Before he became the nation’s latest mass shooter, DeWayne Craddock was a public utilities engineer whose name frequently appeared on city notices. He was entrusted with the task of giving community leaders tours of a pumping station, and he was a former member of the Virginia National Guard, serving as a cannon crew member.
That all changed on May 31, 2019 in building 2 of the Virginia Beach municipal center. In the midst of horror, though, comes sacrifice. Survivors say one of the victims, Ryan Keith Cox, gave his life protecting seven co-workers. You can read about his heroism here.
Little that’s emerged publicly since Craddock, 40, was named as the gunman who opened fire “indiscriminately” at the Virginia Beach complex, predicts mass murder, although he was described as reclusive by some, he’d just given his two-weeks’ notice to resign, and his marriage had unraveled a few years back. The email Craddock sent to resign was innocuous; this is what he wrote: “I want to officially put in my (2) weeks’ notice to vacant (sic) my position of Engineer III with the City of Virginia Beach. It has been a pleasure to serve the City, but due to personal reasons I must relieve my position.”
He’s defined by what he didn’t have: No apparent criminal history, no obvious Facebook or other social media accounts, no manifesto or publicly stated ideology. He used an employee pass to enter secure areas. Yet, authorities say, Craddock, armed with two .45 caliber pistols and a silencer, entered building 2 of the Virginia Beach municipal center and unleashed mayhem without any clear motive. Before the shooting, co-workers thought he was quiet, polite and a “nice guy” with no warning signs, according to the Associated Press. The creepiest detail to emerge about the suspect: Photos showing he’d erected cameras in the window of his condo.
The first sign to emerge that all was not well in Craddock’s work world: The resignation notice, which he delivered by email. On June 2, the city manager confirmed that he’d given that notice but didn’t reveal a motive. “We’re looking as deep as we can into motives from work, personal motives, professional motives that could have happened… right now we don’t have anything glaring. There’s nothing that hits you right between the eyes,” said the police chief. Officials insist that there were no obvious problems with Craddock’s job performance and, contrary to previous published reports in multiple news outlets, he was not in the process of being fired.
Neighbors described him as reclusive, though: “No pet, no wife, no visitors, no nothing,” one neighbor told USA Today. “I’ve never even seen that man take groceries up to his apartment.”
However, Heavy has learned that Craddock had a wife – at least at one time. Ancestry records linked to the state of Virginia Department of Health Division of Vital Records show that he was married on Valentine’s Day 2008 to a woman in Virginia Beach. There is a GoFundMe page that says a woman with that very uncommon name had breast cancer recently with worry, expenses and stress starting to “pile up”; Heavy is not printing her name to preserve her privacy. The police chief said DeWayne Craddock lived alone.
Neighbors, though, told The Washington Post they used to see a woman they called Craddock’s ex-wife walking dogs; the Post reported that Craddock and his wife were divorced in 2017. It was, perhaps, the start of instability leading on a path to mass murder, as neighbors told the Post that Craddock’s wife was a “social butterfly” described as the sullen, isolated Craddock’s “polar opposite.”
Chillingly, one man, Joseph Scott, an engineering technician, told AP he “bumped into” Craddock in the men’s restroom minutes before the carnage. “He was not evil. He was just another guy who had problems,” said Scott, who avoided the bloodshed. CNN reported that Craddock had taken a moment to brush his teeth, quoting Scott as saying, “I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said he was doing OK. I asked, ‘Any plans for the weekend?’ And he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, have a good day.’ And he said the same to me.”
Others might beg to differ on the point about character. When it was over, after Craddock fired randomly across three floors, shot “double-digit rounds” through a door and wall, and wounded a police officer, 12 people lay dead, and others were wounded. “As he came upon someone, that’s when he took action,” said the police chief, describing Craddock’s shooting as indiscriminate. Craddock’s victims were almost entirely city employees who, like him, worked in the public works department, but they also included one man who was just there to get a permit. (See photos and read about each of the victims here.)
