12 peo­ple killed in Vir­ginia Beach shoot­ing; sus­pect dead

The Saline Courier Weekend - - NEWS -

VIR­GINIA BEACH, Va.

— A long­time city em­ployee opened fire in a mu­nic­i­pal build­ing in Vir­ginia Beach on Fri­day, killing 12 peo­ple on three floors and send­ing ter­ri­fied co-work­ers scram­bling for cover be­fore po­lice shot and killed him fol­low­ing a “long gun-bat­tle,” author­i­ties said.

Four other peo­ple were wounded in the shoot­ing, in­clud­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer whose bul­let­proof vest saved his life, said Vir­ginia Beach Po­lice Chief James Cervera. The city’s vis­i­bly shaken mayor, Bobby Dyer, called it “the most dev­as­tat­ing day in the his­tory of Vir­ginia Beach.”

The shoot­ing hap­pened shortly af­ter 4 p.m. when the vet­eran em­ployee of the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Depart­ment en­tered a build­ing in the city’s Mu­nic­i­pal Cen­ter, and “im­me­di­ately be­gan to in­dis­crim­i­nately fire upon all of the vic­tims,” Cervera said. Author­i­ties did not re­lease the sus­pect’s name, in­stead choos­ing to fo­cus on the vic­tims dur­ing a news con­fer­ence.

Po­lice en­tered the build­ing and got out as many em­ploy­ees as they could, then ex­changed fire with the sus­pect, who was armed with a .45 cal­iber hand­gun, the chief said.

Po­lice ini­tially said the gun­man shot and killed 11 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one who was found in­side a ve­hi­cle out­side the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing. Cervera later said one more died on the way to the hos­pi­tal.

The shoot­ing sent shock waves through Vir­ginia

Beach, the state’s largest city and a pop­u­lar va­ca­tion spot in south­east­ern Vir­ginia. The build­ing where the at­tack took place is in a sub­ur­ban com­plex miles away from the high-rise ho­tels along the beach and the down­town busi­ness area.

Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a state­ment he was dev­as­tated by the “un­speak­able, sense­less vi­o­lence,” and is of­fer­ing the state’s full sup­port to sur­vivors and rel­a­tives of the vic­tims.

“That they should be taken in this man­ner is the worst kind of tragedy,” the gover­nor said dur­ing the news con­fer­ence.

The White House said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had been briefed and was mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

Me­gan Ban­ton, an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant who works in the build­ing where the shoot­ing hap­pened, said she heard gun­shots, called 911 and bar­ri­caded her­self and about 20 col­leagues in­side an of­fice, push­ing a desk against a door.

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