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Virginia Beach Officials Confirm Gunman Sent In Resignation On Day Of Shooting


Residents of Virginia Beach are trying to make sense of the mass shooting that took the lives of 12 victims just as the coastal city was heading into the weekend. Police are providing a few more details about how events unfolded late Friday afternoon. NPR's Sarah McCammon reports from Virginia Beach.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Officials say they're trying to figure out what might have led the 40-year-old suspect to kill 12 people, 11 of whom were his co-workers, at the city of Virginia Beach. They say the shooter wasn't forced out, but they've been tight-lipped about other details. Now city officials are confirming that he had just put in his resignation that day.


DAVE HANSEN: He notified his chain of command that morning.

MCCAMMON: Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen says investigators have been reviewing the shooter's employment records.


HANSEN: To my knowledge, the perpetrator's performance was satisfactory, that he was in good standing within his department and that there were no issues of discipline ongoing.

MCCAMMON: The suspect had worked as a public utilities engineer for the city of Virginia Beach for about 15 years. Officials say at least one of his victims was a supervisor. Police Chief Jim Cervera says it's unclear why the man began shooting a little after 4 p.m. Friday.


JIM CERVERA: At this point in the investigation, we do not have that - any of the information that he was targeting anyone specifically.

MCCAMMON: One of the shooter's co-workers, Christi Dewar, hid behind a barricaded door along with several other colleagues. Dewar told NPR that she'd heard the suspect had put in his two weeks' notice. But she says there was no other indication anything was wrong.


CHRISTI DEWAR: He was very well-dressed. He was soft-spoken. He - if - I told my son, if he had the gun behind his back, and he walked up to me, I would've gone up and talked to him. I would have not had no way of knowing.

MCCAMMON: Police say the shooter was still alive when he was taken into custody at the scene after a long gun battle with law enforcement. They say they rendered first aid, but the suspect did not. The family of the suspected shooter released a statement offering, quote, "heartfelt condolences." It said, at this time, we wish to focus on the victims and the lives lost. It went on to say, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and those who lost their lives and those recovering at the hospital.


MCCAMMON: This weekend, residents of Virginia Beach have been mourning with vigils, church services and other memorials. At Forefront Church, in walking distance from the municipal complex, pastor Jason Bedell says church members include city employees and first responders who are working through grief, trauma and a lot of big questions.

JASON BEDELL: For many of the people that are processing this, it's the question of why - like, why doesn't God intervene? And why - you know, if he has the power to do the things he does, how does - why doesn't he stop those things? Why do evil people have the means and the motive to do such harmful things?

MCCAMMON: With many questions left unanswered, funerals for the 12 victims are still being planned, and a citywide memorial service is scheduled for Thursday evening. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Virginia Beach. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.