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Virginia Tech gunman was not a student, acted alone, authorities say

By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The gunman in the Virginia Tech shooting was not a student, had no apparent connection to the university and is believed to have acted alone when he shot a campus police officer, authorities said Friday morning.

A news conference held Friday morning by school and law enforcement officials raised more questions than it answered. Authorities said they were continuing to piece together a motive in the deadly shooting of Officer Deriek W. Crouse that had locked down a stunned campus less than 24 hours earlier.

“That’s very much the fundamental part of the investigation right now. … (Why) this man approached Officer Crouse and took his life,” said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

“At this point we have nothing to connect him to the Virginia Tech campus or school.”

She also said there the investigation hasn’t turned up anything to suggest a link between the gunman and the officer.

Authorities would not release personal details about the gunman, who was not carrying identification when he was found, pending the completion of an autopsy, a positive identification and notification of next of kin.

Geller said the shooter used a handgun, but she would not discuss its caliber or whether the gunman had the legal right to carry it within the state. She said the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was investigating the gun’s history, including whether it had been used in any other crimes.

The shooting unfolded about 12:15 p.m. EST 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.

The shooting triggered a campuswide lockdown while several state and federal agencies launched a manhunt.

Minutes later, a second body was found about a quarter-mile away, leading some to fear another campus rampage could be under way. In the 2007, 33 were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

It would turn out, however, that the second body was that of the gunman. Ballistic and other evidence showed he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

©2011 the Los Angeles Times

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