Virginia Beach police have now named Craddock as the shooter; Heavy also confirmed the name through police scanner audio, which you can listen to later in this article (be forewarned that it is very disturbing). Officers named DeWayne Craddock as the shooter to dispatchers early on in their response. Craddock, who worked for the city of Virginia Beach, was a 1996 graduate of Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia, according to an old Daily Press newspaper article. You can more about his biographical background, including family, throughout this article.
He also went by the names DeWayne Antonio Craddock and, in high school, DeWayne Hamilton. The National Guard confirmed to Heavy that Craddock served in the Virginia National Guard, Norfolk Battalion, as a cannon crew member, until he was discharged in 2002 as a specialist. That information was released by MSG W. Michael Houk, Spokesman, National Guard Bureau, via A. A. “Cotton” Puryear, State Public Affairs Officer, Virginia National Guard. Heavy asked whether the discharge was honorable or otherwise, and received this response from Houk, “The character of his discharge is not releasable information.”
The scene inside Building 2 was a frightening one; police scanner traffic chronicled how officers rushed to rescue victims, including at least one shot in the face, found survivors hiding throughout the complex, and worked to neutralize the suspect, who was still firing through a door. Authorities praised the heroism of a wounded officer and other first responders. Photos of Craddock have been hard to come by. This picture of Craddock was from an old job announcement:
Here’s another photo that emerged from his yearbook.
“It’s a horrific day for Virginia,” said Gov. Ralph Northam at one of the press conferences authorities held in the wake of the mass shooting. “It’s just a horrific day. Our thoughts are with these victims and their families.” The gunman used a .45 caliber handgun (two it later turned out) with a silencer and multiple extended magazines, the police chief said. The shooter and officers engaged in a lengthy “gun battle.” The following day, loved ones, left to pick up the pieces of the worlds that Craddock shattered, left tributes to the victims, capturing the vibrancy of lives lost.
For example, Michele Day, a friend, wrote about victim and hero Ryan Keith Cox, on Facebook: “So torn to know that this happened in my ‘other’ city. Even more torn to know that my Virginia Beach pastor’s son is among the dead. I knew Ryan ‘Keith’ Cox for over 30 years. He was a great guy, he was pleasant, and always showed me love. We were in the choir together and he could sing! My heart is aching for my VB pastor and his beautiful wife. God please be with the Cox’s and the other families during this tragic time.” His brother, Ervin Cox, praised his beautiful singing voice and “caring soul.”
Brent Werlein, who left work early that day because his son’s daycare was closed, lost multiple co-workers. “Friday started off like any other friday,” he wrote in a heartbreaking post on Facebook. “I brought in doughnuts for the day and we had a directors briefing about software I and a couple coworkers gave. In that meeting where (sic) a few of the victims. The meeting went really well and everyone was excited and motivated and looking forward to the progress we where going to be making.” He described one victim as “like an aunt,” and another like a sister, another a “good man” who always smiled, and expressed admiration for the institutional knowledge of others.
In a press conference, the governor stressed that more might have lost their lives without the quick response of law enforcement officers and medics. “Their actions likely saved lives,” he said. They have seen injuries and scenes “no one should have to face,” he said. The mayor called it Virginia Beach’s “darkest hour.” The scene was active for so long that local journalists reported hearing gunshots when they arrived. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the Borderline Bar & Grill in California in 2018.
Craddock, of Virginia Beach, was 40-years-old, according to online records, and is now dead. He was shot by police.
Here are the deceased victims’ names. They are of multiple ages, ethnic backgrounds, and genders. Their time of service ranged from a couple months to 41 years. (You can read our previous article rounding up the heroism of victims and survivors in past mass shootings here.)
“I have worked with most of them for many years,” said Dave Hansen, Virginia Beach City Manager. “We want you to know who they were so in the weeks to come you will learn what they meant to all of us, to their friends, to their families, and to their co-workers. They leave a void that we will never be able to fill.”
Laquita C. Brown worked in public works for 4.5 years, as a right of way agent. She was from Chesapeake. Tara Welch Gallagher worked in public works for 6 years, and was an engineer from Virginia Beach. Mary Louise Gayle had 24 years in public works as a right-of-way agent and was from Virginia Beach.
