Army veteran tragic victim of US college shooting

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The police officer gunned down in an apparent murder-suicide shooting at Virginia Tech has been identified as a 39-year-old army veteran and father-of-five.

Deriek Crouse joined the Virginia Tech Police Department in October 2007, the university said. He previously worked at a jail and a sheriff’s department.

A second man found dead nearby is believed to have been the gunman. Clothing inside a discarded backpack matched that of the suspect, who was captured on CCTV from the officer’s car.

Police believe he was acting alone and was not a student.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the attacker, whose identity has not been released, ran from the scene where he shot the officer and changed clothes before shooting himself in a car park half a mile away as a police deputy approached. Investigators are still trying to find out why he ambushed Mr Crouse while he was carrying out a routine traffic stop of a student who is said to be unconnected to the shooting.

The officer did not have time to get out of his vehicle and did not return fire. Thursday’s attack came nearly five years after it was the scene of the deadliest shooting rampage in modern US history.

The school in Blacksburg locked down for hours and warned students and faculty members to stay indoors while police searched for the gunman.

“Tragedy again struck Virginia Tech,” said university president Charles Steger. “Our hearts are broken again.” The shootings came as university officials were in Washington appealing against a 55,000-dollar (£35,250) fine by the US Education Department in connection with its response to the 2007 shootings. The department said the school broke the law by waiting more than two hours after two students were shot dead in their dormitory before sending an email warning.

By then, student gunman Seung-Hui Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more people and then himself.

An administrative judge has asked each side to submit a brief by the end of January.