Virginia Beach Shooting: 12 Dead, Plus Gunman; More Injured

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA — Twelve people were killed and at least 10 injured in a shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Friday, May 31, according to Virginia Beach Police. Also dead is the gunman, who was shot and killed by law enforcement. He has been described as a disgruntled employee of the Public Utilities Department.

The mass shooting is believed to be the worst in the United States so far this year and the worst in Virginia Beach history. Before, Virginia Beach’s worst mass shooting happened in 1994, when four people were shot and killed at the Witchduck Inn, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Police Chief Jim Cervera said the shooter opened fire on workers shortly after 4 p.m. in Building 2, which is next to City Hall and houses the city’s public works, planning, public utilities and other departments on 2425 Nimmo Parkway. Officers entered and returned fire, killing the suspect. Cervera said a police officer was among those shot, but was saved by his bulletproof vest, he said.

The gunman, who has not been identified by authorities, has been named by CNN, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets as DeWayne Craddock. He reportedly worked for the city’s public works department, had access to the building and came in Friday with a weapon, according to Cervera. This weapon was a 0.45 caliber handgun with a suppressor on it, and it had an extended magazine.

Police said they will not release the shooter’s name until his family is notified. Cervera said when the name is released, that’s the only time the gunman will be mentioned by name. Afterward, “he will be forever referred to as the suspect because our focus now is the dignity and respect to the victims in this case and to their families.”

The injured went to area hospitals, and the extent of their injuries was not immediately known. At least five were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. One went to Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which is among five hospitals in Virginia that offer the highest level of trauma care, according to Sentara Healthcare.

“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer at a press conference.

A reunification center for survivors and their families has been set up at Princess Anne Middle School at 2323 Holland Road, Virginia Beach, news channel WAVY reported.

Cervera did not comment on whether the victims were targeted, citing the ongoing investigation. He said authorities continue the process of identifying the deceased victims.

The chief said that his officers were processing at the moment “what best could be described as a war zone.” He asked the public to keep the families of the victims at the forefront, stating: “Their lives are changed forever.”

Videos posted by WAVY showed multiple police units, including K9s, responding to the scene as people left the building where the shooting took place.

After hearing what sounded like a gunshot, one man who spoke to the news channel said he found a woman in the stairwell with blood on her face. The man said they were told to leave the building because of a shooter inside.

Another person, Megan Banton, told The Virginian-Pilot the shooter opened fire when she was inside. She says a supervisor took her and other workers into an office, blocking the door with a desk.

“This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning, and will not return tonight, as well as those who have been injured in this tragedy. This is unspeakable, senseless violence. I commend local and state law enforcement, first responders, medical teams, and all others who acted swiftly to respond to this situation. My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”

Northam said he was in Virginia Beach with law enforcement authorities and Mayor Dyer, “where I am monitoring the situation and offer the state’s full support.”

Two former Virginia governors-turned U.S. Senators also responded to the killings:

From Mark Warner: “I am horrified by what has happened today in Virginia Beach. I am thankful to law enforcement for their swift and courageous response. My heart goes out to all the victims of today’s senseless violence, their families, and the entire community that has been affected by these awful events. I will be praying for the swift recovery of those injured.”

And from Tim Kaine: “I am heartbroken by the horrific shooting today in Virginia Beach. My prayers are with all who have been affected, and I want Virginians to know I will keep pushing for Congress to take action to prevent the daily scourge of gun violence in America. I was just in Virginia Beach this morning. It’s such a strong and beautiful community, and the bravery of the first responders today is a testament to that. My heart aches to see it devastated by yet another gun violence tragedy.”

Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat who represents the state’s second congressional district, said in a statement: “My heart is with all those injured and affected by today’s shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. I’m so thankful for first responders and law enforcement for risking their lives to bring a suspect into custody. This is more proof Congress must act to prevent gun violence.”

Performer Pharrell Williams, who is from Virginia Beach and produced an oceanfront concert festival there several weeks ago, said on Twitter: “We are praying for our city, the lives that were lost, their families and everyone affected. We are resilient. We will not only get through this, but we’ll come out of this stronger than before we always do.”

A spokeswoman for the FBI in Norfolk said the bureau was responding to assist Virginia Beach Police.

The worst case of mass violence in 2019 before was a Feb. 15 workplace shooting at the Henry Pratt Company’s manufacturing and warehouse building in Aurora, Illinois. Five people were killed, six police officers were injured, and the gunman died in a shootout with police. The shooter was reporting to work for a meeting at which he was fired.

This report will be updated. Refresh for more.

Patch editors Emily Leayman, Skip Wood, Elizabeth Janney and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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