On Monday, family and friends said their final goodbyes to Deriek Crouse in a 2 p.m. memorial service in Virginia Tech's Cassell Coliseum.
Thousands attended, including a large law enforcement contingent. On Monday morning, the university's parking lots were filled with police cars, and officers from as far as Ontario said they'd be in attendance to show support.
Crouse, who is survived by a wife and five children, was remembered as a loving husband and father, dedicated public servant and a loyal Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He was an Army veteran who had served in Iraq. He joined the campus force six months after the 2007 massacre on the Tech campus that left 32 dead, including the gunman.
Gov. Bob McDonnell delivered remarks during the ceremony, which was broadcast with the family's permission.
"I've come to tell you that Deriek's incredible bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten,” McDonnell said, addressing Crouse's wife, Tina, and their children seated at the front of the coliseum.
Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said Crouse and other police officers and their families daily make sacrifices in service of public safety, missing birthdays and other family events. Crouse and his family, Flinchum said, “made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Paul Sweeney, an Army pal, recalled Crouse as a “true friend” who had the ability to connect with people.
"If you knew Deriek for more than 10 minutes, he'd put a smile on your face,” Sweeney said, pausing several times to collect himself. “He had the ability to lift people's spirits.”
Tech police Sgt. Tom Gallemore said the two rode motorcycles together and shared a love for the Steelers.
"I am proud to say I knew Deriek Crouse and he was a friend,” Gallemore said. “Those memories will be lasting memories. What happened last Thursday does not make sense.”
The random nature of Crouse's death was a common sentiment expressed at his funeral.
"Today we have gathered in this place not because life always makes sense, but because sometimes it just doesn't make sense,” said the Rev. Tommy McDearis, chaplain of the Virginia Tech Police Department. “And what happened last Thursday did not make sense.”
The family of a man who investigators say gunned shot Crouse offered its condolences and prayers to the slain officer's family on Sunday.In an unsigned statement sent over the weekend to The Associated Press, the family of 22-year-old Ross Truett Ashley also requested that their privacy be respected. They said there would be no additional statements.
The Spotsylvania County family has not made a public statement since the deadly shooting on Thursday.
Investigators say Ashley walked up to Deriek Crouse on Tech's Blacksburg campus and fatally shot him. Ashley was found a short time later, dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Virginia State Police investigators are attempting to determine a motive for what appeared to be an unprovoked attack.
In an interview with the Roanoke Times, one of Ashley's former classmates, Michale Amory, said the accused shooter did sometimes act strange and aggressive.
From the paper:
Ashley would stay up late studying and talking to himself, Amory said. He often appeared depressed and was prone to outbursts of anger, sometimes snapping at people. And yet, Amory was surprised to hear the police point to Ashley as a killer.
Investigators haven't determined a link between the part-time Radford University student and the slain officer.
A private graveyard memorial followed the funeral.