In the wake of what he called a “senseless incomprehensible act of violence,” Virginia Beach city manager Dave Hansen named and eulogized the 12 victims—11 colleagues and a contractor—who lost their lives when a disgruntled engineer who worked in the same building opened fire.
The victims were ethnically diverse men and women who were just finishing their work week on a Friday afternoon at the city’s municipal public works complex when DeWayne Craddock, 40, cut their lives short.
A public memorial for the victims has been scheduled for Thursday evening at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, according to Communications Director Julie Hill.
“We are a heart broken city,” Hill said. “Because we have lost 12 people who did nothing more than come to work yesterday.”
Speaking Saturday morning at a news conference, Hansen said he knew and worked with each of the employees.
“We want you to know who they were so in the days and weeks to come, you will learn what they meant to all of us, to their families to their friends and to their co-workers,” Hansen said. “They leave a void we will never be able to fill.”
He then showed a picture of each victim, pausing to explain the role each played and how long they worked for the city of Virginia Beach. One had been there just 11 months, another had been there more than 40 years. One man was a contractor in the office that day to secure a permit.
Christopher Kelly Rapp
Rapp had been employed for the city in the public works department for just 11 months. The Washington Post reports that Rapp was in a bagpipe band called Tidewater Pipes & Drums and often wore a kilt when he played. “We are heartbroken to share the news that our band mate, Chris Rap, was one of the victims of Friday’s senseless shooting,” the band said in a Facebook post. They also sent support to Rapp’s wife Bessie.
Richard H. Nettleton
Nettleton, an engineer, was the Design & Construction manager with the Public Utilities commission where he had worked for 28 years for the city as an engineer. Those who knew say that he was the “go to” person for every single public utility and engineering project in the city for nearly three decades. Nettleton also served in Germany in the 130th Engineer Brigade of the U.S. Army.
Laquita C. Brown
Brown was a right of way agent for Public Works who had been employed by the city for 4.5 years. Her friend Sinda Price posted an emotional tribute to the woman she referred to as a sister on Facebook. “It still doesn’t feel real,” she wrote. “I can’t believe she’s gone ... She was one of those people who just lit up a room. Every room ... And now that light is gone, and my heart can’t stop hurting.”
A woman who identified herself as Brown’s cousin also posted a Facebook tribute. “I am heartbroken,” she wrote. “My cousin’s life was taken from her today.”
Tara Walsh Gallagher
Gallagher was a public works engineer who had worked in the department for six years.
Mary Louise Gayle
Gayle, who was also a right of way agent, started working for the city for 24 years ago. “Yesterday’s senseless shooting (as if there was such a thing as a sensible one) in Virginia Beach just became very personal for me,” her friend Kenneth Ashby wrote on Facebook. “I knew one of the victims, Mary Lou Gayle. Mary Lou was a happy person...she was a good person. She loved her family and she loved life. A few years ago when she traveled to California on business, all she could think about was stepping in the Pacific so she could say she touched both oceans in the same day. The pictures she sent back weren’t of a mature woman walking on the beach but of a middle aged kid dancing in the surf. Mary Lou will be missed by all who knew her.”
Alexander Mikhail Gusev
Gusev was an engineer for the city for eight years.
Katherine A. Nixon
Nixon was an engineer with Public Utilities who worked for the city for ten years.
Ryan “Keith” Cox
Cox had been an account clerk for nearly 13 years. His brother, Ervim Cox, told the New York Times that their father was a pastor and that Keith, as the victim was known to his family, had also been been called to preach and was preparing his first sermon. “This is hard. It hurts, it hurts deep,” Cox told the Times. “Just to have such a senseless thing done to take his life, to take him away from us.”
“He was just that caring, loving person that just cared about everybody and wanted to help everybody,” Cox said about his brother. “He was like that at home and at church.”
Joshua A. Hardy
Hardy was an engineering technician who had been employed for the city for 4.5 years.
Michelle “Missy” Langer
Langer was an administrative assistant who had been employed by the city for 12 years. Her niece posted a heartbreaking Facebook tribute after the Virginia Beach officials confirmed the names of the victims. “Every time you see these events on the news you think, “that would never happen to my family,” Tabetha Langer posted. “Unfortunately, this tragedy did effect the Langer family. Please keep all of Missy’s friends and family in your prayers. This is such a sad time and I pray for god to help heal our broken hearts. RIP Aunt Missy, we love you and will miss you greatly.”
Robert “Bobby” Williams
Williams was a special projects coordinator with Public Utilities who had worked for the city for 41 years.
Herbert “Bert” Snelling
Snelling was a contractor who was only in the building to apply for a permit.
Doctors from Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where a majority of the victims were treated, held a press conference on Saturday to discuss the treatment of the three victims still under medical care. A fourth went to a different hospital.
The three victims still admitted to the hospital are all in the intensive care unit. Two of the three patients arrived with injuries that were considered life threatening.
“Two were significant injuries,” Dr. Martin O’Grady, Head of Trauma, told reporters. “They're all stable at the present time.”
According to O’Grady and attending physician Dr. Janelle Thomas, the hospital was made aware of the incident while it was still an active shooter situation.
Asked what their feelings are, as doctors, about the repeated shootings across the country, both stressed that the violence will have an immense impact on their community beyond the physical trauma.
“You never expect it to happen here, and of course it does,” O’Grady said. ... “You sort of wonder what’s happening to society. Why is this happening? I don’t have an answer for that.”
This article is being updated as tributes for victims become available.