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Virginia Survivor: I Locked Eyes With the Shooter

Ned Carlstrom tells his story
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2019 2:30 PM CDT
This combination of photos provided by the City of Virginia Beach on Saturday, June 1, 2019 shows victims of Friday's shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Va.   (Courtesy City of Virginia Beach via AP)
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(Newser) – 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, the AP reports. 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 said. Carlstrom is responsible for monitoring the safety of stairwells during drill, so he and a co-worker began piecing together an evacuation plan for an active-shooter drill. "We didn't think it was real," he said. He came face-to-face with Craddock in a stairwell, had Craddock enter his office, and later saw him through a window, but the mass killer only looked at him. "I don't think it will (sink in) until we go back to work and we don't have these people anymore," says Carlstrom.

(Read more shooting stories.)

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