VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After Friday's mass shooting sent shock waves through Virginia Beach, both local and national politicians are mourning the loss of life, with some presidential contenders calling for action.
Governor Ralph Northam said he is devastated by the shooting that left 11 dead at a Virginia Beach municipal center and is offering the state's full support to shooting survivors and relatives of the victims.
Northam said in a statement that he was in Virginia Beach with law enforcement officials. He said the entire state is "devastated by the tragic shooting" and he decried the "unspeakable, senseless violence."
The White House issued a statement saying that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting "and continues to monitor the situation."
Democratic presidential hopefuls New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and California Sen. Kamala Harris, were also among those who condemned the shooting Friday.
Governor Northam's full statement:
“This is a horrific day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are devastated by the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach. I am in Virginia Beach with law enforcement authorities and Mayor Dyer, where I am monitoring the situation and offer the state’s full support.
“My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning, and will not return tonight, as well as those who have been injured in this tragedy.
“This is unspeakable, senseless violence. I commend local and state law enforcement, first responders, medical teams, and all others who acted swiftly to respond to this situation. My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”
VA-02 Congresswoman Elaine Luria's statement:
“This is a day that will change Virginia Beach forever. I grieve for those who lost their lives, their families, and everyone who loved them,” Congresswoman Luria said. “I wish a speedy recovery to all who are injured, and I thank the first responders, medical personnel, and law enforcement for their invaluable bravery and service. Now is the time for healing, coming together, and determining ways to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”
VA-03 Congressman Bobby Scott's statement:
“My thoughts are foremost with those affected-the victims, their families, and survivors as Virginia Beach and the entire Commonwealth is left devastated by another mass shooting.
“Gun violence should not be a normal occurrence in our communities. The President and Congress have a basic responsibility to keep Americans safe, and elected officials are not powerless to stop this. My colleagues and I have to do more to keep our communities safe.”
U.S. Senator Mark Warner's statement:
"I am horrified by what has happened today in Virginia Beach. I am thankful to law enforcement for their swift and courageous response. My heart goes out to all the victims of today's senseless violence, their families, and the entire community that has been affected by these awful events. I will be praying for the swift recovery of those injured."
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine's statement:
“I am heartbroken by the horrific shooting today in Virginia Beach. My prayers are with all who have been affected, and I want Virginians to know I will keep pushing for Congress to take action to prevent the daily scourge of gun violence in America.
“I was just in Virginia Beach this morning. It’s such a strong and beautiful community, and the bravery of the first responders today is a testament to that. My heart aches to see it devastated by yet another gun violence tragedy.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's statement:
“I’m beyond heartbroken that Virginia Beach is the latest community in America to be touched by the pain and inexplicable violence of a mass shooting. Virginia Beach is a vibrant, beautiful city, and yet today we all weep at the senseless loss of life that has occurred. In the difficult days ahead we will pray for and do all we can to support the families of the victims, the survivors, and the entire Virginia Beach community.
“In recent years there have been mass shootings at American elementary schools, colleges, government buildings, offices, concerts, movie theaters, nightclubs…even churches, mosques, and synagogues. We have to do more to stop this kind of violence. Life doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way.”
Virginia Delegate Cheryl B. Turpin's statement:
"Earlier this evening our community was shocked by an act of unspeakable violence. I’m heartbroken for the victims and their families, and am forever grateful for our brave first responders. Though we continue to learn more, one thing is clear: we have allowed these shootings to go on for far too long. I am working with Governor Northam and Congresswoman Luria to make sure we have the resources we need to heal as a community. My office has compiled a list of resources to help all those grieving. Please reach out if you need any assistance -- we’re here to help."
Virginia Delegate Kelly Fowler's statement:
“I will be instructing my staff to work with the Office for Victims of Crime, the Victims Services Team at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Virginia Victims Fund to ensure that victims and their families have the means to recuperate and recover in the coming months and years. Our focus must always be with the dignity and respect of the victims and their families. They will have the full support of my legislative office and its resources.” Delegate Fowler has also urged state and federal resources be made available for surviving victims mental health and grief counseling programs.
"I would like to take this opportunity to commend the speedy reaction of first responders at the Courthouse, as their actions undoubtedly saved countless lives. Law enforcement officers put their lives at risk on a daily basis, and we owe them a debt of gratitude that we will never understand or be able to pay.
