Bishops lament Virginia Beach killings

Richmond, Va., Jun 3, 2019 / 03:18 pm (CNA).- After 12 people were killed Friday by a gunman in Virginia, the local bishop offered his prayers for all those affected in the tragedy.

DeWayne Craddock allegedly opened fire May 31 on employees and customers of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center Complex, whence he had quit his job that morning.

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond said Friday that “My prayers and thoughts are with the people of Virginia Beach and the community of Hampton Roads. Tonight, I will continue to pray for those who lost their lives, those who are injured, the medical personnel and first responders who are assisting the victims, families and all affected. I would ask all the faithful to pray with me during this time.”

Eleven of those killed were Virginia Beach employees, and one was a contractor at the municipal center. Four others were injured, and Craddock died in a shootout with police.

The police are unsure of the motive for the attack. CNN reported that several former co-workers were dismayed and surprised by Craddock’s behavior.

Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen said Craddock had been “in good standing within his department and there were no issues of discipline ongoing.”

Craddock’s family said they were unfamiliar with any problems he had at work and posted a note on their front door, expressing sorrow for the loss of life, according to CNN.

“We are grieving the loss of our loved one. At this time we wish to focus on the victims and the lives (lost) during yesterday’s tragic event,” the Craddocks wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who (lost) their lives, and those recovering in the hospital,” the note read.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered his condolences to the victims in a June 1 statement. He said this incident points to an underlying problem in society, “when ordinary workplaces can become scenes of violence and contempt for human life.”

“As Americans we must deeply examine why these horrific occurrences of gun violence continue to take place in our communities, in order to root out the causes of such evils. Action is needed to attempt to reduce the frequency of these abhorrent acts through legislation and training. I call on Catholics around the country to pray for the dead and injured, as well as for healing in the community,” he said.

“May Jesus, whose victory over death we celebrate during this Easter Season, bring consolation and healing at this time of great sorrow.”

Bishop Knestout issued another statement June 2 expressing hope that the community will find comfort in prayer and saying t is God who provides strength.

“ I hope in some small way this prayer and support brings comfort to you and to the Virginia Beach community. This is your home and I know words fall short in easing the pain of this time, but offer them to you in the hope that in being united with you in thought and prayer, we might also help you carry the burden of this loss,” he said.

“It is in this time of loss that we turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer. To ease our grief – it is God who provides the strength and peace to sustain us in times of loss and distress.”

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