A Devoted Mom, a Loving Husband, a Kind Neighbor: Remembering 12 Killed in Virginia Beach Massacre
Twelve people were killed in a mass shooting at Virginia Beach's Municipal Center on Friday
On Friday afternoon, Virginia Beach, Virginia, became the site of the latest tragedy in America’s epidemic of mass shootings when Dwayne Craddock, a longtime city worker, killed 12 people and injured six at a municipal building just hours after resigning.
According to CNN and other outlets, Craddock — who was killed in a shoot-out with responding police — had been working as a public works engineer at the building, which housed multiple city departments. All but one victim worked for the city.
Dave Hansen, the Virginia Beach city manager, described the shooting at a Saturday press conference as a “senseless, incomprehensible act of violence.”
“I have worked with most of [the victims] for many years,” Hansen said. “They leave a void that we will never be able to fill.”
A complete list of the massacre victims is below.
1. Michelle ‘Missy’ Langer
Colleague Brent Werlein wrote on Facebook that Langer worked in an administrative capacity and described her as “a fun loving person” who “was always someone I could approach and … talk with. She was like an aunt to me.”
Neighbor Susan Cissa described the 60-year-old as “a really nice person” who recently had gotten a puppy.
“This is horrible. It’s just horrible,” Cissa said. “I just can’t say enough about how nice she was. She was a real good person.”
2. Herbert ‘Bert’ Snelling
Snelling’s next-door neighbor Alton Hill described him to PEOPLE as “a really nice neighbor,” adding, “He was a real warm, generous person.”
Snelling, who owned a construction business and was at the Municipal Center on Friday on a contract, loved nature and would regularly “take care of people,” Hill said.
“Whenever we had storms he would always be right there to help you,” Hill told PEOPLE. “If there was a storm, and you lost a shingle off your roof, he would notice it and then go up and fix it. He would give you the shirt off his back.”
3. Tara Gallagher
Gallagher’s neighbor, Barbara Airing, 76, has lived next door to the young woman and her husband for about a year. Airing told PEOPLE the couple had been fixing up their ranch home in recent months, and they had a young son named Patrick who Airing would often see outside playing with his parents.
Reports indicate that she was a 1997 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and was a native of Portsmouth, VA. Gallagher had been working for the Virginia Beach public works department for six years, according to the Virginian-Pilot, and had a master’s degree in engineering from ODU.
The Washington Post reports that Gallagher was the mother of a 22-month-old son.
“Most of our time was spent fixing the house and raising our son. It was all she lived for,” husband Patrick Gallagher told the paper while holding back tears. “She was everything to me.”
4. Richard Nettleton
Nettleton, 65, an engineer with the department of Public Utilities, lived in nearby Norfolk. He was passionate about his work, the Boston Red Sox, and particularly his wife, Sarah, according to longtime friend and business associate Bob Sciacchitano. “He was totally devoted and loved her,” Sciacchitano, 67, tells PEOPLE.
Known as smart and level-headed, Nettleton helped to oversee the design and proper functioning of Virginia Beach’s sewer and waterworks, and was with the job for 28 years.
“It’s easy to describe Rich Nettleton: Rich was a great human being, just a great guy,” Dwight Farmer, 68, who worked with Nettleton for many years on a regional planning commission, told PEOPLE. “He had a very steady demeanor. You just couldn’t help but like this gentleman.”
5. Joshua O. Hardy
Hardy’s sister Cassandra “DD” Hardy described him as a “good guy” who was dedicated to his religion and always willing to help those in need.
“He was a strong believer in God and that’s how he lived his life. It’s so unfair this happened to him. So unfair,” she said, while Hardy’s niece, Tasha Milteer, added he read the Bible every day.
Colleague Brent Werlein wrote on Facebook that Hardy was an engineering technician “who was always fun to be around,” and who enjoyed office pranks.
Milteer added: “We’re going to miss the laughter. He was a bright spot in our family. Whenever we wanted to laugh, he was always there for you. … If I was ever down I could call him and he would always bring me right back up.”
6. Christopher Rapp
Rapp’s friend described him as “a quiet version of Fred Rogers.”
“He always had a smile on his face,” the friend, Christopher Pearcy, tells PEOPLE. “Very positive and happy to be around. Never complained or took anything personally. Real positive vibe.”
