The Virginia Tech University police officer who was fatally shot by a gunman on the school's campus, along with a second person who was found dead, were killed by the same handgun, officials said early today.
Virginia State Police said that ballistics tests confirmed and "officially linked the two fatal shootings" that left Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse and a second victim dead Thursday, authorities said in a news release.
The shooting came almost five years after the deadly massacre at the Blacksburg, Va., school, when Seung Hui-Cho killed 32 other people before killing himself.
Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg, Va., was shot and killed while performing a routine traffic stop when someone walked up to the officer's car and shot him.
Crouse was a four-year veteran of the force and father of five.
Crouse joined the school's police force in 2007 and was trained as a crisis intervention officer and firearms instructor. He was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team, according to officials.
Crouse was also a U.S. Army veteran and worked at the New River Valley Jail and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, officials said.
"My heart goes out to his family who will surely feel most keenly, in the days and months and years ahead, the profound loss that today's events have brought to pass," said Virginia Tech University President Charles W. Steger in a statement posted on the school's website Thursday. "We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and to his colleagues in the police department."
Police said they believe this is the first time a Virginia Tech officer has been shot in the line of duty.
A candlelight vigil has been planned for tonight on Drillfield; an impromptu vigil was held Thursday night.
Gunman on Campus
The identity of the second victim has not yet been released and officials said the motive is currently unknown and under investigation.
On Thursday, police declined to say directly that the second shooting victim was the gunman, but said "no additional victims or shooting reports have been given to the police" since the second person was shot.
"I think the investigators feel confident that we've located the person, but I don't want to give you specifics," Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said at a news conference Thursday. "You can kind of read between the lines."
"Witnesses reported to police that the shooter fled on foot heading toward the Cage, a parking lot near Duck Pond Drive. At that parking lot, a second person was found. That person is also deceased," Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said earlier.
Officials are also reviewing Crouse's dash-cam footage that showed the "subject with a handgun at the officer's car at the time of the shooting," according to the news release.
The news release also said that clothing found in a backpack found by police "is similar to the clothing worn by the male subject in the officer's video."
The suspect was described as a white male wearing gray sweatpants, a gray hat with a neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and a backpack.
School officials said Crouse was the first person to be shot.
The shooting, which occurred shortly after noon, triggered sirens and alerts telling students to stay locked inside.
An alert on the Virginia Tech school's website said: "There is an active campus alert in Blacksburg. Everyone should seek shelter or stay where you are. Blacksburg Transit service is suspended until the alert is lifted."