As a gunman opened fire inside a Virginia Beach municipal office on Friday, these people stepped up to help save the lives of others.
An intern rushed down the hallways shouting “gun, gun, gun” to warn others, a military serviceman helped transport the injured with his surfboard, a police detective was injured during a shootout with the suspect and over 100 first responders arrived at the chaotic scene. Here are their stories.
A quick thinking intern
When the first shots rang out on the second floor of Building 2 Friday afternoon, a 21-year-old intern, Jack Jones, ran down the hallway shouting “gun, gun, gun” and “everybody get out.”
Officials in Virginia Beach are heralding the quick thinking of the public works intern for potentially saving lives during the shooting Friday.
Jones’ heroic story was relayed to CNN by his grandfather, Louis Jones, a councilman and former mayor of Virginia Beach.
“The shooter came to the office where he was sitting, looked in at him, and apparently he wasn’t a target,” Louis Jones said.
The shooter continued walking down the hall, towards an area where supervisors sat, when Jack Jones heard the first shot ring out.
“Jack got up and looked out the hallway because he heard the noise, and then he saw the fellow with a gun at the time he fired the second shot in the office, and so [Jack] started going down the hall yelling, ‘gun, gun, gun,’ and ‘everybody get out,'” his grandfather said.
Louis Jones said he had heard from the city manager that several workers in Building 2 credit Jack Jones’ actions with saving their lives.
Extraordinary efforts of a good Samaritan
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, one good Samaritan, a military serviceman, who was inside the complex of city buildings Friday afternoon, jumped into action to help transport the injured.
The man, who has not been identified, offered his services — as well as those of his truck and a surfboard he had in the back, according to Virginia Beach Police spokeswoman Linda Kuehn.
First responders had pulled a patient from the building but had no way to get them to treatment since ambulances weren’t able to reach that area yet.
“He jumped up, offered that surfboard and got that patient out,” she said.
The patient was loaded onto the surfboard, onto the truck and driven to get treatment, Kuehn said.
Officials Monday described the extraordinary efforts of the man and said he was plain-clothed when he first arrived but later put on some parts of his military garb that he had in his truck.
Police detective injured during shootout
The first arriving officers were on the scene within minutes of the first 911 call and are credited to stopping the gunman, who died after a long gunfight with officers.
Four officers, two detectives and two canine handlers, arrived at the municipal building and the sound of gunfire led them to the shooter. The officers and the shooter engaged in a “long-term” and “large” gun battle, with the “multiple, multiple” rounds fired by the gunman, according to Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera.
One officer, a detective, who worked felony crimes out of the police headquarters, was injured but survived a gunshot because he was wearing a protective vest that was stronger than normal.
“The detective obviously would not be wearing one in his day to day routine, because it just wouldn’t be conducive to what he’s doing, so him realizing the violent nature of this and that it could potentially lead to what it did, fortunately put on the heavier duty body armor,” Brian Luciano, a Virginia Beach master police officer and the president of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association told CNN in an interview.
The vest that the detective wore, known as a plate carrier, is similar to a flak jacket and is the heavier duty option of the vests available to the force, according to Luciano. The detective, who has not been identified, was released from the hospital the same day.
Over 100 first responders
Fifty-nine EMS providers with 22 ambulances responded to the chaotic scene of the shooting, where they set up a triage area and transported six people to multiple hospitals, according to Bruce Nedelka, division chief for the Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services.
“As things were breaking more and more and more we were treating and transporting the few who were survivors,” Nedelka said. “Everybody did an extremely excellent job for a situation that is different than anything from what is trained for.”
Five EMS SWAT medics entered into the building, embedded with police officers responding to the shooting.
“They were in there as bullets were flying.” Nedelka said. “They are there for those police officers in case they get injured.”
Nedelka described how a triage area was set up at a distance from the building, where victims were taken to, though there was not extended care done there. In a mass casualty incident like this, he said, standard practice is relaxed.
“This is different. This is quick. We have to get them stabilized as best we can while we’re transporting. We don’t stay at the scene and do a lot of things — much of it is done en route to the hospital because we want to do the greatest good,” he said.
Nine fire trucks and 54 firefighters also responded Friday, Nedelka said.
Virginia Beach’s EMS department is unique as it is composed of a number of full-time volunteers in addition to career workers.
The volunteers were in their regular day-to-day jobs when the shooting call first came in.
“When something like this goes out they know instinctively, let’s get in our vehicles, let’s leave our job, let’s leave our family,” Nedelka said. “One person was actually going to pick up his daughter and he called his wife and said ‘I have to redirect because this call has come in. I have to serve.'”