For the second time in four years, Virginia Tech has fallen victim to an unspeakable act of violence, as two men — one being Deriek W. Crouse of the Virginia Tech Police Department — were shot and killed Thursday afternoon.
“Today, tragedy again struck Virginia Tech in a wanton act of violence where a police officer was murdered during a routine traffic stop,” said Virginia Tech President Charles Steger. “Our hearts are broken again for the family of our police officer, and we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences.”
Crouse, 39, had been an officer of the VTPD since 2007 and is survived by his wife and five children and step-children, as well as his mother and brother.
The events began at approximately 12:15 p.m., when the police officer responded to a routine traffic stop in the Cassell Coliseum parking lot.
During that stop, a suspect — who was described as being a white male with “gray sweat pants, gray hat with neon green brim, maroon hoodie and a backpack” — allegedly shot and killed Crouse, and then fled toward McComas Hall.
The shooter is not thought to be involved with the traffic violation, and was instead a third party.
Following the report of gunshots, the VTPD arrived on the scene of the crime at 12:30 p.m., when it promptly reached out to local, state and federal law enforcement to help in the manhunt.
The request for additional help came with a campus-wide alert at 12:36 p.m. to all Tech students, notifying them with what had happened and telling them to stay indoors.
About a half hour later, an officer saw a man in the I lot of Duck Pond Drive, commonly referred to as “the Cage,” acting suspiciously, and upon return, found the man dead from a bullet wound.
The officer did not shoot the second individual, and it is still unknown whether the man took his own life.
While police are still not willing to definitively say that the second victim was the shooter in the initial crime, new evidence has provided a potential link, as video footage from the Crouse’s in-car camera appears to show the second victim at the time and place of the first shooting.
“With that evaluation, we have been able to determine that the male subject found at the other scene deceased, that he has been captured on that in-car video at the scene with the weapon we believe was used,” said Maj. Rick Jenkins of the Virginia State Police.
The evidence is being analyzed, while police are still collecting mounds of other information from witness statements and articles. Police hope to have more conclusive information by the morning.
Those were the only two incidences that are confirmed to have occurred, even though there were rumors of the shooter being in many places including Torgersen Hall, Squires Student Center and the Performing Arts Building. All of these reports were investigated and found to be not credible.
Much of what exactly happened at the second crime scene is still unknown, as those details will need to be substantiated by an investigation that could take weeks.