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Virginia Beach shooter gave 2 weeks notice Friday but was in ‘good standing’ in his job

Police work the scene where eleven people were killed and six injured during a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach city public works building on May 31, 2019. The shooter, a current and longtime public utilities employee, also was killed. An officer was shot, but was saved by his bullet proof vest. (L. Todd Spencer/Virginian Pilot/TNS)

The longtime Virginia Beach public works employee behind the nation’s latest mass shooting put in his two-weeks notice on Friday morning, hours before he carried out an attack that killed 12 and wounded four, city officials said Sunday.

Virginia Beach city manager Dave Hansen said the shooter’s job performance was “satisfactory,” did not face any disciplinary measures before he notified the city that he intended to quit and he was not fired.

“He was in good standing within his department, no issue of discipline ongoing,” Hansen said.

Virginia Beach police chief Jim Cervera said investigators will look into whether his employment status was linked to the attack at a city municipal building here.

Four victims of the shooting were recovering Sunday at two area hospitals. One at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital was downgraded from fair to critical condition following a surgery and two others there remain in critical condition, hospital officials said.

A fourth victim was critical but stable at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, a hospital designated to handle higher-level trauma cases.

The suspect, DeWayne Craddock, is described by police and those who knew him as an enigma who gave no indication that he was stockpiling an arsenal and planned a systematic assault on his colleagues.

Craddock, a 15-year veteran of public works and a civil engineer, was still employed at the time of the rampage and had a pass to enter the secure inner offices and conference rooms, officials said.

Cervera said investigators were continuing to probe why Craddock sprayed bullets into fleeing office workers, using a .45 caliber handgun armed with a silencer that police believe was used for stealth and to keep victims from knowing where the attacker was in the building.

That could at least partially explain why survivors of the attack said they were caught off guard and initially puzzled by what was happening. One described hearing something that sounded like a nail gun. Craddock brought numerous extended magazines loaded with ammunition, which carry more rounds than traditional magazines, police said.

“Clearly this was an individual who did understand and have experience with firearms and had given potentially some forethought into the advantage that using a suppressor would offer him, particularly the suppressor coupled with the caliber of weapon he was using,” said Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association and a retired law enforcement officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department, where he oversaw a SWAT division.

Craddock was eventually killed in an “intense firefight” with four responding officers who hemmed him in and likely prevented him from using his load of ammunition on more victims, Cervera said.

The image of a public works employee holed up with a silencer and extended magazines amid a merciless assault is a far cry from how Craddock’s neighbors saw him.

They describe Craddock as a car enthusiast, bodybuilder and seemingly quiet man.

Amanda Archer, 22, and Cassetty Howerin, 23, lived in a Virginia Beach town home beneath Craddock for the past year and only got to know him in passing, exchanging the occasional greeting.

“He wasn’t much of a talker,” Archer recalled. “He’s a mystery to us. He’s a mystery to everybody, apparently.”

Hansen said Craddock was still employed in the department, had a security pass and “was authorized to enter the building.”

In order to avoid excessive publicizing of the shooter’s name, officials said they would only give his name publicly once and would afterward refer to him only as “the suspect.”

Craddock had served in the Army National Guard, according to a newspaper clip from the time of his city hire, and received basic military training and advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Craddock roamed three floors of the office building, shooting indiscriminately at his co-workers.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said at a Saturday afternoon press conference that Craddock legally bought two .45 caliber handguns – one in 2016 and 2018. Both were found at the crime scene and neither was previously used in any other crime, the ATF reported.

Hansen said all but one of the victims were employees of the city working in the public works department.The shooter killed his first victim in a car in the parking lot before he entered the building.


© 2019 USA Today

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