2 Die, Including Police Officer, In Virginia Tech Shootings
For a few hours this afternoon, the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., was on lockdown after two people, including a campus officer, were killed.
The school advised everyone on campus to "seek shelter or stay where you are," as police launched an all-out search for the gunman whom they described as a "white male" wearing "gray sweat pants, gray hat [with] neon green brim [and a] maroon hoodie..."
The university was the site of a mass shooting in April 2007, during which a student killed 32 other people before taking his own life.
Shortly before 5 p.m. ET., authorities said the situation on campus had been resolved. The AP reported the second person found dead was the shooter. During a press conference Sgt. Bob Carpentieri, of the Virginia State Police, said he could not confirm that report, but that "investigators feel confident they've identified the" shooter and they've recovered a weapon.
Charles Steger, the university's president, called the incident a "wanton act of violence." Steger said it was a "tremendous tragedy" that has been "very traumatic."
"It brings back some difficult memories of the past," said Steger.
According to police, the shooting happened after a police officer made a routine traffic stop at a school parking lot. Carpentieri said the shooter was apparently not the driver of the car, but instead a third person who walked up and shot the officer.
Dean Jessenger, chief of police for Virginia Tech, said that witnesses saw the suspect flee toward the location of a parking garage. Police responded and that's where police found the second body.
We updated this post as the story developed. We re-wrote the lede and changed our headline to reflect the news. What follows are our earlier updates, which chronicle the story as it happened.
Update at 5:42 p.m. ET. Candlelight Vigil:
A candlelight vigil has been scheduled on campus at 8 p.m. ET, reports the Collegiate Times on its twitter feed.
Update at 5:31 p.m. ET. A Recap:
From Virginia Tech, here's a very good timeline of what happened today:
"Virginia State Police responded to Virginia Tech in reference to a shooting in reference to a Virginia Tech police officer being shot and killed while on a traffic stop at the Cassell Coliseum parking lot on Spring Road. ...
"The individual fled that crime scene in the direction of a second crime scene a quarter of a mile away, where a male body was found at that location with a gunshot wound. ...
"We are in the early stages of the investigation, and we don't have any additional details at this time.
"The officer is a four-year veteran of the Virginia Tech Police Department and was assigned to patrol."
Update at 4:44 p.m. ET. 'Situation Is Under Control':
At a news conference, Sgt. Bob Carpentieri, of Virginia State Police, says they are "confident the situation is under control." Carpentieri said a weapon has been recovered.
The AP reported that a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity "said the gunman was believed to be dead." But Carpentieri said he could not confirm that report and said he could not say if the second person found dead was the gunman.
Dean Jessenger, chief of police for Virginia Tech, said what he could say is that witnesses saw the suspect flee toward the location where the second body was found. Police responded and that's when the second body was found.
Carpentieri added that it appears the suspect was not in the car that was stopped by the Virginia Tech police. Carpentieri said the alleged shooter appears to have walked into the parking lot and shot the police officer.
Update at 4:39 p.m. ET. 'No Longer An Active Threat':
The Virginia Tech website has confirmed its Facebook posting that Virginia Tech Police as well as other law enforcement agencies say there is no longer an "active threat."
Update at 4:31 p.m. ET. 'Weapon Recovered':
On its website, Virginia Tech says that a weapon "has been recovered" where the second individual was found.
On its Facebook page, the University is also reporting that, "law enforcement agencies have determined there is no longer an active threat or need to secure in place. Resume normal activities."
We are awaiting a press conference where officials will add details to that Facebook update.
Update at 3:35 p.m. ET. Map With Location Of Incidents:
The student-run Collegiate Times has a map posted here that shows the locations on campus where the two deaths occurred.
Update at 3:15 p.m. ET. Witness Saw Police Rush To Mortally Wounded Officer:
WDBJ-TV spoke with a young woman who said she had just left a building and was walking toward the unmarked police car when "the police pulled up and they opened his car door and when they opened it, he just fell out towards the ground."