Alexander Mikhail Gusev spent 9 years in public works as a right of way agent and was from Virginia Beach. Katherine A. Nixon, spent 10 years in public utilities as an engineer and was from Virginia Beach. Richard H. Nettleton spent 28 years in public utilities as an engineer and was from Norfolk. He also served in an engineer brigade in Germany.
Christopher Kelly Rapp had 11 months in the job as an engineer in public works and was from Powhatan. Ryan Keith Cox spent 12.5 years in public utilities as an account clerk and was from Virginia Beach. Joshua O. Hardy worked in public utilities for 4.5 years as an engineering technician and was from Virginia Beach.
Michelle “Missy” Langer worked in public utilities for 12 years as an administrative assistant and was from Virginia Beach. Robert Bobby Williams worked in public utilities for 41 years as a special projects coordinator and was from Chesapeake. Herbert Bert Snelling was a contractor from Virginia Beach. He was there to try to fill a permit.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” said Mayor Bobby Dyer. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors, colleagues.”
In addition to the 12 people who died, four other people are in surgery for their wounds. Three people were in critical condition with one in fair condition, officials said June 1. The wounded police officer is expected to survive and was saved by his vest, said Police Chief James A. Cervera. He was treated and released. Cervera called the mass tragedy a “devastating incident…that is going to change the lives of a number of families from our city.” One victim was found in a vehicle, and victims were discovered on all three floors, the chief said.
“I never thought this would happen in my building. The people who were shot — I’m sure I know most of them,” reporter Gordon Rago quoted civil engineer Arthur Felton as saying. Felton told Rago that a coworker saw “a woman at the bottom of the stairwell leading up to the second floor who appeared to have been shot. The woman had blood all around her. By the time they got outside, they heard sirens.”
Initially, the chief said there were 11 deceased victims, but he later said another person had died. Information technology, planning, a printing operation, and utilities are housed in building 2, and it has the potential of having 400 workers there at any given time, said the chief. Four wounded victims remained in critical condition on June 2.
One chilling witness account described how shots were being fired in a public utilities area, when a supervisor rushed in. The supervisor told workers, “This isn’t a drill,” so they ran and hid in a room, hearing muffled shots echoing outside, NBC 12 reported. The suspect was described as someone “known to people inside that building,” according to the television station. One witness saw a police officer covered in blood at the scene. “Officer hit, officer hit!” an officer said on the scanner as dispatch reports memorialized the urgency and terror.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. DeWayne Craddock’s Job Performance Was Considered ‘Satisfactory’ & It’s Not Clear Why He Was Resigning
The shooter was a “disgruntled employee” bent on revenge, news reports from NBC12 and the Wall Street Journal said, but the specific motive was not detailed by police, and officials repeated on June 2 that they don’t have evidence of disgruntlement beyond the resignation email. The chief wouldn’t release the nature of any evidence found in the gunman’s home.
City Manager Dave Hansen said officials are conducting a “thorough review of the (employment) status of the perpetrator. His performance was satisfactory. He was in good standing in his department; there were no issues of discipline ongoing.” Asked if there had been concerns or complaints, he said, “We are not sensing that… and I have no evidence that is the case.” But he said they were still looking into it, and the chief said investigators are piecing together all of Craddock’s movements that day. Officials described it as a “normal work day.”
Asked if Craddock, 40, had put in two-weeks notice, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen responded, “Yes.” Asked if Craddock was resigning, Hansen also responded, “Yes.”
A journalist asked Hansen if Craddock’s direct supervisor was one of the people who died in the rampage, but he responded, “He was not his immediate supervisor, but he was in the chain of command.” He did not release that victim’s name. A reporter asked Hansen if Craddock gave a reason for resigning or wrote a letter, and Hansen replied,
“We are determining where that letter is. He notified his chain of command that morning. My understanding is he did that via email.” NPR reported that two victims – Nettleton and another man who survived – were supervisors of Craddock’s but not his direct supervisors.
He was not forced to resign? “Negative.” Was it over a situation he was applying for and did not get? “Not to my knowledge,” said the city manager.
“One of the pieces of the investigation will include the motive of this horrific act,” said Police Chief James Cervera. As for the killer’s employment status, Cervera said: “We will look at that to see if it had anything to do with the horrific act that was perpetrated.”
