Us

Virginia Tech Shooter Had Visited Gun Range, Friend Says

Ross Truett Ashley, age 22, left, was identified by police as the Virginia Tech gunman. Officer Deriek  W. Crouse, who was allegedly killed by Ashley on Friday Dec. 9, 2011, is seen at right during his 2003-2004 military tour in Iraq.

Ross Truett Ashley, age 22, left, was identified by police as the Virginia Tech gunman. Officer Deriek W. Crouse, who was allegedly killed by Ashley on Friday Dec. 9, 2011, is seen at right during his 2003-2004 military tour in Iraq.  (AP/The Roanoke Times/Family Photo/Virginia State Police)

The man who authorities say killed a Virginia Tech police officer had visited a shooting range this year but hadn't gone for several months because he didn't have bullets for his gun, according to a friend.

Matt Dailey told The Roanoke Times in a story published Sunday that he considered 22-year-old Ross Truett Ashley his best friend. Authorities say Ashley killed police officer Deriek Crouse on the Virginia Tech campus while the officer made a traffic stop Thursday, then killed himself not long after.

Dailey said he and Ashley had made two or three trips to the shooting range -- the same one used by Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman who killed 32 people and then himself on the campus in 2007.

However, Dailey dismissed any comparisons between Cho and his friend. He also said he didn't think Ashley had used his gun for some time.

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

There were no red flags to suggest Ashley had been planning anything, Dailey said, echoing statements made by other friends in recent interviews with The Associated Press. Ashley could be withdrawn and "was definitely off in some ways" but not more so than anyone else, Dailey told the newspaper.

Furthermore, he said he didn't think Ashley was the type of person to carry out such a drastic act without some sort of reason.

"But I'm not sure what the reason is because I didn't get to talk to him," Dailey said.