Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Friday, May 31, 2019


The Virginia Beach shooting occurred on the afternoon of May 31, 2019, when a disgruntled city employee fatally shot twelve people and wounded four others in a mass shooting at a municipal building in the Princess Anne area of Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States. He was later shot dead by police officers responding to the scene.

We, the comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, will not forget the twelve of the victims.

The victims of the Virginia Beach shooting. Top row from left: Laquita Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher and Mary Louise Gayle. Middle row from left: Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer and Richard Nettleton. Bottom row from left: Katherine Nixon, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Herbert "Bert" Snelling and Robert "Bobby" Williams. City of Virginia Beach

These are the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. Here are their stories.

  Staff report
  Jun 1, 2019

It was an hour before quitting time, as workers were preparing to head home for the weekend, when a gunman stormed into the city's public works building late Friday afternoon and began firing. 

By the time it was over, 12 people were dead and four were seriously wounded. The first officers on the scene engaged in a gun battle with the shooter and killed him. One officer was struck but was saved by his bulletproof vest.

Police and other emergency personnel found victims on all three floors of the building. They worked through the night to identify them and notify family members.

LaQuita C. Brown, Chesapeake, public works right-of-way agent, four years.

From West Africa to North Carolina, LaQuita Brown was loved around the world.

Playful exchanges on Facebook reveal glimpses of a woman who was adventurous, fun-loving and curious.

"You look gorgeous. Ms. Worldwide," Alison Parson wrote in response to a set of black-and-white photographs posted Feb. 2 of Brown gazing at the camera in a long, flowing skirt.

Tara Welch Gallagher, Virginia Beach, public works, six years

Tara Gallagher was a 1997 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, according to a Facebook post. 

She attended ODU, earning a degree in civil engineering, then a master’s in engineering in 2003.

Social media and records searches indicate she worked at the Virginia Beach Convention Center and Clark Nexsen architectural and engineering firm before joining the city’s public works department six years ago.

Mary Louise Gayle, Virginia Beach, public works, 24 years

Mary Louise Gayle was a great neighbor, and an active member of her church.

She often was seen walking her small dog in the neighborhood, and she took great pride in her home. 

Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Virginia Beach, public works, nine years

Alex Gusev emigrated from Belarus in 2003 seeking a better life in America, and over the last 16 years, he’d gotten it.

He came to the states as a student in his late teens or early 20s and attended Tidewater Community College, said longtime friend Igor Musin. He eventually got a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Old Dominion University.

He started out doing menial labor at a lumber company before becoming a right-of-way agent with the City of Virginia Beach, where he worked for nine years.

Katherine A. Nixon, Virginia Beach, public utilities, 10 years

Katherine A. Nixon worked for 10 years as an engineer with the Department of Public Utilities in Virginia Beach, but is remembered as much more than that.

“She was an amazing woman who cared about everyone,” said Shelby O’Regan Acevedo of Virginia Beach. “She was smart as a whip. She helped any way she could.

“She loved her husband unconditionally, and always stood up for what was right. She was a ray of sunlight that led so many in the right direction. She was selfless, smart and, most of all, a loving mother.”

Richard H. Nettleton, Norfolk, public utilities, 28 years

Rich Nettleton had recently come back to work full time in the Virginia Beach public utilities department. Nettleton had to make sure the underground utilities — mainly water and sewer — were designed, installed and maintained properly, and he had to keep up with the ever-changing technology.

He chaired the HRDPC Regional Construction Standards committee, tasked with making it easier for contractors to do business across Hampton Roads localities by standardizing specifications and construction requirements.

Christopher Kelly Rapp, Powhatan, public works engineer, 11 months

Friends described Christopher Rapp as a quiet Fred Rogers, always with a smile and positive perspective.

And he enjoyed playing bagpipes. Rapp joined Tidewater Pipes & Drums, and quickly made an impact. He was dedicated and affable, much like the popular star of the the long-running children's television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." 

"His enthusiasm and encouragement — you couldn't ask for more," said Christopher Pearcy, pipe major for Tidewater Pipes & Drums.

Ryan Keith Cox, Virginia Beach, public utilities account clerk, 12 years

Keith Cox was soft spoken, but when he sang, his voice was powerful.

He was known for it in his choir, and for the simple gestures of kindness that left an impact on those he knew. 

Joshua O. Hardy, Virginia Beach, public utilities engineering technician, four years
Joshua Hardy worked for the city as an engineering technician, but he wasn't just a man who knew about water and sewer mains.

