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The police officer who lost his life at the hands of another crazed gunman at Virginia Tech has been revealed as a husband and father of five who joined the force not long after the 2007 massacre.
Fallen: Officer Deriek Crouse, a husband and father of five who joined the force not long after the 2007 massacre
Officer Deriek Crouse, 39, was a four-year veteran of the campus police force in the patrol unit, who leaves behind a wife and five children and step-children, according to school officials. He had served in the U.S. Army and previously worked at the New River County Jail and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Terror returned to the campus today after shots were fired around noon and sparked an area-wide lockdown amid fears it was a repeat of the 2007 shooting rampage that left 33 dead. The gunman fled from the scene on foot before turning the gun on himself in another area of the campus, though police would not confirm if it was a murder suicide.
Reports of additional victims were later confirmed to be unfounded. The lockdown was lifted approximately four hours after it was put in place and the university issued a statement saying there was no longer an active threat. The shooting sparked nation-wide fear that it was a repeat of the April 16, 2007, as it came on the same day officials traveled to Washington to appeal the $55,000 fine they were given for not handling the situation effectively.
Police were called to the first parking lot around 12.30pm where they found the body of the officer. About 150 students gathered silently for a candlelight vigil at Virginia Tech tonight on a field facing the stone plaza memorial for the victims of the 2007 massacre. Though the official candlelight vigil was moved to Friday evening, many turned out anyway to show their support. One student came forward to invite everyone back for Friday night’s event. He shouted, ‘Let’s go!’ The crowd responded, ‘Hokies!’
Remembering: Some Virginia Tech students paused to pray at the stone plaza memorial for the victims of the 2007 massacre
In memoriam: Though an official candlelight vigil was moved to Friday evening, many Virginia Tech students turned out tonight anyway to show their support
Patrol: Police and SWAT team members search the campus for the gunman
Comfort: Virginia Tech police officers console one another as they move toward the scene where a fellow officer was killed in a parking lot on the campus today.
A witness told authorities they saw a white male walk up to the Officer Crouse and shoot him before fleeing. He is not believe to have been specifically targeted and no motive has been suggested. It was first suggested that Officer Crouse was shot by a man in a car after a routine stop but this was also found to be untrue.
At around 1pm, police officers claim to have seen the gunman alive a short distance away but when they arrived at the Cage parking lot he was already dead by a gunshot wound, sparking speculation he turned the gun on himself. Any reports after that time about shots fired or other victims were not credible, they said.
Authorities told a press conference: ‘Following the second incidents there were no further sightings or concerns reported to the Virginia Tech police.’ University spokesman Larry Hincker said: ‘We are all trying to figure out what is going on, there are still unknowns but we are still disclosing as quickly as we possibly can. But there are some things we cannot address just yet.’
Police would only confirm that the man found at the Cage parking lot was a white male and though they would not confirm it was the gunman, they told reporters to ‘read between the lines’. They also said though they could not confirm if there was more than one shooter, they felt it was safe to lift the lockdown.
Scene: A police officer secures the scene where the body of a police officer lies covered at a traffic stop after being shot by a crazed gunman
Enforcement: Police officers and FBI Agents swarmed the campus moments after the first shots were reported to have been fired
The suspect was described as a white male wearing gray sweat pants, a gray hat with neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and backpack. A candlelit vigil is being held at 8pm tonight at the 4/16 memorial.
TV footage showed heavily armed officers walking around campus. Caravans of SWAT vehicles and other police cars with emergency lights flashing patrolled nearby as students remained on lockdown. Police were tracking several white males on campus throughout the day who fit the description and had to follow up all leads.
Locator map showing where the two bodies were found today
It was the first shooting on campus since 33 people were killed in 2007 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
FBI agents were called to the Performance Arts Building where they believed the gunman was hiding, but it turned out to be a false alarm as a student wearing similar clothes surrendered.
A SWAT team was placed at the Squires Student Centre but left after finding no suspicious persons inside.
Senior VA Tech police and university officials were all in Washington DC today to appeal the $55,000 fine for the way they handled the 2007 shooting.
Police were investigating if an armed robbery in the area which occurred at 11.25am is related.
Computer science student Ankit Ahuja, 23, said he was working at Newman Library when the campus went into lockdown. Students had been told to stay away from the windows, but they were staying composed and monitoring television for news updates, he said.
‘I’m just thinking about the repercussions of this,’ he told the Washington Post. ‘I think for the next few weeks they’ll have stricter security on campus.’
