BLACKSBURG, VA (RNN) - An American flag draped the casket of Officer Deriek W. Crouse as drums and bagpipes from Virginia State and local police were played at the memorial for the victim of Thursday's shooting at Virginia Tech.
"After knowing him [Crouse] for 20 minutes, I knew there was something pretty special about that guy," Paul Sweeney, who served with Crouse in the U.S. Army, told the gathering in Virginia Tech's Cassell Coliseum brokenly. "If you knew Deriek for more than 10 minutes, he would put a smile on your face."
Crouse joined the Virginia Tech Police Department in October 2007. Before that, he served more than a decade in the Army including at least one tour to Iraq, according to the school.
The gathering brought together his former colleagues and the governor of Virginia to speak about his life.
"When I turn around from my desk and I see where he always stood … I will think about how I wanted to throw things at him," joked Sgt. Thomas Gallemore of the Virginia Tech police department. Taking breaks to keep from crying outright, he shared his memories of watching Pittsburgh Steelers games and riding motorcycles with Crouse.
"Anyone here would gladly trade places with you, but I know this happened exactly as you would have liked it," Gallemore said.
Although none of his family spoke at the ceremony, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell read a statement written by Crouse's brother, Darris Upchurch, written on behalf of the family.
"Deriek Wayne Crouse lived and gave his life to help those in need," McDonnell read. "You couldn't not love him."
Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum also expressed his shock and disbelief over the death of his colleague, telling the crowd that when he saw young officers react to the news, and again when he spoke with Crouse's family, "it broke my heart, and it made me cry."
The Rev. Tommy McDearis, chaplain for the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech police departments and officiator of the service, told stories students had told him about Crouse.
"We will not forget," he said.
Crouse was killed Thursday after making a routine traffic stop on Virginia Tech campus. Before Crouse could got out of his car, Ross Truett Ashley, 22, fatally shot him and then took his own life in a nearby parking garage.
He will be buried at a private ceremony at a nearby cemetery.
He was 39 years old. He is survived by his wife, five children and step children, his mother and his siblings.
A memorial fund has been established to help support his family.
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