Virginia Beach shooting survivors say training helped save lives

Virginia Beach survivors describe shooting

Virginia Beach, Va. — More details are emerging about the deadly massacre at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. Some had worked there for decades — including Robert Williams who had put in 41 years. The gunman had worked at the office for 15 years.

In a short email sent Friday, DeWayne Craddock quit his job with the City of Virginia Beach, citing "personal reasons." Hours later, police say Craddock opened fire at his workplace, killing 12 people.

One of them was Keith Cox. Friend and colleague Christi Dewar said he saved her life by directing her and six others to hide inside an office.

"We ran in there and I turned and I said 'Come on.' And he said 'I'm gonna go check on other people. Barricade yourself in,'" Dewar said.

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Top row from left: Laquita Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher and Mary Louise Gayle. Middle row from left: Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer and Richard Nettleton. Bottom row from left: Katherine Nixon, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Herbert "Bert" Snelling and Robert "Bobby" Williams. City of Virginia Beach

The city employees had received active shooter training. John Dudley works in the building but had left for the day when the shooting started.

"They train you on these situations," Dudley said. "That helped a lot with this."  

Virginia Beach gunman resigned just hours before mass shooting

The gunman was described as quiet but normal. One employee said he saw him brushing his teeth before the rampage. So far, no one has suggested there were any warning signs.

According to an FBI report, only 25% of active shooters have ever been diagnosed with mental illness. Shooters aren't typically loners and 27% had significant online interaction.

FBI Supervisory Agent Andre Simmons studies active shooters, looking for trends that might help prevent future massacres. He said it's not accurate to say someone snaps.

"In fact, what we found is that all of the shooters in our study, certainly planned and prepared, many shooters spent almost two years," Simmons said.

The FBI and police are still trying to determine how long the gunman had been planning Friday's attack. He did purchase his weapons legally, which is also not unusual.