Officer Deriek Crouse was ambushed Thursday after pulling over a driver for a traffic stop.
Police say the gunman, 22-year-old Ross Ashley, was not involved in the stop. They say after shooting Crouse, Ashley killed himself.
Crouse's relatives say he was a brave man and an amazing father with a huge heart not only for loved-ones, but also for his career as a soldier and as a police officer.
"I actually said to myself as I was going to work, it can't be him," said Darris Upchurch, Crouse's brother. "Because if he can make it through Iraq, he can make it through anything."
"The only thing that would bring closure is to know why," said another family member.
Crouse's widow says he was the love of her life. She says she had exchanged text messages with him about an hour before he was shot to death; "I just need to know you're ok" was the last exchange she had with him.
Crouse is survived by his wife, as well as five children and step-children.
Meanwhile Matt Dailey, the self-proclaimed best friend of Ashley, told a Virginia newspaper that 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 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."
Dailey said there weren't any red flags to suggest Ashley had been planning anything, adding that he could be withdrawn and "was definitely off in some ways" but not more so than anyone else
"I'm not sure what the reason is because I didn't get to talk to him," Dailey said.
Police are still looking for a motive in the shooting.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.