One witness saw police come face to face with their fallen comrade. She told WDBJ7: ‘I was coming out of the gym walking to go home to my dorm. I saw the police car sitting there.
‘I thought he was responding to call. So I kept walking to the car. The police came up. They opened the car door and he just fell out. They immediately started reviving him.’
Never forget: A marker at the memorial to the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech is shown after a gunman killed a police officer in a school parking lot on Thursday Police took off after the gunman she said. They later covered his body with a sheet.
Freshman Matthew Spencer was on his way to the bus stop when he saw police and paramedics moving around the campus, before he got the alert from the university to get inside. At least ten police cars were in the area, he said. At around 1.45pm, police moved at top speed to another part of campus.
‘At least 15 police and undercover cars took off on Washington Street and headed towards the town and or that side of campus where Torgenson Bridge is,’ he told the Post. Final exams, which were due to take place tomorrow, have been postponed, according to a statement on the college website.
Locked in: A member of the SWAT team speak to officials and students about the shooting and tell them to remain indoors
Troops: Police and armed SWAT members go into the Squires Centre to look for the suspect but found no suspicious persons inside
Spokesman: Mark Owczarski warned all students to stay indoors at a press conference
Lockdown: SWAT team outside Squires Student Centre
Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski held a news conference and told reporters they had all hands on deck and were dealing with the situation in the most efficient, effective way possible. He told all students to stay inside and keep doors locked.
The university issued a statement saying: ‘Shortly after noon today, a Virginia Tech police officer stopped a vehicle on campus during a routine traffic stop in the Coliseum parking lot near McComas Hall. ‘During the traffic stop, the officer was shot and killed. There were witnesses to this shooting.
Surveillance: A police officer blocks a road on the Virginia Tech campus after a gunman killed a police officer and possibly himself
Road blocks: VA Tech, Montgomery County Schools and Radford University are all on lockdown
Alert: The school said someone walked over to the police officer at a traffic stop and shot him before fleeing on foot
The shooting came the same day as Virginia Tech was appealing a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Education Department in connection with the university’s response to the 2007 rampage, when a student gunman killed 32 students and faculty members before turning the gun on himself.
A report of a possible gunman at Virginia Tech on August 4 set off the longest, most extensive lockdown and search on campus since the 2007 bloodbath led the university to overhaul its emergency procedures.
No gunman was found, and the school gave the all-clear about five hours after sirens began wailing and students and staff members started receiving warnings by phone, email and text message to lock themselves indoors.
2007: Injured occupants are carried out of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech where student gunman Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting rampage that left 33 dead
Alerts were also posted on the university’s website and Twitter accounts.
The emergency was triggered by three teens who were attending a summer programme on campus and told police they saw a man walking quickly across the grounds with what might have been a handgun covered by a cloth, authorities said.
Police searched some 150 buildings on the square-mile campus and issued a composite sketch of a baby-faced man who was said to be wearing shorts and sandals, but they found no sign of him. They continued to patrol the grounds as a precaution even after the lockdown was lifted.
‘We’re in a new era. Obviously this campus experienced something pretty terrible four years ago,” Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said at the time. ‘Regardless of what your intuition and your experience as a public safety officer tells you, you are really forced to issue an alert.’
The system was later revamped to add the use of text messages and other means besides email of warning students.
It was also put to the test in 2008, when an exploding nail gun cartridge was mistaken for gunfire. But only one dorm was locked down during that emergency, and it reopened two hours later.
Virginia Tech has opened a student help line on (540) 231-3787 and a police tip line on (540) 231-6411.
THE TROUBLED HISTORY OF THE VIRGINIA TECH KILLER
Killer: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, was responsible for the 2007 massacre. He killed 32 people before killing himself. The man responsible for the horrific April day four years ago at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was Seung-Hui Cho. He was a senior-level undergraduate student at the university. Born in South Korea in 1984, he arrived in the U.S. at the age of 8 with his family. But during middle school, he was diagnosed with major anxiety and depressive disorders.
During his final years at Virginia Tech, he began displaying strange behaviour which caused concern among teachers, counsellors and classmates. Plays and writings which he submitted contained references to violence.
Following the shooting, mental health professionals and those in the education system were criticised for failing to notice Cho’s deteriorating
condition and help him. On the day of the shooting – the deadliest in modern U.S. history – Cho killed 32 people before killing himself. A total of 17 other people were also wounded.
Rachel Quigley and Thomas Durante