Virginia Tech police identified the slain officer as Deriek W. Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg. A member of the force since 2007, he was married with five children, according to the Associated Press. Crouse’s body was found in a sprawling parking lot near the Virginia Tech stadium.
Virginia Tech sophomore Shawn Ghuman live chatted with readers Friday about the recent shooting on his campus. Read the chat transcript now.
The gunman and a weapon were found in another parking lot nearby, law enforcement and government officials said. Authorities say they think the gunman killed himself as police closed in. They would not say whether he was a student.
Early Friday, Virginia State Police said ballistics tests confirmed that the officer and his assailant were shot with the same gun. A news release said the tests “officially linked the two fatal shootings.”
“Today, tragedy again struck Virginia Tech,” said Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech. “I can only say that words don’t describe our feelings, and they’re most elusive at this point in time.”
As the incident unfolded and state troopers fanned across the campus with automatic weapons, thoughts across Virginia Tech immediately turned to April 2007, when the deadliest college shooting in U.S. history occurred. But as similar as the events seemed, the university’s response was far different.
Virginia Tech immediately went on lockdown, from the first alert at 12:36 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students and faculty huddled behind locked doors so that if a gunman was loose, he couldn’t get in campus buildings.
The episode provided the first real test of Virginia Tech’s vaunted emergency response system, created after the mass shooting by Seung Hui Cho, a disturbed English major from Fairfax County. University officials devised the system after intense criticism from victims’ families and independent investigators that they did not react quickly enough in 2007.
Thursday’s response — a barrage of text messages, e-mails, phone calls, classroom alerts and audible sirens across the 30,000-student campus — was nearly flawless, according to students, staff members and public officials.
“The plan played a very significant role in protecting all the students and the faculty and also to help facilitate a rapid and proper response by law enforcement officers,” Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) told reporters late Thursday.
The first report of shots fired came at 12:36, minutes after the shooting, and advised of gunshots in the school’s coliseum parking lot, in a southern section of campus devoted to athletics. It told the community: “Stay inside. Secure doors.”