A long-time public employee shot dead 12 people at the building complex where he worked before being killed by police in Virginia Beach, in south-eastern Virginia, authorities said.
The shooter on Friday killed one person outside a municipal building complex in the afternoon and then entered the structure and “immediately began to indiscriminately fire upon all the victims,” Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said.
He was armed with a .45 calibre handgun, equipped with a sound suppressor and multiple extended bullet magazines, Cervera said.
After he started shooting four police officers entered the building and engaged in a “long-term gun battle” with the man.
“It was numerous shots fired by the individual, shots were fired from various places down the hallway at the officers,” Cervera said, adding that the attacker was given first aid but died of his injuries.
One person died during travel to the hospital. Another four people were hospitalized, according to the latest police figures, which may increase, the police chief said.
“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” said Mayor Bobby Dwyer. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers neighbours colleagues.”
The suspect was employed by the city’s public works department, which manages public infrastructure in the coastal city.
His identity is known to authorities but will not be released until all the victims are identified and their families notified, authorities said.
“We must take care of these families. These horrific tragedies test our souls,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said.
“My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning and will not return home tonight,” Northam added. “They were all someone’s child and many were someone’s parent.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a tracking website, this is the 150th mass shooting in the US in 2019.