Virginia Tech Officer Deriek Crouse Killed After Traffic Stop

6:33 PM, Dec 9, 2011   |    comments
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Blacksburg, VA -- Authorities are still sorting out why a Virginia Tech police officer was killed in a campus parking lot by a gunman who then apparently shot himself to death.

The officer has been identified as 39 year-old Deriek W. Crouse. Crouse had been with the school's police department patrol division since October 2007.

Crouse leaves behind a wife and five children and stepchildren, his mother and a brother. Crouse was an Army veteran, according to university officials.

"His death is a tremendous loss to our department.  Each and every one of us," said Virginia Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum during a Friday morning news conference.  "Words can't express the loss we've felt within our own department."

Friday morning, Virginia Tech Associate VP for University Relations Larry Hincker said that investigators are 99% sure they know who the shooter is.  He said that the shooter was not a student at university and had no known connection to the campus. 

Police said they will not release the identity of the shooter until the medical examiner makes a positive identification.

Investigators have said Crouse was conducting a routine traffic stop on campus at the time of the shooting around 12:30pm.  They said that Crouse was shot in his patrol car by an individual that approached him on foot.  

Investigators said the shooter was not the individual that had been pulled over. 

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said during a Friday morning news conference that some of the incident was captured on Officer Crouse's dashboard camera.  She would not give specifics regarding the movements of the shooter.

In an apparent attempt to throw off a police manhunt, the gunman fled to a nearby university greenhouse after shooting the officer, and changed clothes. But a sheriff's deputy spotted him, and the gunman killed himself in a nearby parking deck.

Geller said that investigators have made no connection or prior history between Officer Crouse and the shooter.

Geller added that there is a likelihood that the shooter was involved in a case involving a stolen rental car in Radford, Virginia earlier in the day.  She said they are working to confirm those details.

The shooting triggered a lockdown on the sprawling campus that in 2007 was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

"It has brought back vivid memories of 2007," said VA Tech police chief Wendell Flinchum.

SLIDESHOW - Virginia Tech Campus Lockdown

TV footage showed heavily armed officers walking around campus. Caravans of emergency vehicles with lights flashing patrolled nearby.

A sophomore at the school, Corey Smith, says it's "crazy" that there would be another shooting on the campus, after what happened four years ago. He says he stayed inside after seeing the alerts from the school.

Junior Harry White says he didn't panic when he received the text message -- thinking instead about a false alarm about a possible gunman that caused the campus to be locked down in August.

Thursday night students held a vigil on campus near the memorial for those killed during the 2007 shooting rampage that left 33 dead.

SLIDESHOW - VA Tech Student Vigil

The shooting came the same day as Virginia Tech officials appealed a $55,000 fine by the Education Department in connection with the university's response to a 2007 shootings.

View Events during shootings on Virginia Tech's campus on December 8 in a larger map

Associated Press / WDBJ / WFMY News 2

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