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Virginia Beach mass shooting: Man kills 12 at govt building

Saturday June 1 2019

Virginia Beach mass shooting

In this image sent from Lucretia Cunningham via @SouthsideDaily to AFP, a police officer blocks a road to the Virginia Beach municipal complex, the site of a mass shooting in Virginia, on May 31, 2019. PHOTO | LUCRETIA CUNNINGHAM | SOUTHSIDE DAILY | AFP 

BBC
By BBC
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At least 12 people were killed and several injured on Friday in a mass shooting at a government building in the US state of Virginia.

Police said the suspect, a long-term and current Virginia Beach city employee, fired "indiscriminately" in a public utilities building.

The gunman, whose identity was not released, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Officials said an officer was wounded when a bullet struck his vest.

WHAT HAPPENED

Reports of gunfire began shortly after 4PM (20:00 GMT) at Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

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The area, which contains a range of city government buildings, was put into lockdown by police and employees were evacuated.

"We just heard people yelling and screaming at people to get down," Megan Banton, an administrative assistant in the building, told local television news station WAVY.

Another employee told the AP news agency she and others heard shooting, but did not think the gunfire was close.

 "I just thank god they were able to alert us in time, because if it had been 10 minutes more we would have all been outside," Sheila Cook said.

Police Chief James Cervera said the gunman returned fire on police officers at the scene and was killed in the exchange.

Police said they believed the gunman had acted alone.

THE VICTIMS

The identities of the 12 people killed were not released by authorities.

At least six people are known to have been wounded, including a police officer, but the severity of their injuries remained unclear.

The injured officer's life was saved when a bullet struck his vest, Chief Cervera told reporters.

A White House spokesman said President Trump had been briefed about the shooting.

The FBI was at the scene helping local authorities investigate the shooting, US media reported.

Virginia Beach is the state's most populous city - with about 440,000 residents.

REACTIONS

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said on Twitter he was "devastated to learn of the tragic shooting tonight in Virginia Beach".

"My heart is with everyone who lost a loved one, and I'm praying for a swift recovery for all those who have been injured," he said.

Robert Dyer, the city's mayor, said: "This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach.

Virginia governor Ralph Northam described the incident as a "tragic day" for the city and the state.

"My heart breaks for the victims of this devastating shooting, their families, and all who loved them," he said on Twitter. "I am on my way to Virginia Beach now and will be there within the hour."

According to US tracking website Gun Violence Archive, the incident is the 150th mass shooting in the US so far in 2019.