Pearcy says he played the bagpipes in the same band as Rapp and that Rapp “Loved the camaraderie” of the experience.
He graduated in 1994 from Old Dominion University and was the son of a retired administrator at the university.
7. Alexander Mikhail Gusev
Gusev came to the United States from Belarus in 2003 as a student in search of a better life, his friend Igor Musin told The Virginian-Pilot. After earning a degree in civil engineering from Old Dominion University, he worked as a right of way agent for the city for the last nine years.
Gusev’s twin brother, Aliaksei Huseu, and mother, also live in Virginia Beach. Friends describe him as generous and kind. As Alex Lambrino, who has known Gusev for 10 years and played soccer with him every Sunday morning “for as long as I can remember” wrote on Facebook: “He was a great human being full of life and joy and laughter.”
8. Robert Williams
After more than 40 years working for the City of Virginia Beach, Williams, who went by “Bobby,” finally planned to retire this year to spend time with family, colleague Brent Werlein wrote on Facebook.
A special projects coordinator who looked for ways to improve the city’s sewer system, Williams “had a lot of institutional knowledge,” wrote Werlein. Over the years, Williams won multiple service awards. Colleague Kenneth Osborne told the Virginian-Pilot: “He was just a good guy.”
9. Katherine ‘Kate’ Nixon
Nixon and her realtor husband, Jason, had three girls, the youngest just 15 months old, her grandmother, Claudia Blodget, told PEOPLE. “She was a wonderful soul, a smart, beautiful, sweet, loving woman,” Blodget, 67, said, noting that most people called her Kate.
Nixon has seven siblings — three sisters and four brothers — and grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., near where Blodget still lives today.
“She loved the ocean and the seaside and she just loved her family; she was a very devoted mother,” Blodget said. Blodget learned of Nixon’s death on Friday night around 10 pm, saying her death was “horrible.”
At work, where Nixon oversaw the department’s regulatory compliance, colleagues respected her. “She was a supervisor everyone would want,” wrote Brent Werlein on Facebook. “She was smart caring person who I could talk to at any time.”
10. Ryan Keith Cox
Cox, 50, a public utilities account clerk who worked for the city for 12 years, died a hero: Close friend and longtime coworker Christie Dewar, 60, of Chesapeake, told NPR that Cox told her and seven colleagues to barricade themselves in an office while he went to check on other coworkers. As Dewar and the others hunkered down behind a barricaded door, Cox — still outside the room — was killed by the gunman.
“I called him my big teddy bear,” Dewar told NPR. “Every time I was upset, he would give me a hug. He knew exactly what to say to make you smile. He’s the type of person who you know would lay down his life for someone, just like he did.”
Brandon Grimes wrote that Cox “was the big brother to a lot of us growing up in the 90’s,” while brother Ervin Cox wrote on Facebook: “My heart is hurting because my baby brother was murdered today by the shooter in Virginia Beach mass shooting. I won’t hear his beautiful singing voice at church or home anymore. I loved my brother and will truly miss his caring soul. Until we meet again in heaven.”
11. LaQuita Brown
Brown’s father, Dwight Brown, turned 61 on Friday — the same day his daughter was killed in the mass shooting. “I had just got out of the hospital on Thursday with congestive heart failure,” Dwight told PEOPLE.
As Dwight was watching the news, he got a call from his son telling him LaQuita had been killed. LaQuita, 39, a right-of-way agent with Virginia Beach Public Works, had been with the department for 4½ years.
Dwight says LaQuita was “very religious” and spent much of her free time providing humanitarian relief and preaching across the globe.
“She was just everything. She was everything to me. I know nobody’s perfect — but from the time she was born, she had no faults,” he says.
Dwight also said he admired how his daughter went out of her way to help people: “She was my daughter, but she had my heart. And she always saw the best in people – even when everybody else would see the worst.”
12. Mary Louise Gayle
Gayle, 65, had worked for the Virginia Beach public works department for 24 years, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Her neighbor, Annette Roth, told the newspaper that Gayle took a lot of pride in her “gorgeous” home and was often seen walking around her neighborhood with her dog. She has two adult children Matthew Gayle and Sarah Gayle Leonard, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Roth also said Gayle had her two young grandkids over to visit, too, telling the newspaper, “She was super friendly. She was always out doing yard work, and I do yard work, too.”