Gun used in Va. Tech slaying legally bought

AP News
Posted: Dec 13, 2011 6:53 PM
Gun used in Va. Tech slaying legally bought

The man who fatally ambushed a Virginia Tech police officer had legally purchased the handgun used in the shooting, Virginia State Police said Tuesday.

Ross T. Ashley, 22, in January purchased the .40-caliber semiautomatic weapon used to kill 39-year-old officer Deriek W. Crouse in January. It was bought at a licensed Virginia gun dealer, but state police investigators did not release the dealer's name.

Crouse was gunned down on Tech's Blacksburg campus during a routine traffic stop on Thursday in a parking lot of Cassell Coliseum. Ashley was found a short time later in a nearby parking lot, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Ballistics tests have linked the same gun to both killings.

Investigators said they have found no link between Ashley and Crouse. Ashley was a part-time student at nearby Radford University.

"Despite investigators' non-stop pursuit of this case, there still remains no prior connection or contact between" the men, the statement said.

The shooting sent tremors through the Virginia Tech campus, which was the scene of the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in April 2007. A gunman killed 32 and then himself.

State police investigators said they have interviewed family, friends and acquaintances to reconstruct Ashley's movements before his deadly encounter with Crouse.

Ashley stole at gunpoint a 2011 luxury SUV from a Radford real estate office the day before the officer's slaying and his first known appearance in Blacksburg was recorded hours later by surveillance video inside a retail shop in the college town.

A state police timeline does not include any other sightings of Ashley until the lunch-hour shooting of Crouse the following day.

Crouse was an Army veteran and married father of five children and stepchildren who joined the campus police force about six months after the 2007 massacre. He previously worked at a jail and for the Montgomery County sheriff's department. His funeral Monday at a campus coliseum was attended by family, friends and dignitaries, including Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Ashley grew up the isolated northern Virginia community of Partlow and played football at Spotsylvania High School. Friends and former classmates said he had broken up with his girlfriend over the summer and vaguely mentioned some family issues, but they generally spoke of him in positive terms.