Nation & World

11 dead, 6 injured after shooting at Virginia Beach Municipal Center

Police tape. (Dreamstime/TNS)
Police tape. (Dreamstime/TNS)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Eleven people were killed and six people injured by a shooter at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on Friday afternoon, Virginia Beach police Chief Jim Cervera said.

“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dwyer said. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors and colleagues.”

The shooter was a current, longtime employee, Cervera said in a news conference Friday night.

The shooter fired at police, injuring one officer, before being shot and killed. The officer’s bulletproof vest saved his life, Cervera said.

Dale Gauding, a Sentara spokesman, said in an email that five patients went to Virginia Beach General, and one person has arrived at the Level I Trauma Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital at 6:13 p.m. in a Nightingale helicopter.

Megan Blanton, 30, was in the building when the gunman began firing. She said her supervisor pulled her and others into an office and shoved a desk against the door while Blanton called 911.

“It felt like forever,” Blanton said.

Public Works spokesman Drew Lankford, who works in the Operations building, left the office on Friday afternoon to get a haircut. While he was gone, his daughter called and said there had been a shooter in his work building.

His daughter, who works in the City Hall building, said security told everyone to get under their desks. He rushed back to the office and saw cops taking cover behind parked cars with their guns drawn.

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City Councilwoman Barbara Henley had just pulled up to the City Hall building just after 4 p.m. to pick up the agenda as she does every week when she heard sirens and saw police cars.

“I thought it was an accident,” Henley said.

As she parked her car in the lot between Building 1 and 2, she noticed city employees standing outside using their cellphones. Someone told her there was a shooting and she should leave. Henley had gotten back in her car when she heard a male voice shout, “Get down!”

People scattered.

“I was scared to death,” Henley said.

She quickly drove home.

Henley said she’s never seen a situation like this before at the Municipal Center, adding that security has recently been “beefed up” in the City Hall building as a result of shooting incidents across the nation, but that some of the other municipal buildings do not take the same security measures.

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(Virginian-Pilot staff writer Sara Gregory contributed to this report.)

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