(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) — At 6:45 on Friday morning, a neighbor spotted the man, sitting idly in his car in a residential neighborhood some 11 miles from the Virginia Beach waterfront. She thought about waving hello, but stopped herself, remembering that he tended to keep to himself.
Nine hours later, at 4 in the afternoon, that man allegedly entered the Virginia Beach Municipal Center with two .45-caliber handguns, and went floor-to-floor, indiscriminately killing 11 of his co-workers and a contractor before police shot him dead during a fierce gun battle, officials said on Saturday.
Virginia Beach police Chief James Cervera identified the suspect as DeWayne Craddock, a 40-year-old city employee with a security pass to enter the building, who had worked at the public utilities department for 15 years. The police chief said it would be the “only time we will announce his name.”
Police say they have not yet determined a motive for the rampage, which is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States so far this year.
The neighbor who spotted Craddock on Friday morning, Amanda Archer, said she was shocked when she got news of the rampage.
“You never think that the person that did [a shooting] is near you, or has any threat to you,” she told ABC News.
Another neighbor, Cassidy Howerin, said that Craddock, who lived alone on the upper level of a two-story apartment building, struck her as a “routine-oriented person.”
“He would go, do his stuff and then come home,” she said. “Whenever we had a conversation it was quick, straight and to the point.”
Police said that Craddock gunned down one victim outside Building 2 of the Municipal Center as he entered the front door, and that no words exchanged between the accused gunman and police during the gunfight.
“Once they identified him and he identified them, he immediately opened fire,” Cervera said. “We immediately returned the fire and again, I want everyone to know, this was a long-term, for lack of any other term, long-running gun battle with this individual. This is not what is traditionally a police-involved shooting. This was a long-term, large gunfight.”
Both of the weapons allegedly used by Craddock were legally purchased in 2016 and 2018, authorities said. Two other guns were recovered from Craddock’s apartment.
As officials add details about how the shooting unfolded, and the community begins to memorialize the victims, few details about Craddock have emerged.
Virginia Beach city manager Dave Hansen said that Craddock was an active employee, but declined to say if he had recently been disciplined or was the subject of complaints to human resources.
“He had a security pass like all employees have and he was authorized to enter that building,” Hansen said.
Court records show that Craddock had no criminal history except for a traffic violation in 2013 in Virginia Beach.
He enlisted in the Virginia National Guard in April 1996 and served for 17 years, Cotton Puryear, a spokesman for the Virginia National Guard told ABC News. Craddock had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment as a cannon crew member, but his records indicate he was never deployed overseas.
In 2002, he graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in civil engineering, a university spokesman said. On Friday night, the university held a vigil in honor of the victims.
Eleven of the five women and seven men shot to death at the Municipal Center were city employees, authorities said, and four of the victims wounded in the rampage remained hospitalized on Saturday.
The victims were identified as Richard Nettleton, a public utilities engineer for 24 years, Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake, a public works right-of-way agent for 4 1/2 years; Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach, a 6-year public works engineer; Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach, a public works engineer for 24 years and a right-of-way agent; Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach, a public works right-of-way employee for 9 years.
Also killed were Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach, a public utilities engineer for 10 years; Christopher Kelly Rapp, a public works employee for 11 years; Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach, a public utilities worker for 12 1/2 year; Joshua O. Hardy of Virginia Beach, a 4 1/2-year public utilities engineer technician; Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach, a public works administrative assistant for 12 years; and Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake, a public utilities special projects coordinator for 41 years
Contractor Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach, who was in the Municipal Center to file a permit, was also killed.
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