VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.—The gunman who killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building before dying in a shootout 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, 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. He declined to comment on any possible motive.
"This is a large-scale crime scene, it’s a horrific crime scene," Cervera said, adding that investigators who spent the night inside the building endured a "physical, emotional and psychological toll."
It 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.
Bodies were found on all three floors of the Virginia Beach building and in a car parked outside, according to authorities.
Police said the gunman used an employee pass to enter secure areas before firing "immediately and indiscriminately" on his victims with a .45 caliber handgun equipped with a "sound suppressor" device and multiple extended ammunition magazines. 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, Cervera said, and the suspect was killed after a lengthy gun battle.
The victims who worked for Virginia Beach had been employed for between 11 months and 41 years. Six worked in the public utilities department and five were employed in the public works department.
"They leave a void that we will never be able to fill," City Manager Dave Hansen told reporters.
A number of vigils are planned in Virginia Beach to commemorate the victims.
The bloodshed unfolded at Building Two of a municipal center complex on Friday afternoon as workers prepared to leave for the weekend. Some survivors recounted how they cowered in fear after stacking desks against office doors as makeshift barricades.
The four people who were seriously wounded were still being treated at local hospitals. They included a police officer whose life was saved by his ballistic vest, Cervera said.
According to local media, Craddock was 40 years old and had no serious criminal record.
He served in the Virginia National Guard from 1996 to 2002, and was assigned to a Norfolk-based battalion as a cannon crew member, a guard spokesman said in an email. Craddock's records do not indicate any overseas deployments, the spokesman said.
The scene of the shooting lies several miles inland from the town's popular seashore, situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia's most populous city has roughly 450,000 year-round residents.
Virginia Beach police had trained for a mass shooting, and had even planned to hold a citizen workshop on active shooter situations on Saturday. The workshop was canceled.
President Donald Trump said in a message on Twitter on Saturday that he had spoken to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Beach officials and offered the federal government's help. "God bless the families and all!" Trump said.
(Reporting by Gary Robertson in Virginia Beach; Additional reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Paul Simao)