AP

Survivor who crossed path with gunman thought it was a drill

Jun 2, 2019, 2:27 PM | Updated: 2:27 pm
Ned Carlstrom is shown at his home in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday, June 2, 2019.  Carlstrom told The As...
Ned Carlstrom is shown at his home in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday, June 2, 2019. Carlstrom told The Associated Press on Sunday that he locked eyes with the shooter, DeWayne Craddock, twice but didn’t exchange any words. (AP Photo/Michael Kunzelman)
(AP Photo/Michael Kunzelman)

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — Even after the gunfire erupted, Ned Carlstrom thought the shooting at the Virginia Beach government building where he works was an elaborately staged drill for city employees.

He crossed paths with the gunman three times — and survived.

Reality set in when Carlstrom looked outside and saw a team of police officers point guns at the building as they dragged away a fatally wounded contractor, leaving behind a pool of blood.

Carlstrom said he locked eyes with the shooter, DeWayne Craddock, twice during the rampage but didn’t exchange words over a blaring fire alarm. He can only guess why Craddock killed 12 people but spared him, never even pointing a gun at him.

He said that before the shooting, he often would have lighthearted conversations with the soft-spoken Craddock, a civil engineer, as they walked into the office from the parking lot. He wonders if that’s why Craddock let him live.

“I guess it’s a feeling of being fortunate,” Carlstrom told The Associated Press on Sunday during an interview at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Carlstrom, who works in the billing section of the city’s water department, was sitting at his desk in a second-floor office when the shooting started Friday afternoon. He heard popping noises and co-workers screaming.

Carlstrom is responsible for monitoring the safety of stairwells during drills, so he and a co-worker, Terry Inman, began piecing together an evacuation plan for an active-shooter drill.

“We didn’t think it was real,” he said.

He said he turned a corner on his way to a stairwell and came face-to-face with Craddock, who was armed with a handgun with a noise suppressor.

“He had the gun down at his side. He was so close to me, he swung his arm out, he damn near hit me with the gun. That’s how close we were,” Carlstrom said. “But he never raised the gun at me. He looked up at me briefly.”

Carlstrom said he thought Craddock was pretending to be a shooter for a drill because the “obnoxious-looking gun” appeared to be a prop, and he didn’t point it at him.

“By the way he walked past me, he barely gave me a glance and never broke stride,” he said. “I either thought he was playing the part of the bad guy or playing the part of someone pursuing a bad guy.”

About five minutes later, Carlstrom went back to his desk to retrieve his phone. Craddock entered the room.

Inman, an account clerk in the city’s public utilities department, said he turned around and saw Craddock standing there with a gun. Inman said he told him, “Dwayne, stop!”

“He turned and looked straight at me, but he didn’t see me. He looked straight in my face and he did not see me standing there because he didn’t raise the gun. He didn’t even make an indication that he saw anyone there,” Inman told the AP on Sunday.

“To me, that was the Holy Spirit inflecting something on that man to the point where he didn’t see Terry Inman standing there.”

After Craddock left the room, Carlstrom and Inman heard gunshots again. They think that was when their friend and co-worker, Ryan Keith Cox, was killed.

Carlstrom encountered Craddock a third time, when the gunman came to the window of an office where Carlstrom and other co-workers were hiding.

“We had the door locked, but he could have punched through it or shot through it,” Carlstrom said.

Carlstrom never saw Craddock fire a gun, but he saw the carnage when he and others were rescued.

“That’s when I had to step over the body of one of my co-workers in the stairwell,” he said.
Carlstrom said he feels lucky to be alive, but he is grieving for the loss of his friends, including Cox. He said Cox was trying to round up co-workers and get them in a safe place when he was shot.

“I don’t think it will (sink in) until we go back to work and we don’t have these people anymore,” he said.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

In Iran, protests have led to violent clashes between citizens and security forces. Protesters pict...
The Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

The scope of Iran's ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities.
3 days ago
U.S. Capitol pictured. The House just voted on an election law...
MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

House passes election law overhaul in response to Jan. 6

The bill, which is similar to bipartisan legislation moving through the Senate, would overhaul an arcane 1800s-era statute known as the Electoral Count Act
4 days ago
Trump pictured. A lawsuit against Trump was just filed in new york...
Associated Press

NY attorney general sues Donald Trump and his company

Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit is the culmination of the Democrat's three-year civil investigation of Trump and the Trump Organization.
5 days ago
el helicoide caracas...
RODRIQUE NGOWI, GISELA SALOMON and CLAUDIA TORRENS Associated Press

Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — The chief executive of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services was wrapping up work when she looked outside to see 48 strangers at her office with luggage, backpacks and red folders that included brochures for her organization. The Venezuelan migrants who were flown to the wealthy Massachusetts island from San Antonio on Wednesday […]
7 days ago
school classrooms...
Collin Binkley Associated Press

Reading, math scores fell sharply during pandemic, data show

WASHINGTON (AP) — Math and reading scores for America’s 9-year-olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a new federal study — offering an early glimpse of the sheer magnitude of the learning setbacks dealt to the nation’s children. Reading scores saw their largest decrease in 30 years, while math […]
11 days ago
FILE - Roger Federer of Switzerland waves to spectators as he leaves the court after he lost to Ale...
HOWARD FENDRICH ASSOCIATED PRESS

Roger Federer says he is retiring from professional tennis

(AP) — Roger Federer announced Thursday that he is retiring from professional tennis at age 41 after winning 20 Grand Slam titles. This decision comes just days after the end of the U.S. Open, which is expected to be the last tournament of 23-time major champion Serena Williams’ career, and signals the real end of […]
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Survivor who crossed path with gunman thought it was a drill