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Virginia Tech shooting: Officials identify gunman

December 9, 2011 |  5:42 pm

Authorities have identified the gunman who killed a Virginia Tech police officer and then committed suicide as 22-year-old Ross Truett Ashley. But police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting that locked down the university for hours.

Ross Truett AshleyAshley is beleived to be a part-time college student from nearby Radford University, according to the Associated Press.

Ashley approached Officer Deriek W. Crouse during a routine traffic stop and shot him as he sat in his patrol car, said Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

Crouse, an Army veteran and married father of five, was not able to return fire.

PHOTOS: Virginia Tech shooting

Ashley then fled on foot farther into the campus as authorities unleashed an intense manhunt. About 30 minutes later, after changing his clothes, he was spotted making "furtive movements" in a parking lot by a Montgomery County sheriff's deputy. By the time the deputy reached the man, he had turned the gun on himself.

But the motive has eluded investigators.

“That’s very much the fundamental part of the investigation right now, determining for what reason this man approached Officer Crouse and took his life,” Geller said.

Authorities have ruled out any history between the two men, and the gunman was not a current or former student at Virginia Tech. The male driver pulled over by Crouse is a Virginia Tech student. He is cooperating with police and has no connection to the shooter, Geller said.

Officials, stressing that they are still in the midst of their investigation, stopped short of calling the shooting a “random” attack.


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Photo: Ross Truett Ashley, 22. Credit: Virginia State Police