A dean's list student who killed a Virginia Tech police officer had no ties to the university and did not know the patrolman, authorities said yesterday without offering a motive for a crime spree that spanned two days and ended in suicide. Ross Truett Ashley, 22, first drew authorities' attention when he robbed his landlord's office at gunpoint Wednesday. He took the keys to a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle later found in Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech, about 10 miles away.
Ashley, a part-time business student at Radford University, was described by those who knew him as a typical college student, though he could be quiet and standoffish. He liked to run down the hallways and recently shaved his head, a neighbor said. Police said he walked up to officer Deriek W. Crouse on Thursday and shot him to death as the patrolman sat in his unmarked cruiser in the midst of a traffic stop. Ashley was not involved in the stop and did not know the driver, police said. (Read more Virginia Tech shootings stories.)