Virginia Beach shooting victims were veteran city employees

Members of Mount Olive Baptist Church pray near a municipal building that was the scene of a shooting, Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Virginia Beach, Va. A longtime city employee opened fire at the building Friday before police shot and killed him, authorities said.

One victim worked for the Virginia Beach municipal government for 41 years. Another, for just 11 months. A third was a contractor who was filing a permit at the worst time possible.

Most of the twelve people who were killed Friday by gunman DeWayne Craddock — himself a longtime municipal employee — had the kind of job titles common for government servants. They were engineers, right of way agents, account clerks or administrative assistants.

During a news conference Saturday, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen released the names of the 12 victims. They were identified as:

- Ryan Keith Cox, an account clerk with Public Utilites for more than 12 years who lived in Virginia Beach.

Cox was from a devout Christian family.

His father, E. Ray Cox Sr., 78, is the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, where Keith Cox was known as the "golden voice."

"Keith was one of my main go to lead singers!!" former music minister Kenneth Robinson wrote on Facebook, where members of the church mourned his death. So did his older brother, Ervin Ray Cox Jr.: "My heart is hurting because my baby brother was murdered today by the shooter in Virginia Beach mass shooting. I won't hears his beautiful singing voice at church or home anymore. I loved my brother and will truly miss his caring soul. Until we meet again in heaven."

- Michelle "Missy" Langer, 60, an administrative assistant with Public Utilities for 12 years who lived in Virginia Beach.

Gregarious and friendly, people were drawn to Langer, said her colleague, Kimberly Millering, who remembered her as an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Both of them had been at work when the gunfire began. After a SWAT team evacuated Millering from Building 2, her fears turned to Langer, her friend of eight years.

"I tried calling Missy," Millering said. "I didn't get an answer and I got so worried."

A friend of Langer's neighbor reached out to Millering on Facebook to deliver the grim news: she was among those killed. Millering, 55, a geographic information analyst for the city, would later learn other colleagues, Katherine Nixon and Richard Nettleton, were also among the dead. But she was especially close to Langer.

"I will miss her smile and her hugs. That's the hardest thing," she said, her voice shaking. "I don't know how I can go into that building and know that's where she died."

Langer's sister-in-law, Kim Langer, described the 60-year-old as a cheerful, fun-loving woman who loved the beach, working in her yard and watching football.

"She was always laughing, always smiling," she said.

Langer was survived by her brother and sister.

Kim Langer said her sister-in-law's body will be brought back to East Liverpool, Ohio, where she will be buried.

"We're very distraught," she said, her voice cracking. "Can't believe it's true. Just unbelievable. This kind of stuff has got to stop."

- Richard H. Nettleton, an engineer with Public Utilities for 28 years who lived in Norfolk, Virginia.

Nettleton stayed on the job for nearly three decades simply because he enjoyed the work, said his boss, Bob Montague, the director of Virginia Beach's public utilities department.

Nettleton helped lead the design and construction of the city's sewer and water pump stations, water storage tank, and transmission lines and pipelines.

"Rich was just a good guy and very compassionate," Montague said. "He cared about people. He helped and mentored young engineers."

- Katherine A. Nixon, an engineer with Public Utilities for 10 years who lived in Virginia Beach.

Nixon came from a family of civil engineers: Her late father Robert "Bobby" Lusich; her grandfather George Lusich; and two of her uncles, Jerry Lusich and Anthony Lusich. All engineers who loved their work.

Nixon, who was in her early 40s, was just as devoted to her husband Jason, a realtor, and her children. She had three girls, one of them just 15 months old, according to her grandmother Claudia Blodget.

Blodget, who lives in California, learned of the shooting while watching television. When the media reported the killings took place at the Virginia Beach municipal center, Blodget reached out to relatives, who told her Kate had been shot. Later that night, she said, around 10 p.m., she learned her grandaughter had died in surgery.

"I still remember teaching her how to quilt when she was a teenager," Blodget said. "She leaves a hole in the realm that will never be filled."

In Virginia Beach, she performed a crucial job, said her boss, Bob Montague.

She was a senior engineer in charge of the department's regulatory compliance. One of her jobs was to make sure the city's restaurants did all they could to lessen the impact of fats, oils, and grease on the city's sewer system.

"All these people were such great people," said Montague, who supervised six of those killed. "This is what makes it so difficult. They were our family."

- Christopher Kelly Rapp, an engineer with Public Works for 11 months who lived in Powhatan, Virginia.

Rapp loved Scottish music.

When he wasn't at work or with his wife, Bessie, he enjoyed putting on a kilt and playing his pipes.

Tidewater Pipes & Drums, a bagpipe band in southeastern Virginia, said on social media that Rapp had recently moved to Virginia Beach and joined the band. Bandmates described him as a quiet person who "had a passion for bagpipes and Scottish culture."

"We are heartbroken to share the news that our bandmate, Chris Rapp, was one of the victims of Friday's senseless shooting," the group said Saturday morning in a Facebook post.

Jim Roberts, the band manager, said in a statement that Rapp had marched with the band as recently as St. Patrick's Day.

"Chris was reserved but very friendly, quietly engaging members one-on-one after our 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 group of amateur musicians," Roberts said.

The band is planning to play at his funeral service, Roberts said, and "will do whatever else we can to support his family at this difficult time."

- Herbert "Bert" Snelling, a contractor who was filing a permit when the shooting occurred and lived in Virginia Beach.

On LinkedIn, Snelling said he owned Standing Firm Builders, Inc. He also worked as a project manager at Golden Heritage Homes.

"From a small handyman repair to clearing a lot and constructing a home," Snelling wrote, "I will personally attend to all ongoing jobs to ensure a job done with excellence."

The 57-year old father led the Crosswalk Church's security team and roamed its halls to protect fellow congregants, Mariana Rocha told the Virginian Pilot.

Snelling was the only victim in Friday's shooting who was not a city employee.

Rocha was among hundreds to attend a Saturday vigil for the victims, where she remembered Snelling, "the sweetest, sweetest man" who just last week celebrated a wedding anniversary.

Snelling kept an eye on others outside his church. Alton Hill, his neighbor of 14 years, said Snelling would let him know if a shingle tore off the roof during a storm and was quick to offer help.

"He was just always there," Hill said.

- Laquita C. Brown, a right of way agent with Public Works for more than four years who lived in Chesapeake, Virginia.

- Tara Welch Gallagher, an engineer with Public Works for six years who lived in Virginia Beach.

- Mary Louise Gayle, a right of way agent with Public Works for 24 years who lived in Virginia Beach.

- Alexander Mikhail Gusev, a right of way agent with Public Works for nine years who lived in Virginia Beach.

- Joshua O. Hardy, engineering tech resident with Public Utilities for more than four years who lived in Virginia Beach.

- Robert "Bobby" Williams, a special projects coordinator with Public Utilities for 41 years who lived in Chesapeake.

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