- The Washington Times - Friday, December 9, 2011

Virginia State Police on Friday said a 22-year-old student at Radford University was responsible for the fatal shooting of a Virginia Tech campus police officer.

Police identified the shooter as Ross Truett Ashley, 22, of Partlow, Va., but said there was still no indication of why he shot Officer Deriek W. Crouse on Thursday, setting off a manhunt that locked down campus for hours as police swarmed the area searching for a suspect it initially appeared had killed two people.

“At this time, there remains no prior connection or contact between Ashley, who was enrolled part-time at Radford University, and the Virginia Tech Officer he killed,” police said in a Friday afternoon statement.

Ashley is named among graduates in a Radford University commencement booklet from May, which listed him as an August 2011 graduate and named his degree as bachelor of business administration in management.

He also appears on the honor roll for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in 2008 and as a participant in student government. His name does not appear in criminal court records for Spotsylvania or Montgomery counties in Virginia.

Police said Ashley was identified by police as the suspect in a theft of a white 2011 Mercedes SUV from a real estate office in Radford on Wednesday. The Mercedes was stolen at gunpoint at about 11:25 a.m. after a man entered the business armed with a handgun and demanded the keys to an employee’s vehicle.

The SUV was located Thursday at Virginia Tech, about 20 miles away from Radford, Va.

Police said at a Friday morning news conference that they were confident the shooter had acted alone.

Ashley is believed to have fatally shot Officer Crouse at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday as the officer sat in his car in the course of a routine and unrelated traffic stop. Police said Ashley approached on foot.

He was seen holding the gun on surveillance footage from the dashboard camera in Officer Crouse’s patrol car.

After the shooting, Ashley changed the distinctive clothes he was wearing, taking off a wool cap and a pullover top.

The clothes were later recovered from a backpack he abandoned outside a building.

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 Ashley acting “furtively,” police said. The officer radioed in the sighting and briefly lost sight of Ashley. When he saw Ashley again, he was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The gun was found nearby.

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.”

• Matthew Cella can be reached at mcella@washingtontimes.com.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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