At least 13 people killed in Virginia Beach shooting, including suspect

The scene of an active shooter situation on May 31, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Courtesy: WTKR)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A longtime city employee opened fire at a municipal building in Virginia Beach on Friday, killing 12 people and sending terrified co-workers scrambling for cover before police shot and killed him, 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. He did not release the suspect’s name.

Police entered the building and got out as many employees as they could, then exchanged fire with the suspect, who was killed, the chief said.

Police initially said the gunman shot and killed 11 people. 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 a Friday night 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.

“We tried to do everything we could to keep everybody safe,” she said. “We were all just terrified. It felt like it wasn’t real, like we were in a dream. You are just terrified because all you can hear is the gunshots.”

She texted her mom, telling her that there was an active shooter in the building and she and others were waiting for police.

“Thank God my baby is OK,” Banton’s mother, Dana Showers, said.

Five of the injured were being treated at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and a sixth was being transferred to the Trauma Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Healthcare tweeted.

At a nearby middle school, friends and relatives were reuniting with loved ones who were in the building when the shooting happened. They included Paul Swain, 50, who said he saw his fiancee from across the parking lot, clearly in an agitated state.

“I think she knew some of the people,” he said.

Outside the school, Cheryl Benn, 65, waited while her husband, David, a traffic engineer with the city who was in the building where the shooting happened, gave a written statement to detectives.

She said her husband initially called her from a barricaded room and said it sounded as if someone had been working with a nail gun. Then he saw the bodies.

“This is unbelievable for Virginia Beach,” Cheryl Benn said. “By and large, it’s a pretty calm and peaceful place to live.”

___

Associated Press writers Regina Garcia Cano in Washington, D.C.; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; and Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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2 comments

  • lml25

    “Nothing like this happens in Virginia Beach.”
    It could happen in ANY city–there is no reason to think A CITY is exempt–for whatever
    optimistic hope one might conjure up to think otherwise.Why does this happen on a regular basis?There are a lot of unhappy people out there.Unhappy about job,country or life in general–until they hit the breaking point–and “breaking points” are being hit more easily these days aren’t they?Many people have private wars they want to fight against what they see is a declining standard of living in the US.That encompasses neighborhoods becoming totally different from 25 years ago–with crime,drugs and prostitution now the norm.It’s tougher to be financially secure–many people live paycheck to paycheck.There’s a dissatisfaction with family and relationships.The internet and all its ramifications contributes.to the problem as well.
    Because everyone is different,these shootings cannot be prevented,unless you monitor everyone–or assign a psychiatrist to every person in the country(impossible).
    Final point:The more mass shootings there are,the more it becomes accepted as “normal” behavior for the times–something you just have to put up with–which allows the mindset for someone to commit another mass shooting.

  • Ken

    Well that’s odd, they know he was a city employee and know exactly who he is, but no one is giving out the usual demographic information about him. CNN said they have spoken with the suspect’s neighbors and parents! I’m going to bet the shooter was NOT a Christian white man who supported President Trump; if he had been, that information would have been in the first paragraph. In fact, I’m going to go with “black muslim democrat” simply because the media is NOT addressing race, religion or political affiliation. Of course, NOT ONE WORD of that will be spoken by the media because that just doesn’t fit the gun control narrative. Looks like there are some complex rules in play regarding when the media will release basic personal information about a shooter… or maybe just hypocrisy.

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