Slain Virginia Tech officer identified…(Posted: 9:07 p.m.) Virginia Tech Police have identified the officer murdered today during a traffic stop on campus as Deriek W. Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg. He 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.
Update at 5:08 p.m. ET: A weapon was recovered with the second body, a male, the university is reporting. There are no other victims. Gunman is believed dead.
Update: Secure in place alert has been lifted… (Posted: 4:31 p.m.) Law enforcement agencies have determined there is no longer an active threat or need to secure in place. Resume normal activities. Virginia Tech Police, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, have determined that there is no longer an active threat or a need to secure in place. Resume normal activities.
Update: Media briefing available via live stream
(Posted: 4:19 p.m.) Virginia State Police and Virginia Tech Police remain on the scene of an officer-involved shooting on the Virginia Tech campus. At this time there are two confirmed deaths. One is a Virginia Tech Police Officer. The second is an unknown male subject who was found deceased in a parking lot near the Duck Pond. A weapon has been recovered at the location of the second individual. Reports of any additional shots being fired or any additional victims are unfounded. (VA Tech website.)
Latest…“We are looking absolutely everywhere,” university spokesman Mark Owczarski said Thursday afternoon. A media briefing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST.
2:34 p.m. ET: A SWAT team is now outside the Squires Student Center at the heart of campus. The Collegiate Times newspaper says on its Twitter feed that its staff has been evacuated from its office at the student center and that students are being moved to a “secure room” in the Student Center.
LIVE: Webcam at Va. Tech
(reddit.com)...A Virginia Tech police officer was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop on the Blacksburg campus and a second person was found slain in a nearby parking lot after the gunman fled, the university reports. The shooter is still at large, the university said. A campus-wide message advised students to “Stay indoors,” and warned. “Secure in place.” There are no classes today at the university, as students have a reading day to prepare for finals.
The university said it was a routine traffic stop that prompted the shootings. Jermaine Holmes, director of academic support services for student athletes, said the shooting appeared to be a traffic stop gone awry. “It’s right across from our building in the parking lot,” he said. “It didn’t appear to be just a kind of random shooting.” Holmes said the parking lot had been cordoned off with yellow police tape, and the area was thick with officers. He said he and his colleagues felt safe, and he was impressed by the swiftness of the campus alert system.
“The facilities folks locked down the building immediately,” he said. ”We’re not allowing any students or staff to leave.” The second body was found in a parking lot a short distance away from the original shooting, in the direction the gunman fled.
Virginia Tech, a public campus of about 30,000 students, has one of the nation’s most advanced security alert systems, installed after the nation’s worst campus shooting, a 2007 rampage by student Seung-Hui Cho that left 32 dead. University officials were criticized for not locking down the campus that day and have dramatically overhauled their alert system.
Today’s report of shots fired came in the noon hour. The first alert advised of gunshots reported at the school’s Coliseum parking lot, off Washington Street and Spring Road, in a southern section of campus devoted to athletics. It told the community to stay inside and secure doors. A second alert described a suspect as “white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack,” and said he was “on foot towards McComas,” a facility housing health and counseling services.
In 2007, 32 people were killed on the Virginia Tech campus after Seung Hui Cho of Fairfax went on a shooting rampage inside an academic building and a dormitory. It was the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. Shawn Ghuman, a sophomore at Virginia Tech from McLean, said that he got the first alert about the gun shots when he was in the dining hall next to his dormitory Harper Hall on the west side of campus near where the first shots were fired. And by the time he went outside to go back to his room, he said the campus already looked empty. “They did a really good job keeping us alerted and telling everyone to stay indoors,” he said. The alerts go out via email, text and robocall, he said.
Students are in the middle of finals this week, and he has been going to study sessions. From the third floor window of his dorm, he can see police cars and TV trucks. I’m nervous about our reputation,” he said. “Tech’s a great school.” Freshman Miles Curley of Rock Hill, S.C., 19, said he was leaving his dorm, Cochrane Hall, when he received a text message alert about the shooting. He had been headed for his car parked nearby in the Coliseum lot, where shots were fired. Curley said he immediately returned to his room, where he could hear sirens. He’s been checking Twitter and television news since then, he said, and fielding phone calls and texts from worried friends and family. “It’s what happened in ‘07 — It’s kind of crazy to think that something even close to that would ever happen again,” Curley said. “I’m praying for anyone who’s affected.”
Freshman Matthew Spencer was walking to the bus stop around 12:30 or 12:45 when he saw police running and driving by and paramedics running to an area near the bus stop. There’s a large parking lot between the stadium and McComas Hall, where students work out, he said. At least 10 police cars were in the area around Washington Street and the basketball arena, he said. That’s when he got the alert from the university to get inside.
At about 1:45, he saw officers racing 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 said. “Everyone in the hallway is freaked out and stuff,” he said. He was in 8th grade when the mass shooting happened. “I lived in Christiansburg during the massacres, so it’s kind of scary.”
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Virginia State Police, as well as campus and local police, are searching for the gunman.