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Officials Say Motive of Virginia Beach Shooter Still Unknown

Police have yet to determine a motive in the May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead and four others wounded.
Police have yet to determine a motive in the May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead and four others wounded.

Officials on Tuesday shared a yet incomplete account of the Virginia Beach shooter’s mental state and personal history, in an effort to give a sense of closure to victims’ families nearly four months after the killing spree.

A dozen people were killed and several others injured in May when a city employee went on a 40 minute shooting spree at a Virginia Beach municipal building. The shooting concluded as one of the of the last decade.

It was among several workplace shootings that took place in the mid-Atlantic within a year, including the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland and another at a Rite-Aid distribution center, also in Maryland.

“While I’m not sure we will ever really understand why he did what he did, our hope is that the briefing will provide a more detailed picture of the suspect and what happened on May 31,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said in opening remarks.

The shooter, DeWayne Craddock, had worked for the city for nearly a decade when he launched one of the deadliest workplace attacks in recent memory.

Law enforcement on Tuesday described a man who colleagues viewed as kind and collegial, but whose family described him as paranoid and introverted to the point of being uncomfortable around people.

Despite his family’s concerns, investigators said Craddock had not given any prior indication of planning an attack and had received no mental health treatment “whatsoever.” That detail puts Craddock in line with an estimated 75% of mass shooters, who the Federal Bureau of Investigation say have never received formal diagnosis for any mental illness.

In the years prior to the shooting, Craddock, who had some $20,000 spread across accounts and no credit card debt, legally purchased five guns and successfully applied for a concealed carry permit. A month before the shooting, he ordered a bulletproof vest, but it had not arrived by the time of the attack, officials said.

Law enforcement on Tuesday described in detail Craddock’s movements, from early in the day submitting a polite letter of resignation, to hours later, near the close of the workday, killing his first victims as he moved through the building.

“We are 116 days into this investigation. Each and every one of those days, we have asked the question why. Why did this subject do what he did? We are still looking to determine motive,” Deputy Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said.

Craddock was shot by police during a shootout, in which one officer was injured, and later succumbed to his injuries, despite officers’ efforts to render aid.

Tuesday’s review comes ahead of a separate study by the Virginia Crime Commission, which has been requested to examine mass shootings and ways to prevent them.

The commission will take its findings and make recommendations to a lame-duck General Assembly in November, after ballots for all of the assembly’s 140 seats have been cast.

is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.

Copyright 2020 Guns and America. To see more, visit .

Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.