at Radford or UVA-Wise were not immediately able to talk in detail about Ashley.

At the Virginia Tech campus, thousands of people silently filled the Drillfield for a candlelight vigil Friday night to remember Crouse, a firearms and defense instructor with a specialty in crisis intervention. He had been on the force for four years, joining about six months after a student gunman killed 32 and himself on April 16, 2007.

The vigil included a moment of silence and later closed with two trumpeters stationed across the field from each other playing "Echo Taps" as students raised their candles.

"Let's go!" one student then shouted. "Hokies!" everyone else responded.

Kathleen O'Dwyer, a fifth-year engineering majors, said it was important to come for Crouse's family.

"Also it's for the community, to see the violence that happens isn't what we're about," said O'Dwyer, who will be graduating next week.

Her plans when she leaves school?

"First, go home and hug my mom," O'Dwyer said.

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Slain Va. Tech Officer Identified as Army Veteran

Blacksburg, VA (AP) - A gunman killed a Virginia Tech police officer Thursday at a campus parking lot and then apparently shot himself to death nearby in a baffling attack that shook up the school 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."

The officer 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.

The officer was identified 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 massacre, the school said. He previously worked at a jail and a sheriff's department.

While authorities wouldn't reveal specific details about the gunman or his identity, 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."

The officer 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 the officer 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.

Harry White, 20, a junior physics major, said he was in line for a sandwich at a restaurant in a campus building when he received the text message alert.

White said he didn't panic, thinking instead about a false alarm about a possible gunman that locked down the campus in August. White used an indoor walkway to go to a computer lab in an adjacent building, where he checked news reports.

"I decided to just check to see how serious it was. I saw it's actually someone shooting someone, not something false, something that looks like a gun," White 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.

Universities are required under the Clery Act to provide warnings in a timely manner and to report the number of crimes on campus.

Andrew Goddard, who has crusaded for stiffer run control laws since his son Colin was wounded in the 2007 shootings, said Virginia Tech's response seemed substantially better this time.

"It sounds like things moved very, very fast this time as opposed to the time before," said Goddard, who has a daughter and nephew that go to the school. "That doesn't surprise me. Virginia Tech really did get the message in the sense that when bad things are happening, you have to ask quickly."

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.

"Within minutes, all my friends and family checked in with me to make sure that I was safe," she said. "For the next couple of hours, my phone was constantly going off with text messages and phone calls saying, `Are you okay?' `Praying for VT!'"

During about a one-hour period on Thursday, the university issued four separate alerts.

Derek O'Dell, a third-year veterinary student at Virginia Tech who was wounded in the 2007 shooting, was shaken.

"It just brings up a lot of bad feelings, bad memories," said O'Dell, who was at his home a couple of miles from campus at the time of the shootings.

"At first I was just hoping it was a false alarm," he said. "Then there were reports of two people dead, and the second person shot was in the parking lot where I usually park to go to school so it was kind of surreal."

On Thursday night, about 150 students gathered silently for a candlelight vigil on a field facing the stone plaza memorial for the victims of the 2007 massacre. Though the official vigil was moved to Friday evening, many turned out anyway to show their support. One student came forward to invite everyone back a day later. He shouted, "Let's go!" The crowd responded, "Hokies!"

Police would not rule out a connection between the shootings and an armed robbery Wednesday in Radford, about 10 miles from Blacksburg. According to media reports, Radford police were looking for a man they considered armed and dangerous after an armed robbery at a local real estate office.

In August, a report of a possible gunman at Virginia Tech set off the longest, most extensive lockdown and search on campus since 2007. No gunman was found, and the school gave the all-clear about five hours after sirens began wailing and students and staff members started receiving warnings.

The system was also put to the test in 2008, when an exploding nail gun cartridge was mistaken for gunfire. Only one dorm was locked down during that emergency, and it reopened two hours later.

---

Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Kimberly Hefling and Ben Nuckols in Washington; Michael Felberbaum, Larry O'Dell and Steve Szkotak in Richmond, Va., and Brock Vergakis in Norfolk contributed to this report.

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150 Attend Candlelight Vigil at Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, VA (AP) - 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!"

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Police: Va. Tech Shooter Not Person Pulled Over

Blacksburg, VA (AP) - A gunman walked into a parking lot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer who was conducting a traffic stop on campus Thursday, state police said.

Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said it appeared that the shooter was not in the car that had been pulled over. The sergeant said another officer later spotted a second person in a different parking lot who was alive at the time. That person, a white man, later died of a gunshot wound.

