DeWayne Craddock doesn’t have the hallmarks of other recent mass shooters, at least based on what is known publicly so far. His motive remains elusive. The gunman was a cypher.
He didn’t leave behind an online manifesto like the Virginia Tech shooter or New Zealand mosque killer. In fact, perhaps bizarrely for this day and age, he didn’t leave behind any apparent social media footprint. There are no photos of him with weaponry on Facebook or ramblings online, as was seen with some mass killers.
Of course, motive is not always determined in these tragedies, although many times it is obvious or there is at least evidence of one. Authorities never determined, for example, why Stephen Paddock slew 58 people at a concert from a perch in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Like Craddock, Paddock kept his motive private and had no obvious social media footprint.
Members of Craddock’s family did use Facebook; for example, his mother was on Facebook, posting about trips to jazz festivals and the African-American history museum in D.C. However, there were no publicly visible photos of DeWayne Craddock on her account, and he wasn’t on her friend list. Her posts were innocuous and focused on family and travels.
On June 3, on the second full day after the mass shooting, authorities said in a news conference that they still were unclear on the suspect’s 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, James Cervera. That was after two days of looking for it.
Of course, something could publicly emerge when authorities release their full investigatory findings (the police chief won’t say what they unearthed in Craddock’s house.) However, there were only three glimmers that something was warped in Craddock’s world: A failed marriage, a resignation notice he sent by email the morning of the shooting, and creepy photos that showed he’d erected security cameras in the windows of his condo. However, authorities say it’s not clear whether he gave a reason for the resignation notice, and they stressed that he was not fired, was not about to be fired, and had no problems with his job performance.
Here’s what you need to know:
Authorities Say Craddock’s Employment Was in ‘Good Standing,’ Vexing the Search for Motive
City Manager Dave Hansen said on June 2 that 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, Hansen responded, “Yes.” Asked if Craddock was resigning, Hansen also responded, “Yes.” 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.”
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 – Richard 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.
Craddock didn’t target an open public space; he targeted co-workers in a secure space that he needed a pass to enter, people he worked with side-by-side for years. He went to work that day and exchanged pleasantries with a co-worker who saw him brushing his teeth in a municipal center bathroom just moments before the massacre, according to CNN.
However, even the workplace violence motive remains elusive, with police repeatedly insisting he was not fired, contrary to news reports. That stands in contrast to Gary Martin, the Aurora manufacturing plant shooter, who targeted co-workers right after he was terminated in a meeting.
“One of the pieces of the investigation will include the motive of this horrific act,” Police Chief James Cervera said on June 2. As for employment status, he 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.”
Some mass shootings reveal financial stress or job loss pressing down on the killer. A review showed no bankruptcy filings for Craddock and no signs of financial distress have emerged. In 2000, Michael McDermott killed co-workers at Edgewater Technology in Massachusetts. He had growing financial problems, was described as reclusive, had a failed marriage, no criminal history, and had served in the Navy (Craddock served in the Virginia National Guard as a cannon crew member.)
The 1984 McDonald’s killer, said to have a violent temper, had recently lost a job at a steel plant. He also had an unstable upbringing; in contrast, fellow parishioners have described Craddock’s parents as good people who serve on a church commission. You can find a list of active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2017 in the United States here.
Dave Hansen, the Virginia Beach city manager, also said that authorities were working on “establishing a motive. To the extent that the subject’s employment status has anything to do with these events, that will be part of the ongoing investigation. However, he was not terminated and he was not in the process of being terminated,” he stressed on June 2.
Workplace violence, of course, is a not uncommon phenomenon – just not on this scale. “Homicides accounted for 10 percent of all fatal occupational injuries in the United States in 2016,” wrote the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in a recent report.
“There were 500 workplace homicides in 2016, an increase of 83 cases from 2015. The 2016 total was the highest since 2010. Of the workplace homicides in 2016, 409 (82 percent) were homicides to men and 91 (18 percent) were homicides to women. Homicides represented 24 percent of fatal occupational injuries to women in 2016 compared with 9 percent of fatal occupational injuries to men.” Those cases are not usually mass murder over three floors of a building, though.
Craddock Remains a Reclusive Figure Without Social Media or a Criminal History But His Marriage Unraveled
DeWayne Craddock doesn’t appear to have had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts, at least not that anyone has found. He had no mental health history and no criminal history, at least not any publicly revealed. There weren’t obvious criminal justice warning signs like the domestic violence incident in the Texas church shooter’s past. He did have an unraveling marriage in recent years. His ex wife has not spoken out, and his parents told CNN they didn’t know of any problems he had at work.
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 had started 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.”
In an era in which a killer in New Zealand streams a massacre live on the Internet through a GoPro style device fastened to his helmet, Craddock’s approach was decidedly non Internet-based. It’s been difficult to even find a photo of him, and the only mentions that really existed online before the shooting were old newspaper articles about him joining the military after high school, getting a job as an engineer, and taking a Chamber of Commerce board on a tour of a city pumping station. An old yearbook photo and an old photo with a job announcement are the only pictures to emerge of DeWayne Craddock so far.
Unlike the shooters at synagogues, churches, and mosques, no apparent religious motive has been released. Because he doesn’t have much social media, and the State of Virginia does not require party affiliation on voter registration, his politics – whether he was a Democrat or Republican – remains unknown (save for a non-credible site that some bandied about on the Internet with unclear sourcing.) Thus, he doesn’t share that motive with the Congressional baseball shooter and other killers with clear political agenda or ideology.
Co-Workers Didn’t See Warning Signs & Neighbors Thought Craddock Was Reclusive
School shooting are sometimes characterized by a narrative of bullying motive, but co-workers have said that they liked, or at least didn’t fear, DeWayne Craddock, with people characterizing him (before the shooting) as nice, softspoken, and well-dressed. However, according to neighbors he was reclusive, perhaps socially isolated.
Joseph 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.
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.”
With terrorism, religion, politics, termination, and bullying not apparent or in play here, the question remains: What was DeWayne Craddock’s motive, and what statement (if any) was he trying to make? Pinpointing motive can at least help society develop solutions.
Was there some grudge that made him snap like the Capital Gazette killer who was upset about the newspaper’s coverage of his harassment case? Not that anyone’s revealed.
Other workplace shootings have had clearer motive; the San Bernardino shooters barged into a gathering of the San Bernardino County’s health department, where one of them worked. But San Bernardino was, authorities said, an act of terrorism and there was evidence a shooter had pledged allegiance on social media to the Islamic State. So, too, did the motive for the Pulse massacre unfold.
Is it all about society’s handling of mental health, its increasing fragmentation and isolation, its easy access to guns? That’s a matter of opinion and debate. However, no evidence of mental health commitment or concern has been released in the case of DeWayne Craddock.
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.”