A disgruntled public utility employee "indiscriminately" opened fire at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Friday afternoon, killing 11 people and wounding at least six others before he was killed himself, the city's police chief said.
Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera gave few details of what was known about the mass shooting in the coastal resort city, but said the gunman "immediately and indiscriminately fired upon all the victims" after he entered the municipal building shortly after 4 p.m.
"The suspect did shoot a police officer. The officers returned fire. The suspect is deceased," Cervera said. He did not make clear whether the gunman took his own life or was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
The officer hit was among six people who were injured but survived, but he was saved by his bullet-proof vest, Cervera said.
The shooting was believed to be the deadliest act of workplace gun violence in the United States since February, when a factory worker shot five colleagues to death in Aurora, Illinois, just after he was let go from his job.
The precise circumstances of Friday's shooting remained under investigation, with FBI agents and Homeland Security Department forensic technicians assisting local police due to the "size and scope and intensity" of the crime scene, Cervera said.
The police chief said the suspect was a longtime public utilities employee, and described him as "disgruntled," but declined to say more about what may have precipitated the attack.
The shooting unfolded, according to Cervera, at Building Two of the municipal center complex, a facility which houses the city's public works and utilities next door to City Hall.
Virginia Beach, which sits on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is the state's most populous city with roughly 450,000 year-round residents.
"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach," Mayor Bobby Dyer said at a news conference with the police chief. "The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors, colleagues."