Va. Tech gunman called quiet; went to small school

By BOB LEWIS and ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON | December 10, 2011 | 3:05 AM EST

This photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows Ross Truett Ashley, age 22. Police identified the Virginia Tech gunman on Friday as Ross Truett Ashley, a part-time college student from nearby Radford University, though they still have not been able to say what led him to kill a police officer and then himself. (AP Photo/Virginia State Police)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — The man who authorities say killed a Virginia Tech police officer has been described as a typical college student, making it difficult to understand why he'd commit an armed robbery and a day later target the patrolman before killing himself.

Authorities on Friday identified the gunman as Ross Truett Ashley, a 22-year-old part-time business student at nearby Radford University. He first drew authorities' attention Wednesday when he allegedly stole a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle from his landlord's office.

Investigators worked Friday to unravel a motive for the Thursday slaying of officer Deriek W. Crouse during an unrelated traffic stop. Friday night, thousands of people gathered for a candlelight vigil on campus.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Ashley appears to have acted alone and didn't know the slain 39-year-old officer.