UPDATE: State Police: Va. Tech Gunman Acted Alone

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- State police say the gunman who killed himself at Virginia Tech acted alone in the slaying of a campus police officer.

Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the gunman ran from the scene and changed clothes before killing himself in a parking lot a half-mile away.

Geller says the gunman, whose identity has not been released, was later found by an officer in the campus parking lot. The man shot and killed himself.

Geller said at a Thursday news conference that the gunman put his clothes in a backpack and left it behind at a greenhouse on campus.

Geller says investigators are still trying to find out why the gunman ambushed the officer, Deriek W. Crouse.

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A gunman walked into a parking lot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer who was conducting a traffic stop on campus Thursday, state police said.

Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said it appeared that the shooter was not in the car that had been pulled over. The sergeant said another officer later spotted a second person in a different parking lot who was alive at the time. That person, a white man, later died of a gunshot wound.

Police would not say during a Thursday afternoon news conference whether the second dead person was the gunman who killed the officer. However, a law enforcement official who had knowledge of the case and spoke on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that the gunman was believed to be dead.

Virginia Tech officials said on the school's website that a weapon was recovered near the second body found on campus. School officials also said there was no longer an active threat Thursday afternoon and that normal activities could resume.

Investigators were interviewing the person who was pulled over Thursday. Carpentieri also said he couldn't say exactly how many people were involved.

The officer had served on the campus police force for four years. State police were still investigating whether he had been specifically targeted.

The officer's shooting prompted a lockdown that lasted for hours.

As police hunted for the killer, the school applied the lessons learned nearly five years ago, warning students and faculty members via email and text message to stay indoors. It was the first gunfire on campus since 33 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The shooting Thursday sent a shudder through campus, where students preparing for exams were suddenly told to hunker down. Heavily armed officers walked around campus as caravans of SWAT vehicles and other police cars with emergency lights flashing patrolled nearby.

"A lot of people, especially toward the beginning were scared," said Jared Brumfield, a 19-year-old freshman from Culpeper, Va., who was locked in the Squires Student Center since around 1:30 p.m. "A lot of people are loosening up now. I guess we're just waiting it out, waiting for it to be over."

The university sent updates about every 30 minutes, regardless of whether they had any new information, school spokesman Mark Owczarski said.

"It's crazy that someone would go and do something like that with all the stuff that happened in 2007," said Corey Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore from Mechanicsville, Va., who was headed to a dining hall near the site of one of the shootings.

He told The Associated Press that he stayed inside after seeing the alerts from the school. "It's just weird to think about why someone would do something like this when the school's had so many problems," Smith said.

Harry White, 20, a junior physics major, said he was in line for a sandwich at a restaurant in a campus building when he received the text message alert.

White said he didn't panic, thinking instead about a false alarm about a possible gunman that locked down the campus in August. White used an indoor walkway to go to a computer lab in an adjacent building, where he checked news reports.

"I decided to just check to see how serious it was. I saw it's actually someone shooting someone, not something false, something that looks like a gun," White said.

Campus was quieter than usual because classes ended Wednesday and students were preparing for exams, which were to begin Friday. The school postponed those tests.

The shooting came soon after the conclusion of a hearing where Virginia Tech was appealing a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Education Department in connection with the university's response to the 2007 rampage.

The department said the school violated the law by waiting more than two hours after two students were shot to death in their dorm before sending an email warning. By then, student gunman Seung-Hui Cho was chaining the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more people and then himself.

The department said the email was too vague because it mentioned only a "shooting incident," not the deaths. During testimony Thursday, the university's police chief, Wendell Flinchum, said there were no immediate signs in the dorm to indicate a threat to the campus. He said the shootings were believed to be an isolated domestic incident and that the shooter had fled.

An administrative judge ended the hearing by asking each side to submit a brief by the end of January. It is unclear when he will rule.

Since the massacre, the school expanded its emergency notification systems. Alerts now go out by electronic message boards in classrooms, by text messages and other methods. Other colleges and universities have put in place similar systems.

