VIRGINIA BEACH (Virginia) • A gunman who killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building before dying in a gun battle with police was identified yesterday as a disgruntled city engineer and co-worker of most of the victims.
All but one of the victims from the mass shooting on Friday in the coastal resort community were employed by the city, officials said at a news conference, 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.
Police said he used a .45-calibre handgun equipped with a "sound suppressor" device and extended ammunition magazines that he used to reload during the attack.
They said more weapons were found at the scene and at Craddock's home.
It was the 150th mass shooting in the US this year, according to US tracking website Gun Violence Archive. A mass shooting is defined by the independent site as a gun attack where at least four victims are either killed or wounded.
The shooting occurred at about 4pm local time near the end of the workday, as employees were winding down for the weekend.
Two police supervisors from a building across the street arrived within minutes of the first shots, Mr Cervera said, and the suspect was killed after a lengthy gun battle. Virginia Beach police had trained for a mass shooting.
"You cannot replicate the intensity of an environment such as this," Mr Cervera said.
The police chief also said the gunman "immediately and indiscriminately" fired on his victims, but declined to comment on any possible motive.
According to local media, Craddock was 40 years old and had no serious criminal record.
The rampage in Virginia Beach was the worst mass shooting in the United States since last November, when a dozen people were slain at a Los Angeles-area bar and grill by a gunman who then killed himself.
Survivors of last Friday's shooting recounted scenes of pandemonium and fear that erupted as gunshots rang out, and workers scurried frantically for cover. Some said they stacked desks against office doors to barricade themselves in.
Mr Cervera said he would give the gunman's name only once because the city authorities want to focus on the victims.
Virginia Beach City manager Dave Hansen identified the victims during the news conference and said that, except for the contractor, they had worked for Virginia Beach for between 11 months and 41 years.
"They leave a void that we will never be able to fill," he said.
The four people who were seriously wounded in the shooting were still being treated at local hospitals. They included a police officer whose life was saved by his ballistic vest, Mr Cervera said.
The bloodshed unfolded at Building Two of Virginia Beach's municipal centre complex, where more than 400 employees work in the information technology, public works, planning and utilities departments next door to City Hall.
The complex lies several kilometres inland from the town's popular seashore, situated on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. South-east Virginia's most populous city has roughly 450,000 year-round residents.
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST