VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The resignation email the gunman sent hours before the shooting at a municipal building was brief, unremarkable and didn’t contain anything that foreshadowed the bloody rampage to come, a city official told The Associated Press on Monday.
“The document itself is part of the investigative file,” city Communications Director Julie Hill said in an email. “If detectives are able to clear it for release, we will provide it.”
Twelve people were killed and several others wounded when DeWayne Craddock, a soft-spoken engineer with the Virginia Beach utilities department, opened fire on his co-workers as they finished up their work week Friday. Craddock was killed during a gunbattle with police.
Officials have given no indication why Craddock, 40, notified a superior of his intention to leave his job. He was an employee “in good standing” and showed “satisfactory” job performance, City Manager Dave Hansen said.
That’s left survivors, city officials and community members with a glaring unanswered question: why?
“Right now we do not have anything glaring,” said police Chief James Cervera. “There’s nothing that hits you right between the eyes. But we are working on it.”
On Monday, a makeshift memorial made up of bouquets, flags, teddy bears and crosses bearing the names of the shooting’s victims stood at one entrance to the municipal center. A small group of city employees were crying and hugging each other as they left flowers by one of the crosses. Volunteers with comfort dogs were on hand.
Crystal Pangelinan, a stay-at-home mom, came to pay her respects after dropping off her kids, ages 5 and 7, at school.
“Explaining what happened to them was hard,” she said.
The building where the shooting happened is part of a sprawling compound of government buildings. While other buildings appeared to be open for business Monday morning, signs of the shooting remained.
A section of the compound remained blocked off by law enforcement vehicles and FBI personnel could be seen walking around.
Cervera described a chaotic scene as officers entered the building Friday and pursued the assailant through a tightly packed warren of offices that the chief likened to a maze or a honeycomb. They exchanged fire in a protracted gunbattle. Cervera did not know how many rounds were fired but said it was “well into the double digits.”
“In the police world, anything more than three to five shots is a long gunbattle,” he said.
At one point, the suspect fired at officers through a door and a wall and hit one officer, who was saved by a bulletproof vest. Then the firing stopped, and police realized the gunman was holed up in an office.
When they got into the office, they took the wounded shooter into custody and gave him first aid, Cervera said. He was taken from the scene by ambulance 36 minutes after officers arrived and died at a hospital. A medical examiner will determine whether he was killed by an officer’s bullet or his own, the chief said.
There was no indication he targeted anyone specifically. Cervera said investigators are retracing the gunman’s activities on the day of the attack, using his electronic keycard to track his movements through secure areas of the building. They are also reviewing his personal and professional lives trying to find a motive.
Craddock appeared to have had no felony record, making him eligible to purchase guns. Government investigators identified two .45-caliber pistols used in the attack, and all indicators were that he purchased them legally in 2016 and 2018, said Ashan Benedict, the regional special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The police chief said at least one had a noise suppressor.
City officials uttered the gunman’s name just once and said they would not mention it again.