Virgiia Tech students mourn fallen police officer

Violence and death came to star-crossed Virginia Tech Thursday when a gunman shot and killed a university police officer and then fled to the campus Duck Pond to turn his weapon on himself.

Tech officials moved quickly to lock down the sprawling campus in Blacksburg as officers from surrounding police jurisdictions descended and began the search.

Just why the unnamed man walked up to Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse and gunned him down after the cop stopped a car on a traffic offense near the coliseum.  Crouse, a four-year veteran of the department, leaves a widow and five children.

The gunman, not involved in the traffic stop, fled and then took his own life in The Cage parking area of the Blacksburg campus.

The call came in to Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman while we lunched at Floyd’s Mexican restaurant.  The sheriff quickly offered help to Tech, Blacksburg and Montgomery County authorities.

“Oh no,” I thought when Zeman gave me the news. “Not again.”

Virginia Tech’s place in history is defined by the April 2007 massacre by a gun-wielding student whose murder spree left 33 dead but the campus has a too-long history of violence — from the student who decapitated a former lover in the food court to the still unsolved murders of two students in a Virginia roadside park.

While it can be argued that the huge Tech campus — by itself the largest city in Montgomery County — is a microcosm of violence in modern society, the university has suffered too many tragedies in recent years.

It doesn’t matter if the death toll is one, two or 33.  Each death is one too many.

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