They were city workers, all but one. They’d worked in public utilities for the City of Virginia Beach from a few months to 41 years. They were of multiple ethnic backgrounds, genders, and ages. One of them was a contractor who was at municipal building 2 to get a permit.
These are the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. They were shot by a disgruntled co-worker who won’t be named in this article; altogether, 12 people lost their lives. A city police officer was also wounded, saved by his vest as the killer fired and fired with a .45 caliber weapon equipped with a silencer. Another four people were undergoing surgery.
Outside of work, they played bagpipes, sang in church choir, traveled with spouses, and played with grandkids.
This article will be updated until it contains bios of each of the deceased victims. The horrific tragedy broke out on the last day of May, 2019, a Friday, when the gunman strode into the building and indiscriminately opened fire, in the words of police, who eventually shot him to death; he left behind a trail of victims over three floors, and one in a car, said the chief.
One man, Brent Werlein, wrote a heartbreaking description of some of the victims (the typos are his own, likely due to the emotion inherent in the moment).
This is something that is very hard to put out there.
Ryan Keith Cox was a good man who worked in the business division. I would speak with him on occasion but it was mostly hellos and smiles.
Michelle “Missy” Langer was an administrative person who I worked with daily. She was a fun loving person who recently (last year or two) lost her father. She was always someone who I could approach and end could talk with. She was like an aunt to me.
Robert “Bobby” Williams was a special projects coordinator who I also worked daily with. We would talk and discuss ways to try and solve issues in the sanitary sewer system. He had alot of institutional knowledge and was setting his sites on retiring some time in 2019 so he could be with family.
Joshua A. Hardy was an engineering technition (sic) who was always fun to be arround. Him and I would joke each other and prank eachother just like brothers. Pranks would be as simple as turning name tags upside down or me leaving him some illuminati symbols hidden in his desk area. He was someone who we could get riled up in a good way making him think the illuminati where watching. Some of his pranks he and coworkers did to me would be wrapping everything in my office in wrapping paper, and buying a keyboard to immurse in jello. He was a brother who everyday would bring a smile to your face. He was a part of the pictures shared in this post
Richard H. Nettleton was an engineering buraue lead. I would work with him on some projects. He had a lot of institutional knowledge and was always approachable.
Katherine A. Nixon. This one is the hardest to write. She was smart caring person who I could talk to at any time. A sister and a supervisor. We could share crazy things that our kids would do and say, and tease eachother about the goofiness of the tantrums kids can throw. She was a supervisor everyone would want, tough on you when you needed it, pushed you as you needed it, discipline you as needed, and also compasionate. She was someone who truly understood the work life balancing act everyone has to do…
The hardest thing about all of this is I would have been right there in it, had my daycare not been closed for the day. I left at 2:15 from Kates office to pick up my son from school. My last words to her where “see you monday”.
Friday started off like any other friday. 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 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.
They will be missed
“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.”
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.”
On the morning of June 1, police released the victims’ names with photos and biographies. (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
Laquita C. Brown worked in public works for 4.5 years, as a right of way agent. She was from Chesapeake.
Sinda Price left a memorial tribute to Laquita Brown on Facebook. “It still doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe she’s gone…. She was one of those people who just lit up a room. Every room… And now that light is gone, and my heart can’t stop hurting,” she wrote.
“Rev 21:4 ‘And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’ We will see you soon, big sis. ❤ LaQuita Brown.”
On Facebook, LaQuita Brown mostly shared photos of family and travels.
You can read more about Brown’s life here.
Tara Welch Gallagher
Tara Welch Gallagher worked in public works for 6 years, and was an engineer from Virginia Beach. Gallagher was listed in multiple reports and documents where she described reports on clean water.
She was the public face of the public works for the Lake James Watershed. A 2018 Virginia Beach newsletter announced Tara Gallagher had reached her five-year anniversary with the city of Virginia Beach. She was given a public service award for her five years of service to Virginia Beach.
You can read more about Tara Welch Gallagher’s life here.
Mary Louise Gayle
Mary Louise Gayle had 24 years in public works as a right-of-way agent and was from Virginia Beach. A former co-worker, Debbie Mazzarell Hubbard, wrote on Facebook, “I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mary Lou Crutsinger Gayle in the senseless shooting in Virginia Beach yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and co-workers. We worked together in Virginia Beach for 10 years and I always admired her, she was a very special lady and will truly be missed by many, I know I will miss her Facebook posts showing her love for her family. RIP Mary Lou.”
Mary Gayle is survived by her father, four siblings and three children. She was also a grandmother, her Facebook page says, and she filled it with family photos. For the City of Virginia Beach, Gayle’s specialty was dealing with property and land rights.
You can read more about Mary Louise Gayle here.
Alexander Mikhail Gusev
Alexander Mikhail Gusev spent 9 years in public works as a right of way agent and was from Virginia Beach.
According to the Virginian Pilot, Gusev was an immigrant from Belarus. He attended Tidewater College and Old Dominion University (like four other victims.) He was described in the newspaper article as someone who was a good friend and looking forward to getting married someday.
