Perceived Grievances Drove Virginia Beach Gunman to Kill 12, F.B.I. Finds

DeWayne Craddock, a city engineer who went on a shooting rampage in 2019, had been “fixated for years” on criticism at work, the F.B.I. said.,


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A city engineer was obsessed for years with perceived workplace grievances before killing 12 people in a 2019 shooting at a municipal complex in Virginia Beach, the F.B.I. said this week, releasing the findings of a behavioral analysis that provided new insight on a motive for the attack.

The gunman, DeWayne Craddock, who was fatally wounded by the police, had become alienated from his co-workers over how they viewed him and his own perception of his job performance, according to the findings by the bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

“The shooter’s inflated sense of self-importance contributed to this conflict and led him to believe he was unjustly and repeatedly criticized and slighted,” the bureau concluded. “Violence was viewed by the shooter as a way to reconcile this conflict and restore his perverted view of justice.”

The findings, which were released on Wednesday, offer a measure of explanation for what can be inexplicable for those investigating some of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings: the mind-set of a gunman. Several of those shootings remain mysteries, with investigators unable to determine a motive.

The bureau’s findings contrasted with those of the Virginia Beach Police Department, which said in March that it might never know what had driven Mr. Craddock to snap.

But the F.B.I., whose help was enlisted by the local police, said that Mr. Craddock, 40, a former soldier, had become such a loner that it would have been difficult to envision the bloodshed that he would exact.

“He purposely isolated himself by disengaging from relationships to conceal his intentions,” the bureau said, adding that “no individual or group was in a position to see the confluence of behaviors that may have forewarned the attack.”

The city of Virginia Beach has faced criticism from the victims’ families over reluctance to say what prompted the gunman to open fire on May 31, 2019, in Building No. 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

On the morning of the shooting, Mr. Craddock, a city employee of about 15 years, had sent a resignation email to his bosses.

“Despite exhaustive investigative work and in spite of unsubstantiated rumors and accusations, it appears we may never know why he committed this heinous act,” the Virginia Beach Police Department said in a final investigation report that was released in March.

A spokeswoman for the city did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday, but she told The Washington Post that the F.B.I.’s analysis did not conflict with the city’s conclusions and was an extension of the work begun by the city.

“We asked the F.B.I. to take a look at this because they had a level of expertise in this area that we didn’t have,” said Julie Hill, the spokeswoman. “This is part of the work that we requested. It wasn’t forced on us.”

The F.B.I. said it had briefed the Virginia Beach Police Department on its findings, which noted that the gunman had experienced “significant mental health stressors” that “appeared to have contributed in part to his decompensation in advance of the attack.”

“However, mental health stressors alone cannot explain the Virginia Beach attack,” the bureau said.

Investigators said that the gunman was similar in many ways to others who have carried out mass shootings and have been studied by the F.B.I.

“Mass shootings are a predatory act, generally with planned and purposeful violence intended for an identified target, person, place, or institution,” the bureau said.

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