Police engaged in ‘long-term gun battle’ during Virginia Beach fatal mass shooting

Posted at 10:34 PM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 22:37:30-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – “We continue to focus on families and victims. 12 people that went to work thinking they would go home,” said Gov. Northam at a somber Saturday press conference in Virginia Beach.

This conference followed a fatal mass shooting that took the lives of 12 people Friday afternoon.

Officials at 3:30 p.m., on Saturday had multiple updates since the shooting.

ATF says that two .45 caliber handguns were used in the shooting and were legally purchased in 2016 and 2018. The FBI has taken over evidence recovery, and has 40 individuals assisting the city with this task.

During the press conference Saturday, officials also shared that the suspect in the shooting, 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock, had not been fired from the City of Virginia Beach, where he worked.

Four officers entered the building after the call of shots fired was made to police shortly after 4 p.m., Friday. Police Chief Jim Cervera said that the officers arrived within minutes after the first call to dispatch, and were able to find the suspect after hearing gunfire. They then engaged in a long-term gun battle with the suspect, the chief said.

The officers who bravely faced off against the suspect likely stopped the shooter from killing more people in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Chief Cervera said extended magazines for the .45 caliber handguns in the shooting were also found at the scene. Official added Saturday that they are working with ballistics to determine if the two handguns used by the suspect are involved with any other shootings.

These four officers did give first aid to the suspect after the gun battle, Chief Cervera said, but the shooter succumbed to his injuries. His official cause of death is listed as multiple gunshot wounds sustained during an active shooter incident, and the manner of death is being ruled as a homicide.

During the Friday press conference, Chief Cervera said one victim died on the way to the hospital, raising the number of victims dead from 11 to 12.

A team of investigators from Virginia Beach, the Norfolk FBI and State Police are processing the scene.

The 12 victims' names were released Saturday morning. 11 of them were City of Virginia Beach employees, while the last was a project manager.

"We in Virginia Beach are a city of heroes. We have heroes with our military," said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer. "We have many members of our public that help and save lives. But most of all, let me commend the officers, the people that ran into a building with an active shooter…and saved many people."

There are four additional victims that were taken to hospitals following the shooting. As of Sunday at 9 a.m., all four patients are in critical condition, with one patient who was in fair condition becoming critical due to post-surgery recovery.

Victims were found on all three floors of the building, and one was also found outside shot in a vehicle.

90 people have sought help so far from the help center at Princess Anne Middle School. Families with loved ones working in the municipal buildings are being asked to go to the school for help.

Police can’t comment on if victims were targeted or if it was random at this time, because the investigation is ongoing.

Chief Cervera says that as police progress with the investigation, they are putting together a timeline of the how long the events took place. He also added that interviewing the officers involved will be a part of this process.

The FBI is asking anyone with information on the shooting to call 1-800-CALL-FBI. Victims and their families can also call that number for information about services that may be beneficial to them.

Julie Hill, Communications Director for the City of Virginia Beach, says the city has planned a Memorial for Thursday at Rock Church. The time for the memorial is not known yet.

Click here for our full coverage on the Virginia Beach mass shooting.