However, he stressed: “He (Craddock) was not terminated and he was not in the process of being terminated, so hopefully we will put that piece to rest.”
According to CNN, Craddock’s title was “certified professional engineer for the city of Virginia Beach in the Public Utilities Department.” The police chief painted a disturbing scene of Craddock entering the municipal center and randomly shooting people. The law enforcement response was quick, but, initially, that didn’t deter Craddock.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on May 31, 2019, the suspect entered and began to “indiscriminately fire on all the victims,” the chief said. He was a “current employee,” and the shooting occurred over multiple floors, said the chief. There don’t appear to be many warning signs. However, that morning, USA Today reports, a neighbor saw him “sitting motionless in his white Subaru.”
The chief said that officers, fire officials, and EMS were dispatched at 4:08 p.m. to reports of shots being fired in building 2. The first officers arrived in two minutes. He described the building as “four floors, basement and three stories, numerous exits and entrances. Citizens can’t enter certain areas, numerous stairwells. We had no idea where the suspect was, no idea of the extent of what the shots being fired call really included.”
The chief explained that the building was originally constructed in the early 1970s when the city had a much smaller workforce. “Since that time, construction has gone on for decades. It’s a honeycomb, it’s a maze, where the workers are.”
The hunt for a motive remains elusive so far.
The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported early on that DeWayne Craddock had been terminated, perhaps recently. The newspaper reported that Craddock returned to municipal building 2 to “exact revenge.” However, officials repeated that Craddock was a current employee, saying that reporting was false. On June 1, the police chief also asserted that Craddock had not been fired, and he said a reporter’s “federal law enforcement source” was wrong.
Craddock was “still employed by the city of Virginia Beach,” and he had a security pass “like all employees had,” Hansen also insisted at a news conference Saturday morning. However, survivor Christi Dewar told NPR that Craddock “had put in his two-week notice shortly before the shooting spree,” something officials have now confirmed.
She didn’t see any red flags before the shooting, though. “He was very well-dressed. He was soft-spoken,” she said to NPR of Craddock. “If he had a gun behind his back, and he walked up to me, I would’ve gone up to talk to him. I would have no way of knowing.”
For 5 to 8 minutes after the officers began to enter the building, they made contact and engaged with the suspect on the second floor of the building, said Cervera. Other officers had responded by this time and were searching the building. Some of those who responded were detectives and some were K-9 officers.
Officers found the suspect on the second floor and “immediately engaged on a gun battle,” said the police chief. “I can’t tell you how many minutes shots have been fired. In the police world, anything more than 3 to 5 shots was a long gun battle. That’s what was happening.”
DeWayne Craddock’s employment status is confirmed by numerous city notices listing him as a public works contact person.
Some people on Twitter were sharing information about the shooter’s political affiliation; however, the credible source on that (Virginia state government registration records) requires a partial social security number, so it could not be confirmed. There is no evidence of political motive.
Scott, the co-worker who ran into Craddock in the bathroom, told CNN, “I’m sure I’m going to hear all kinds of things about DeWayne, but I liked him. I worked with him. He was what I thought was a good person. When we were together, we would talk about family, friends, things that we were going to do, trips we were going to take and things like that.” He was part of a neighborhood association but kept to himself, the New York Post reported.
In July 2018, the City of Virginia Beach published an article that suggested people contact “DeWayne Craddock with Virginia Beach Public Utilities.” The article was about utility work affecting local traffic. There are many such city notices with his name listed. In 2014, he was listed as the contact person for the city’s “Public Utilities Design Standards Manual Update.”
“ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION-municipal center, building 2. Multiple injuries. At this time it is believed that only 1 shooter, and they have been taken into custody. More to follow,” Virginia Beach police reported on Twitter in their first report.
Here’s the archived scanner audio. Be aware that it’s deeply troubling as it captures officers’ first, and urgent, reports from the scene. “Where is the shooter isolated at?” an officer asked at one point on the scanner, as officers rushed in to neutralize the situation. They discussed “bringing casualties out a side door.”
