VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Pastor E. Ray Cox is a man of deep faith — and so was his son Ryan Keith Cox.
Keith was one of 12 employees killed by a gunman on May 31 at the municipal center in Virginia Beach.
Full Coverage: Tragedy in Virginia Beach
Pastor Cox wants his son to be remembered as a hero.
"I believe him to be one of the finest men God ever made," he said.
For more than six decades Ray Cox has been the pastor at New Hope Baptist Church.
Keith was learning to become a pastor at his father’s church.
“I think my son had a premonition," Cox said.
He believes Keith tried to help and listen to the shooter whenever he was approached for advice.
“He came home a couple of months ago, and he started to tell us something is going to happen in the Princess Anne complex," Cox said.
Keith’s family does not feel resentment toward the gunman or his family.
“We want his family to know that there's no hate in our house," Cox said.
Cox said he misses his son Keith. He said the 50-year-old public utilities clerk had the “voice of an angel.”
“I'm so proud of the way you lived and the way you died,” Cox said.
“Jesus died saving many, you died saving a few.”
Keith is credited with saving at least seven of his colleagues inside building 2, rushing them to safety as shots fired.
Shooting survivors said they are alive because of his quick response.
The community is now remembering Keith as a hero.
“That's what I'm most proud of—who and what he was," Cox said.
More about the victims:
- Tragedy in Virginia Beach: Remembering Laquita Brown
- Melanie Coffey: 'You are heroes who serve our community every day...' | Shooting survivor thanks first responders
- Survivor: Keith Cox saved lives during the Municipal Center shooting
- Joshua Hardy: 'Picture perfect neighbor' among the slain in mass shooting
- Mass shooting victim Missy Langer was supposed to be on vacation with her sister
- Man remembers friend, Richard Nettleton, who was killed in the Virginia Beach mass shooting
- 'Her laugh was infectious' | Best friend remembers Kate Nixon
- Tragedy in Virginia Beach: Tidewater Pipes and Drums remembers Christopher Rapp
- Stafford County honors Virginia Beach shooting victim Christopher Rapp
- Herbert Snelling: Church, friends remember contractor killed in Virginia Beach mass shooting