By Gary Robertson
VIRGINIABEACH, Va. (Reuters) – The gunman who killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building before dying in a gun battle with police was identified on Saturday as a disgruntled city engineer and co-worker of most of the victims.
All but one of the victims from the mass shooting in the coastal resort community were employed by the city, officials said at a news conference, while the other was a contractor seeking a permit. Four people were wounded.
The gunman, DeWayne Craddock, had worked for the city’s public utilities department for about 15 years, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said at a news conference.
Police said he used a .45 caliber handgun equipped with a “sound suppressor” device and extended ammunition magazines that he used to reload during the attack. They said more weapons were found at the scene and at Craddock’s home.
Two police supervisors from a building across the street arrived within minutes of the first shots, Cervera said, and the suspect was killed after a lengthy gun battle.
Virginia Beach police had trained for a mass shooting.
“You cannot replicate the intensity of an environment such as this,” Cervera said.
The police chief said the gunman “immediately and indiscriminately” fired on his victims, but declined to comment on any possible motive.
According to local media, Craddock was 40 years old and had no serious criminal record.
The rampage in Virginia Beach was the worst mass shooting in the United States since November 2018, when a dozen people were slain at a Los Angeles-area bar and grill by a gunman who then killed himself.
Survivors of Friday’s shooting recounted scenes of pandemonium and fear that erupted as gunshots rang out, and workers scurried frantically for cover. Some said they stacked desks against office doors to barricade themselves in.
Cervera has said he will only give the gunman’s name once because city authorities want to focus on his victims.
Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen identified the victims during the news conference and said that, except for the contractor, they had worked for Virginia Beach for between 11 months and 41 years.
“They leave a void that we will never be able to fill,” Hansen said.
The four people who were seriously wounded in the shooting were still being treated at local hospitals. They included a police officer whose life was saved by his ballistic vest, Cervera said.
The bloodshed unfolded at Building Two of Virginia Beach’s municipal centre complex, where office space for more than 400 employees houses information technology, public works, planning and utilities departments next door to City Hall.
The complex lies several miles inland from the town’s popular seashore, situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Southeast Virginia’s most populous city has roughly 450,000 year-round residents.
(GRAPHIC – Major mass shootings in the United States: https://tmsnrt.rs/2KefvTT)
(Reporting by Gary Robertson in Virginia Beach; Additional reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)