Virginia Beach shooter submitted resignation hours before attack
As gun control remains a prominent issue in modern America, so too are mass shootings continuing to characterise the country’s news headlines. On Friday, a city engineer in Virginia Beach, VA killed 12 people in a government building using two .45 ACP pistols.
The perpetrator, 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock, was shot dead by police officers responding to the incident. A city engineer, he had access to the employee offices and other restricted areas in the open-entry municipal building. Furthermore, according to Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen, Craddock had sent his notice of resignation that morning.
Asked in a press conference yesterday what that email said, Craddock responded, "we are determining where that letter is." He stated that Craddock, who had worked with the city's utilities department for 15 years, was not forced to resign and did not appear to be quitting because he had another job.
According to the New York Times, a source close to Virginia Beach’s city government said he had no record of issues with conduct but had been getting into physical “scuffles” with other employees and was told that disciplinary action would follow. Although reports have stated that Craddock was shooting indiscriminately, Hansen confirmed that one of the victims was his supervisor. He had no previous criminal history.
Four victims were in critical condition yesterday, according to Sentara Healthcare. "Critical condition suggests all these patients are in ICUs and medically fragile," the company said in a statement. Speaking of the victims, Hansen added: "They leave a void that we will never be able to fill."
Another city worker, engineering technician Joseph Scott, described Craddock as a “nice guy” who was in good standing with fellow employees and who he had never heard a bad word about. He spoke to Craddock minutes before the shooting occurred. "He was in there brushing his teeth, which he always did after he ate," Scott explained. "I said 'Hey, how you doing? What are you doing this weekend?' It was just a brief conversation."
Speaking at a vigil yesterday, pastor Luther Allen made an appeal for gun control. "We are tired of the same old same old of violence and outcry and prayer and back to the same old thing again," he said. "God, we need something different and we need it right now.
"As you go back to the municipal centre on Monday, as you go back to Richmond on Monday, go back with the agenda and go be forewarned that November is coming," he added. "And we shall remember May 31st, 2019, and what you do between now and November will let us know if you're still truly on our side. God bless you."
Eleven of the deceased were city employees. The other was a contractor. Two 45-calibre pistols were used in the attack, according to Ashan Benedict - the regional special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Details of the victims were released to the press via a news conference on Saturday held by City Manager Dave Hansen. The deceased, pictured above, are Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Katherine A. Nixon, Ryan Keith Cox, Michelle Langer, Joshua O. Hardy, Robert Williams, and Herbert Snelling.
Between them, they had served 150 years for the city. Robert "Bobby" Williams was the longest serving, having worked as a special projects coordinator for four decades. Laquita C. Brown was the sort of person who would bring in cupcakes if someone was having a bad day, according to those who knew her. "She lit up the office every single day," said Danielle Cyr DeFrias, a friend from a previous job.
Christopher Kelly Rapp had a keen interest in Scottish music and had recently joined a pipe band, playing with the group in a local Celtic festival in October and again on St Patrick’s Day. "Chris was reserved but very friendly, quietly engaging members one-on-one after our weekly practices," the band, Tidewater Pipes & Drums, said in a statement.
“This was impromptu,” explained Pastor Chris Mitchell, in reference to a prayer group he led on Saturday. He reportedly broke down in tears, insisting that “the Lord is good”. The 38-year-old, wearing a grey “Gateway” t-shirt, explained to the press. “Last night we went to bed at one, woke up at four and just wept, asking God, what can we do? Just organically we felt we needed to be here. We were compelled.”
“We said prayers for the families,” he continued. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. A mother described it as the same sort of feeling she had on September 11 2001. That might sound like overkill to some but for us, it is that weighty.” However, others are going further still to describe the situation. “This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” explained Mayor Bobby Dyer.
Regardless of which side of the gun control debate one sits on, this horrific event has opened existing wounds. The reoccurrence of mass shootings in the US means the country is barely able to mourn its dead before another such incident occurs.
As has been the case with so many towns and cities which have suffered this fate, many believed a mass shooting could never happen here. Residents speak of the city’s clean streets, sandy beaches and excellent school system. However, in a country where a gun is so easily obtainable, it seems tragedy is never far away.