VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Authorities have more questions than answers after police said a public works employee opened fire inside the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Friday afternoon leaving 12 people dead and 4 others injured.
The shooter also died in a shootout with police, bringing the total to 13 dead.
The incident started just after 4 p.m. inside Building 2 in the 2400 block of Courthouse Drive,Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera said.
“He immediately began to indiscriminately fire upon the victims," Cervera said.
Cervera said officers quickly responded to the scene, which is not far from police headquarters.
The responding officers secured as many victims as they could, on all three levels of the building, Cervera said.
“The suspect did shoot a police officer. Officers returned fire," the police chief said.
Chief Cervera said one of the four injured was a police officer, who was saved by his bulletproof vest.
Police said the suspect used a .45 caliber handgun with a suppressor.
Officials established a family assistance center at Princess Anne Middle School.
Chief Cervera said the suspect was deceased and that "our citizens can rest easy” because of that.
“We are beginning the forensic process of this incident,” Cervera said.
The police chief cautioned to remember the size and “intensity of the scene.”
"It’s a huge scene," Cervera said.
“We’re a little more than two hours into this event. We use the word event. That’s a cop term,” Cervera said. “This devastating event that happened, which none of us want to be here talking about. This devastating incident, which is going to change the lives of a number of families from our city.”
“We had officers with their guns drawn in this parking lot,” WTKR reporter Kofo Lasaki said. “That’s a lot of what we’ve been seeing.”
Additionally, Lasaki said she had seen dozens of police cars and "heard gunshots earlier.”
However, it was unclear if those shots were fired by police.
The courthouse remained on lockdown at last check.
Police urged residents to avoid the area around the municipal center.
Gov. Ralph Northam said on Twitter that he and his team are monitoring the situation, and asked that people stay away from the area and follow all instructions from law enforcement.
Later on Friday, Northam released the following statement:
“This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are devastated by the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach. I am in Virginia Beach with law enforcement authorities and Mayor Dyer, where I am monitoring the situation and offer the state’s full support.
“My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning, and will not return tonight, as well as those who have been injured in this tragedy.
“This is unspeakable, senseless violence. I commend local and state law enforcement, first responders, medical teams, and all others who acted swiftly to respond to this situation. My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”
This is a developing story. Refresh WTVR.com and watch CBS 6 News for updates.