SEARCH

Entries in Virginia Tech (15)

Monday
Jun042012

FBI Releases New Sketch in Morgan Harrington Murder Investigation

FBI(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- A revised FBI sketch of the suspect in the killing of Morgan Harrington has been released, part of a revived effort to find the Virginia Tech student's murderer nearly three years after her death.

Help Save the Next Girl, a victim's rights group founded by Harrington's parents, released the revised FBI sketch of an unidentified possible suspect who has been linked to a 2005 sexual assault case in Fairfax County some two hours north.

Harrington disappeared Oct. 17, 2009, during a Metallica concert on the University of Virginia campus. Her body was found in January 2010 at a farm in Albemarle County, not too far away.

As the investigation unfolded, information forensically linked the man pictured in the sketch to a sexual assault in Fairfax County in 2005.

The FBI has revised the sketch, which was initially developed by Fairfax County police following the September 2005 sexual assault during which the suspect grabbed a woman and dragged her to a pool and park area and sexually assaulted her.

The FBI and Virginia State Police have been working on the investigation. Few details have emerged about the night she went missing. Harrington had gone to a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville when she got separated from her friends, who believe she stepped outside for a cigarette.

Surveillance cameras at the concert caught Harrington getting turned away from several entrances as she tried to return to the concert. Later, witnesses told police they saw someone matching her description in a nearby grassy parking lot, and then walking on an adjacent road.

The morning after the concert, Harrington's purse and cellphone were found in that grassy field, and later, her parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, called police to report her missing.

Morgan's mother, Gil Harrington, told ABC News affiliate WJLA in 2010: "It's easy for a community to grow complacent and forget that there is still violence and that a predator still walks the streets."

Police have said that the suspect may have changed his appearance in five years since the first attack he is suspected of committing, but Harrington's family and friends still hope someone might remember him or make a connection.

Police said there were tricky "obstacles" to get to the location on Anchorage Farm where the body was found, so they asked people who live in the area to alert investigators to whoever was familiar with the roads and terrain there.

In the coming days, the FBI is planning to bring more attention to the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr162012

Virginia Tech Commemorates Fifth Anniversary of Shootings

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- Five years ago on April 16, 2007, a Virginia Tech student went on a shooting rampage throughout the campus, killing 32 people before taking his own life.  It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

On Monday, the university and Virginia mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy with a statewide moment of silence at 9:43 a.m. ET, the time of the shooting in the classroom building.

Monday is also the first time in five years that classes will be held on April 16.

Gunman Seung-Hui Cho first shot two people dead in a dorm before heading to the classroom building where 30 others were gunned down.  He then committed suicide before he could be taken into custody.

After all this time, the motivations of Cho, who showed signs of being unstable before the shootings, remain unknown.

Last month, a jury ruled that Virginia Tech was negligent in how it failed to initially warn students about the shootings on its campus, awarding two families that sued $4 million each, although the judge said the awards should be capped at $100,000.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech and other universities across the country have since created or improved emergency notification systems to alert students of danger through emails, text messages and social media.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar302012

Judge Reverses $55,000 Fine Against Virginia Tech

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Virginia Tech no longer faces the fine imposed over its handling of the 2007 massacre on campus.

The Department of Education had fined Virginia Tech $55,000 for violating a federal law that requires timely notification of campus crime – but a judge threw it out, ruling an email the school sent more than two hours after the first gunshots "contained sufficient information to put the community on notice."

The judge said "in hindsight it is beyond regretful" a warning did not go out sooner, but he determined it was sent in a reasonable amount of time.

"We are aware of the ruling, and the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid is considering its options,” a spokesman for the Department of Education said in a statement. “At the end of the day, we all agree that the most important thing we can do as a country is to put safeguards and protections in place that will help prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again.

The statement continued, “We will continue to work with Virginia Tech and schools across the country to make sure we're collectively doing everything possible to keep students safe and learning."

