Remembering the 12 lost to violence, then saying the killer’s name only once

Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera updates media during a press conference on Friday, May 31. [Vicki Cronis-Nohe/For The Independent News]

COURTHOUSE – Virginia Beach officials on Saturday, June 1, identified the 12 people murdered by a city worker who shot his colleagues and a contractor who meant to deal with a permit this past week at one of the office buildings at the sprawling municipal center campus.

They also named the killer — a 15 year employee who was an engineer in the public utilities department — but that name, by design, was uttered last.

As he had vowed earlier, Police Chief Jim Cervera announced the gunman’s name only once to keep the focus upon those lost in what is the worst mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.

Among the dead was a man who had worked for Virginia Beach four decades. Another had been there a matter of months. Yet another one served in uniform with City Manager Dave Hansen, a retired Army officer.

The Friday, May 31, slaughter at Building 2, which housed offices for departments such as planning, public works and public utilities, also left at least four others wounded, and three of the wounded were listed in critical condition late Saturday.

Before the police chief identified the killer, Hansen named the people who died during a press conference at the courthouse. Images of the dead showed on a screen.

“Sixteen hours ago, the lives of 12 people were cut short by a senseless, incomprehensible act of violence,” Hansen said, speaking Saturday afternoon. “Overnight, our chaplains, our human services and our family assistance staff and teams completed the most difficult task anyone will ever have to do – and that is notifying the next of kin. So, today, we all grieve. …

“All but one of the 12 victims were employees of the city of Virginia Beach,” he added. “I have worked with most of them for many years. We want you to know who they were so in the days and weeks to come you will learn what they meant to all of us, to their families, to their friends and to their coworkers. They leave a void that we will never be able to fill.”

As others have noticed, the manager spoke in present tense while he announced the names of the victims who died. 

Those people are:

  • Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake, who worked in the public works department as a right-of-way agent.
  • Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach, who worked as an engineer in public works.
  • Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach, who worked as a right-of-way agent in public works.
  • Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach, who worked as a right-of-way agent in public works.
  • Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach, who served as an engineer in the public utilities department.
  • Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk, who worked as an engineer in public utilities.
  • Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhattan, who worked as an engineer in public works.
  • Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach, who served as an account clerk in public utilities.
  • Joshua O. Hardy of Virginia Beach, who worked as an engineering technician in public utilities.
  • Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach, who worked as an administrative assistant in public utilities.
  • Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake, a special projects coordinator for public utilities.
  • Herbert “Bert” Snelling, a contractor from Virginia Beach who came to the municipal center to fill a permit.

[Courtesy/City of Virginia Beach]
After naming the 12 victims, Hansen asked Cervera to come forward and speak about the killer.

“That 13th person” was how the manager put it.

“The suspect – this will be the only time we will announce his name – is DeWayne Craddock,” the police chief said a moment later. “He was an engineer with public utilities, employed with that department for approximately 15 years.”

On Sunday, June 2, city officials noted that reports that Craddock was a former employee were erroneous. The gunman had access to some secure areas of the building because he had a pass.

Cervera said investigators were looking into any personal or professional motives, but they had not yet seen anything glaring and the investigation remains underway.

“There’s nothing that hits you right between the eyes,” he said.

However, Hansen acknowledged the suspected killer had put in his two-week notice before the shooting.

This came in response to a question from a reporter.

“Yes,” the manager replied.

 “He notified his chain of command that morning,” Hansen said a moment later.

Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen, seen with Mayor Bobby Dyer, briefs members of the news media on Sunday, June 2. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

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