Twelve people were killed in a shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building last Friday after a man described as a disgruntled employee opened fire as the end of the work week neared.
According to published reports, 12 people lost their lives, a majority of them being city employees, with at least four others being hospitalized following the shooting at the city’s municipal center. The 12 victims were identified over the weekend – Laquita C. Brown, Ryan Cox, Tara Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Gusev, Joshua Hardy, Michelle Langer, Katherine Nixon, Richard Nettleton, Christopher Rapp, Herbert Snelling and Robert Williams.
The shooter, identified as DeWayne Craddock, died while exchanging gunfire with responding officers, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera told media, bringing the death toll to 13. According to media reports, he was a public utilities employee for the city.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer following the shooting. “The people involved are our friends, coworkers, neighbor, colleagues.”
Those sentiments were echoed by leaders in Richmond and in Washington as word of the shooting spread across the Commonwealth and the nation.
“This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are devastated by the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement Friday. “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.”
The governor continued, “This is unspeakable, senseless violence,” while praising the brave response of local police, first responders, and state authorities during and in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
“I commend local and state law enforcement, first responders, medical teams, and all others who acted swiftly to respond to this situation,” he said. “My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”
Saturday, Northam ordered that the state flag be flown at half-staff across the Commonwealth through this week to honor the victims of last Friday’s shooting.
Sen. Tim Kaine was in Virginia Beach hours before the shooting and, through a statement Friday evening, he said he was simply “heartbroken” by the violence that occurred in the city.
“It’s such a strong and beautiful community, and the bravery of the first responders today is a testament to that,” the senator remarked. “My heart aches to see it devastated by yet another gun violence tragedy. 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 am horrified by what has happened today in Virginia Beach,” Virginia Senator Mark Warner commented. “I am thankful to law enforcement for their swift and courageous response. My heart goes out to all the victims of (Friday’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.”
Over the weekend and into the beginning of the week, vigils and memorial services were held around the commonwealth as the state comes to terms with what happened in Virginia Beach. As of this report, funeral arrangements for those slain have not been disclosed.
Friday’s shooting in Virginia Beach has the tragic footnote attached to it of being the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2019 with 13 fatalities, including the shooter.