Gun­man’s mo­tive un­clear, of­fi­cials quiet

The News-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

VIR­GINIA BEACH, Va. — The Vir­ginia Beach em­ployee who shot and killed 12 peo­ple at a mu­nic­i­pal build­ing gave no hint of the mas­sacre to come when he emailed his res­ig­na­tion let­ter ear­lier in the day, say­ing that he was leav­ing for “per­sonal rea­sons” but that “it has been a plea­sure to serve.”

The gun­man’s two-sen­tence emailed res­ig­na­tion let­ter — re­leased by city of­fi­cials Mon­day, three days af­ter the shoot­ing — put au­thor­i­ties, the com­mu­nity and vic­tims’ fam­i­lies no closer to un­der­stand­ing why the engi­neer with 15 years on the job would go on a ram­page at work.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors seem stymied. There are no in­di­ca­tions 40year-old DeWayne Crad­dock left notes, man­i­festos, so­cial me­dia screeds or any other ob­vi­ous signs of what mo­ti­vated him.

Crad­dock’s res­ig­na­tion email gave his two weeks’ no­tice but no clues that he was un­happy at work or held a grudge against any­one. Be­cause the email is par­tially redacted, it’s un­clear how long be­fore the shoot­ing it was sent. Of­fi­cials wouldn’t say why they redacted it, and they de­clined to give an up­date on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion Mon­day.

Crad­dock’s email reads: “I want to of­fi­cially put in my (2) weeks’ no­tice to va­cant my po­si­tion of Engi­neer III with the City of Vir­ginia Beach. It has been a plea­sure to serve the City, but due to per­sonal rea­sons I must re­lieve my po­si­tion.”

Some­time later that day, po­lice say, Crad­dock went from floor to floor of the build­ing, fir­ing from two .45-cal­iber pis­tols, killing 11 of his co­work­ers and a build­ing con­trac­tor he en­coun­tered in the park­ing lot. He was killed in a gun­bat­tle with po­lice.

Po­lice Chief James Cervera has said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are re­trac­ing the gun­man’s ac­tiv­i­ties on the day of the at­tack, us­ing his elec­tronic key­card to track his move­ments through se­cure ar­eas of the build­ing. They are also re­view­ing his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives.

“Right now we do not have any­thing glar­ing,” Cervera said Sun­day. “There’s noth­ing that hits you right be­tween the eyes. But we are work­ing on it.”

Of­fi­cials also have said there’s no in­di­ca­tion Crad­dock tar­geted any­one specif­i­cally; shortly af­ter the shoot­ing, Cervera de­scribed him as fir­ing “in­dis­crim­i­nately.”

Cervera has de­scribed a chaotic scene as of­fi­cers en­tered the build­ing and pur­sued the as­sailant through a tightly packed warren of of­fices that the chief likened to a maze or a hon­ey­comb. They ex­changed fire in a pro­tracted gun­bat­tle. Cervera said he did not know how many rounds were fired but called it “well into the dou­ble dig­its.” Crad­dock was shot and taken by am­bu­lance to the hos­pi­tal, where he died.

Crad­dock ap­peared to have had no felony record, mak­ing him el­i­gi­ble to pur­chase guns. Gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied two .45-cal­iber pis­tols used in the at­tack, and all in­di­ca­tors were that he pur­chased them le­gally in 2016 and 2018, said Ashan Benedict, the re­gional spe­cial agent for the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco and Firearms. The po­lice chief said at least one had a noise sup­pres­sor.

L. Todd Spencer / TNS

Peo­ple pay their re­spects on Mon­day at a memo­rial site to honor the 12 vic­tims killed dur­ing a mass shoot­ing that took place Fri­day af­ter­noon at the Vir­ginia Beach Mu­nic­i­pal Cen­ter.

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