The Virginia State Police confirmed today that yesterday’s second victim was actually the shooter, and that yesterday’s crime is officially being classified as a murder-suicide.
At about 12:06 p.m. Thursday, a still-as-of-yet unidentified man approached the car of Virginia Tech Police Department officer Deriek Crouse in the parking lot adjacent to McComas Hall. The male shot and killed Crouse while he was sitting in his car.
There is video of the shooting on the dashboard camera of Crouse’s car, according to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller. That video has not yet been released.
The man then ran toward the Hahn Horticulture gardens’ greenhouses, where he took off his clothes and put them in a backpack.
The man set off on foot away from the shooting location. About a half hour later, Geller said, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was assisting Tech in the search for the shooter, saw the man walking around the parking lot known as the Cage (also known as the I-Lot).
Geller said the deputy thought the man was acting strangely. “He was a lone man, walking through the lot, with furtive movements. It was a little suspicious,” she said. “His actions walking through caught the deputy’s interest.”
The deputy started to drive through the rows of cars toward the man, to question him. At this time, many people on campus were being stopped and questioned.
But by the time the deputy got to the man, he had killed himself. The deputy found the man laying on the ground. The weapon, which police said today was the same weapon used to kill Crouse according to ballistics testing, was found on the ground near the man.
“Nobody actually witnessed him taking his own life,” Geller said in a press conference this morning.
The man was wearing different clothes when he was found dead in the Cage, because he had changed them in the greenhouses. But the fact that police couldn’t be 100 percent positive it was the shooter immediately was what prompted multiple investigations and lockdowns for hours after the shooting across campus, Geller said.
This morning’s press conference mainly confirmed those facts. Geller, along with VTPD chief Wendell Flinchum, Blacksburg Police Department chief Kim Crannis, and Tech spokesman Larry Hincker, fielded questions from media.
“Things are happening very quickly,” Hincker said. “We are doing our best to keep you posted.”
But as much as Geller and the others were able to tell media, there are still many questions left unanswered.
They were able to say that the man was not a student. He was not connected with the Tech community at all, Geller said.
But who is he? Is he connected to Radford? Was he involved in a carjacking near Radford on Wednesday? Is he even from the area? Does he have a history of mental health issues? Did he have a concealed carry permit for his gun, and where did his gun come from? Did he know Crouse? Did he leave any notes around the location he dropped his backpack? Did he have any other intended targets that he was not able to get to? Those are details still waiting to be filled in that frustrated media outlets in this morning’s conference.
Geller only said there was a “likelihood” that the shooter is connected to Wednesday’s carjacking in Radford, but refused to comment further.
Flinchum also took time during the conference to speak about Crouse, who was a father of five and an Army veteran. Flinchum described this as a “difficult time for this department.”