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Va. Beach Police Release Names of 12 Shooting Victims as Community Rallies Around Families

06-01-2019
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VA Beach shooting victims: Laquita Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Richard Nettleton, Katherine Nixon, Christopher Rapp, Bert Snelling & Bobby Williams (AP)
VA Beach shooting victims: Laquita Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Richard Nettleton, Katherine Nixon, Christopher Rapp, Bert Snelling & Bobby Williams (AP)

Watch highlights from a prayer vigil held for the victims in Virginia Beach Saturday morning. 

Virginia Beach officials have released the names of the 12 victims of Friday's mass shooting at a government building. Eleven of the victims were city employees and one was a contractor who was there to fulfill a permit.

The attacker was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.  Four other people were also wounded in the attack. Three remain in critical condition and one is in fair condition, according to law enforcement officials. 

The victims include Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua O. Hardy, Robert "Bobby" Williams, Michelle "Missy" Langer, and Herbert "Bert" Snelling.

Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen said 11 of the 12 people who were killed were city employees. He told reporters the families of the victims have been notified.  Hansen also said he'd worked with most of them for many years, and they "leave a void that we will never to able to fill."

Mayor Bobby Dyer called it the “most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach.”

"It's a shock," he told CBN News. "This is not Virginia Beach that everybody in Virginia Beach knows."

"We have to have the resolve and the resiliency to work through this going forward," he continued. "And I really think that knowing the Virginia Beach community – people are going to come together. People are going to unify and try to help out the families and the friends."

"This was a community tragedy," he added.

The attack happened shortly after 4:00 pm when a longtime employee of the Public Utilities Department who Virginia Beach officials identified as Dewayne Craddock, 40, entered the building and began shooting “indiscriminately at all the victims,” Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said.

Four police officers responded to the scene – two detective supervisors and two handlers from the K-9 unit – and engaged the suspect in what the chief described as a long-term gun battle. One officer was shot but was saved by his bullet-proof vest.

By engaging the suspect, the officers kept him from taking even more lives, Cervera told reporters.

The government building is open to the public with inner offices and working spaces requiring an employee pass for access. As a current employee, the suspect had a hard pass that allowed him to enter those areas.

Victims were found on all three floors of the building, and the scene could be described as a “war zone,” he said.  Two .45 handguns and multiple extended magazines were found empty at the site. Both of the weapons were purchased legally, according to the ATF. 

Investigators and technicians worked throughout the night processing the scene and removing victims from the scene to the medical examiner's office. 

Police Chief James Cervera called it "a large scale crime scene…a horrific crime scene" that's taking a "physical, emotional and psychological" toll on the teams processing the site. Law enforcement officers found two more weapons at the suspects home.

Federal and state agencies are assisting in the investigation. About 40 FBI personnel are involved, as well as ATF, Homeland Security, and Virginia State Police.

Chief Cervera said police officers "checked every room on every floor, every closet, and under every desk" and escorted many employees out of the building "operating with care and compassion for our brothers and sisters."

Ten of the victims were found in the building and one outside in a car; another died on the way to the hospital. 

It was earlier reported that Craddock's employment had been terminated by the city. Cervera told reporters at a Saturday afternoon news conference that this report was not true. 

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) shared with CBN News that she had been in the area just minutes before the shooting.

"I had been here just around the corner," she said. "I was visiting with Sheriff Stolle at the jail, and we were just right around the corner minutes before this happened."

"And so when you're close by something like that, it drives home how vulnerable we are everywhere to this type of violence," Luria continued. "I'm fortunate that I came home tonight, but what's tragic is the families who their parents, their sons, their daughters – they didn't come home tonight."

Chief Cervera, Mayor Dyer, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam all emphasized the needs of the victims’ families.

“Each victim leaves a hole in their family, in their neighborhood, in their community,” Gov. Northam said.

“We must take care of these families. They will need support in the months and years to come.”

Vigils Held All Weekend

Prayer vigils were held over the weekend to honor the victims in several churches across the Hampton Roads area. 

In addition, the City of Virginia Beach announced a memorial service for the victims will be held at 7:00 pm Thursday at Rock Church located at 640 Kempsville Road.

Click here to see a list of all of the scheduled Virginia Beach area memorial services

The community is responding with offers to serve the victims. Counselors from the Salvation Army are offering support to victims' families and survivors of the attack at Princess Anne Middle School, where families and survivors gathered Friday evening. 

Hansen said taking care of the victims is the priority. "We will wrap our arms around those that serve with us here in Virginia Beach" and "make sure their loved ones are taken care of and supported." 

President Donald Trump also offered his condolences to the Virginia Beach community and the affected families in a tweet Saturday morning. 

Vice President Mike Pence also used social media to express he and his wife's "deepest sympathies and prayers to the families of the victims of the Virginia Beach shooting" and also thanked first responders and law enforcement officials.

How You Can Help

The City of Virginia Beach has created an Emergency Support Opportunities page where people can donate to a victim's fund or volunteer their time. 

According to The Virginian-Pilot, the city has also created The Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund with the help of the United Way of South Hampton Roads.  The page states "100% of the funds raised will go to the victims affected by this senseless tragedy in our community."

TowneBank, a local banking institution, has donated $500,000 to begin the fund.  The bank has asked that a portion of their donation be set aside for burial expenses for the victims' families. 

People can also text VABEACH to 41444 to give money to the fund. 

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