At the end of the work day on Friday, 12 men and women were killed by a gunman in Virginia Beach, Virginia’s public works building at the city’s Municipal Center.
Police responded to the scene and, after an ensuing gun battle, killed the gunman who was identified as an employee who had resigned that morning.
Virginia Beach and the surrounding cities in Hampton Roads held memorials to bring the community together. Attendees proudly sported blue clothes as a visual sign of support for those personally impacted and the larger community that was shaken by the shooting.
The 12 victims included residents of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Powhatan. They are identified as: LaQuita C. Brown; Tara Welch Gallagher; Mary Louise Gayle; Alexander Mikhail Gusev; Katherine A. Nixon; Richard H. Nettleton; Christopher Kelly Rapp; Ryan Keith Cox; Joshua O. Hardy; Michelle “Missy” Langer; Robert “Bobby” Williams; Herbert “Bert” Snelling.
Local media shared stories about each victim online and in radio announcements. The city has made a point to focus on bringing attention to the people whose lives were tragically cut short, rather than the gunman.
Eleven of the victims were employees of the city, working in the building, and one was a contractor filing for a permit. On Monday, to remember their colleagues who lost their lives and to grieve together, city employees gathered at a convention center near the Municipal Center.
Local newspaper The Virginia Pilot reported that employees wrote messages on rocks that will be used for a memorial garden on site in the future. The city is also providing counseling and professional grief support resources.
An investigation into the shooting in Virginia Beach is ongoing. Officials have not shared evidence that could point to a motive. Family, friends, and former coworkers of the gunman were shocked by his actions.
The city remains “Virginia Beach Strong” as the community begins to heal.
“The people we lost were part of our Virginia Beach family and their loss is a tremendous loss for all of us,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle in a statement. “They will not be forgotten.”
The City of Virginia Beach has asked that all donations and financial support for the victims and families be made through their partnership with United Way of South Hampton Roads.