A police chaplain approaches the scene of shooting that killed 11 people in Virginia Beach, Va, May 31, 2019.
A police chaplain approaches the scene of shooting that killed 11 people in Virginia Beach, Va, May 31, 2019.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. - Police in the U.S. state of Virginia say a disgruntled public utility employee killed 12 people at a municipal building in Virginia Beach before he was killed by police.

The city’s police chief, James Cervera, said the shooter “immediately and indiscriminately fired upon all the victims” after he entered the municipal building shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

He said six others were wounded in the shooting.

Police enter a building following a shooting at th
Police enter a building following a shooting at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, Va., May 31, 2019, in this still image taken from video.

Cervera described the gunman as a disgruntled longtime employee of the city’s public utilities but did not say more about what led to the attack.

Cervera said they know who the suspect is but are not yet ready to release his name. 

“We’re going to mention his name once,” he said, “and then he will be forever referred to as ‘the suspect’ because our focus now is the dignity and respect to the victims in this case and to their families.”

Witnesses say the shooting took place at Building Two of the Virginia Beach municipal complex, which houses the city’s public works, public utilities and planning departments.

Rescue workers unload a stretcher from a helicopte
Rescue workers unload a stretcher from a helicopter following a shooting incident at the municipal center in this still image from video in Virginia Beach, Virginia, May 31, 2019.

Cervera said one police officer was among the wounded but survived. The chief said the gunfight with the officers prevented the suspect from killing more victims.

He said the investigation into the shooting is just beginning, but said police believe the suspect acted alone. The gunman used a .45-caliber pistol equipped with a “sound suppressor” device and extended ammunition magazines that he reloaded repeatedly during the attack.

“The fact that the suspect was immediately confronted, the fact that the suspect is deceased, means that our citizens can rest easy tonight,” he said.

Evacuees walk away from a building following a sho
Evacuees walk away from a building following a shooting at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, Va., May 31, 2019, in this still image taken from video.

Reaction to the shooting

“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said at a news conference with the police chief. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors, colleagues.”

The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump had been briefed and was monitoring the situation.

Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, traveled to Virginia Beach and said he had offered the state’s full support.

“This is unspeakable, senseless violence,” he said in a statement.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner said in a statement “I am horrified by what has happened today in Virginia Beach.”

Senator Tim Kaine spoke via Twitter: