“Each and every one of those days we have asked the question, ‘Why? Why did this suspect do what he did?’ ” he said. “We are still looking to determine motive.”
After conducting 757 interviews and examining thousands of emails and online documents, police still don’t know what led city engineer DeWayne Craddock to open fire, killing a dozen people and wounding four more, all but one of them a colleague. Police — who will take another six to nine months to complete their inquiry — have thus far found no evidence Craddock endured financial stressors or health problems or that he had sought mental-health treatment. They found no documentation of threatening encounters or physical altercations with his co-workers.
“He was actually described by many that we interviewed as quiet, polite, a nice guy and a good listener,” Gallagher said, a comment that elicited scoffs from some victims’ family members.
Craddock, who had worked for nine years at the city, began May 31, a Friday, in routine fashion: He arrived at the municipal center at 7:16 a.m., went to his desk and checked his email. In hindsight, the first clue of what lay ahead that day came about 10 a.m., when Craddock conducted Web searches for maps of Building 2 and the municipal center. At 10:31 a.m., Craddock, 40, emailed an unremarkable resignation letter to his bosses. One of them accepted it 15 minutes later, according to an unredacted email obtained by The Washington Post, informing Craddock when his last day would be.
In the afternoon he visited several job sites with two of his co-workers, police said, arriving back at the office shortly before 3:30 p.m. At 3:55 p.m. — minutes before he began shooting — Craddock sent a job-related email.
Then, as the workweek neared its end, Craddock armed himself at his car with a pair of .45-caliber handguns, at least one equipped with a sound suppressor and extended magazine.
He first killed a contractor in the parking lot outside Building 2 of the sprawling Virginia Beach municipal complex, a cluster of government offices just east of a golf course. He then fatally shot a woman on her way out and used his government badge to access the second floor, where his rampage continued.
After what Gallagher called a “horrific” gun battle with police, officers approached Craddock to arrest him. He’d been shot but was still conscious — and kicking — when officers reached him on the other side of a door through which he had exchanged fire.
“When we took him into custody, he was fighting with us,” Gallagher said. Nevertheless, he added, officers tried to render first aid to Craddock as best they could.
“We wanted to save his life,” he said. “That did not happen.”
Hired as an engineer in 2010, Craddock received satisfactory evaluations from his supervisors until 2017 — the same year of his divorce — when he was placed on a “performance improvement plan,” police said. In 2018 he received a written reprimand from a supervisor for his job performance and was given an “Improvement Required” evaluation, police said.
In 2019, Craddock was expected to receive a “satisfactory” performance evaluation, Gallagher said. However, shortly before the shooting, Craddock had a conflict with the city’s purchasing department, Gallagher said, without elaborating on what the problem was. Two of Craddock’s supervisors sided with Craddock in that dispute, police said at their briefing.
After his divorce, Craddock had become isolated from his family, Gallagher said. Relatives described him as "introverted," "paranoid" and "uncomfortable around people." He owned five guns, all purchased legally, and had ordered body armor that didn't arrive in time for the shooting.
Two days after the attack, City Manager Dave Hansen, who has since resigned, announced that “a very thorough review” of the gunman’s personnel file had revealed no problems.
“To my knowledge, the perpetrator’s performance was satisfactory,” Hansen said, adding that Craddock “was in good standing within his department . . . there were no issues of discipline ongoing.”
Those statements angered some relatives of the victims, including Jason Nixon, who said that his wife, Kate, had “written up” the gunman for poor performance. Another time, Kate — a compliance manager in the public utilities department — had called Craddock a chauvinist who disrespected her because she was a woman and outranked him, her husband said.
On Tuesday, Nixon said, police allowed him to view a few of his wife’s journals, including one that mentioned Craddock several times. In some, she criticized him. In one case, for example, she wrote about his not finishing a job. People had complained, but Craddock hadn’t returned their calls.
“He was defiant,” said Jason’s sister, Mandy Nixon-Hammer, who read that notebook.
Hillard Heintze, a Chicago-based firm hired by the city to conduct an independent investigation, also delivered a progress report Tuesday on its work.
Arnette Heintze told the council his team had “continually heard concerns” from city employees complaining that “a hostile work environment” existed for city employees, specifically African Americans, who felt they “were being treated differently” from other workers and were subject to harsher discipline. Craddock was black.
To further examine those concerns and assess whether they had contributed to workplace violence, Heintze said, the agency this week began a survey of all Virginia Beach employees. Heintze said the extensive concerns about the city’s allegedly hostile office culture had created unanticipated work for his team, and along with other factors have led investigators to push back the delivery date for their final report from mid-October to mid-
As police displayed a slide with all of the victims’ photos, tears streamed downed the faces of relatives sitting in the audience.
By the end of the presentation, several were left unsatisfied.
“I don’t know really what the point of that briefing was other than to assure the public they’re doing everything they can do,” said Pat Gallagher, who lost his wife, Tara Welch Gallagher, in the shooting. “I didn’t get much out of it. It sounds like they have a ways to go.”
Debbie Borato, whose sister Missy Langer was killed, felt so furious after the presentation that she was shaking.
“Rage,” she answered when asked how she felt. “Rage.”
She was upset that the police did not discuss the tense workplace environment her sister had described to her over the phone many times before the mass shooting and that Borato said she felt might have played a role in the incident.
Nixon was equally angry. He resented the police’s description of Craddock as quiet and professional and was deeply disappointed that they didn’t provide a motive.
Nixon couldn't understand why the police didn't mention the times his wife had allegedly written up Craddock. At one point during the presentation, he turned to his mother and said, "That's bull----."
"I just want this to end," said Nixon, who earlier in the day had for the first time visited the site of his wife's killing. "I just want answers. I want closure. And I can't get it until someone tells me the truth."
After half a dozen interviews, Nixon stood in the center of the room, arms crossed, his voice hoarse.
"I was hoping for . . ." he said, his voice trailing off. "I was hoping for more."
Ian Shapira and Patricia Sullivan contributed to this report.