It was a “war zone” in Virginia Beach on Friday, as a longtime public utilities employee opened fire on co-workers at a municipal center. The shooter killed 12 people and wounded at least four others before he was fatally shot by the police in a gun battle.
Virginia Beach police Chief Jim Cervera said the heavily armed perpetrator died in an exchange of gunfire with four officers who rushed into the building. The gunman was armed with a .45 caliber handgun and he fired multiple extended magazines in the battle, leaving carnage, spent bullets and empty ammunition casings, Cervera said.
Cervera said the gunman entered the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, where up to 400 people work, shortly after 4 p.m. EDT. He “immediately began to indiscriminately fire upon all the victims.” The name of the shooter has not yet been released because police said they have been unable to notify his relatives.
“The officers stopped this individual from committing more carnage,” Cervera said. The gunman most likely would have used all his ammunition on innocent people had the officers not engaged him in the gun battle.
Among the wounded was a Virginia Beach Police officer whose life was saved by his bulletproof vest, Cervera said.
Police also say the gunman brought extended ammunition magazines that held more bullets than a typical magazine, suggesting that he wanted as much firepower as possible to inflict damage inside the building.
The shooter also had a sound suppressor for his handgun. Unlike some states, silencers are legal in Virginia, though it is illegal to have one in Virginia Beach per local ordinance.
This horrible incident sent alarm and shock throughout Virginia Beach, a popular resort town with a population of 440,000. The municipal center is several miles from the resort areas of the beach, located along the Atlantic Coast about 200 miles south of Washington, D.C. The community is also home to three military bases.