One hour before the workweek’s end, a longtime public utility employee entered a municipal building and opened fire in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Friday.
The shooting, which police referred to as “carnage,” left at least 12 people dead and four others injured. The gunman died after exchanging fire with police officers responding to the scene, police said, adding that they believe he acted alone.
Police identified the victims Saturday morning. They are: Laquita C. Brown, Tara Walsh Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua O. Hardy, Michelle “Missy” Langer, Robert “Bobby” Williams and Herbert “Bert” Snelling.
The chaos began shortly after 4 p.m. when the gunman shot a person who was inside a vehicle outside of the Operations building, which houses the public utility office, in Virginia Beach’s municipal center.
The employee then entered the building and fired indiscriminately at people on multiple floors, according to Police Chief James A. Cervera. The gunman is believed to have used a .45-caliber handgun fitted with a suppressor, otherwise known as a silencer.
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Four police officers responded to the scene and confronted the gunman shortly after the shooting began. Cervera said the officers, two detectives and two K9 handlers, exchanged fire with the city employee as he shot at them from various areas of the hallway.
“Due to the sounds of gunfire, they were able to locate the floor on which the suspect was committing his carnage,” Cervera said.
He described the exchange as a “long-term gun battle” between the gunman and the four police officers.
When the gunman was struck, officers immediately began performing first aid as he was taken to an EMT, but he was later pronounced dead, police said.
Officials identified the suspect as DeWayne Craddock, a 40-year-old public utilities engineer and military veteran who had access to the building via a security pass, according to CNN and The New York Times.
Cervera said that police discovered multiple extended magazines that were empty, suggesting that the gunman reloaded his weapon during his attack.
Police initially said that 11 people were killed and six others were injured in the shooting. Cervera said later Friday night that one more victim had died at the hospital. There were four people hospitalized and in surgery late Friday.
This is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since Nov. 8, 2018, when a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
Arthur Felton, who has worked in the city’s Planning Department for 18 years, told The Virginian-Pilot that he was in the building when the shooting began.
“I never thought this would happen in my building,” Felton told the paper. “The people who were shot — I’m sure I know most of them.”
A police officer was one of the people who were injured during the shooting, but his life was saved by his bulletproof vest.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors, colleagues.”
The Operations building, which is adjacent to City Hall, houses the Planning, Public Utilities, Public Works, Development Services Center, Permits and Inspections, and Zoning departments, among others.
The Virginia Beach Police Department put out an alert of an active shooter at 4:50 p.m. local time.
The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and state police were on the scene as part of the investigation.
Gov. Ralph Northam arrived in Virginia Beach on Friday night and offered his condolences to the victims and their families.
“This is a tragic day for Virginia Beach and our entire Commonwealth,” Northam tweeted. “My heart breaks for the victims of this devastating shooting, their families, and all who loved them.”
President Donald Trump said in a Saturday morning tweet that he had spoken with Northam and offered his condolences.
“God bless the families and all!” Trump said.
This article has been updated with information from a news conference late Friday and additional names and comments Saturday.