VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In its final briefing on the 2019 Virginia Beach mass shooting, the FBI says it found gunman DeWayne Craddock was motivated by long-term “perceived workplace grievances” and “significant mental health stressors” before carrying out the attack.
The briefing released Wednesday comes just over two months after the Virginia Beach Police Department said they found no motive after their investigation into the shooting, which left 12 people dead and four others seriously hurt on May 31, 2019.
Numerous FBI agents helped in the response and investigation of the shooting, including Evidence Response Teams and experts from the FBI Laboratory, and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) led the investigation. The evidence recovery operation and forensic investigation of the crime scene at Building 2 of the municipal center spanned 10 days. FBI agents and computer experts examined digital evidence and conducted numerous witness interviews.
The FBI found Craddock “was motivated by perceived workplace grievances, which he fixated on for years.” They say the shooter struggled with how he perceived his work performance and how others at work viewed him. “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 report says.
The FBI says he viewed violence as a way “to reconcile this conflict and restore his perverted view of justice.”
Those perceived grievances started developing as early as 2014, the FBI says, and Craddock would purposely isolate himself from relationships to conceal his intentions.
“For this reason, BAU assesses that no individual or group was in a position to see the confluence of behaviors that may have forewarned the attack,” the report says.
Craddock also suffered from “significant mental health stressors,” which the report didn’t go into detail on, but the FBI says “mental health stressors alone cannot explain the Virginia Beach attack.”
“It is important to note that only the shooter knew the real reason why he committed this horrific
act of violence; however, at this time, the FBI is confident, based on evidence collected, that the
above assessment is accurate,” the report reads.
The findings are similar to what was shared in the reports from VBPD and independent firm Hillard Heintze, but Police Chief Paul Neudigate, who was working in Cincinnati at the time of the shooting, wouldn’t say that Craddock’s experiences at work directly motivated him to kill.
“We don’t deal in ‘likely’ and I think that is the problem,” Neudigate said back in March. “We need specific facts and circumstances that guide us towards what is in this individual’s mind. It’s hard for police, it’s hard for anybody to tell you what is in your mind and what spurred your actions.”
The FBI says Craddock’s behavior was similar to other mass shooters studied by the bureau, which are “a predatory act, generally with planned and purposeful violence intended for an identified target, person, place, or institution.”
No manifesto was ever found and the only place left to look for evidence is on an electronic tablet owned by Craddock, which is password protected and inaccessible to investigators.
“Is that the smoking gun, is it on that tablet?” Neudigate asked. “Five years down the road if they develop technology that could get us into that tablet, we are definitely going to resubmit the tablet and get in there because we are as curious as the community is about what is on there.”
After the FBI’s findings were released, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer sent this statement:
“We appreciate our FBI partners for their assistance, both for completing this assessment as well as for providing critical evidence recovery and investigative support in the hours and days following May 31, 2019. This report has reminded me that, no matter how much information we have about some situations, it may never be enough to really explain what happened and why. This senseless tragedy defies reason. In the two years since 5/31, we have seen the worst evil one person can do, and the very best of what a community can do when people come together. As we continue to heal, let’s remember to treat each other well.”