In its own statement, the school said it is “pleased by the ruling.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Jury Finds Virginia Tech Negligent in Wrongful Death Trial

Hemera/Thinkstock(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- A spokesman for Virginia Tech expressed the administration's disappointment Wednesday after a jury determined the university was negligent in its response to the 2007 campus shootings, which left 33 dead.

"We are disappointed with today's decision and stand by our long-held position that the administration and law enforcement at Virginia Tech did their absolute best with the information available on April 16, 2007," Mark Owczarski, director of news and information and spokesman for Virginia Tech, said of the jury's decision Wednesday.

The jury awarded $4 million each to the families of two students who died in what is said to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, according to The Roanoke Times. The families likely will not see all of the money, though.  Virginia law requires the amount awarded be capped at $100,000. The Roanoke Times reports a judge will rule on the final award at a later date.

Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde might have survived the massacre if Virginia Tech officials had warned students of Seung-Hui Cho's earlier dorm shootings 2 1/2 hours before the killing finally ended, the families said.

The Virginia state panel report, the Federal Department of Education and now a state civil court jury have all found that Virginia Tech's administration erred in their responsibilities to the campus community that day.  

Still, Owczarski maintains the "heinous crimes of Seung-Hui Cho" were an unprecedented act of violence that no one could have foreseen.

The Virginia Tech administration plans to "discuss this matter with the attorney general, carefully review the case, and explore all of the options available."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Virginia Tech Hosts Slain Police Officer’s Funeral Monday

Jared Soares/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- A funeral will be held on the campus of Virginia Tech Monday for school police officer Deriek Crouse, who law enforcement sources say was shot to death last Thursday by a gunman who then killed himself.

Crouse’s funeral will be held at Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum.  Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will attend the funeral, along with law enforcement personnel from around the region.

The slain officer's wife, Tina Crouse, told the Roanoke Times her husband texted “love you lots” moments before the shooting.  She told the newspaper, “Someone took our life from us.”

Law enforcement investigators have identified 22-year-old Ross Ashley as the shooter.  Ashley was a part-time business major at Radford University in Virginia.

Matt Dailey, a Radford University student who considered Ashley his best friend, told the Roanoke Times he had accompanied Ashley two or three times to a shooting range near Blacksburg, but that was months ago.

Dailey told the newspaper he, “didn’t see this coming.”  He described Ashley as withdrawn, but added that he, “was definitely off in some ways,” but not necessarily any more off than other folks.

No motive has been given for the shooting, but the Virginia State Police say their investigation into the case continues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec102011

Alleged Virginia Tech Shooter Identified

Virginia State Police(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- Police have identified Ross Truett Ashley as the alleged gunman who fatally shot a Virginia Tech police officer before killing himself about 30 minutes later.

There is no known connection between the officer, who was ambushed on campus Thursday, and Ashley, 22, of Partlow, Va., police said Friday.

But there is evidence that the shooter went to some lengths to assassinate Officer Deriek Crouse. Ashley stole a white 2011 Mercedes SUV from a real estate office in the city of Radford Wednesday, according to Radford City Police. The Mercedes was stolen at gunpoint at about 11:25 a.m.

The SUV was located the next day, Thursday, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Officer Crouse later stopped a car and was seated inside his unmarked patrol car when Ashley fatally shot him, police allege. Ashley escaped on foot and changed out of his wool cap and pullover top, police said.

At least part of the deadly encounter that rattled the campus Thursday was captured on Crouse's dash-cam and since the Virginia Tech officers are also "miked," so there was likely audio of the encounter.

"We know who this person is," Corinne Geller of the Virginia State Police said at a news conference Friday morning.

Authorities have yet to identify a motive for the ambush.

"At this time we have made no connection that the shooter and Officer Crouse knew each other at the time of the shooting," Geller said.

She also said, "We are very confident that he was the only individual involved in this."

Determining a motive for the ambush, Geller said, is "the fundamental part of the investigation right now."

Crouse, who was ambushed as he sat in his police car, was not able to return fire, Geller said. He died at the scene.

