Christopher J. Ruffier, 26, has been identified as the gunman who shot a female sailor at Naval Air Station Oceana, the military base in Virginia Beach, Virginia, during the morning of April 5, 2019.
Ruffier, a sailor who served as an Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice, was shot and killed by base security, as confirmed to Heavy by MCC Shannon Warner of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs department. Officials described the shooting as an “isolated domestic shooting.”
The woman, who was shot multiple times, was expected to survive. Her injuries were described as non-life threatening in a news release. She was taken to Virginia Beach General Hospital. A Navy spokesperson said her name would not be made public.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Officials: Security Personnel Responded & Killed Ruffier Within Five Minutes
Naval Air Station Oceana Commanding Officer Captain Chad Vincelette explained in a news conference that the shooting occurred at 6:45 a.m. in the parking lot of Strike Fighter Squadron 37, which is outside of Hangar 145 on the base.
Captain Vincelette said that security officials located the gunman, shooting and killing him. The gunman, now identified as Christopher Ruffier, was down by 6:50 a.m., about five minutes after the initial report of a shooting was announced.
The base was temporarily put on lockdown during the immediate aftermath. The base sent out a tweet warning people, “This is not a drill” and that there had been a “security incident.” The lockdown was lifted at 7:40 a.m.
The city of Virginia Beach police and fire departments, and Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services also responded to the scene. Captain Vincelette thanked those departments for their quick responses.
2. Christopher J. Ruffier Was an Ohio Native & Enlisted in the Navy in 2018
Christopher Joseph Ruffier was originally from Ohio. According to a news release, he enlisted in the Navy on February 15, 2018.
Ruffier’s current title was listed as Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice. He did not have any awards or distinctions to his name at the time of the shooting.
Ruffier was assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron in Oceana in July of 2018 after completing training in Pensacola, Florida and Great Lakes, Illinois.
A search of online records shows Ruffier was born on September 29, 1992. He appears to have relatives living in Canton, Ohio and in North Carolina. A Facebook page under his name has been deactivated.
3. Officials: Ruffier Had a Single Handgun & Was Not Carrying Additional Ammunition
Captain Vincelette explained that the gunman, identified as Christopher Joseph Ruffier, was armed with a single handgun. He did not release any additional details about the specific weapon that was used.
But it was the only weapon the gunman had on him. Captain Vincelette said Ruffier was not carrying any additional ammunition, either.
The Naval Air Station Oceana does not allow weapons on the base. Captain Vincelette said that inspections are carried out regularly, and there will be an investigation into how the gunman was able to carry a weapon onto the base. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is leading the probe.
4. The Shooting Was Domestic-Related & Officials Have Not Yet Speculated About a Potential Motive
Officials with Naval Air Station Oceana stated that the shooting was an “isolated domestic” situation. In a news conference, Captain Vincelette did not comment on a potential motive.
He also did not share the relationship between the gunman and the victim.
The female victim, a sailor at the base, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. She was rushed to Virginia Beach General Hospital. Her injuries were described as non-life threatening and she was expected to be ok.
5. Captain Vincelette: Both the Gunman & the Victim Were Assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 37
Both the gunman and the victim were identified as members of Strike Fighter Squadron 37, though their names were not immediately released. The shooting happened in the squadron’s parking lot.
The squadron goes by the nickname the “Bulls.” A Facebook page dedicated to the squadron posted about the shooting, at first warning people to avoid the area. A second post stated, “Continued prayers for the victim. I’m sure we will hear more about the circumstances in the near future.” The administrator shared a link to a news article by the Virginian-Pilot.
Naval Air Station Oceana is the Navy’s East Coast Master Jet Base. It is the second largest employer in Virginia Beach, according to its website.
The base is home to 10,500 Navy personnel. Approximately 4,500 civilians work there. About 10,000 family members of active Navy sailors and officers live at the base as well.
According to its official website, “Oceana is home to eighteen Hornet and Super Hornet squadrons. Sixteen squadrons deploy on carriers into combat and two are permanently based at Oceana, including the adversary squadron.”