In 2007, a shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., left 33 people dead, including the gunman, in what has become the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.
On Thursday, history appeared to be repeating itself when a police officer was gunned down on campus. The officer, Deriek Crouse, had pulled over a driver for a traffic stop. The police report of the incident states a gunman walked into the parking lot where the traffic stop had occurred and ambushed the officer. The gunman later was found dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot.
The officer and the gunman were the only victims this time, but the incident brought back memories of five years ago.
With the advancement of technology and the expansion of social media outlets, reports of the incident spread quickly through Facebook and Twitter.
The news of the shooting was of particular concern for at least two families in Benton: Kie and Tom Baxley and Sue (Floyd) Carper.
Kie Baxley's brother, Dr. Robert B. Moore, is the associate director for research and scholarship and a professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech.
On Thursday, the Baxleys were concerned about her brother's safety and waited anxiously to hear from him. Fortunately, Moore was able to contact the Baxley family to let them know he was safe and also sent his account of the day to The Saline Courier.
Moore's statement reads: "I joined the faculty of Virginia Tech on April 12, 2007, four days before the horrific events of April 16. Although I was not in Blacksburg on that day, the images and emotions of the day are fresh in my memory. While I was given the chance to reconsider my decision to move to Blacksburg, my
conviction was irreversibly set by the remarkable strength and courage I saw in the Virginia Tech community. As I reflect on the events of today, I am
reminded of the past.
"Around 12:30, the casual atmosphere of our office holiday luncheon was disturbed by the simultaneous chimes of some 35 cell phones. The VT Alert system informed us of gunshots fired on campus. We were then in a campus-wide lock-down, and within minutes the campus was silent. Emergency personnel and police officers seemed to appear instantly with a clear
presence of well-practiced order.
"I had no idea that we had these remarkable resources ready in waiting to protect our community. All of us
were clearly concerned, but there was never a sense of panic. Over the following minutes everyone became personally consumed with the well-being of their family and friends, and we received many calls from those wondering of our status. Although numerous rumors were circling through the crowds, as we each clicked away on our smart phones, the VT Alerts regularly kept us informed of the investigation.
"The system, designed in response to April 16th, worked flawlessly. We felt safe and calm at all times. Students,
faculty, staff, and visitors in our facility were quietly and calmly waiting for what turned out to be several hours, but no one minded. In the end, the lock-down was cleared about 4:45 p.m.
"We are all deeply saddened by the senseless violence that has once again rocked our beautiful campus. But through this troubling experience, I am reminded again of the profound strength of this community, and I remain
proud to be a member of this university."
Sue (Floyd) Carper's cousin, Mitchell Martin, is a student at Virginia Tech and lives in an apartment across the street from the campus. The following is his account of the day:
"We were all notified that there was a man running around with a weapon at about 12:40. At about this same time the campus went into a total lock-down. They were not allowing anyone into or out of any buildings. We continued to get updates from the Tech's emergency alert system. Somewhere around 2 p.m. we found out that a policeman had been shot after a routine traffic stop and that one other had been killed in the parking lot on the east side of the campus.
"I was not on campus when this all happened, but my roommate was. After the lock-down was lifted at about 4:30 p.m., she said on the way back she passed several dozen police officers that were in full combat fatigues. I know that there have been many people who are devastated that something like this has happened again. "Both Facebook and Twitter have been blown up by wonderful people that are very supportive of the situation here. It is a wonderful sight to see how people can come together in a tragedy like this one. "The school has moved tomorrow's finals to Saturday. There is also a candlelight vigil tomorrow, Friday the 9th. The vigil is being held on the drill field in front of the memorial for the shootings of that tragic April 16. I know I speak for everyone when I say our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Officer Crouse and everyone that has been affected by this tragedy. It is a day that no Hokie will ever forget."