Gordon Rago, the Virginian Pilot reporter, wrote on Twitter, “Frantic scene here. A woman I just talked to was waiting outside building 1 in her car where city manager, city clerk and city attorneys offices are. Her daughter was inside paying a parking ticket when the shooting happened.”
He continued, “She didn’t hear gunshots. Building 2 is further up the road. The woman… was parked along the main road when she saw SWAT teams running up the street. One yelled at her to get out of her car. Before that, she saw a man in a green shirt and khakis with blood on his shirt, pants and face. He had a badge on, and a cop was walking with him. Unsure of extent of his injuries.”
2. Craddock, Who Appears to Have Purchased Firearms Legally, Once Gave Chamber of Commerce Workers a Building Tour
A search of online court records for Virginia Beach did not turn up any criminal cases for Craddock. National news sites reported that Craddock appears to have no criminal history beyond minor traffic. No obvious social media sites were apparent for him.
According to the Associated Press, via sources, Craddock “legally bought multiple firearms recently and the guns recovered at the scene were purchased legally.” AP says a gun trace federally did not reveal any other crimes connected to the guns.
The ATF said in a June 1 press conference that there were two weapons used in the shooting. Both weapons are .45 caliber pistols. One was purchased in 2016 and one in 2018. Both were purchased by the shooter and all indications are they were purchased legally, according to ATF. Two other firearms were recovered at Craddock’s residence. One of those was identified and was also purchased legally, ATF said.
ATF officials say that, contrary to the earlier report, they are still testing ballistics to see if they correspond with any other shootings.
In the third press conference on the shooting, officials focused on the community’s resilience and the need to help the families. “Continue to lift up Virginia Beach,” the governor implored the public.
The mayor said, “It’s been 23 hours since this horror was imposed on the City of Virginia Beach. We will not be defined by this horror.” The police chief said that the FBI is involved in the investigation. The Virginia Beach police and fire honor guard have been assigned to the families. “We are behind them 100%,” said the chief.
Old newspaper articles indicate that Craddock was sometimes the public face of the city utility department.
According to the Lake Gaston Gazette, in 2015, DeWayne Craddock gave Chamber of Commerce board members a tour of the Virginia Beach Pumping Station.
“Recently, Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce board members took a tour of the facility led by Dwayne Craddock, City of Virginia Beach project manager,” the article said. Other articles, including from the city itself, give his name as DeWayne Craddock, though, not Dwayne Craddock.
Craddock was quoted in the article. “The pumping station is the biggest thing you see,” he said, adding, “It’s a continual mowing operation.” The article says that Chamber President/CEO Christina Wells asked Craddock “if the city ever subleases Lake Gaston water to other areas,” to which he responded, “We would never pull water out and sell it to someone else. The way it works is Norfolk (where the water treatment facility is located) tells us how much to pump and we pump it to them.”
In 2016, DeWayne Craddock was a speaker at a local civic group’s meeting. He was described as “project manager, city Public Utilities Department, speaking on the new 48th Street pump station.”
His name also appeared on a 2014 city public works notice as a point of contact. Online records show him with an address in Virginia Beach.
Cheryl Benn told the Virginian Pilot that her husband, a traffic engineer, barricaded himself in a room until police arrived. It was one of many such stories.
“He was definitely a little freaked out,” Benn said to the newspaper.
3. Craddock Was Once Described as Having Experience as a ‘Project Engineer for Site Design’
A 2008 article in the Newport Daily Press reported that DeWayne A. Craddock had been hired to the site planning and engineering team for a local company.
“Craddock has engineering experience as a project engineer for site design, stormwater management, and public and private utility design,” the announcement stated.
He ran in a local 5K and his name appears in city notices for a neighborhood website.
All of that is a far cry from what police say Craddock did inside Building 2.
“We have citizens bringing a casualty out now,” authorities said on the scanner. They referred to a “barricade situation.” They also referred to “victims who are either ambulatory or alive.” A gunshot victim needed a medic in a stairwell. Authorities indicated on the scanner that they were on the second floor from where the suspect was hiding at one point.
It was a scene of horrors and, when it came to the response, bravery.
