Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Virginia Tech Shooting: Who Was Gunman Ross Truett Ashley?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Virginia Tech Shooting: Who Was Gunman Ross Truett Ashley?

Article excerpt

One media report about the Virginia Tech shooting has made a connection between the real estate office where Ross Truett Ashley allegedly stole an SUV and his apartment.

New details are emerging about Ross Truett Ashley, a part-time college student who killed a Virginia Tech campus police officer last Thursday before taking his own life.

The murder-suicide rattled the university community because it brought back memories of the 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead, launching a national debate about emergency alert management and the prevention of school violence.

The day before the Virginia Tech shooting, according to police reports, Mr. Ashley stole a Mercedes SUV at gunpoint from a real estate office in Radford, Va., about 10 miles from the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. The real estate office manages a nearby apartment building where Ashley leased a unit, The Roanoke Times reports. Police cannot yet say whether Ashley was motivated by a dispute with the company.

Ashley was enrolled part time at Radford University. Matt Dailey, another Radford student who told The Roanoke Times that Ashley was his best friend, said he accompanied Ashley to a shooting range about three times this year. But, he said, his friend didn't appear obsessed with the weaponry and didn't seem particularly angry.

"He didn't keep [the gun] locked away, but all summer I don't think he had any bullets for the gun," Mr. Dailey said. "He didn't buy bullets that often because bullets are expensive."

Many interviewed by local media described Ashley as withdrawn but cordial. Michael Armory, a former roommate, told The Roanoke Times that Ashley frequently dealt with depression, but was often helpful to others.

Nic Robinson, a student at Radford University, told the Associated Press that Ashley appeared "friendly" most of the time but hinted at family problems. …

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