The man who shot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer before taking his own life yesterday has been identified as Spotsylvania County resident Ross Truett Ashley, age 22.
Police say Ashley, who was from Partlow, committed suicide about a half hour after killing Virginia Tech Police Officer Derieck W. Crouse as the officer conducted a routine traffic stop on a random bystander in a campus parking lot. At the time of the murder-suicide, Ashley lived in the 1000 block of East Main Street in Radford, where he attended classes part time at Radford University.
A host of local law enforcement agencies are continuing their investigation into the murder-suicide, along with the FBI and the Secret Service.
One mystery which remains is why Ashley targeted Crouse. State police say that there was no prior contact between the two.
"State police investigators are continuing their work to establish a motive in the killing and to recreate Ashley's movements in the days and hours leading up to the murder suicide," reads a press release from the Virginia State Police.
Ashley's violent attack and eventual suicide was preceded by the armed robbery of a white 2011 Mercedes SUV from a real estate office in Radford the day before.
Police say that at about 11:25 a.m. on December 7, a man entered a Radford real estate office brandishing a handgun and demanding the keys to the SUV. The robber took the car, but no one was hurt. The SUV was discovered abandonded on the day of the murder-suicide. Radford police have linked the armed robbery to Ashley's murder-suicide.
The next day, at around 12:15 p.m., Officer Crouse was conducting a traffic stop in a campus parking lot near the intersection of Washington Street and Spring Road. Police say Crouse was sitting inside his unmarked patrol car when Ashley approached and fatally shot the officer.
Police say that in-car video captured by Crouse's dash cam shows a man with a handgun at the time of the shooting.
Ashley then ran from the scene. Police believe he took off his wool cap and pullover and stuffed them inside a backpack which he discarded. The backpack was discovered by police near the campus greenhouses later on Thursday.
As police combed over the campus in search of the shooter, a Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff spied Ashley walking alone through a parking lot located off of Duck Pond Drive. The deputy approached in his car, losing sight of Ashley for a moment. By the time the sheriff's deputy reached Ashley, Ashley had already shot and killed himself.
Both Crouse and Ashley's bodies were taken to Roanoke for autopsies by the Office of the Medical Examiner.