Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Virginia Beach shooting victims were veteran city employees

Published:Sunday | June 2, 2019 | 12:00 AM

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP):

The 12 people who were fatally shot in a Virginia Beach government building on Friday were remembered yesterday during a sombre news conference and prayer vigil as officials sought to put the focus on those who died and not the gunman.

Police Chief James Cervera identified the assailant as 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock, who was employed for 15 years as an engineer with the city’s utilities department. He declined to comment on a motive for Friday’s rampage, which ended with Craddock’s death in a gun battle with police. City officials uttered his name just once and said they would not mention it again.

City Manager Dave Hansen said he had worked for years with many of the dead, 11 of whom were city employees. The 12th was a contractor trying to get a permit.

Their names and photos were projected on a screen as Hansen read aloud biographical information that included their hometowns and years of service.

“They leave a void that we will never be able to fill,” he said.

Chaplains and family assistance workers worked through the night to notify relatives – a job that Hansen described as “the most difficult task anyone will ever have to do”.

One of the dead employees had worked for the city for 41 years. Six worked in the same department as Craddock, though authorities have declined to say if anyone was specifically targeted or if the suspect had issued threats before. The victims were found throughout the building, on three floors, police said.

Authorities have said Craddock opened fire indiscriminately.

Four other people were wounded, including a police officer whose bulletproof vest saved his life.

The suspect was armed with a .45-calibre handgun with a noise suppressor, police said. Cervera said yesterday that more weapons were found at the scene and at his home.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the gunman made multiple legal firearm purchases recently, and the guns recovered at the scene were purchased legally. The officials were not authorised to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The building was open to the public, but security passes were required to enter inner offices, conference rooms and other work areas. As a current employee, Craddock would have had the pass to enter the inner offices, Hansen said.

Asked how secure the building was, the police chief said that government buildings must balance access with security.

“It’s an open government building. Citizens have the right to access open government buildings. Employees have a right to access their work site,” he said.