Survivors of the Virginia Beach shooting describe the 'surreal' attack that claimed 12 lives
- A gunman killed 12 people and injured at least four others Friday at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
- As investigators have continued the search for a motive, survivors of the shooting have recounted the several minutes where shots rang out and took down their co-workers.
- Christi Dewar was one of the survivors who recounted the attack over the weekend, describing how she was nearby when her longtime colleague was killed, one of 11 city employees who were victims.
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All but one of the victims were city employees, and several were present in the three-story building during the attack.
Police Chief James A. Cervera identified the gunman as 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock, who was employed as an engineer with the city's public utilities department for about 15 years before giving his two-weeks notice the day of the shooting.
Cervera also told reporters that officers arrived at the building approximately five to eight minutes before they encountered the suspect and began a "long gun battle" before confronting the suspect and subduing him more than 36 minutes after the initial call, the Washington Post reported.
As the investigation continues, the community has grieved its lost members as the attack's survivors
Bob Montague, Craddock's boss, told the Post he "heard rapid pop pops" that "weren't very loud" because Craddock had put a sound suppressor on the pistol. It wasn't until shots broke through the wall that Montague said he realized he was in the midst of an attack.
"Suddenly, a kind of hole exploded in my wall," Montague said. "I had bits of dry wall and dust hit me. That's when I made a connection of what was happening."
Montague then called 911 and sought shelter in his office, the report said.
Several people yelled to alert their colleagues to the active shooter, as Kimberly Millering's boss told her while the two were away from the shootings on the first floor.
"Hearing the words come out of his mouth was surreal," Millering told the Washington Post.
Christi Dewar, a longtime public utility department employee told NPR she thought was a drill.
Dewar said the shots sounded initially "like a nail gun going off," but she soon took cover with a co-worker, Ryan Keith Cox. She barricaded herself in an office room and blocked the door with a large cabinet before bullets rang out nearby, almost piercing the door.
"We fell to the ground; then we heard other shots close to us," she told NPR. "That's when he got Keith."
As she was led out of the building by police, Dewar said an officer told her to "not look down."
"As we went down the stairwell," Dewar said, "I had to step over one of my friends," the identity of whom authorities later confirmed as a victim.
Cox was killed Friday, along with fellow city employees Laquita Brown, Tara Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Gusev, Katherine Nixon, Richard Nettleton, Christopher Rapp, Joshua Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, and Robert "Bobby" Williams. Herbert "Bert" Snelling was a contractor killed while going to obtain a permit.
The shooting marked the deadliest mass shooting in the US this year. Authorities said after the attack that their primary focus was to honor the victims, as Virginia Beach police made a point of only saying the suspect's name once in a Friday press conference.
"This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia," Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement. "We are devastated by the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach. I am in Virginia Beach with law enforcement authorities and Mayor Dyer, where I am monitoring the situation and offer the state's full support."
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