Virginia Beach gunman resigned before opening fire on coworkers

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The man who gunned down 12 people at a Virginia Beach office resigned the morning of the attack, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen said.

DeWayne Craddock, 40, fired indiscriminately on a municipal building Friday afternoon. He was fatally wounded in a lengthy shootout with police.

Before the massacre, Craddock emailed a resignation letter Friday morning. Hansen said Craddock was not forced to resign and that Craddock’s “performance was satisfactory.”

The gunman was “within good standing in his department” and had “no issues of discipline ongoing,” the city manager said.

But near the end of the workday Friday, Craddock shot one person in a car and then entered the building, where he fired at victims on three floors.

Authorities are still searching for a motive. Those who knew Craddock say they didn’t see the horror coming.

Joseph Scott said he worked with the shooter for several years and saw him that day. He said the suspect was brushing his teeth in the bathroom, as he always did, and wished him a good day. The gunman used to be “what I thought was a good person,” Scott said.

Another colleague, who did not want to be named for privacy reasons, said Craddock was “a nice guy” and “not a monster.” The source said Craddock gave boxes of candy to administrative staff members around Christmas.

On Friday, that same colleague survived the shooting by barricading himself in an office with others. When they were evacuated they had to step over the bodies of coworkers who were killed.

Those killed include the gunman’s former boss, longtime city employees and a contractor:

— Richard H. Nettleton was Craddock’s boss. Hours before Nettleton was killed, Craddock told him he was quitting for personal reasons, a former colleague told CNN.

But it’s not clear whether Nettleton was targeted in the mass shooting.

— Herbert “Bert” Snelling was a contractor who was trying to file for a permit when the gunman opened fire. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said Snelling used to do work at his house and later became a friend. “He was just such a great guy,” the mayor said.

— Laquita C. Brown, Mary Louise Gayle and Alexander Mikhail Gusev were all right-of-way agents who worked for the city’s public works department.

— Tara Welch Gallagher and Christopher Kelly Rapp were engineers with the city’s public works department.

— Joshua O. Hardy was an engineering technician in the public works department.

— Ryan Keith Cox was an account clerk in the public utilities department.

— Michelle “Missy” Langer was an administrative assistant in public utilities.

— Robert “Bobby” Williams was a 41-year veteran in the public utilities department and a special projects coordinator.

In addition to the 12 people killed, several victims were wounded. As of Saturday, three people were in critical condition and one was in fair condition, hospital officials said. It’s not clear whether any of the slain victims were targeted, and how many may have been caught in indiscriminate gunfire.

About 40 members of law enforcement, mostly FBI, scoured Building 2 to collect evidence. They found two legally purchased .45-caliber pistols at the scene — one the shooter bought in 2016 and one in 2018.

Police said one pistol had a suppressor and several empty extended magazines. Investigators found more weapons in the gunman’s home, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said.

Questions remain about why Craddock purchased the weapons and how long he was planning his attack. While investigators search for answers, Mayor Bobby Dyer has tried to quell both sides of the gun control debate. He said he wanted to avert a “knee-jerk reaction” and the “bipartisan bureaucratic malpractice.”

“There’s a lack of civility,” Dyer said. “There’s a lack of mutual respect. There’s a lack of willingness to understand each other.”

Craddock worked as a certified professional engineer in the city’s public utilities department for 15 years. CNN noticed Craddock had three security cameras set up in two of his windows.

Neighbor Cassetty Howerin said Craddock was awake at all hours of the night but mostly kept to himself. Another neighbor, Clarisa Morel, said the gunman once catcalled her.

The shooter’s parents, reached Friday night, told CNN they weren’t aware of any problems Craddock was having with his employer.

The family posted a handwritten note on their front door:

“We are grieving the loss of our loved one. At this time we wish to focus on the victims and the lives (lost) during yesterday’s tragic event,” the Craddocks wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who (lost) their lives, and those recovering in the hospital.”

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