A ‘quiet, typical college student’ who kills a cop?

Ross Truett Ashley (Photo from Virginia State Police)
Ross Truett Ashley (Photo from Virginia State Police)

If you can believe those giving interviews to reporters about Ross Truett Ashley, the 22-year-old parttime Radford University student who gunned down a Virginia Tech police officer Thursday before blowing his own brains out, the murdering young man was just a “quiet, typical college student.”

Yet this typical, quiet college student — who made the Deans List at UVA-Wise — recently shaved his head and ran up and down the halls of his apartment building in Radford, where he stole a Mercedes-Benz SUV from his landlord the day before he decided to kill a cop for no apparent reason.

Virginia State Police identified Ashley Friday, saying the agency was sure he was the one who walked up to Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse early Thursday afternoon and shot him in the head while the officer was sitting in his car following a routine traffic stop on the Blacksburg campus.

Ashley then fled to a campus parking area called The Cage and killed himself as a deputy closed in.

The part time student at Radford University lived in an apartment above a yogurt shop, consignment store and tattoo parlor in Radford. Neighbors said he was mostly quiet, although he had a habit of running up and down the hallway of the three-story apartment building.

Mandy Adams, a Radford grad student, told the Associated Press that Ashley recently shaved his head.

“He would just run down the hallway — never walk, always run,” Adams said. “It’s going to be really creepy when they come to stake his stuff out of here.”

Really creepy?  Some might think that a guy who runs up and down an apartment building hall and who shaved his head might be creepy as well. What do you call it when that same “quiet, typical college student” walks up to a police car and kills a war veteran, husband and father of five?

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9 thoughts on “A ‘quiet, typical college student’ who kills a cop?”

  1. Would it be asking too much to let this story reach a conclusion before praising or demonizing anyone?

    The news conferences mostly showed how screwed up our justice/legal system is. Who can say what and when for example. Anyone care to offer up a reasonable defense for not being able to talk about a dead criminal’s prior mental health issues (if any) or past criminal history (if any)?

    I haven’t read anything anyplace else that you seem to know. For example, who got shot where. Or did you just assume shots in the head are the most dramatic?

    I am Joe Public and those news conferences were absurd. Let’s all gather around and we’ll start this off by saying we won’t answer the questions you are most likely to ask, even if we know the answers.

    Crazy is a state of mind and there’s enough to go around. Add another one to the “It could have been worse.” file folder. Yeah, it was the hairstyle and more great reporting about what running down the hall means, how often, without any reason, back and forth at 3 am while blasting cop killer on his stereo?

    There’s something fishy about the motive aspect that we still don’t know. I can think of many reasons why we might never know. Never let a tragedy go to waste. RIP DC.

    • Witnesses placed Ashley at the scene and identified him as the shooter. Officers at the scene described the wounds to the officer as head shots.

      My point in writing this was that it appears that every time we have a tragedy like this, someone is going to say something like “oh, he was such a normal boy” and that is what is played up in the stories.

      I’m sorry but “normal” people don’t walk up to someone sitting in a car and kill them. As more details emerge about this case, it is obvious that Ashley was displaying not-so-normal patterns of behavior that should have indicated to some that things were not so normal. Were those behaviors cries for help and warning signs? Good questions.

      As for knowing what I know about the case, there’s a good reason for that. I was there, interviewing witnesses for one of the several news organizations that I work for. That’s what I do for a living.

      • I’ll wait for the speculation to end. I know this is not your news job and I still haven’t read anything you said here anyplace else about wounds.

        I have the same questions and more that haven’t been reported yet.

        The reason I said anything is because the NEWS channels fill time with unfounded speculations. It doesn’t make it news even if the unfounded disclaimer is added.

        You don’t like it if people tell you the facts as they know them? Some of the folks that said the shooter was normal did qualify it with what is normal. I think you are somewhat normal, except when you aren’t. I won’t be surprised when your choices take a bad turn.

        I still respect you for who you are. Keep doin you.

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