A dozen people were killed and at least four more were injured at Virginia Beach’s public works building Friday afternoon by a longtime employee armed with a handgun equipped with a sound suppressor, The Virginian-Pilot and other news outlets reported.
Police have not named the gunman, who carried several extended magazines, the Virginia Beach police chief said, and was killed in a shoot-out with officers. A city officer was shot but was protected by his ballistic vest.
Police Chief James Cervera said victims were found on three floors of the large building, which can house as many as 400 city employees.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said at Friday news conference.
The Washington Post reported that it is the deadliest mass shooting since November, when a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing 12 before fatally shooting himself.
“This is unspeakable, senseless violence. I commend local and state law enforcement, first responders, medical teams, and all others who acted swiftly to respond to this situation,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”
House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said “words are inadequate at a time like this,” adding that he would “join millions of Virginians in deep and sincere prayer for the victims, their families, the city of Virginia Beach, and our entire commonwealth.
“With God’s grace, and the love of our neighbors, our community will be whole again.”
Attorney General Mark Herring said he was “beyond heartbroken” that Virginia Beach had joined the list of communities struck by mass killings.
“In recent years there have been mass shootings at American elementary schools, colleges, government buildings, offices, concerts, movie theaters, nightclubs … even churches, mosques and synagogues,” Herring said in a statement.
“We have to do more to stop this kind of violence. Life doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way.”