Another case of senseless violence that costs a police officer his life. Yesterday, Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek Crouse was shot in the head and killed during a routine traffic stop. He had not even exited his car yet. The driver of the car stopped was a third party. The shooter could be seen on the video camera Crouse had in his unmarked squad car, a Crown Victoria. And this is exactly what bothers me.
If the shooter had targeted Crouse from the beginning, he probably had followed Crouse from the moment the officer got into one of the unmarked squad cars on campus or, he had seen Crouse earlier in the day getting in and out of the unmarked car. However, the scenario that makes more sense, for lack of a better word, is that the shooter shot at random and that anyone that day could have been the victim. Senseless violence.
The shooter was later found dead. No autopsy results are posted yet, the medical examiner is still busy. Police have to find out who this man was, where he lived, search his house/apartment, talk to friends and family to try and piece together the puzzle and find an answer for the question: why?
Yesterday, many people were traumatized again in a town that has seen its share of violence. A few examples: William Morva‘s manhunt closed the campus. Morva shot and killed a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy, Cpl. Eric Sutphin and Derrick McFarland, a hospital security guard. Xin Yang was decapitated in a coffee bar on campus. Haiyang Zhu is serving life in prison for her murder. Judge Turk said the brutality of the murder — Zhu beheaded Yang a day after she ended his hopes of engaging in a romantic relationship — defied any rational explanation. And the world knows what happened on April 16, 2007.
The campus was locked down for as far as it can be, roads were blocked, schools throughout the county were locked down and there was a massive police presence of officers helping with the multi-pronged investigation. Crouse, his car and the area had to be searched. Another investigation team was canvassing the area asking potential witnesses for statements. Another team was trying to find the shooter and another focused on the murder weapon. Others were assigned to securing buildings and other officers tried to find out whether there could possibly be a connection between Crouse and people who wished him harm. Other teams were scanning the area to see whether reports from around the county could possibly be related to this shooting. It will take a while before all those notes are compared and before we have some answers that are supported by evidence.
Witnesses who saw the shooting, people who saw Crouse fell out of his car, people who heard the gunshots. Faculty, staff and students locked in rooms and offices. Children not allowed to leave their schools and parents parked around the school buildings not wanting to leave without their children.
From CTV Edmonton: “The gunman was later found dead after killing himself nearby. ABC news reporter Scott Goldberg said the man’s body was found nearly a kilometre away from the shooting scene, and police also found a backpack they believe he discarded. (It contained) the clothes that the shooter was wearing as captured by video in the police officer’s squad car,” Goldberg told Canada AM on Friday, reporting live from Blacksburg. “Apparently the shooter changed clothes after the shooting, before police found the body.
The shooter has not been identified by police, who are waiting on autopsy results and until his family has been notified, he said. Results of a ballistics test issued early Friday confirmed Crouse and the suspect were shot by the same gun. Police say they don’t know if the two knew each other, or what motivated the murder.”
At a press conference this morning more details were officially made public. The shooter’s ID was found in that backpack. Crouse had not been able to return fire. He died at the scene. Additional forensics and toxicology tests are ongoing. A timeline of the events can be found on the website of the Collegiate Times.
UPDATE: the shooting suspect has been identified as Ross Ashley, 22. He was a Radford University student.
The National Bank of Blacksburg has set up a memorial fund to support the needs of the Crouse family. Those wishing to contribute can mail checks, payable to “Deriek Crouse Memorial Fund,” to the address below:
National Bank of Blacksburg
Attn: Dana Sutphin
P.O. Box 90002
Blacksburg, VA 24062-9002
Those seeking more information about the fund should call 540-552-2011 and ask to speak with Dana Sutphin, branch manager.
Crouse leaves behind an extended family: mother, brother, wife, five children and stepchildren. R.I.P. Deriek Crouse.
UPDATE: The funeral service for Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech.