Virginia Beach mass shooter sent normal work emails 5 minutes before rampage: Cops
September 24, 2019
September 24, 2019 11:34 PM EDT
A photograph of the victims of a mass shooting is surrounded by 12 candles during a memorial service at Piney Grove Baptist Church June 2, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Va. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
The Virginia Beach city engineer who shot dead 12 people at his workplace and wounded four on May 31 left virtually no clues to his motive, sending an ordinary work email five minutes before his deadly rampage, police said on Tuesday.
DeWayne Craddock, who was killed in a gun battle with police, left behind no social media accounts, no manifesto and no police record, Virginia Beach police told the city council in the most comprehensive public summary of the incident about 200 miles (320 km) south of Washington.
“He was actually described by many that we interviewed as quiet, polite, nice guy, and a good listener,” Deputy Chief Patrick Gallagher said.
The 40-year-old shooter had US$20,000 in the bank, no credit card debt and no medical prescriptions, leaving investigators flummoxed after spending some 116 days on the case, interviewing 757 witnesses.
“Each and every one of those days we have asked the question, why?” Gallagher said.
The gunman began his day by emailing a respectful resignation letter, offering his two-week notice for “personal reasons,” Gallagher said. He then conducted an uneventful work day, sending emails and visiting job sites with co-workers.
“They were generic, municipal, work-related type of emails,” Gallagher said, the last being sent at 3:55 p.m., five minutes before the shooting started.
Gallagher continued his narration: “The suspect leaves through the south exit of Building 2. He will go to his car and he will retrieve a gun.”
A separate investigation by the private security company Hillard Heintze did find some municipal workers complained of a “hostile work environment,” blaming management, but that review has not yet concluded, Chief Executive Arnette Heintze told the council.
The FBI is assisting the probe, which is expected to last another six to nine months, Gallagher said.
Police Chief James Cervera displayed a picture of the final shootout scene, showing a solid wood door at the end of a hallway that was peppered with gunshots while the assailant’s .45, fitted with a silencer, lay on the floor.
Four officers “stood their ground,” shooting through the door and wounding the shooter, who later died in the hospital.
“They did not retreat. They did not go look for cover,” Cervera said. “They stood their ground and basically slugged it out … because they knew if he got outside of that room he would cause more havoc, he would take more lives.”