Virginia lawmakers praise first responders, condemn ‘daily scourge’

Published: Jun. 1, 2019 at 1:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Reactions are pouring in from state leaders on the deadly shooting at the Virginia Beach government center that left 11 people dead and six injured, including a police officer.

“Life doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way,” Attorney General Mark Herring said.

Gov. Ralph Northam headed to Virginia Beach once news of the shooting broke. His office issued a statement saying he was meeting with law enforcement and Virginia each Mayor Bobby Dyer and offering the state’s full support.

Northam spoke briefly with reporters when he arrived, saying, “This is just a horrific day and a lot of people are on the scene here. Our thoughts are for these victims and their families, we’re working with our law enforcement and first responders, our folks at the hospital and just making sure we take care of everybody.”

Northam later issued a statement calling the shooting “unspeakable, senseless violence."

“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," Northam said. "This is unspeakable, senseless violence. My thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax tweeted, “Thank you to our law enforcement and other first responders in Virginia Beach for your heroic actions.”

Sen. Mark Warner also called the shooting “senseless violence.”

“I am horrified by what has happened today in Virginia Beach," Warner said. “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.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, who was in Virginia Beach earlier Friday, called on action from lawmakers.

“I want Virginians to know I will keep pushing for Congress to take action to prevent the daily scourge of gun violence in America," Kaine said. “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.”

In Virginia, guns are not prohibited in public buildings, with the exception of schools and courthouses.

House Speaker Kirk Cox tweeted, “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.”

And House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn wrote, “Unspeakable acts of violence like Virginia Beach experienced today can not be our new normal.”

Attorney General Mark Herring condemned the “inexplicable violence” and echoed Kaine’s call for action.

“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," Herring said. "Virginia Beach is a vibrant, beautiful city, and yet today we all weep at the senseless loss of life that has occurred. 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 State Senator Bill DeSteph says he knows the community will “l stand together against such violence.”

“This is a tragic hour for all of Virginia Beach. You never think this will happen in your community, to your neighbors. When it does, there is a deep sorrow, a pain which cannot forget, and a grief beyond words. There is a proper time to act, and there is also a proper time to mourn. Now is the time to mourn and care for the victims and their families. We will honor their loss with action, we will take steps to secure our community against this type of violence, and we will move forward towards healing as a closer, more unified city which bears this common grief.”

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