Gunman Fatally Shoots Cop, Reportedly Kills Self On Virginia Tech Campus

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Tech police officer who was gunned down in a campus attack joined the force six months after the university was the scene of the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history. He was a proud policeman who recently invited a friend to ride along with him, which made his death during a traffic stop even more puzzling.

Deriek W. Crouse, an Army veteran and married father of five, was killed Thursday after pulling a driver over in a school parking lot. Police said the gunman walked up, shot the officer and then fled on foot before he apparently killed himself nearby. The deceased suspect was not involved in the traffic stop.

Police said they don’t know what motivated the officer’s killing or whether there was any link between the shooter, who has not been identified, and Crouse.

“At this point, we haven’t been able to establish any kind of immediate connection between the officer and the shooter,” State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told The Associated Press late Thursday. “That’s obviously something that’s being looked into.”

State police said in a news release early Friday that ballistics tests confirmed Crouse and the deceased suspect had been shot by the same handgun. The tests have “officially linked the two fatal shootings,” the release said.

Authorities also said a review of Crouse’s in-car video showed a male suspect with a handgun at the officer’s car at the time of the shooting.

The news release said clothing found inside a discarded backpack recovered by Blacksburg police seemed 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.

The events unfolded on the same day Virginia Tech officials were in Washington, fighting a federal government fine over their handling of the 2007 massacre where 33 people were killed. The shooting brought back painful memories. About 150 students gathered silently for a candlelight vigil on a field facing the stone plaza memorial for the 2007 victims. An official vigil is planned for Friday night.

Police said Crouse called in the traffic stop at 12:15 p.m. 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.

Authorities refused to say whether Crouse was able to defend himself or fire back at his assailant.

Local, state and federal officials responded immediately. At 1 p.m., an officer saw a suspicious man in a parking lot. He had a gunshot wound and a gun nearby.

This time, though, 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.

Heavily armed officers swarmed the campus and caravans of SWAT vehicles and other police cars with emergency lights flashing patrolled nearby.

Crouse was an Army veteran and married father of five children and stepchildren who joined the campus police force in October 2007. He previously worked at a jail and for the Montgomery County sheriff’s department.

He was a jokester who enjoyed riding his motorcycle and rock music, his friend Aaron Proden told the AP. The two recently saw Metallica in concert in Charlotte, N.C. Crouse recently invited Proden to go on a ride-along “just to see what he does, his job, his lifestyle,” the friend said.

“He was a standup guy,” said Rusty Zarger, a former neighbor whose two young daughters used to play with Crouse’s sons at the townhouse complex where they lived. “He was very mild-mannered, very confident. You could tell he was strong in believing in himself, but very comfortable.”

Zarger said that after the Fourth of July, Crouse had leftover fireworks and went around the complex knocking on doors to get neighbors — especially the children — to watch him set them off.

“He came over and got all the kids to come outside and watch it — made it a very community thing when he didn’t have to,” Zarger said.

A woman who answered the door at the Crouse home at the end of a three-unit townhouse building Thursday night said it wasn’t a good time to talk, and they were trying to get the children to bed. A group of people were sitting around a table inside.

Crouse was one of about 50 officers on the campus force, which also has 20 full- and part-time security guards. Crouse received an award in 2008 for his commitment to the department’s drunken driving efforts. He was trained as a crisis intervention officer and as a general, firearms and defensive tactics instructor.

“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 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 until Saturday.

The university also its counseling center would be open all day Friday for students.

“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.

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 involving 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 shooting came soon after the conclusion of a hearing at which Virginia Tech appealed a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Department of Education 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, and the message was too vague because it mentioned only a “shooting incident.” 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 school has since 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.

Andrew Goddard, who has crusaded for stiffer gun 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, whose daughter and nephew 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.”

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.”

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.


Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Kimberly Hefling and Ben Nuckols in Washington; Michael Felberbaum, Larry O’Dell, Steve Szkotak, Bob Lewis and Dena Potter in Richmond, Va.; and Brock Vergakis in Norfolk, Va., contributed to this report.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • firstpoppa

    Hmmmm…..perhaps the school can drag out the VP for Student Affairs. The one who said “We have systems in place to preclude any more shootings.” Oh, oops! My bad! He said that BEFORE the shootings of 2007.