Universities are required under the Clery Act to provide warnings in a timely manner and to report the number of crimes on campus.

During about a one-hour period on Thursday, the university issued four separate alerts.

Derek O'Dell, a third-year veterinary student at Virginia Tech who was wounded in the 2007 shooting, was shaken.

"It just brings up a lot of bad feelings, bad memories," O'Dell said. "You pray there are no more victims, and pray for the families."

O'Dell was monitoring the situation from his home a couple of miles from campus.

"At first I was just hoping it was a false alarm," he said. "Then there were reports of two people dead, and the second person shot was in the parking lot where I usually park to go to school so it was kind of surreal."

In August, a report of a possible gunman at Virginia Tech set off the longest, most extensive lockdown and search on campus since 2007. No gunman was found, and the school gave the all-clear about five hours after sirens began wailing and students and staff members started receiving warnings.

The system was also put to the test in 2008, when an exploding nail gun cartridge was mistaken for gunfire. Only one dorm was locked down during that emergency, and it reopened two hours later.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Previous Story

Virginia Tech officials say a police officer and another person have been shot and killed on the school's campus.

The suspect remains on the loose.

A news release from the school says the police officer had pulled someone over in what was a routine traffic stop Thursday. The officer was shot and killed during the traffic stop.

Witnesses told police the shooter ran toward a parking lot on
campus. A second person was found dead in that parking lot.

Virginia State Police will be taking over the investigation, according to the news release.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Previous Story

Virginia Tech says a police officer has been shot, and a possible second victim has been reported at a parking lot near the campus.

Authorities are seeking a suspect.

A campus-wide alert tells students and faculty to stay inside and lock doors.

The shooting comes the same day as Virginia Tech is appealing a $55,000 fine by the Education Department in connection with the university's response to a 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead.

The suspect is described as a white male wearing gray sweat pants, gray hat with neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack.

A message left with the university wasn't immediately returned. Campus police referred all questions to the university.

A student gunman killed 32 students and faculty and then shot himself on the campus in 2007.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Biscuit Location: ENC on Dec 8, 2011 at 04:43 PM
    God Bless that officer and give peace and comfort to his family, friends, and coworkers.
  • by me Location: bayboro, n.c. on Dec 8, 2011 at 01:30 PM
    May God comfort these families.
  • by ezu hater on Dec 8, 2011 at 01:19 PM
    look for the guy with the umbrella
    • reply
      by Kay on Dec 8, 2011 at 01:57 PM in reply to ezu hater
      To EZU hater, you are not funny....
      • reply
        by Yep! on Dec 8, 2011 at 03:10 PM in reply to Kay
        Not only was the comment at 4:19 not funny, but was also sick, twisted, and inappropriate. Good job, WITN!... allowing disgusting, destructive and demeaning commentary since this site was created (tic). Have you NO ethics or morals?
    • reply
      by Really on Dec 8, 2011 at 03:08 PM in reply to ezu hater
      You are not funny. Innocent people died today.
  • by Melissa Location: Greenville on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:49 PM
    This is why ECU is so cautious!!!!!!!!!
  • by LEO on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:06 PM
    There is no such thing as a "routine" traffic stop.
  • by Chuck Location: Greenville on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:49 AM
    So sorry to hear about this.What in the world is going on at Va Tech?
    • reply
      by NOT JUST VA TECH on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:52 PM in reply to Chuck
      What is going on everywhere would be the better question. People are raising kids with no respect for adults or people in authority. This world is going to heck in a hand-basket fast.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:39 AM
    My heart goes out to the families, just two years ago today Martin County lost one of its loved deputies. So sad.
  • by Keith on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:22 AM
    My heart goes out to the Officer and the other person that was shot. I will keep their families in my prayers.
  • by Carolyn on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:15 AM
    Scary.....what is happening in this world?
  • by pirategirl Location: greenville on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM
    I know all of ECU is sending out love and prayers!!!!
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