NORFOLK, Va. -- The Powhatan man who was one of the 12 people killed after a gunman opened fire inside the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Friday afternoon graduated from Old Dominion University.
John R. Broderick, the university's president, said he was "heartbroken to learn" Saturday morning that "a number of victims and the alleged perpetrator attended or graduated from Old Dominion."
Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan County graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering in 1994.
Other graduates include:
- Tara Welch Gallagher, BS in Civil Engineering 2002, Master of Engineering 2003
- Alexander Gusev, BS in Civil Engineering, 2016
- Richard H. Nettleton, BS in Business Administration, 1994
- Christopher Kelly Rapp, BS in Civil Engineering, 1994
- Ryan Keith Cox, former student
"I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of all of the victims. I know this tragedy has triggered a range of conflicting emotions – pain, anger, confusion. But it has also brought out the best in the Monarch community, and I am heartened that many have stepped up to volunteer, including our ODU counselors participating in the Virginia Beach First Responders team to help those in need."
Broderick said a vigil to honor the victims will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m. outside Webb University Center. Additionally, Virginia and ODU flags are being flown at half-staff on campus.
"We stand united with our friends and neighbors in Virginia Beach, including our faculty, staff and students at the ODU Higher Education Center in the Princess Anne area, and throughout Hampton Roads," Broderick said. "In the days and weeks ahead, with courage and love, let’s help our community rise up from even the darkest of times."
Neighbors 'in shock'
Rapp, who had who had worked as an engineer in Virginia Beach's public works department for 11 months, had deep roots in Powhatan County where he lived and previously worked.
Ann Hatcher was saddened to learn of her neighbor's death Saturday morning.
"[I'm] in shock. I mean, we know death can come at any time, but to answer the door and find out our neighbor was one of the less fortunate ones," Ann Hatcher said. "This is a big loss."
Ann Hatcher said she cannot stop thinking about Rapp's wife as the couple would often take walks around the neighborhood.
"We just pray for the families of these victims and continue to pray and ask God that violence can stop," Hatcher said.
Hatcher's husband, Gene, said Rapp visited him frequently over the last few years as he recovered from a brain injury.
"He would stop by to see me from time to time, especially after this happened and so I really appreciated that," Gene Hatcher remembered.
Rapp graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University in 1994, according to the school.
Gene Hatcher also knew Rapp before he was as an engineer with Virginia Beach when he served as director of utilities and general services in Powhatan County.
Rapp was former Powhatan utilities director
Former County Administrator Carolyn Bishop hired Rapp for the position in 2007 not only because he was well-qualified, but because she said he was a "nice, kind soul."
"The real reason I hired him is because I could tell he was a very honest, kind, ethical person," she said. "He just always smiled. He was very helpful."
In addition, Bishop said she eventually became friends with Rapp and his wife.
"They were such a close-knit couple and they traveled all over the world together," she said.
Engineer had 'passion for the pipes'
In addition to being remembered as a loving husband, Rapp was also known for his passion for Irish culture and playing the bagpipes.
Tidewater Pipes & Drums Band Manager Jim Roberts said Rapp joined the group last fall.
"He was quiet but had a passion for the pipes and Scottish culture... He jumped right into the band circle and started contributing immediately," Roberts said. "He played with us at the Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games last October and marched with us as recently as St. Patrick's Day.
Roberts remembered Rapp as reserved, but "very friendly" and engaged members one-on-one after the group's weekly practices.
"Even though we didn't have time to get to know him better, we shared a love for music that created an immediate bond. More importantly, he showed up and worked hard, which is all you can ask for in a group of amateur musicians.
"Our thoughts right now are with Chris' wife, Bessie, and their loved ones. We are planning to play for Chris' funeral service (time and date TBD) and will do whatever else we can to support his family at this difficult time.
News of the Central Virginia connection to the tragedy came as officials released the names Saturday of 12 people who were killed Friday.
All but one were employees of the city of Virginia Beach, City Manager Dave Hansen said.
Virginia Beach Municipal Center Shooting Victims:
- Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake, a right-of-way agent who worked 4½ years for Virginia Beach's public works department.
- Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach, an engineer who worked six years for the city's public works department.
- Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach, a right-of-way agent who worked 24 years for the city's public works department.
- Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach, a right-of-way agent who worked nine years for the public works department.
- Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach, an engineer who worked 10 years for the city's public utilities department.
- Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk, an engineer who worked 28 years for Virginia Beach's public utilities department.
- Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach, an account clerk who worked 12½ years in the public utilities department.
- Joshua O. Hardy of Virginia Beach, an engineering technician who worked 4½ years in the public utilities department.
- Michelle "Missy" Langer of Virginia Beach, an administrative assistant who worked 12 years in the public utilities department.
- Robert "Bobby" Williams of Chesapeake, a special projects coordinator who worked 41 years in Virginia Beach's public utilities department.
- Herbert "Bert" Snelling, a contractor who was trying to fill a permit.
The Virginia Beach resident was a contractor who was trying to fill a permit at the time of the shooting.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer told CNN that Snelling was a friend of his. He said he was devastated to learn on social media around midnight about his death.
"He started off as a carpenter that did work at (my) house, and then he became a friend. We socialized," Dyer said.
"He was just such a great guy. He was a consummate professional. He did great work. ... This really hits home with me."
Hansen told reporters Saturday that he'd worked with most of the slain, and that he'd served in the US military with Nettleton in Germany.
"They leave a void that we will never be able to fill," the city manager said.