    Guess those same “systems” are still in place. And the same school administrators still have their jobs.

    • Klaus

      What federal agency does the gunman work for?

      What prescription medications has the gunman been taking?

      • Vincente Foster

        I want to see the body.

        Same guy probably killed Bin Laden…. or not….

      • Bryan

        What ever he got at the Occupy Washington campgrounds.

    • Neednewpresident


    • RealistMe

      What would a campus look like if there were able to really be able to say for certain that not shootings or violence could occur? I doubt anyone would actually want to attend or live in a place like that. We oughtn’t not kid ourselves that we could pass a law or policy to prevent crime.
      The school administrators should still keep their jobs, however, their choice of words was I admit very poor when they said they could, “preclude any more shootings.”

    • Edward Genny

      You’re out of your mind. What systems would you suggest, Mr. Security Expert? An armed escort for every individual that crossed through the checkpoints in the electrified fence that surrounds campus?

      • Louis Cypher

        Open carry on campus.

      • PowerPC

        Hey Edward G…..You are the only one that has made any kind of suggestion.

  • Brandon

    Probably just a false flag in order to implement more gun control legislation. Mark my words. Happens every time something like this goes on.

    • sgt barnes

      just like fast and furious

      • TJ

        What’s awesome is three or four years ago most of us didn’t even know what a “False Flag” was but now everybody is waking up and hip to the government’s BS.

        All the world is a stage.

    • Veggie Brady

      This false flag operation was designed to give the media an excuse to NOT COVER the Fast & Furious Congressional Hearings on the corruption and resultant murders committed by the Ob*ma Regime and Eric Holder, and also to push for more gun control. Sieg Heil Ob*ma!

  • matt

    Wait…I thought VA Tech was a gun-free zone?!

    • Thomas Jefferson

      Yeah! What was that gunman doing there with a gun??? Didn’t he see the sign?

      • matt

        YEAH! I’m outraged!

      • alnga

        The law only applies to those who obey the laws. This a basic theme in all laws. The dishonest will always find a way around the laws.

      • George Johnson

        Gun free zone, target rich environment…. same thing.

        It’s weird, same thing sorta is happening at Georgia Tech. Students are being robbed at gun point, knife point, almost daily here, and yet, nobody seems ready to DO anything about it. Target rich environment. Just a matter of time before some kids get killed. Then what will they say??

    • Eric C.

      it is a gun free zone….for the law abiding citizen.

      • Thomas Jefferson

        Instead why don’t we allow concealed carry so “Law Abiding Citizens” can defend themselves and protect others.

        Read “More Guns, Less Crime”, by John Lott

      • Midge Masters

        You mean an unarmed victim zone where you might as well wear a target. Whether it is a false flag or a random act, it serves the same people. We need to now take all guns away so more people can be unarmed and killed, so we’re safer.


      Gun-free only applies to law abiding citizens.

    • JM in Southern California

      If it had been a gun zone, somebody would likely have blasted the 2007 shooter before he murdered all his victims.

      This time, maybe not.

  • Annchovie

    Don’t worry the police will protect you! You don’t need guns to protect yourself any longer.

    • Di Fi

      When seconds count, the police are only MINUTES away!

      • John

        If you are going to say things like that, just make sure you NEVER call 911 in your lifetime. Ever.

      • Brad

        Don’t worry John, I promise when I only have seconds I won’t waste my time calling for cops. I’ll get my gun instead and deal with it. What will you do?

      • moreco2

        When seconds count, the police are only a half-hour away in some cities, maybe even hours away.

  • VA Tech On Lockdown… Shots Fired On Campus!

    […] earlier reports of the gunman being apprehended. The suspect is allegedly still on campus… Click Here For Concert Info! var OB_permalink= […]

  • Two People Dead In Virginia Tech Shooting – Campus On Lockdown

    […] earlier reports of the gunman being apprehended. The suspect is allegedly still on campus… Click Here For Concert Info! var OB_permalink= […]

  • seanpatriot

    Pass Open carry all the time everywhere !!!!

    • Eric C.

      Pass concealed carry everywhere for those who are eligible.

      • Red Davis

        In Arizona, we may carry OPEN and CONCEALED — both without having to get permits!

