Police still searching for motive for Virginia mass shooting

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Police still have not determined why a Virginia Beach city worker opened fire on his co-workers, killing 12 people in a mass shooting on May 31, investigators said Tuesday.

After submitting his resignation letter that morning, civil engineer DeWayne Craddock spent the hours before the massacre sending “generic” work-related emails and going on routine project site visits with co-workers, Deputy Police Chief Patrick Gallagher told the City Council. Craddock sent his last email just five minutes before he began shooting.

Craddock, 40, worked in the city’s public utilities department. He used two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammunition magazines to kill 11 of his co-workers and a contractor who had stopped at the complex to get a permit. Craddock was killed in a fierce gunbattle with police.

“Each and every day we have asked the question, ‘Why?’” Gallagher said. “We are still looking to determine motive and we will continue to try to identify why our suspect did what he did.”

There were no documented instances of Craddock being threatening in the workplace prior to the massacre, Gallagher said.

One of the victims was Kate Nixon. Her husband, Jason, said the investigation update provided Tuesday by police did not provide any new information and glossed over complaints he said his wife had made about Craddock’s job performance and attitude at work.

“There’s a lot more questions to be answered. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Nixon said.

Authorities in June released a short, partially redacted resignation letter in which Craddock said he was leaving for “personal reasons.” He did not give any indication that he was unhappy at work or held a grudge against any of his co-workers.

Police and city officials had been criticized for being tight-lipped about Craddock’s employment history. Kevin Martingayle, an attorney for Jason Nixon, said Kate Nixon had written up Craddock in the past and thought he had a “poor attitude.”

Gallagher said Craddock received satisfactory annual work evaluations from 2010 to 2016, but was placed on and completed a “performance improvement plan” in 2017. In 2018, Craddock received an “improvement required” evaluation and a written reprimand from his immediate supervisor.

He said Craddock had friendly relationships with some co-workers and was described as “quiet, polite, nice guy and a good listener” by many of those who police interviewed.

Nixon, however, said his wife told him repeatedly that Craddock’s work was poor and frequently had to be redone by other engineers.

“He was not a quiet professional. He was an arrogant jerk,” he said.

Debbie Langer Borato, the sister of shooting victim Michelle “Missy” Langer, said her sister’s death has caused “unspeakable pain.” She said the police update on their investigation did not answer any of her questions.

“I’m very angry,” she said. “They can’t find anything wrong with him, but they said he was reprimanded.”

Days after the shooting, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a special legislative session would be held in July to consider universal background checks, a red flag law and other gun safety proposals. The Republican-controlled legislature quickly adjourned the session and referred the legislative proposals to the state crime commission for study.

A security firm hired by the city is continuing to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting.

Gallagher said he expects it will take another six to nine months before the police investigation is completed.

Police Chief James Cervera said police recently began allowing families of the shooting victims inside the building where the shooting took place.

Nixon said he visited his wife’s office Tuesday.

“It was tough,” he said. “I wrote a message on the wall. I told her we will always love her, and I told her we’d raise the girls the way we talked about. I put their names on it, too,” he said, referring to the couple’s three young daughters.

“I wrote, ‘Kate, I love you. We’ll never forget you. I’ll make sure we get the truth and the facts out. “