Virginia Tech shooter identified (PHOTOS) (UPDATES)



Trees are tied with ribbons of Virgina Tech school colors, orange and crimson, on April 20, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Thirty-two students and teachers were shot dead on the university campus by a student, who later killed himself.


Tim Sloan

Police authorities identified the Virginia Tech shooter who killed a police officer Thursday before taking his own life as a 22-year-old male who attended the nearby Radford University.

Police and Virginia Tech named the shooter as Ross Truett Ashley, the BBC reported. Ashley is believed to have triggered the campus-wide lockdown at the university known for one of the deadliest college shootings in US history.

Ashley allegedly killed officer Deriek Crouse at around 12:15 EST (17:15 GMT) on Thursday while the policeman was sitting in his car, police said.

A law enforcement offical told The Associated Press Thursday that the gunman was believed to be dead, but police and university officials wouldn't confirm the information in a press conference.

At the news conference, police officals said "a weapon has been recovered," but wouldn't provide details. 

"No additional victims or shooting reports have been given to the police department, so we feel confident that the situation is under control at this time," Sgt. Bob Carpentieri told the press.

The campus lockdown was lifted around 4:30 p.m.

A police officer is one of two people who were shot and killed at the Virginia Tech campus on Thursday, the university's newspaper, The Collegiate Times, has reported.

In April 2007, 23-year-old Virginia Tech student Cho Seung-Hui shot and killed 32 people on the campus before killing himself. It was the deadliest campus shooting in US history. 

This was the first time that the campus was on complete lockdown since that attack, CBS News reported. Students were kept inside, and schools in the surrounding area were shut down, MSNBC reported. 

Officials were searching the campus for someone who matched the description of a white male wearing gray sweatpants, a gray hat with a neon green brim and a maroon hoodie and carrying a backpack. Several people were being tracked, though none have been confirmed as the suspect, the Collegiate Times reported. 

Six agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are at Virginia Tech to help respond to Thursday's shooting, ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson told CNN's Carol Cratty. Twenty additional agents are on standby, he added.

"The agents are very familiar with the campus and the buildings" because they've worked with Blacksburg police since the 2007 mass shooting on campus, Thomasson told CNN. 

Virginia Tech released the following statement this afternoon, CP24 News reported

"Shortly after 12 p.m. today, a Virginia Tech Police officer stopped a vehicle on campus during a routine traffic stop in the Coliseum parking lot near McComas Hall.

During the traffic stop. the officer was shot and killed. There were witnesses to this shooting.

Witnesses reported to police the shooter fled on foot heading toward the Cage, a parking lot near Duck Pond Drive. At that parking lot, a second person was found. That person is also deceased.

Several law enforcement agencies have responded to assist. Virginia State police has been requested to take lead in the investigation

Status of the shooter is unknown. The campus community should continue to shelter in place and visitors should not come to campus."

The campus went on lockdown after reports of shots being fired, and students were moved to a secure room in Squires Student Center, the Collegiate Times reported via Twitter.

The shooting happened on the same day that Virginia Tech officials were in Washington to appeal a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Education Department over their response to the 2007 rampage. The Education Department says Virginia Tech was too slow in notifying students, faculty and staff of the safety threat on April 16, 2007, ABC News reported

Scroll through the photographs in the slideshow above to see images connected to the 2007 shooting.

According to ABC News, 

A report of a possible gunman at Virginia Tech on Aug. 4 set off the longest, most extensive lockdown and search on campus since the 2007 bloodbath led the university to overhaul its emergency procedures. 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 by phone, email and text message to lock themselves indoors. Alerts were also posted on the university's website and Twitter accounts.

More from GlobalPost: Virginia Tech goes into lockdown after man sighted carrying a handgun

Classes for the semester ended Wednesday. Students on campus are preparing for final exams. Tomorrow's exams have been postponed, and the university will release a statement to students about the remainder of the exam period soon, the Collegiate Times reported. 

Follow live tweets about the shooting here:

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