Two people, including a police officer, are dead after a shooting Thursday afternoon on the campus of Virginia Tech, the scene of a 2007 massacre in which 33 people were killed, university officials said.
The shooting took place around noon, a university spokesman said, after a campus police officer made what was described as a routine traffic stop in a parking lot near McComas Hall, a gym and sports building. During the stop, the officer was shot and killed, said the spokesman, Mark Owczarski, director of news and information. The gunman was not the person involved in the traffic stop, officials said during a news conference.
After several tense hours, the university announced about 4:30 p.m. that there was “no longer an active threat” on campus.
Earlier in the day, witnesses reported seeing the gunman running toward a different parking lot, called the Cage, near Duck Pond Drive. At that parking lot, a man was found, also dead. It was unclear whether he had been shot. Officials would not comment on whether the second person found dead was the man who shot the police officer. Police did not identify the officer but said he was a four-year veteran of the Virginia Tech Police Department.
“The second is an unknown male subject who was found deceased in a parking lot near the Duck Pond,” the university said in a statement. “A weapon has been recovered at the location of the second individual. Reports of any additional shots being fired or any additional victims are unfounded.”
An image posted online by a reporter from The Roanoke Times, Lerone Graham, showed a cordoned-off area and white sheet covering a body in the middle of a narrow road.
Ed Falco, the director of creative writing at Virginia Tech, was one of 12 professors locked in his office at Shanks Hall on Thursday afternoon.
Falco, who was off campus during the 2007 shooting, said he had been at home Thursday when he received an alert on the campus message system. He said that because previous alerts had been prompted by backfiring trucks and other false alarms that he decided to come to school for an appointment.
“I figured this would be the same thing and came to campus anyway,” he said. “I’m fine, but along with everyone else, this brings back very bad memories and bad associations. That this is actually happening is unbelievable.”
Falco said there is a state trooper parked outside the building and that the police have made sure everyone inside is fine.
A bulletin described the suspect, traveling on foot in the direction of a recreational sports building: “white male, gray sweatpants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack.”
Earlier in the day, a student publication, The Collegiate Times, reported that witnesses saw a man matching the suspect’s description.
The Virginia State Police have been asked to take the lead in the case, Owczarski said.