Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said police have found no prior connection between the gunmanand Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse, 39, who was shot during a routine traffic stop shortly after 12:15 p.m.
Geller said police are “very confident” that the shooter acted alone. She said police believe he sought refuge in a campus greenhouse after Crouse was shot in a parking lot near Virginia Tech’s stadium, took off a “pullover top and a wool cap” and stowed them in a backpack, then left the backpack in the greenhouse.
Virginia Tech sophomore Shawn Ghuman live chatted with readers about Thursday’s shooting, giving a unique campus perspective. Read the chat transcript now.
He was next spotted by a Montgomery County, Va., sheriff’s deputy in the rear of a campus parking lot, Geller said. The deputy — one of scores of officers who had descended on the campus in response to the initial shooting — saw the man acting “furtively,” Geller said, and decided to approach him.
As the deputy drove across the parking lot, he lost sight of the man for a moment. When he reached the rear of the parking lot, Geller said, the man was prone on the ground, dead of a gunshot wound police believe was self-inflicted.
“At this point we have nothing to connect him to the Virginia Tech campus or school,” Geller said of the shooter. “We’re still piecing together who he is, his whereabouts leading up to the shooting. That’s all part of the investigation.”
Authorities said Crouse did not return fire when he was shot. Police have found no connection between the gunman and Crouse, Geller said.
The shootings on Thursday, and the chaos that followed, brought back horrifying memories of the 2007 massacre that claimed 33 lives and redefined how universities respond to emergencies. The shootings prompted a campus-wide lockdown that lasted four hours.
Crouse, 39, was from Christiansburg. A member of the force since 2007, he was married with five children and step-children. He also was an Army reservist who served in Iraq.
Police said he was on patrol in an unmarked Crown Victoria about 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, in the stadium parking lot, when he pulled over a Virginia Tech student driving a Silver Honda. While he was still in his vehicle, the shooter approached him and opened fire, police said. The shooter then ran. He was approached by the sheriff’s deputy in the second parking lot, about a half-mile away, at 12:45 p.m.
Footage from the video camera in Crouse’s unmarked police car show the gunman at the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
As state troopers fanned across the campus with automatic weapons after the shootings, thoughts across Virginia Tech immediately turned to April 2007, when the deadliest college shooting in U.S. history occurred.