Officials in Virginia Beach pushed back on Thursday against what they described as “rumors, innuendo, conflicting theories and speculation” about last month’s mass shooting in a municipal building.
But police in this coastal city of nearly half a million people were also no closer to offering a possible motive behind the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in 2019. And the family of one the 12 people who died is demanding an independent investigation.
Following days of relative quiet, the city released a lengthy explanation for where its investigation stands nearly two weeks after civil engineer DeWayne Craddock opened fire in the large city building where he worked.
The statement outlined police efforts, including plans to interview 240 people, but it also sought to rebut misinformation about a tragedy that remains particularly inscrutable and ripe for conjecture.
City officials said police investigated a report that Craddock, 40, was being “confrontational, argumentative and engaging in fights” before the rampage. But officials said police have “not uncovered evidence corroborating these allegations.”
The city’s statement also addressed what it said were “suggestions” about one of the victims, Kate Nixon, an engineer who worked with Craddock.
Officials said Nixon did not receive Craddock’s resignation email, which he had sent on the day of the attack, and said Nixon “was not a supervisor in the shooter’s chain of command.”
The denial comes more than a week after the city released Craddock’s two-sentence, emailed resignation letter. The names of the recipients were redacted. So was the time it was sent on May 31.
Craddock’s email gave his two weeks’ notice, citing “personal reasons.” But it offered no clues that he was unhappy at work or had held a grudge against anyone.
Since Craddock’s resignation letter was released, Nixon’s family has spoken about concerns they say Nixon had about Craddock.
She “had written him up in the past and thought he had a poor attitude,” Kevin Martingayle, an attorney for the family, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
“We don’t know if he was facing discipline or termination when he resigned, but the resignation email he sent and reply he got suggest that something was going on,” Martingayle wrote.
He added: “The shooter’s complete employment records should be released immediately as permitted by law, and a comprehensive independent investigation should be pursued without further delay.”
The records that the city has released on Craddock have revealed little.
In response to a records request from The Associated Press, the city said Craddock earned $83,283.20 a year. But the city withheld nine performance reviews, citing exemptions for personnel information.
Police search warrants have also been sealed. And Craddock’s 2017 divorce filings were about as boilerplate as his resignation letter, citing “irreconcilable” differences.
He and his wife had two dogs, Jackson and Carbon, which she took possession of, the filings said. He kept the house and agreed to pay her $25,000.
Officials in Virginia Beach said police are “looking into every lead and examining every avenue in search of the facts”
“(W)e understand the intense interest in finding out why one of our own conducted this deadly rampage,” the city said. “No one wants answers more than we do. We, like the families, co-workers and community, want to understand the circumstances that played into this tragedy as best we can.”
This story has been corrected to show that Craddock’s divorce was filed in 2017.