Nation & World

These are the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. Here are their stories.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It was an hour before quitting time, as workers were preparing to head home for the weekend, when a gunman stormed into Virginia Beach's public works building late Friday afternoon and began firing.

By the time it was over, 12 people were dead and four were seriously wounded. The first officers on the scene engaged in a gun battle with the shooter and killed him. One officer was struck but was saved by his bulletproof vest.


Police and other emergency personnel found victims on all three floors of the building. They worked through the night to identify them and notify family members.

LaQuita C. Brown

From West Africa to North Carolina, LaQuita Brown was loved around the world.


Playful exchanges on Facebook reveal glimpses of a woman who was adventurous, fun-loving and curious.

"You look gorgeous. Ms. Worldwide," Alison Parson wrote in response to a set of black-and-white photographs posted Feb. 2 of Brown gazing at the camera in a long, flowing skirt.

Read more about LaQuita Brown.

Tara Welch Gallagher

Tara Gallagher was a 1997 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, according to a Facebook post.

She attended ODU, earning a degree in civil engineering, then a master's in engineering in 2003.

Social media and records searches indicate she worked at the Virginia Beach Convention Center and Clark Nexsen architectural and engineering firm before joining the city's public works department six years ago.

Read more about Tara Gallagher.

Mary Louise Gayle

Mary Louise Gayle, from Virginia Beach, spent 24 years with the city's public works department.


She was among the 12 victims in Friday's mass shooting at Municipal Building 2.

Friends and family elected not to respond Saturday.

Read more about Mary Louise Gayle.

Alexander Mikhail Gusev

Alex Gusev emigrated from Belarus in 2003 seeking a better life in America, and over the last 16 years, he'd gotten it.

He came to the states as a student in his late teens or early 20s and attended Tidewater Community College, said longtime friend Igor Musin. He eventually got a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Old Dominion University.

He started out doing menial labor at a lumber company before becoming a right-of-way agent with the City of Virginia Beach, where he worked for nine years.


Read more about Alex Gusev.

Katherine A. Nixon

Katherine A. Nixon worked for 10 years as an engineer with the Department of Public Utilities in Virginia Beach, but is remembered as much more than that.

"She was an amazing woman who cared about everyone," said Shelby O'Regan Acevedo of Virginia Beach. "She was smart as a whip. She helped any way she could.

"She loved her husband unconditionally, and always stood up for what was right. She was a ray of sunlight that led so many in the right direction. She was selfless, smart and, most of all, a loving mother."

Read more about Katherine Nixon.

Richard H. Nettleton

Rich Nettleton had recently come back to work full time in the Virginia Beach public utilities department. Nettleton had to make sure the underground utilities — mainly water and sewer — were designed, installed and maintained properly, and he had to keep up with the ever-changing technology.


He chaired the HRDPC Regional Construction Standards committee, tasked with making it easier for contractors to do business across Hampton Roads localities by standardizing specifications and construction requirements.

Read more about Rich Nettleton.

Christopher Kelly Rapp

Friends described Christopher Rapp as a quiet Fred Rogers, always with a smile and positive perspective.

Rapp had ties to Hampton Roads but had just found his way back to the region about a year ago, Christopher Pearcy said Saturday. Rapp enjoyed playing bagpipes and joined Tidewater Pipes & Drums, for which Pearcy is pipe major.

The group practices about three hours on Wednesday nights and performs on other days. It has about 30 active members, and Rapp quickly made an impact. He was dedicated and affable, much like the popular star of the long-running children's television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

"His enthusiasm and encouragement, you couldn't ask for more," Pearcy said.


Read more about Christopher Rapp.

Ryan Keith Cox

Keith Cox was soft spoken, but when he sang, his voice was powerful.

He was known for it in his choir, and for the simple gestures of kindness that left an impact on those he knew.

"He was a really sweet guy. Always opening the doors for us ladies," said Michele Butler, who worked with Cox for about a decade before she retired about a year and a half ago. "He was a gentleman and would do anything for you. He will be missed just as the other victims."

Read more about Keith Cox.

Joshua A. Hardy

Joshua Hardy worked for the city as an engineering technician, but he wasn't just a man who knew about water and sewer mains.


He also was a self-made writer.

In 2011 he published a children's book, "The ABC Book on Protecting Yourself from Strangers."

In its introduction, the book bears a warning: "It is unfortunate that there is no exact way of identifying a stranger; they come in all races, shapes, sizes, ages, and can be a man or a woman. A stranger can even be someone you know very well and see almost every day."

Read more about Joshua Hardy.

Michelle "Missy" Langer

Missy Langer had recently turned 60.

She was single and lived by herself in Virginia Beach. She had resided there for 20-plus years, having moved to the area from Ohio, where she grew up and graduated high school, said her sister-in-law, Kim Langer.


Missy Langer and her family vacationed in Virginia Beach when she was a child, and her affection for the area led her to relocate there. "She loved it down there," said her brother, Fred Langer. "She just loved the scenery."

Missy Langer worked for an engineering company at first, got laid off from that job, then found the administrative assistant position with the city a dozen years ago.

Read more about Missy Langer.

Robert "Bobby" Williams

Robert "Bobby" Williams dedicated 41 years of his life to working for the city of Virginia Beach.

He worked as a special projects coordinator in the public utilities department the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, and the city had presented him with a service award eight times.

Virginia Beach started recognizing employees on their milestones with the city in 1981, three years after Williams joined the staff.


Every five years starting in 1983, he received a different service pin from the city.

Read more about Bobby Williams.

Herbert "Bert" Snelling

Whether for the neighbors on his block or the church he loved, Bert Snelling was always there to help.

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Friends and neighbors remembered him Saturday as a kind and generous man, and exactly the kind of guy you hope moves in next door.

Snelling, of Virginia Beach, was killed Friday afternoon in the shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. He was a contractor and the only one among the 12 victims who wasn't a city employee.

He'd just been in Municipal Building 2 Friday to fill a permit, officials said. He was 57.


Read more about Bert Snelling.

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