The gunman was spotted later by an officer acting suspiciously in a campus garage, but by the time the officer reached the suspect he was dead.

"We found him laying on the ground and he had suffered what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the handgun was found nearby," Geller said.

The shooting came almost five years after the deadly massacre at the Blacksburg, Va., school, when Seung Hui-Cho killed 32 other people before killing himself.

A candlelight vigil also took place Friday on Drillfield. An impromptu vigil was held Thursday night.

Fall term final exams that were originally scheduled to begin Friday will start Saturday instead, school officials said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

Virginia Tech Shooter was Not a Student, Police Say

Jared Soares/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- The suspected gunman in the ambush of a Virginia Tech police officer was not a student of the university, a Virginia Tech spokesman said Friday.

The shooter killed Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse and then the man believed to be the gunman was found dead in a nearby parking lot.

"We found him laying on the ground and he had suffered what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the handgun was found nearby," Corinne Geller of the Virginia State Police said at a news conference Friday morning.

"We know who this person is," Geller said, but won't release his identity until next of kin are notified.

Authorities have not yet identified a motive for the ambush. Very few details about the gunman have been released.

"At this time we have made no connection that the shooter and Officer Crouse knew each other at the time of the shooting," Geller said.

She also said, "We are very confident that he was the only individual involved in this."

Crouse, who was ambushed as he sat in his police car, was not able to return fire, Geller said.

There are indications that Crouse was targeted by the gunman. Geller said there was a, "likelihood he is connected to a stolen vehicle from Radford," that the shooter used to get to the campus. Radford is about 18 miles from the Virginia Tech campus.

Blacksburg police also recovered a discarded backpack with clothing in it that seemed to match the original description of what the gunman was wearing, leading authorities to believe that the gunman changed his clothes after shooting Crouse and was part of a plan to escape. Early Friday, officials confirmed that Crouse and the suspected gunman were killed by the same handgun.

The shooting came almost five years after the deadly massacre at the Blacksburg, Va., school, when Seung Hui-Cho killed 32 other people before killing himself.

Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg, Va., was a four-year veteran of the force and father of five.

Crouse joined the school's police force in 2007 and was trained as a crisis intervention officer and firearms instructor. He was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team, according to officials. Crouse was also a U.S. Army veteran and worked at the New River Valley Jail and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, officials said.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

Two Killed in Virginia Tech Were Shot by Same Gun

Jared Soares/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- The Virginia Tech University police officer who was shot by a gunman on the school's campus along with a second person who was found dead were killed by the same handgun, officials said early Friday.

Virginia State Police said that ballistics tests confirmed and "officially linked the two fatal shootings" that left Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse and a second victim dead on Thursday, authorities said in a news release.

The incident is the deadliest shooting at the Blacksburg, Va., school since 2007, when Seung Hui-Cho killed 32 other people before killing himself.

Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg, Va. was shot and killed while performing a routine traffic stop when someone walked up to the officer's car and shot him.

Crouse, a father of five, joined the school's police force in 2007 and was trained as a crisis intervention officer and firearms instructor and was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team, according to officials.  Crouse was also a U.S. Army veteran and worked at the New River Valley Jail and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, officials said.

Police said they believe this is the first time a Virginia Tech officer has been shot in the line of duty.

A candlelight vigil has been planned for Friday night on Drillfield, while an impromptu vigil was held Thursday night.

On Thursday, police declined to say directly that the second shooting victim was the gunman, but said "no additional victims or shooting reports have been given to the police" since the second person was shot.

"I think the investigators feel confident that we've located the person, but I don't want to give you specifics," Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said at a news conference Thursday.  "You can kind of read between the lines."

The identity of the second victim has not yet been released and officials said the motive is currently unknown and under investigation.

Officials are also reviewing Crouse's dash-cam footage that showed the "subject with a handgun at the officer’s car at the time of the shooting," according to the news release, which also said that clothing found in a backpack found by police "is similar to the clothing worn by the male subject in the officer's video."

