WASHINGTON – Twelve people were killed and at least four others were injured after a public employee opened fire inside a municipal office building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, police said on Friday.
Virginia Beach police chief James Cervera initially said that 11 people had been killed, before adding at a press conference later on Friday evening that one of the injured victims had also died.
“We do have an additional victim to report. We now have 12. One victim succumbed to the injuries on the way to the hospital.”
He said the shooter, who was a disgruntled veteran employee of the city public works department, had died of gunshot wounds sustained during a gun battle with responding police officers.
The gunman entered Building No. 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center a few minutes after 4:00 pm and “immediately began to indiscriminately fire upon all the victims,” Cervera said.
One of the wounded survivors was a police officer saved by his bullet-proof vest.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach. The people involved are our friends, coworkers, neighbors and colleagues,” Mayor Bobby Dwyer said.
“This day will not define Virginia Beach, our response will define Virginia Beach,” Councilman Aaron Rouse said. “We will come together, we will show the strength of our city.”
Virginia Beach, which lies on the Atlantic Coast some 322 kilometers (200 miles) south of Washington, has a population of roughly 440,000 and is a popular vacation destination.
Sentara Healthcare, which provides medical services to communities in Virginia and North Carolina, said six people had been injured, one of whom was flown to Norfolk general hospital, while three patients were being treated at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, two of whom were in critical condition.
“Sentara Virginia Beach General first received five patients this afternoon, but two have died,” a Tweet said.
Cervera lauded his officers and other first responders for the way they handled the situation.
“When this violent act occurred, police and fire-rescue responded and did the professional thing that they do, because that’s what they do,” the police chief said. “There’s no way to describe an incident such as this.”
He said that his department was being assistance in the investigation by the Virginia State Police, the FBI and elements of the federal Department of Homeland Security.
The state’s governor, Ralph Northam, arrived in Virginia Beach within hours of the shooting.