"The 12 deceased victims will live forever in our memories."
Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales' statement:
"Today’s tragic shooting in Virginia Beach was a vile attack on our Hampton Roads community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and our entire nation. We are thankful for the brave efforts of the law-enforcement officers who responded in the face of danger and defended the public from any further violence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims, and we hope for a speedy recovery for those who are fighting as we speak this evening. We categorically condemn this horrible act against our friends and fellow citizens in Virginia Beach. The Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office stands in solidarity with our neighbors during this difficult time and is firmly committed to eradicating brutal and senseless instances of gun violence such as this to ensure the safety of our children, our families, and our entire communities."
Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander said:
“Today’s heartbreaking tragedy has spread grief throughout the region. We have lost loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and souls committed to excellence in public service. Lives will be forever changed by this event. In the moments to come as we pray together and mourn together, let’s keep the memories of the victims of this tragic event in our hearts and begin the hard work of healing together. On behalf of Norfolk City Council, city workers and residents we offer the City of Virginia Beach condolences and unwavering support.”
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox's statement:
“This is a horrible tragedy. The lives of more than a dozen families were irrevocably changed today by a senseless act of violence. The heart of our Commonwealth aches tonight for Virginia Beach and its people.
“We are grateful for law enforcement and first responders who reacted to this tragedy. Every day our heroes put their lives on the line, and today they showed us their very best.
“Words are inadequate at a time like this. Tonight, I know that I will join millions of Virginians in deep and sincere prayer for the victims, their families, the city of Virginia Beach, and our entire Commonwealth. With God’s grace, and the love of our neighbors, our community will be whole again.”
Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson's statement:
"Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and prayers are extended to city leaders, employees and citizens of Virginia Beach following this afternoon's tragic events.
"The senseless murder of 11 innocent individuals and the wounding of six others at the Municipal Complex is totally incomprehensible. The heroism of first responders who ran into the building in the midst of gunfire is to be commended, as they undoubtedly saved countless lives by their actions.
"Our deepest condolences are extended to all. The City of Suffolk stands ready to provide any assistance needed, and we pray for God's blessings in the most sorrowful time."
Councilman Aaron Rouse said:
"My fellow residents and neighbors of Virginia Beach. We find ourselves in the midst of an unparalleled tragedy. As we try to grasp the events that have unfolded today, focus on the families that are grieving and who are having to grasp that a love-one will not return home tonight.
I ask you not only for your thoughts and prayers but I ask you to heed this call of action. Like our first responders who heroically gave no second thought in engaging in a gun battle to save lives from physical harm, I ask you to boldly engage in serving one another’s soul.
What I am asking you to do is remember our HUMANITY above all the structures we place on society. Remember your neighbor’s dignity, your neighbor’s respect and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If we are to follow in the footsteps of Christ, it’s imperative that we Remember God came to serve not to be served and that he treated people better than how they treated him."
Several Democratic presidential candidates also weighed in:
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who leads the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, released the following statement:
“We’re only 151 days into 2019 and there have already been 150 mass shootings. This reality is horrifying. It’s heartbreaking. And the fact that our nation’s leaders continue to fail to protect us should fuel outrage in every American.
“The stories of survivors from Virginia Beach touch on a familiar refrain: the peace of the workday shattered by the sound of gunfire. Coworkers huddled on the floor trying to stay quiet as the shooting gets closer. The disbelief that it’s finally happening to them. Our hearts and our sorrow are in Virginia tonight.
“If gun violence feels like an everyday occurrence, that’s because it is. Every single day, nearly 100 lives are lost because of guns. Every time you hear news of another horrific shooting, remind yourself this is not normal. No other developed nation in the world experiences this kind of daily heartbreak and horror.
“Gun violence is a problem we can address. We know there are steps we can take as a country to keep deadly weapons from landing in dangerous hands. We are a country of citizens crying out for a response to this epidemic of gun violence, but whether it’s in Richmond or Washington DC, there are politicians who take the gun lobby’s money and vote against our safety. It’s time for that to change. Our leaders must work to protect us. And if they don’t, we must elect new leaders. It’s been nearly 100 days since the US House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. How many more lives will be lost before Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump take the next steps to sign that lifesaving legislation into law?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.