He also was a self-made writer.

In 2011 he published a children's book, "The ABC Book on Protecting Yourself from Strangers."

In its introduction, the book bears a warning: "It is unfortunate that there is no exact way of identifying a stranger; they come in all races, shapes, sizes, ages, and can be a man or a woman. A stranger can even be someone you know very well and see almost every day."

Michelle "Missy" Langer, 60, Virginia Beach, public utilities administrative assistant, 12 years

Missy Langer had recently turned 60.

She was single and lived by herself in Virginia Beach. She had resided there for 20-plus years, having moved to the area from Ohio, where she grew up and graduated high school, said her sister-in-law, Kim Langer.

Missy Langer and her family vacationed in Virginia Beach when she was a child, and her affection for the area led her to relocate there. “She loved it down there,” said her brother, Fred Langer. “She just loved the scenery.”

Robert "Bobby" Williams, Chesapeake, public utilities special projects coordinator, 41 years

Bobby Williams dedicated 41 years of his life to working for the city of Virginia Beach.
In that time, the city presented him with a service award eight times.

The last time was December: Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, City Manager Dave Hansen and other top officials gave remarks.

Herbert "Bert" Snelling, Virginia Beach, contractor

Whether for the neighbors on his block or the church he loved, Bert Snelling was always there to help.

Friends and neighbors remembered him Saturday as a kind and generous man, and exactly the kind of guy you hope moves in next door.


Ryan Keith Cox, Virginia Beach, public utilities account clerk, 12 years
Keith Cox was soft spoken, but when he sang, his voice was powerful.
He was known for it in his choir, and for the simple gestures of kindness that left an impact on those he knew.

Virginia Beach shooting victim died trying to save co-workers, survivor says
Twelve people were killed Friday in a mass shooting at the municipal center of Virginia Beach, Virginia, after a city employee opened fire in the building, authorities said. One survivor told NPR her co-worker and longtime friend tried to save others in the building — and ultimately lost his life because of his bravery.

Christi Dewar, a public utilities employee for almost 13 years, said she thought it was a drill when a woman ran down an office hallway shouting "active shooter." Dewar said the shots initially sounded "like a nail gun going off." She didn't think a gunman was behind the noises because renovations were going on in the building.

However, as the noises continued, Dewar and Ryan Keith Cox became alarmed. Dewar described Cox as one of her closest friends and a longtime colleague. Both began their government positions on the same day, had desks close to each other and clicked on a fundamental level, she said, according to the outlet.

The co-workers began to move toward a staircase they believed to be away from the shooting noises when another co-worker ran by, telling them to go in the other direction. While Dewar said she thought the break room would be a safe place, Cox implored them to stay in an office room.
"He said, 'No, stay here, stay quiet,'" Dewar recalled. "I said, 'Come on,' and he said, 'I have to go check on the other ones.'" He told Dewar and seven of their colleagues  to barricade themselves in the room, then left. The group blocked the door using a heavy cabinet and kept quiet as they hid behind furniture.

"Two bullets almost came through the back of the cabinet," Dewar recounted. "We fell to the ground; then we heard other shots close to us," she said. "That's when he got Keith."

After the sounds of bullets became harder to hear, Dewar called 911 — and police quickly arrived, she said. An officer held onto her hand as they walked down the steps and told her to "not look down." However, Dewar said she had a difficult time averting her eyes from what lay below her feet.

"As we went down the stairwell," Dewar told the outlet, "I had to step over one of my friends." 

"I called him my big teddy bear," Dewar said of Cox. "Every time I was upset, he would give me a hug. When I was upset about something, he knew exactly what to say to make you smile."

The heroic story echoes those of other victims in two recent mass shootings. Student Kendrick Castillo was the sole victim killed in the May shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. He died trying to stop one of the armed suspects from firing, allowing his classmates to escape. He, along with several other students, helped prevent further violence

One of the two students killed in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shooting in late April, Riley Howell, was also lauded as a hero for fighting the gunman. Officials said if it wasn't for his actions, the shooter may not have been disarmed.

The Virginia Beach gunman, identified as city employee Dewayne Craddock, also wounded four people before he died after a long gunfight with police. Craddock gave his two weeks' notice from his government job just hours before the massacre, city officials said Sunday.  Eleven of the people killed were city employees, while one worked as a contractor at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

First published on June 2, 2019 / 11:37 PM
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