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Virginia Tech shooting: What drove gunman to kill officer?

December 9, 2011 |  7:18 am

Virginia Tech -- a memorial to the officer killed on the campus.
The Virginia Tech shooting left two dead but no clear motive: What drove a man to walk up to Deriek W. Crouse and gun down the officer as he carried out what appeared to be a routine traffic stop?

Authorities have yet to publicly identify the gunman or reveal other details about the shooting. Did the gunman know the officer? Did the gunman know the motorist being stopped? Was the gunman a student?

The incident unfolded about 12:30 p.m. Thursday when Crouse -- an Army veteran and married father of five -- stopped a car on campus. Witnesses reported that the gunman walked up to Crouse and opened fire, seemingly without provocation. The gunman then fled.

PHOTOS: Virginia Tech shooting

The shooting triggered a campus-wide lockdown while several state and federal agencies launched a manhunt. A few minutes later, a second body was found about a quarter-mile away, leading some to fear another campus rampage akin to 2007, when 33 were killed in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.

Authorities announced Friday that the second body was that of the gunman, who appeared to have turned the weapon on himself. That weapon was found near his body.

"Ballistics evidence testing has officially linked the two fatal shootings" and "confirmed that both victims were shot by the same weapon," authorities said in a statement posted Friday on the school's website.

Authorities said they were still awaiting confirmation of the male suspect's identity.

They also added that a review of the video camera in the officer's car captured footage of the "male subject with a handgun at the officer's car at the time of the shooting." Investigators later found an abandoned backpack containing clothing similar to items belonging to the gunman, suggesting he attempted to change his appearance as he tried to escape.

Thursday's shooting took place on the same day that university officials, including campus police, were in Washington appealing a $55,000 fine by the Department of Education in connection with the 2007 shooting rampage. The department has fined the school for waiting more than two hours after the first ring of gunfire to send out an email warning students, teachers and others to take cover and avoid the campus.


Virginia Tech shooting leaves two dead

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-- Rene Lynch

Photo: A sign in honor of the slain officer was among items at a makeshift memorial on the Virginia Tech campus. Credit: Chris Keane / Reuters