The suspect was described as a white male wearing a gray sweatpants, a gray hat with a neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and a backpack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

Virginia Tech Shooting: Students Feared 'Throwback' to 2007 Massacre

Jared Soares/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- In Hokie Nation, the phrase "April 16" is used in the same way most people speak of Sept. 11.  It's shorthand for the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

It was mentioned a lot on Thursday, as the midday killing of a Virginia Tech police officer, and a subsequent campus lockdown, instantly triggered thoughts of the massacre that took place there on April 16, 2007.  Students were ordered to stay indoors and alerted to the dangers of a gunman on the loose, provoking fears of the worst.

"It was really hard, having kind of a throwback to April 16," said Ben Amos of Fairfax, Va., a member of the senior class.

But Amos, like most current Tech students, can only imagine what it was like when Seung Hui-Cho went on a shooting rampage there in 2007, killing 32 other people before committing suicide.

Now 22, Amos was in high school at the time of the shootings.  He was among the first crop of students to apply for admission to Virginia Tech in the aftermath of the bloodbath.

"I wasn't here [in 2007], but it did hit really close to home," said Jennifer Nicholson, a 19-year-old sophomore.

"Knowing that there was a gunman on the loose was just really scary," Nicholson told ABC News.  "My mom was like, 'Text me every 10 minutes to make sure you're OK.'"

By late afternoon, officials held a news conference to announce the end of the alert and the campus slowly returned to life.

Students gave police and school officials praise for the quick work to lockdown and alert the campus.

"Knowing that they responded so quickly and everything, it's just reassuring, especially to know that there are cops everywhere -- even in the big Humvees," said Nicholson.

University officials sent several alerts to students throughout the day, via text message, email and telephone calls.  Several police agencies swarmed into this small college town.

"The response at Virginia Tech after April 16 is so quick and so thorough that I knew if [the shooter] was still on campus and still around, they would definitely have found him," Amos said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Virgina Tech Security Response Has Improved Since 2007 Shootings

ABC News(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- As Virginia Tech administrators attended a hearing in Washington, D.C. Thursday to appeal a $55,000 fine related to the school's 2007 shooting rampage, two people died on campus after being shot.

Thursday's incident tested the school's emergency response system four years after the 2007 massacre that killed 33 people, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. But even though top security officials were several miles away at the hearing, the school's emergency response system didn't appear to experience any glitches.

In 2007, it took more than two hours after the dormitory shooting for the administration to issue its first alert to the campus community. The Education Department fined the school for waiting so long to send out a vague warning email. Under the Clery Act, universities are required to provide timely warnings.

But Thursday, the school issued five separate alerts and updates in less than two hours.

After Thursday's emergency shortly after noon, the school launched its first text message at 12:37 p.m. and then followed up with more text messages, electronic message board alerts, website updates and emails.

S. Daniel Carter, the director of public policy at security on campus, attended Virginia Tech's hearing Thursday in Washington, D.C. He declined to comment on the hearing itself, but said the school's director of emergency management, Michael Mulhare, who was hired one year after the 2007 shootings, is "extremely qualified," and, "it certainly does not appear that there was an adverse effect."

Mulhare and Wendell Flinchum, the chief of the Virginia Tech Police Department, also were present at the D.C. hearing.

The hearing ended before noon at the U.S. District Court, shortly before a shooting killed a Virginia Tech police officer at a parking lot. The officer died during a routine traffic stop, the school reported, and another person was found dead at a different parking lot where the shooter had fled.

No other reports of gunmen occurred after the second body was found.

It initially was unclear whether or not the shooter remained on the lam, but students who spoke with ABC News said they nevertheless felt safe.

Brett Hockersmith, a 22-year-old senior studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech, said he was sitting with an estimated 500 students in the school's "math emporium," off the main campus, when he saw electronic message boards beeping and flashing news about the first gunshots. The message boards were a new addition to the school's emergency management system after the 2007 shooting.

Although Virginia Tech was criticized for its response to the 2007 shooting, Hockersmith said he felt the school greatly improved their response this time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio