The family of Ross Truett Ashley, the alleged gunman who fatally shot a Virginia Tech police officer before committing suicide Thursday, has issued an apology to the family of slain police officer Deriek Crouse.
"The Ashley family would like to offer their condolences to the family of Officer Crouse," they said in a statement. "Officer Crouse and his family are in their prayers."
This was the first time the family spoke out since Thursday's shooting on the Blacksburg campus. They also requested privacy while they mourn the tragedy.
In the shocking incident, Ross Truett Ashley, a 22-year-old Virginia student, shot dead a Virginia Tech police officer and then took his own life. Police said Friday that Ashley had stolen a Mercedes SUV at gunpoint the day before the tragedy.
Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said in a statement. "Once again, the campus and the community that we love so well have been visited by senseless violence and tragic loss. Tragedy again struck Virginia Tech in a wanton act of violence.”
The fatal shooting caused a lock-down that lasted for hours. An alert on the Virginia Tech School’s website read, "There is an active campus alert in Blacksburg. Everyone should seek shelter or stay where you are. Blacksburg Transit service is suspended until the alert is lifted."
The case is still under investigation. No one knows why Ashley shot Crouse point blank while the officer was writing someone a ticket during a routine traffic stop. Crouse, who was attacked as he sat in his police car, was not able to return fire and died on the spot.
According to the state police, Ashley, a part-time business student at nearby Radford University, had no connection with Crouse before Thursday's shooting.
Ashley fled the scene and Blacksburg police found him shortly after noon lying on the ground in a garage. He had suffered what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A handgun was found nearby. Police deduced from ballistics evidence that the gun was also used on officer Crouse.
"State police investigators are continuing their work to establish a motive in the killing and to re-create Ashley's movements in the days and hours leading up to the murder-suicide," police said.
Officer Deriek Crouse, 39, father of five, had joined the university police force in 2007 - some six months after a shooting rampage in which Seung-Hui Cho shot dead 32 students at Virginia Tech.