Police: Virginia Tech Gunman Identified - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Police: Virginia Tech Gunman Identified

USATODAY.COM - Police on Friday identified the Virginia Tech gunman as a part-time college student from nearby Radford University.

Authorities say Ross Truett Ashley, 22, stole a Mercedes Benz SUV at gunpoint from a real estate office in Radford a day before Thursday's shooting of Virginia Tech campus police officer Derek Crouse.

Ashley acted alone and had no connection to either Virginia Tech or Crouse, a father of five children and stepchildren, who died at the scene, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

Geller said Ashley approached Crouse suddenly as he sat in his car during a routine traffic stop. Crouse, 39, was unable to return fire, she said.

Crouse joined the Virginia Tech Police Department on Oct. 27, 2007, and served in the patrol division. He is survived by his wife, five children and step-children, and his mother and brother.

He was trained as a Crisis Intervention Officer, General Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Defensive Tactics instructor and most recently completed training for Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response and Mechanical and Ballistic Instructor. Crouse was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team since February 2011.

Source: Virginia Tech

Ashley died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a parking lot about a half-mile from Crouse after a Montgomery County deputy sheriff drove by and observed him "acting a bit strangely."

Ashley was a business management major at Radford, the school said on its website. He was from Partlow, Va., about 160 miles northeast of Virginia Tech. In Radford, he lived in a second-floor apartment above a yogurt shop, consignment store, barber shop and a tattoo parlor.

Neighbor Nan Forbes, a Radford senior, said Ashley was quiet, 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 overlooking the business section of Radford's main drag.

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

Authorities are still trying to determine a motive behind the slaying.

Ashley was identified Thursday, but the state medical examiner's office wouldn't release the name until his family is notified. Asked if he had a history of mental health issues, Geller said, "At this point we're not going to comment on that."

She said a dashboard-mounted camera on Crouse's car captured Ashley's picture. Ballistics tests done just after midnight Friday confirmed that he and Crouse died from bullets fired from the same gun.

Wendell Flinchum, chief of the Virginia Tech police department, said a memorial fund was being set up for Crouse's family at the National Bank of Blacksburg.

"His death is a tremendous loss to our department," he said. "Words can't express the loss that we've experienced within our department."

The school was plunged into panic Thursday as word spread that two people had been shot and a gunman was on the loose. The campus was locked down for almost four hours. It was nearly five years after a Virginia Tech senior killed 32 people and himself in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Final exams set for Friday were delayed until Saturday as Virginia Tech students and officials tried to return to normal. The university said its counseling center would be open all day Friday for students. A candlelight vigil for Crouse will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET at Drill Field.

Students early Friday began leaving flowers, baseball caps and candles at the campus parking lot where Crouse was shot. As she stood with friends nearby, Emily Yeakle, a junior, said, "I definitely still feel safe here." click here to read more

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