Authorities said Friday that a man who fatally shot a Virginia Tech campus police officer fled and changed clothes to evade detection before fatally shooting himself after he was spotted by law-enforcement personnel.
Police said they have identified the shooter, but they would not disclose his identity until the proper notifications are made. It remained unclear what motivated the afternoon shooting that locked down campus for hours as police swarmed the area searching for a suspect it initially appeared had killed two people.
"As far as motive, that's also a very fundamental part of the investigation right now," Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.
Ms. Geller confirmed that the shooter was not a Virginia Tech student and said authorities are confident he acted alone.
She said the suspect was seen holding the gun on surveillance footage from the dashboard camera in Officer Deriek W. Crouse's patrol car. The shooter is believed to have fatally shot Officer Crouse at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday as he sat in his car in the course of a routine and unrelated traffic stop. Police said the shooter approached on foot, and the occupant of the car was not involved in the shooting.
After the shooting, the man changed the clothes he was wearing at the time of the shooting. The clothes seen in the surveillance footage were later recovered from a backpack the man had been carrying.
At 1 p.m. Thursday, an officer in a patrol car driving down rows in a parking lot about a half mile from the shooting saw a suspicious man. He radioed in the sighting and briefly lost sight of the man. When he saw the man again, the man was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The gun was found nearby.
Police said there was a "likelihood" the shooting suspect was connected to reports of a stolen car about 20 miles from campus Wednesday in Radford, Va., fueling speculation that he had targeted Officer Crouse.
But Ms. Geller said there was no indication the shooter and Officer Crouse had any contact before the shooting.
"At this time, we have no made no connection that the shooter and Officer Crouse knew each other prior to the shooting," she said.
Officer Crouse, an Army veteran and married father of five, was a trained firearms and defense instructor and a four-year veteran of the campus police force.
"Deriek was a friend to many in our department. Deriek was a husband, Deriek was a father, Deriek was a son," campus police Chief Wendell Finchum said. “His death is a tremendous loss to our department — each and every one of us."
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Matthew Cella is The Washington Times’ Metro editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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