WASHINGTON – A longtime public utilities employee sprayed gunfire “indiscriminately” in a government building complex on Friday in Virginia Beach, Virginia, killing 12 people and wounding six, police said.
The gunman was killed after trading fire with responding officers, police Chief James Cervera told a news conference.
The chief said the suspect engaged in a long gunbattle with law enforcement officers as police confronted him inside the building. One police officer was wounded in the shootout, but his bullet-proof vest saved his life.
The police chief said the suspect was armed with a .45-caliber handgun equipped with a “sound suppressor” device and was reloading his weapon with extended ammunition magazines as he moved through the building.
The shooting happened just after 4 p.m., when the gunman entered one of the buildings at the Virginia Beach municipal complex and “immediately began to indiscriminately fire on all of the victims,” Cervera said.
Authorities did not release the shooter’s name or speculate on his motives.
The building where the shooting took place in Virginia Beach, a city on the East Coast about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Washington, housed the city’s public works and utilities offices.
According to the Washington-based Gun Violence Archive monitoring group, Friday’s shooting was the 150th mass shooting in the United States this year, defined as a single event in which four or more people are shot or killed.
Despite the scale of gun violence across the nation, gun ownership laws are lax and efforts to address the issue legislatively have long been deadlocked at the federal level.