Virginia shooting: 12 killed after disgruntled employee opens fire

US police. Representative image

A disgruntled veteran public utilities employee stormed a government building in the US State of Virginia and fired indiscriminately at his co-workers, killing at least 12 people and wounding six others, police said Saturday.

The gunman, whose identity has not been released, was killed when police responded to the shooting in the southeastern coastal city of Virginia Beach.

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

Police Chief James Cervera told reporters there was an exchange of gunfire with officers and a police officer whose ballistic vest stopped a bullet was injured.

"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach. The people involved are our friends, coworkers, neighbour, colleagues," Mayor Bobby Dyer was quoted as saying by the CNN.

The shooter was a disgruntled employee, the report said, quoting a Virginia government source.

"The President has been briefed on the shooting in Virginia Beach, VA and continues to monitor the situation," White House said.

"This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are devastated by the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach," said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam after visiting the scene.

The shooting took place shortly after 4 PM within the sprawling Virginia Beach Municipal Center, a campus of city offices and agencies, including the Police Department, when the gunman entered the public works department building of the city's municipal center.

The attack unfolded on multiple floors in Building No. 2, which includes offices for planning and public works, among others, and is adjacent to City Hall. The name of the gunman, who worked in the public utilities department, was not revealed by the city policy, police said.

Police found victims on every floor of the building, the police chief said, adding the identities of the victims were not immediately released nor was the motive of the attack.

According to local Virginian Pilot newspaper, the shooter came armed with a .45-caliber handgun with a sound suppressor on it and shot one victim in a vehicle outside before entering the building. The rest were shot inside.

The FBI is helping the city police in investigating the shooting incident.

Senator Mark R Warner said that he is horrified by what has happened in Virginia Beach.

"I am thankful to law enforcement for their swift and courageous response. My heart goes out to all the victims of today's senseless violence, their families, and the entire community that has been affected by these awful events. I will be praying for the swift recovery of those injured," he said.

"My heart breaks for Virginia Beach. For the victims, their families, the community, everyone impacted by this terrible act of violence. But the moment we resign ourselves to be just onlookers to such carnage, we lose our soul. We can and will take action," Senator Ed Markey said.


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