Police would not say during a Thursday afternoon news conference whether the second dead person was the gunman who killed the officer. However, a law enforcement official who had knowledge of the case and spoke on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that the gunman was believed to be dead.

Virginia Tech officials said on the school's website that a weapon was recovered near the second body found on campus. School officials also said there was no longer an active threat Thursday afternoon and that normal activities could resume.

Investigators were interviewing the person who was pulled over Thursday. Carpentieri also said he couldn't say exactly how many people were involved.

The officer had served on the campus police force for four years. State police were still investigating whether he had been specifically targeted.

The officer's shooting prompted a lockdown that lasted for hours.

As police hunted for the killer, the school applied the lessons learned nearly five years ago, warning students and faculty members via email and text message to stay indoors. It was the first gunfire on campus since 33 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The shooting Thursday sent a shudder through campus, where students preparing for exams were suddenly told to hunker down. Heavily armed officers walked around 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 since around 1:30 p.m. "A lot of people are loosening up now. I guess we're just waiting it out, waiting for it to be over."

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

"It's crazy that someone would go and do something like that with all the stuff that happened in 2007," said Corey Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore from Mechanicsville, Va., who was headed to a dining hall near the site of one of the shootings.

He told The Associated Press that he stayed inside after seeing the alerts from the school. "It's just weird to think about why someone would do something like this when the school's had so many problems," Smith said.

Harry White, 20, a junior physics major, said he was in line for a sandwich at a restaurant in a campus building when he received the text message alert.

White said he didn't panic, thinking instead about a false alarm about a possible gunman that locked down the campus in August. White used an indoor walkway to go to a computer lab in an adjacent building, where he checked news reports.

"I decided to just check to see how serious it was. I saw it's actually someone shooting someone, not something false, something that looks like a gun," White said.

Campus was quieter than usual because classes ended Wednesday and students were preparing for exams, which were to begin Friday. The school postponed those tests.

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.

Universities are required under the Clery Act to provide warnings in a timely manner and to report the number of crimes on campus.

During about a one-hour period on Thursday, the university issued four separate alerts.

Derek O'Dell, a third-year veterinary student at Virginia Tech who was wounded in the 2007 shooting, was shaken.

"It just brings up a lot of bad feelings, bad memories," O'Dell said. "You pray there are no more victims, and pray for the families."

O'Dell was monitoring the situation from his home a couple of miles from campus.

"At first I was just hoping it was a false alarm," he said. "Then there were reports of two people dead, and the second person shot was in the parking lot where I usually park to go to school so it was kind of surreal."

In August, a report of a possible gunman at Virginia Tech set off the longest, most extensive lockdown and search on campus since 2007. No gunman was found, and the school gave the all-clear about five hours after sirens began wailing and students and staff members started receiving warnings.

The system was also put to the test in 2008, when an exploding nail gun cartridge was mistaken for gunfire. Only one dorm was locked down during that emergency, and it reopened two hours later.

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Official: Va. Tech Gunman Believed to Be Dead

December 8, 2011 -- 4:45pm

Blacksburg, VA (AP) - A law enforcement official says the gunman who fled after killing a police officer on campus is believed to be dead.

The law enforcement official had knowledge of the case and spoke
on condition of anonymity.

After the officer was shot Thursday, authorities found a second
body in a campus parking lot. It was not immediately clear if that
second body was that of the gunman.

The shooting triggered a lockdown on the sprawling campus that
in 2007 was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.
history. School officials said earlier in the day that the officer
was shot during a routine traffic stop.

The officer has not yet been identified.

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BREAKING: Law enforcement official tells AP that Virginia Tech gunman is believed to be dead.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - December 8, 2011 - 1:55pm -

Virginia Tech confirms police officer, 1 other person killed in shootings on campus

__________________________________

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - December 8, 2011 - 1:20pm -

Virginia Tech says a police officer has been shot, and a possible second victim has been reported at a parking lot near the campus.

Authorities are seeking a suspect.

A campus-wide alert tells students and faculty to stay inside
and lock doors.

The shooting comes the same day as Virginia Tech is appealing a
$55,000 fine by the Education Department in connection with the
university's response to a 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead.

The suspect is described as a white male wearing gray sweat
pants, gray hat with neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack.

A message left with the university wasn't immediately returned.
Campus police referred all questions to the university.

A student gunman killed 32 students and faculty and then shot
himself on the campus in 2007.


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