"I guess the officer didn't make it, because they just covered him with the sheets," she added.
Update at 3:10 p.m. ET. Exams Postponed; Mood "Fairly Calm":
"Exams scheduled for tomorrow have been postponed, according to Virginia Tech," the student-run Collegiate Times says. It also reports that the "mood inside Squires [Student Center] lockdown room is fairly calm, talkative."
Update at 3:05 p.m. ET. School Created "Advanced Security Alert" after 2007 Tragedy:
The Washington Post reminds readers that "Virginia Tech, a public campus of about 30,000 students, has one of the nation's most advanced security alert systems, installed after the nation's worst campus shooting, a 2007 rampage by student Seung-Hui Cho that left 32 dead. University officials were criticized for not locking down the campus that day and have dramatically overhauled their alert system. The entire campus was on lockdown Thursday."
Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. Connection To Earlier Armed Robbery?
There was an armed robbery and car theft Wednesday in Radford, Va., about 20 miles from Blacksburg. The suspect was described as a white male, "wearing dark colored clothes and a dark colored baseball style cap." University spokesman Mark Owczarski told reporters earlier it's too soon to say whether that incident is related to today's.
Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. News Conference At 4:30 P.M. ET:
The university says it plans to hold a news conference at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Update at 2:42 p.m. ET.
Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman, is talking to reporters now (webcast here). He says "the status of the shooter" is still unknown. The identity of the second person who was killed isn't yet known, he says.
Update at 2:30 p.m. ET. Photos:
Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. Reports Of More Shots "Unfounded":
"Numerous reports have been made recently of sounds identified as gunshots and suspicious activity on campus. These recent reports have been investigated and are unfounded. The suspect's status remains unknown. Several law enforcement agencies are on scene to assist. Please stay where you are and secure your surroundings."
Update at 2:08 p.m. ET. Another Source:
On Twitter, @BlacksburgStuff is following the news. It says "the media should know that today is 'Reading Day' and there are no classes or exams today."
Update at 1:58 p.m. ET. The Latest Statement From The University:
"Shortly after noon today, a Virginia Tech police officer stopped a vehicle on campus during a routine traffic stop in the Coliseum parking lot near McComas Hall
"During the traffic stop. the officer was shot and killed. There were witnesses to this shooting.
"Witnesses reported to police the shooter fled on foot heading toward the Cage, a parking lot near Duck Pond Drive. At that parking lot, a second person was found. That person is also deceased.
"Several law enforcement agencies have responded to assist. Virginia State Police has been requested to take lead in the investigation
"The status of the shooter is unknown. The campus community should continue to shelter in place and visitors should not come to campus."
Update at 1:55 p.m. ET. Began As "Routine Traffic Stop":
The university has also reported, WDBJ-TV says, that the incident began with a "routine traffic stop."
Update at 1:53 p.m. ET. Two People Killed:
WDBJ-TV reports that the university says the police officer was killed and that a second person has been found dead nearby in a parking lot.
Update at 1:47 p.m. ET. That Person Wasn't Arrested:
Collegiate Times updates to say the man it posted about a few minutes ago "is not under arrest."
Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. Suspect Possibly Caught?
The student-run Collegiate Times is reporting that a man who may be the suspect may have been apprehended. Collegiate Times' Twitter page is here.
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. Traffic Stop?
Local WSLS-TV writes that "NBC's Pete Williams is reporting that there was a traffic stop, and gun shots were fired during that traffic stop."
Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. Webcast:
WDBJ-TV is streaming its coverage here. It says the first report of shots came around 12:30 p.m. ET.
Update at 1:16 p.m. ET. Officer And Possibly A Second Person Shot:
The university's website now says:
"Suspect remains at large. A police officer has been shot. A potential second victim is reported at the Cage lot. Stay indoors. Secure in place."
Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. Officer Reportedly Shot:
WDBJ-TV in Roanoke says its reporter Karen Kiley says "a police officer is the one who has been shot."
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