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Police officer, gunman dead in Virginia Tech shooting

Don Petersen / AP

Virginia Tech campus police officers console each other after a fellow officer was killed Thursday on the campus in Blacksburg, Va.



BLACKSBURG, Va. -- A gunman killed a Virginia Tech police officer and was found dead in a nearby parking lot Thursday at the university, scene of the worst campus killings in U.S. history, officials said.

At a news conference on the campus in Blacksburg, Va., police said only that the second body was that of a white male and that he was not shot by police. A weapon was found nearby, they said.

Police wouldn't comment further on whether the second person was the gunman. But other authorities told NBC's Pete Williams that they believed the second victim was the man who shot the campus officer.

A law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed to The Associated Press the gunman was dead, but wouldn't say how.

Get updates on the fatal shootings at Virginia Tech

Police refused to say explicitly that no other gunmen were involved. But they said they were confident that the situation is secure and "you can read between the lines."

A campuswide alert was lifted late Thursday afternoon, and Montgomery County schools lifted a lockdown,  allowing students to begin heading home.

Staffers, students under lockdown at Virginia Tech: Shooting brings back '4/16'

Earlier reports suggested that the gunman was the driver of a car that the officer had stopped for a traffic violation, but police said late Thursday afternoon that the driver was not involved in the shooting. Instead, they said, the gunman apparently walked up to the scene during the traffic stop and shot the officer.

University President Charles W. Steger called the incident "a wanton act of violence." Fortunately, few students were outside because final exams had been scheduled for Friday and most students were indoors studying, he said.

Friday's exams were canceled. Counseling and support were being arranged for students and faculty and their families, said Steger, who said the shootings were "very traumatic because of the past."

That was a reference to April 16, 2007, when 33 people, including the mentally ill gunman, were killed on the Virginia Tech campus. Thursday's shooting came as Virginia Tech officials were in Washington appealing a $55,000 fine by the U.S. Education Department in connection with the university's response to the 2007 rampage.

University officials said they didn't believe the shooting was related in any way.

A candlelight vigil was planned for 6:30 p.m. Friday at the memorial to the 2007 shootings.

NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams contributed to this report.