At Least 12 Killed In Virginia Beach Shooting
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
A dozen victims and a suspect are dead in another mass shooting, this time at a municipal center in Virginia Beach. Last night, Governor Ralph Northam spoke in a courthouse not far from the city building where the shooting took place yesterday afternoon.
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RALPH NORTHAM: Our hearts ache over the senseless violence that has been inflicted upon the Virginia Beach community today. My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning and will not return tonight.
SIMON: NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Virginia Beach. Sarah, thanks for being with us.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning.
SIMON: What more do we know about what happened yesterday?
MCCAMMON: As of the latest update from police, the number of deaths had risen from 11 victims as initially reported to 12. We're told that one of those victims died of their injuries either in route to the hospital or at the hospital. It wasn't clear. So that's in addition to the suspect, who police say was a longtime city employee. A total of 13 people at least have died at this point. Another four, Scott, were in surgery as of last night. We don't know anything further about their conditions this morning. But Police Chief Jim Cervera spoke to the media and asked for respect for the families and everyone involved.
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JAMES CERVERA: Their lives are changed forever. The folks who work in that building - their lives are changed. I have a number of officers right now who are processing through what best can be described as a war zone. Their lives are going to be changed.
SIMON: Sarah, any more details that have been reported and how events unfolded yesterday at the municipal center?
MCCAMMON: Well, it was a large municipal complex that houses government buildings for Virginia Beach, which is, by the way, both a city and a county, so there's a lot of business to be done there. Police haven't released the suspect's name, but, again, they say he worked for the city. They say he started shooting a little after 4 p.m. yesterday with a .45 caliber handgun and what police describe as a sound suppressor. One person was shot in a vehicle outside the building, they say; the rest inside. There were victims on every floor. Police say they responded, engaged in what the chief called a long gun battle before shooting the suspect.
SIMON: And what do we know today about the victims?
MCCAMMON: None of the names have been released to the public. But last night, officials set up a family reunification center at a middle school not far from the complex where this all took place where people could come and look for their loved ones. Outside, I met Amy Woody. She was walking her two dogs and looking for a neighbor who she said worked for the city.
AMY WOODY: Because I'm not getting any response back from her in our ways of communication, so that's - she's pretty much like I say. She's like clockwork. I know when she comes. I know when she goes. We've been neighbors for almost two decades. So I just like to follow up, do what she would do for me.
MCCAMMON: And, Scott, I'm very sorry to say that I woke up this morning and Amy texted me in the middle of the night to say that she had learned that her neighbor did not survive. I don't know that victim's name or any of the victims' names, but as of the latest update, police say they've been working to identify those victims and notify their families. And I would expect that we'll be hearing more about that today.
SIMON: Sarah, you've covered a number of mass shootings, but you happen to live in Virginia Beach.
SIMON: What does the - what does your neighborhood, your town, feel like today?
MCCAMMON: It's strange. It's like so many mass shootings that I've covered, something like half a dozen in my career already. And people always say they fear it will happen in their backyards, and now it has. People here feel that. I feel that. I talked to a man yesterday over at the complex who'd just come to sit on a curb and think for a while. He said he lives and works nearby, and he was pretty shaken up that this happened here. But increasingly, Scott, it's just - it feels like it's happening everywhere. And I've seen reports of at least one vigil being planned for this morning, so people will be gathering as they always do. More gatherings, I'm told, are planned later in the week, but those details are still coming together. But it is going to be, as it always is, a long week and a very long recovery for these families and this community.
SIMON: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks so much.
MCCAMMON: Thank you.
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