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Slain Virginia Tech police officer remembered as protector

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A Virginia Tech police officer fatally shot Thursday was memorialized Monday on campus at Cassell Coliseum and remembered as a devoted public servant, father and husband.

Hundreds of state police officers joined family members and others in Blacksburg to mourn the loss of Deriek W. Crouse, a four-year veteran of the force whose fatal shooting — and the response to it — evoked memories of the 2007 massacre at the university that claimed the lives of 32 people.

"For the last four years, he went to work here protecting the citizens of the state and the students and faculty and administration of Virginia Tech — swearing the oath of the Constitution, strapping on his gun, putting on his badge and doing what police officers do," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said during remarks at the service.

Other Virginia officials on hand during the service included Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II and Rep. H. Morgan Griffith. Officials and personal friends spoke from a podium set behind Officer Crouse's coffin, which was draped with an American flag.

"Today, we have gathered in this place not because life always makes sense, but because sometimes it just doesn't make sense," said the Rev. Tommy McDearis, chaplain of the Virginia Tech Police Department. "And what happened last Thursday did not make sense."

Officer Crouse, an Army veteran and married father of five, was a trained firearms and defense instructor. He is survived by his wife, five children and stepchildren, and his mother and brother.

State police on Friday said that Ross Truett Ashley, a 22-year-old student at Radford University from Partlow, Va., was responsible for the shooting. Officials said Ashley approached and shot Officer Crouse while the officer made an unrelated traffic stop. Ashley later fatally turned the gun on himself.

Investigators are still searching for a motive for the killing and have found no clear-cut link connecting the two men thus far.

"While we may never fully understand why this happened, all the men and women you see here in uniform will continue to serve, continue to sacrifice," Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said. "For us, it is who we are, it is what we do. It is what Deriek did."

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