A public utility employee indiscriminately fired in a government building complex in the US state of Virginia, leaving 12 people dead and injuring scores. Exchange of gunfire with the police also left the gunman dead.
The police chief James Cervera told a news conference that the gunman, armed with a 45 caliber handgun with extended magazines and a sound suppressor, entered one of the buildings at the Virginia Beach municipal complex and ‘immediately’ began to fire on the victims. Cervera said four police responded to the scene and ‘engaged’ in a ‘long-term gun battle’ with the suspect. “This is a devastating incident which is going to change the lives of a number of families from our city.” He described the crime scene as ‘most horrific’ similar to a war zone.
The building where the attack too place is in a suburban complex miles away from the high-rise hotels along the beach and the downtown business area.
Authorities revealed the gunman was a longtime employee of the public utilities department. Reports highlight that victims were found on all three floors of the building with one victim shot and killed in a vehicle before the gunman entered the building.
The police chief said six victims were transported to hospitals, including one police officer who was saved by his bullet proof vest. “One victim died en route to the hospital and four were still in surgery.” Cervera confirmed additional casualties who ‘self-transported’ to the hospital.
Megan Banton, a public utilities worker, recounted the incident saying she and fellow workers barricaded themselves in their office. “We just heard people yelling and screaming to get down. We put the desk up against the door because we didn’t know if they were coming in. We were just hoping that it would be over soon, and then we heard cops yelling up the steps.”