Friends Remember Virginia Tech Shooting Victim, Police Officer

Friends of Deriek Crouse, the police officer shot and killed on the Virginia Tech Campus Thursday, are speaking out.

Deriek Crouse, an army veteran, husband and father of five, was killed by a shooter during routine traffic stop on the campus.

Crouse joined the campus police force in October 2007, shortly after the deadly Virginia Tech shooting that ended 33 lives. Previously, Crouse worked at a jail and for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

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A man, initially believed to be a victim, was found shot dead in a vehicle in the school parking lot, apparently by the same gun. Investigators believe he is the shooter, but a motive has yet to be established.

"At this point, we haven't been able to establish any kind of immediate connection between the officer and the shooter," State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller told AP. "That's obviously something that's being looked into."

His friend, Aaron Proden told AP that he was a jokester who enjoyed riding his motorcycle and rock music. He also said he and Crouse had just seen Metallica in a Charlotte, N.C. concert.

Crouse recently invited Proden to go on a ride "just to see what he does, his job, his lifestyle.”

"He was a standup guy," said Rusty Zarger, a former neighbor whose two daughters played with Crouse's sons at the townhouse complex where they lived. "He was very mild-mannered, very confident. You could tell he was strong in believing in himself, but very comfortable."

Zarger said that after Independence Day, Crouse had fireworks and invited neighbors, particularly children, to watch him set them off.

"He came over and got all the kids to come outside and watch it - made it a very community thing when he didn't have to,” Zarger said.

A woman who answered the door at the Crouse home Thursday night told reporters it wasn't a good time to talk.

Inside, a group of people sat around a table.

Crouse was trained as a crisis intervention officer and a general, firearms and defensive tactics instructor.

About 150 students gathered for a candlelight vigil facing the stone plaza memorial for the 2007 shooting victims. An official vigil for the officer is planned for Friday night.

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