CHESAPEAKE, Va. – News 3 is learning more about 44-year-old William Rankin, the man accused of opening fire inside of the Norfolk Social Security Administration building earlier this week.
Rankin is a convicted felon with drug charges out of Texas from 2005.
He was convicted of threatening to blow up a Chesapeake business back in 2017 and was charged with two misdemeanors.
News 3 dug into his prior arrest records.
Back in 2017, Rankin was a customer at Rudy's Truck and Auto Parts off Bainbridge Blvd. in Chesapeake.
“He’s just a strange individual. He’s just one of those guys that’ll go off the deep end and little things trigger him,” said Rudy Feuerschultz, who used to be the owner of the shop in 2017. His wife has since taken over.
He said Rankin came in and was upset when they told him the new brake light for his vehicle would cost $75.
Feuerschultz said Rankin only wanted to pay $50. He said Rankin yelled, then left the shop, walked outside and kicked a car and punched a window.
Feuerschultz said he thought Rankin was just upset and thought he would cool down, but said he then kept getting non-stop phone calls.
“I kept hanging up on him. He kept calling back and said, ‘I’m just going to blow that place off the map,'” said Feuerschultz.
Feuerschultz said that’s when he called the police.
“My deal was... over $25? You’re going to threaten to blow my family up and eliminate me for $25?" he said.
They went to court, and Rankin was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but all 12 months of his sentence were suspended. He was also put on probation.
Now, federal authorities say that on February 8, he walked into the Norfolk Social Security Administration building armed with a firearm, a 9-mm rifle and about 600 rounds of ammunition and opened fire on a security guard.
He allegedly was there demanding his mother’s money. Court records reveal that his wife told the FBI he had been dealing with the Social Security Administration about his mother's account for several months.
They state Rankin opened fire on a security guard five times. Along with the guns, authorities also found three sandwiches and three bottles of beer inside his bag.
Despite his injuries, the security guard fired multiple rounds, striking Rankin, which stopped him in his tracks. The security guard escaped to an elevator and when he got to the second floor of the building, he warned others and told them to call 911. He then went back downstairs and waited for officers to arrive.
Crime Analyst Richard James is a former Norfolk detective. He said how Rankin got the firearms as a convicted felon will be a big part of the investigation.
James said this situation could have easily been a mass shooting.
“A convicted felon in United States should not have their hands on firearms. They will follow the trail of smoke back to how he got the gun in his hand in the first place because that person should be held liable, too,” said James. “He had enough ammunition to hurt or kill a lot of people.”
LaSandra Wingate lives near Rankin’s home. She and several other neighbors were shocked to hear about the allegations.
“It’s horrible, and these are some really trying times... crazy times, and they’re very scary. You just don’t know what people are going through and what they’re thinking,” said Wingate.
Records show that Rankin was ordered to go to anger management back in 2017.
“Doesn’t sound like he did any good,” said Feuerschultz. "One minute he’s there with you, and the next minute the devil's jumped in him and he’s coming after you and he doesn’t care who he’s going to hurt.”
News 3 was told the 52-year-old security guard is expected to be okay after the shooting.
Last we heard, Rankin had life-threatening injuries after being shot during the incident on February 8.
The US Attorney’s Office said Friday that they do not have an update on his condition at this time.
Rankin was charged with attempted murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government; possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; assault of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government; possession of firearms in a federal facility; and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Based on the charges in the criminal complaint, if convicted, Rankin faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison.
Friday News 3 attempted to speak to Rankin's wife, but she was not interested in talking to us. Police were outside their Chesapeake home.