VIRGINIA BEACH — DeWayne Craddock submitted a letter of resignation from his job as an engineer for the city of Virginia Beach on Friday morning, hours before murdering 12 people at the government building where he worked, officials said Sunday.
“He notified his chain of command that morning,” City Manager Dave Hansen said at a news conference. “My understanding is he did that via email.”
Officials did not elaborate on the substance of the email. Hansen added that they are “determining where that letter is.”
Craddock, 40, had not been fired and was not in danger of being fired, Hansen said. His performance was considered “satisfactory.” He was “in good standing in his department,” and “there were no issues of discipline ongoing.”
Police Chief James A. Cervera cautioned that Craddock’s motivations remain under investigation and said police are looking into his professional and personal life. “We do not have anything glaring,” Cervera said.
Police arrived at the building within two minutes of a call going out for shots fired just after 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Cervera said. Craddock had arrived at Building 2 and immediately shot a contractor in the parking lot, who was there to file a permit. He next killed a woman who was on her way out of the office, before using his badge to access the building’s second floor and begin shooting indiscriminately.
“We were moving at a rapid pace,” he told reporters, but “we had no idea where the suspect was.” Building 2, built in the 1970s is a “honeycomb” with many additions and subdivisions, he said: “It’s a maze where the workers are.”
Five to eight minutes after entering the building, he said, officers encountered Craddock on the second floor and “immediately engaged in a gun battle.”
Two detectives were the first to enter the building, followed by a pair of uniformed K-9 officers who also got there fast.
Cervera called the exchange a “long gun battle” with the number of rounds fired “well into the double digits.” The shooter was still moving, Cervera said, firing through doors and walls. At about 4:19 p.m., an officer was shot and wounded but saved from fatal injury by his protective vest.
Eventually, the shooting stopped and police were able to confront Craddock in an office. They broke down the door and engaged him with fire. When the shooter was subdued – 36 minutes after the first call to police went out – officers attempted to render aid to save Craddock’s life. He died on the way to a nearby hospital.
Craddock used two .45-caliber handguns in the shooting and police found a sound suppressor, commonly known as a silencer, and extended magazines. He purchased the guns legally.
A 2003 report in Dolan’s Virginia Business Observer said Craddock had joined a consulting firm called MSA and was a project engineer. Firm partner C. Scott Acey declined to comment Saturday beyond confirming that Craddock worked for the company for three to four years before going to work for Virginia Beach.
Within about an hour of the initial attack, Cervera said, all the wounded had been transported out for emergency care. Along with the 12 people killed, four people were hospitalized. All have undergone multiple surgeries, officials said Sunday.
“They are progressing and our prayers are with them,” Hansen said.
The municipal center will remain closed Monday, but Virginia Beach’s other city offices will be open. All municipal center buildings other than Building 2, where the shooting took place, will reopen Tuesday.
“Our recovery is underway; our grieving is underway,” Hansen said.
At the Courthouse Community United Methodists Church, less than a mile from the municipal center, many local government employees were among the 150 congregants Sunday morning looking for solace.
None of the victims of the shooting were members of the church, but a stepsister of one congregant is in the hospital with injuries.
Rev. Beth Anderson prayed for the victims and their families; she also prayed “for the person who perpetrated this crime and his family” and asked God to give love and peace to them.
“All I can offer is that God is with us and we need to be in solidarity with everyone,” Anderson said. “It can’t be about divisiveness. We tried that already and it doesn’t work. My hope is it won’t take another shooting before we come together.”
Hundreds more residents gathered Sunday morning by the iconic Neptune sculpture on Virginia Beach’s sandy coast for an evangelical service hosted by Trinity Church.
Patty Richards has been praying ever since she first heard on Friday that multiple people had been shot at the municipal center not far from her house. Her husband, a contractor, had planned to go to that building on Friday for a permit but put it off until Monday. And Richards, a former critical cardiac nurse at a nearby hospital, knew all too well what the medical professionals treating the victims would be facing.
“I know about that kind of pain,” she said.