Read more about Alexander Gusev’s life here.
Katherine A. Nixon
Katherine A. Nixon, spent 10 years in public utilities as an engineer and was from Virginia Beach. Katherine Nixon went by the name Kate Nixon. She was 42 and was a civil engineer in Virginia Beach for more than 10 years. She was born Katherine Lusich on September 7, 1976, in California. She is survived by her husband, Jason Nixon, and their three daughters, along with her parents and siblings.
You can read more about Katherine Nixon’s life here.
Richard H. Nettleton
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.
Nettleton, P.E., was the Design & Construction Manager for the Virginia Beach Department of Public Utilities. Nettleton was also involved in projects for the city including the bikeways and trails plan.
He served in the 130th Engineer Brigade of the United States Army in Germany.
You can read more about Richard H. Nettleson here.
Christopher Kelly Rapp
Christopher Kelly Rapp had 11 months in the job as an engineer in public works and was from Powhatan He Was a member of Scottish Band, Tidewater Pumps & Drums.
The band wrote, “We are heartbroken to share the news that our bandmate, Chris Rapp, was one of the victims of Friday’s senseless shooting. Chris recently moved to Virginia Beach and immediately joined the band after learning how to play the bagpipes in Richmond. He was quiet but had a passion for the pipes and Scottish culture. He is pictured here at the 2018 Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Peace be with his wife, Bessie, and their loved ones.”
You can read more about the life of Christopher Rapp here.
Ryan Keith Cox
Ryan Keith Cox spent 12.5 years in public utilities as an account clerk and was from Virginia Beach.
Michele Day wrote 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, wrote on Facebook, “My heart is hurting because my baby brother was murdered today by the shooter in Virginia Beach mass shooting. I won’t hears his beautiful singing voice at church or home anymore. I loved my brother and will truly miss his caring soul. Until we meet again in heaven.”
You can read more about the life of Ryan Keith Cox here.
Joshua O. Hardy
Joshua O. Hardy worked in public utilities for 4.5 years as an engineering technician and was from Virginia Beach.
A friend, Michael Seymour, wrote on Facebook, “still can believe it my friend and brother Joshua is gone. i still remember the day when he went to work for the city of va beach he joke about coming back to Norfolk if it dont work out for him josh was a true friend and we had some good times together he was kind hearted and understanding brother i will remember the years we worked together and all the fun we had RIH JOSHUA HARDY A VERY GOOD PERSON TO KNOW AND A TO WORK WITH GONNA MISS YOU CALLING ME ASKING HOW THINGS ARE GOING.”
Josh Hardy, 52, was a native of Norfolk, Virginia.
You can read more about the life of Joshua O. Hardy here.
Michelle “Missy” Langer
Michelle Missy Langer worked in public utilities for 12 years as an administrative assistant and was from Virginia Beach.
According to her LinkedIn page, Missy Langer also had worked as an administrative Assistant for the City of Virginia Police Department as well as for Public Utilities. She graduated from Beaver Local High School.
Her Facebook page says she was single and a native of Ohio.
Robert Bobby Williams
Robert Bobby Williams worked in public utilities for 41 years as a special projects coordinator and was from Chesapeake.
Brent Werlein wrote a heartbreaking accounting of his co-workers. He would have been there too but he left work early on May 31 because his son’s daycare was closed.
“Robert ‘Bobby’ Williams was a special projects coordinator who I also worked daily with. We would talk and discuss ways to try and solve issues in the sanitary sewer system. He had alot of institutional knowledge and was setting his sites on retiring some time in 2019 so he could be with family,” Werlein wrote.
He added: “The hardest thing about all of this is I would have been right there in it, had my daycare not been closed for the day. I left at 2:15 from Kates (victim Katherine Nixon’s) office to pick up my son from school. My last words to her where (sic) ‘see you monday.’ Friday started off like any other friday. 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 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.”
Laura Shields wrote on Facebook: “Please pray for the family’s (sic) in Virginia Beach…I just found out two friends were killed and another injured. My heart breaks for them. Bert Snelling, Bobby Williams, and Stephen motley we will be praying for you and your family’s.”
Herbert Bert Snelling
Herbert Bert Snelling was a contractor from Virginia Beach. He was there to try to fill a permit.
On his Facebook page, which he filled with pictures showing him with his wife, Herbert Bert Snelling went by the name “Bert Snelling.”
His Facebook page says that Bert Snelling went to Green Run High and Floyd Kellam High, lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia,, was from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and was married to Sonja Snelling. He appears to come from a family with a long tradition of carrying the Herbert Bert Snelling name forward. His Facebook page says he became engaged to his wife back in 1980.
Basically, the page is filled with pictures of Bert Snelling and his wife. In 2014, he wrote, “Sonja Snelling and I went to see Gods not dead this morning. I have to say it’s the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time. Definitely a must see.”
“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. The wounded police officer is expected to survive and was saved by his vest, said Police Chief James A. Cervera, calling the mass tragedy a “devastating incident…that is going to change the lives of a number of families from our city.”