4. Craddock Entered the Army National Guard After High School, Reports Say
The National Guard provided Heavy with this information. “Dewayne A. Craddock enlisted in the Virginia National Guard in April 1996. He was assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as a 13B cannon crew member. He was discharged in April 15 2002, and held the rank of specialist at the time of his discharge.”
An old Newport newspaper article, from 1996, says this of Craddock, referring to him as DeWayne Hamilton: “Army National Guard Pvt. DeWayne Hamilton, son of Vestere O. Craddock and former ward of James H. Craddock of Newport News, has arrived at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla., to begin one station unit training. He is a 1996 graduate of Denbigh High School, Newport News.” CNN confirmed that this was the same person as the DeWayne Craddock who is the mass shooter. Online records reviewed by Heavy also show Craddock linked to Vestere.
The New York Times reports that Craddock once worked for the Army Training and Support Center.
A 1997 article in the same newspaper reported that Dewayne “graduated from One Station Unit Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.”
Craddock’s mother’s Facebook page indicates the family has roots in North Carolina. Old newspaper clippings show she posted multiple classified ads on behalf of a realty. Her recent Facebook posts are about travels to places like Miami, a jazz festival, and the African-American history museum in Washington D.C. There weren’t any publicly visible photos of her son on her page. Reached by CNN, Craddock’s parents indicated they didn’t know of any problems he was having at work.
According to the Washington Post, Craddock’s family, in Yorktown, VA, posted a sign on their door that read: “The family of DeWayne Craddock wishes to send our heart felt condolences to the victims. We are grieving the loss of our loved one. At this time we wish to focus on the victims and the lives loss (sic) during yesterdays (sic) tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who loss their lives, and those recovering in the hospital.”
Kofo Lasaki, a reporter for WTKR-TV, wrote on Twitter on the late afternoon of May 31, 2019: “BREAKING: Police say they are working an active incident at the Virginia Beach Courthouse. The courthouse is on lockdown and officers are out with their guns drawn @WTKR3.”
People reported a flurry of law enforcement activity. “Just passed 15 cop cars headed to courthouse on Princess Anne rd.. nice,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“There is a shooter still shooting through a door,” wrote another. She also wrote: “AVOID THE COURTHOUSE AREA AT ALL COSTS. There’s an active shooter situation occurring right now and all of the cops in Virginia Beach are flying down Nimmo Parkway.”
5. Craddock Is a Graduate of Old Dominion University, According to an Old Newspaper Article
The Newport Daily Press article reported that “Craddock is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.”
ODU said in a release that five victims had ties to the university.
The university president wrote, “At this point, we have learned that the following victims were members of the ODU community:
Tara Welch Gallagher, BS in Civil Engineering 2002, Master of Engineering 2003
Alexander Gusev, BS in Civil Engineering, 2016
Richard H. Nettleton, BS in Business Administration, 1994
Christopher Kelly Rapp, BS in Civil Engineering, 1994
Ryan Keith Cox, former student
I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of all of the victims. I know this tragedy has triggered a range of conflicting emotions – pain, anger, confusion. But it has also brought out the best in the Monarch community, and I am heartened that many have stepped up to volunteer, including our ODU counselors participating in the Virginia Beach First Responders team to help those in need.”
Neighbors told WAVY-TV that Craddock kept to himself but kept odd hours and often carried a book bag.
Cassetty Howerin, 23, told the station: “You heard him walking around; he would drop stuff at like 2 a.m., and me and my roommate would try to figure out what he was doing.” She added that he was a “jacked guy, he stood maybe 6 foot and he always carried a book bag with him. That’s all I really know.”
NBC12 reporter Eric Perry wrote on Twitter that the situation was initially so active that journalists at the scene could hear gunshots. “Hearing reports of a possible active shooter situation at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. We are monitoring the situation. Reporters on scene say they are hearing gunshots,” he wrote. He said, contrary to other reports, that the shooting situation was “NOT the COURTHOUSE but in Building 2.” You can see a map of the complex here.
“We are still actively clearing the building for victims and secondary suspects,” an officer said on the scanner. However, it’s believed that Craddock acted alone.
This post is being updated as more information is learned.