Officials: Virginia Beach gunman was city employee, quiet, rarely smiled
Virginia Beach, Va. – The gunman who killed 12 people in a Virginia Beach municipal building was identified by police Saturday as a 15-year city employee who had served in the military and was described by neighbors as quiet and rarely smiling.
Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera identified the gunman as DeWayne Craddock, who was employed as an engineer with the city’s public utilities department. Cervera declined to comment on a motive for Friday’s rampage that ended with Craddock dying in a gun battle with police. .
Authorities used a Saturday morning news conference to focus on the victims, saying 11 of them worked for the city. Another victim was a contractor trying to get a permit. They projected photos on a screen and gave each victim’s name along with biographical details.
“They leave a void that we will never be able to fill,” said City Manager Dave Hansen.
Hansen said that chaplains and family assistance workers worked overnight to notify family members of the dead, which he described as “the most difficult task anyone will ever have to do.”
The 11 city employees who died were identified as Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake, Tara Welch Gallager of Virginia Beach, Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach, Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach, Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach, Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk, Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan, Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach, Joshua A. Hardy of Virginia Beach, Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach and Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake. The 12th victim, Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach, was a contractor filling a permit.
Authorities have said the gunman opened fire with a handgun in the municipal building Friday afternoon, killing 12 people on three floors and sending terrified co-workers scrambling for cover before police shot and killed him following a “long gun battle.” Four other people were wounded in Friday’s shooting, including a police officer whose bulletproof vest saved his life, police have said.
Police have said the suspect was armed with a .45-caliber handgun. Cervera said Saturday that more weapons were found at the scene and at his home, but declined to elaborate.
Dewayne Antonio Craddock, 40, was a professional engineer who had graduated from Denbigh High School in nearby Newport News in 1996 and joined the Army National Guard, according to a newspaper clip from the time. He received basic military training and advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He later graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Before going to work in Virginia Beach, he worked for a private engineering firm in Hampton Roads.
Craddock appears to have had no felony record, which would have made him eligible to purchase firearms.
People who live near Craddock said police swarmed the small neighborhood of modest townhomes in Virginia Beach on Friday where some said he had lived for at least 10 years.
Several neighbors said Craddock was clean cut, a member of the neighborhood association board and spent time lots of time at the gym. But they also said he mostly kept to himself, especially after his wife left him some number of years ago.
Angela Scarborough, who lives in the neighborhood, said “he was very quiet . he would just wave.”
She said she knew his wife, but she left some time ago. “She just left,” Scarborough said. “Didn’t let us know or anything.”
“I’m very saddened because this is a great neighborhood,” Scarborough said. “It’s very sad to know that that’s the way he decided to resolve the situation. It’s just something I can’t believe.”
She added: “I would speak to him and he would speak back, but conversation-wise, I never had a conversation with him.”
Cassetty Howerin, 23, who lived under Craddock, was visibly shaken upon learning from reporters that police said he was behind the shooting.
“That could have easily been me,” she said.
Howerin said Craddock had cameras at his home monitoring two nice cars parked out front, including what appeared to be a Mustang. But she said she never saw him bring anyone over. She never saw him come home with groceries.
“He never really cracked a smile,” she said.
She said he seemed to be up at all hours of the night, walking around his apartment and sometimes dropping heavy things on the floor above her apartment. She also said that he was “jacked” from spending a lot of time at the gym.
Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano in Washington, D.C.; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; and Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed to this report.