The suspect shot people on three floors of the building with a handgun which he reloaded multiple times
12 people are dead and multiple people injured after a man opened fire on a Municipal Complex Friday afternoon in what has been described as “Virginia Beach’s darkest hour.”
Shortly after 4:00 p.m. local time, a man, who was a Virginia Beach city employee, entered the building which houses public works, public utility and a printing operation and opened fire, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said in a press conference Friday evening.
The gunman, whom police have not identified, walked through the building shooting people on different floors with a handgun which he reloaded multiple times, Cevera said. He killed 10 people inside the building, one person who was in their car in the parking lot and another victim died at the hospital.
Officers rushed to the scene and were fired upon.
“They immediately engaged with the suspect, and I can tell you that it was a long gun battle between those four officers and that suspect,” Cervera said.
A policeman is among the injured he was shot but saved by his vest, the police chief said.
The suspect died in the shoot out.
Cervera said there remains a lot of “whys” in “this deverstating incident” which are being investgated.
Virginia Mayor Bobby Dyer, struggled to hold back tears, as he addressed the press conference when talking about the shooting which he described as “Virginia Beach’s darkest hour.”
“Let’s start with what is most important, this is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” the mayor said.
“The people involved are our friends, coworkers, neighbors, colleagues.”
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When news of the mass shooting broke, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam stated that his team was “actively monitoring” the situation.
An hour later Northam expressed devastation over the lives lost.
“This is a tragic day for Virginia Beach and our entire Commonwealth. My heart breaks for the victims of this devastating shooting, their families, and all who loved them. I am on my way to Virginia Beach now and will be there within the hour.”
Building employee Sheila Cook, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, told reporters she heard muffled shooting and that police responded quickly. She said employees in her office were told to stay at their desks during the incident. “I’m feeling shaken and relieved at the same time,” she said.
Megan Banton, an administrative assistant who works in the building also spoke out about the shooting, saying heard gunshots, promptly called 911 and barricaded a door, according to the Associated Press.
“We tried to do everything we could to keep everybody safe,” Megan 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 explained she also texted her mom about an active shooter being her building and informed her she and several others were waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
“Thank God my baby is OK,” Megan’s mother Dana Showers said, according to the Associated Press.
Those who survived the shooting were reunited with family and loved ones at a Princess Anne Middle School.