        In California, Gov. Brown just signed a sweeping law that forbids OPEN carry anywhere in the state! Also, it is very hard to get a conceal permit there.

        I’m sure the 150,000 gang members in the LA area have stored their guns unloaded and unassembled in closets in a lawful manner.

    • Frank

      Amsterdam has a mandatory weapons ownership for all property owners, its no coincidence that their burglary rate is practically non-existent.

      • Jack Lucas


      • moreco2

        I didn’t know that but I do know that in Switzerland almost every adult male is legally required to possess a gun

  • Jamal el Jamal

    You don’t need a gun for protection…we’ve put signs up all over the place banning guns. We’ve told everyone “No guns allowed on campus”. So there. Now we’re safe, right?

  • Two People Dead In Virginia Tech Shooting, Campus on Lockdown

    […] earlier reports of the gunman being apprehended. The suspect is allegedly still on campus… Click Here For Concert Info! var OB_permalink= […]

  • Virginia Tech Shooting: Lockdown After Two Killed, Including a Police Officer

    […] […]

  • schmed

    Wow, sounds like a Type 0 Negative band member.

  • Virgina Tech Recent Shooting Update: Two People Dead In Virginia Tech Shooting « Anne's POWER SURGE Blog

    […] MANY THANKS To Washington, CBS Local. Read More Here:“Two People Dead In Virginia Tech Shooting” LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  • Brad

    REmember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

  • Two People Dead In Virginia Tech Shooting, Gunman Still on the Loose « Retch's Disturbing News!

    […] CBS Washington LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  • r. lee

    It would’ve been cleaner had the pigs never invaded the campus in the foist place.

  • Defensively Violent

    And so it goes. Time for a six month investigation… appoint a few committees… and than back to disarmed sheeple. I suppose I can understand the bookworms being lulled back to a comfortable state being disarmed…but how the heck can the history department exist there. Disarmed populations throughout all human history has never once shown a reduction in violence. Quite the opposite in fact… first the criminal class realizes they can operate without danger… than the violent arm of the political class do the same, (but I repeat myself.)

  • GKS

    How is that gun free zone working out for ya VT?GKS

  • UPDATE: Lockdown lifted, gunman dead... | Breaking News

    […] (First column, 1st story, link) Related stories: FLASH: SHOTS FIRED AT VA TECH CAMPUS…REPORT: COP SHOT DEAD… […]

  • Vince

    What IS it with Virginia Tech? Historians should check to see if there were any Civil War battles fought there because these irrational shootings could be the result of restless spirits in that area. Yes, I know most people don’t believe such things but that’s because they don’t understand how earthbound spirits can influence people’s thoughts and feelings. Ok, I said it. You can attack me now.

    • RJ Keith

      There was an Indian masacure at the site in the early 1700’s. It was called the Drapers Medow Massacure, one woman was taken and held captive for several years before she escaped.

  • Rootwolf

    I believe it is bad for someone to commit suicide. But, if you are gonna do it, do yourself before you do the other people.

  • Williams

    An apparent testimony of the depressing socialist teachings at Virginia Tech.

  • Developing story: Virginia Tech reporting shots fired on campus - American Police Beat Forums powered by OfficerResource | Law Enforcement Forums, Police Forums

    […] […]

  • Reed

    What’s up with all the politically charged mocking comments? I know that this is the internet, but two people are dead, can we at least show a little respect?

    • Ashton

      What’s with all the politicially charged comments? Maybe because politics has everything to do with it. People are dead boo hoo let’s all hold hands and sing love carols now.

    • A

      Most of these comments are coming from Drudge Report followers, hence the overall pathetic tone of the comments.

    • Jeff Campbell

      People are dead because of Politics, I blame the Government for most Murders in the USA, since they only disarm the innocent.

  • Marie Culbreth

    Just a comment on the photo – on the WTOP CBS article (which I linked to on my FB page), the photo you credit to “Lerone Graham” was posted, via Twitter, by Michael Morrison. You might want to check and make a correction. Michael is a student at VT and the photo was uploaded via his Twitter account @VTmorrison (or @VTmorrison2). Just an FYI.

  • JP

    why is the student in the picture wearing shorts in 40 degree weather?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow and Like Us
Best Of CBS Washington

Listen Live