National News

City employee turned gunman reportedly had 'scuffles' with his colleagues

Posted June 1, 2019 7:52 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2019 1:36 p.m. EDT

Before DeWayne Antonio Craddock stormed a Virginia Beach municipal complex Friday, where law enforcement officials said he slaughtered a dozen people and injured several others, he had made his living in public service.

Craddock, 40, who was killed during a protracted shootout with police, had been an engineer with the Department of Public Utilities, the city’s water and sanitary sewer services branch, where he helped maintain the mundane but crucial underpinnings of Virginia’s largest city.

Nothing had seemed amiss when he entered the agency’s building Friday because he had worked with the department for about 15 years, officials said. No one had suspected that he was armed, and many of the people he would kill or wound that afternoon were his colleagues.

He “was still employed” by the city at the time of the attack, according to David L. Hansen, the Virginia Beach city manager. “He had a security pass like all employees had and he was authorized to enter the building,” Hansen said.

It remains to be seen what the suspect was after. City officials declined to discuss a possible motive for the attack, but they did say there was no immediate indication that the gunman had targeted anyone. The police chief, James A. Cervera, quelled rumors Saturday that the suspect had recently been fired, and declined to say whether there had been friction between him and other employees.

But a person close to Virginia Beach’s city government, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the suspect had no history of behavioral problems until recently, when he had begun acting strangely and getting into physical “scuffles” with other city workers.

The person said that tensions had escalated in the past week, adding that the man had gotten into a violent altercation on city grounds and was told that disciplinary action would be taken.

Officials said the suspect was armed with two .45-caliber guns, at least one of which had a sound suppressor attached to it, and that both weapons had been purchased legally. He used extended magazines, which hold more ammunition than standard models, and reloaded several times in what the Virginia Beach police chief called “a long-term gunbattle” with officers.

Two more firearms were found at the suspect’s home, officials said.

Few details in the suspect’s past point to the staggering violence that would mark the end of his life. He had no obvious criminal history, court records show, only several traffic violations over the years.

He had a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Old Dominion University in Virginia. In 1996, he enlisted in the Virginia National Guard, where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, in Norfolk as a cannon crew member, according to a state National Guard spokesman. He was discharged in 2002 at the rank of specialist. (The spokesman declined to specify the nature of the discharge.)

Before his job with the city, the suspect worked for private firms specializing in site planning and infrastructure, and had held a professional engineer license from the state since 2008. One of his hiring notices said his engineering experience included stormwater management and utility design for private and public systems. Employment listings also showed that he had worked for the Army Training and Support Center.

Several news releases issued by the city this year about road closings because of utility work listed the suspect’s name as the contact person for further information. He was the man who took residents’ questions, whose name was a public point of reference.

Deadliest mass shootings in the United States

There is no set definition for the term "mass shooting" but in 2015 the Congressional Research Service produced a report that limited "mass shooting" to those that in which four or more people were killed. That is the measure used for this chart.

While most of the shootings listed here occurred since 2000, Columbine is included because of its notoriety; the 1986 shooting at the post office in Edmond, Okla., is included because it is the origin of the grim term "going postal."

please wait

Source: Media reports, compiled by WRAL

But on Saturday, after identifying him once as the man who plunged the city into grief, officials said they would never again utter his name in public.