Washington–A disgruntled employee went on a shooting rampage in a municipal centre building in the US state of Virginia, killing 12 people and injuring several others before dying in a gunbattle with the police.
The shooter was identified as DeWayne Craddock who worked as a certified professional engineer for the city of Virginia Beach in the Public Utilities Department. He fired indiscriminately through all three floors of Building 2 of the city’s municipal centre on Friday, said Virginia Beach Police chief James A. Cervera.
The shooting occurred when people were still visiting the municipal centre to conduct business.
Cervera said the 40-year-old shooter was confronted shortly after opening fire on multiple floors. There was an exchange of gunfire with officers after which he was shot dead.
The massacre is the deadliest in the US this year and adds the Virginia coastal city to a grim list of places affected by a mass shooting, CNN reported.
Witnesses said they couldn’t believe this level of violence reached their community, their workplace.
The loud bursts of gunfire sent workers scrambling and barricading their office doors.
Zand Bakhtiari, 28, who works on the first floor of the city building where the shooting happened, looked out of his window about 4 p.m. and saw people screaming and running.
“I thought they were running to the scene of a bad car accident,” he told the New York Times, adding that at that time he had not heard any gunfire. But later he got to know that there was an active shooter in the building.
He then heard 50 to 60 gunshots. “It was a lot of shots,” Bakhtiari said. Five or 10 minutes later, a police SWAT team came and led them out.
Police chief Cervera said bodies were found on all three floors of the building and that one of the deceased was discovered outside in a car.
He said the shooter was armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun with an attached sound suppressor and extended magazines, enabling him to fire many rounds and engage four police officers in a “long-term gun battle” down building hallways.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach. The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbours, colleagues,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said at a news conference.
The gunman is thought to have purchased the firearms legally, according to an initial investigation.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam described the incident as a “tragic day” for the city and the state.
State Senator Tim Kaine tweeted that he was “devastated” by the news.
Singer Pharell Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, said in a tweet: “We are praying for our city, the lives that were lost, their families and everyone affected…” (IANS)