Ryan Keith Cox, A Virginia Beach Clerk, Died While Saving His Colleagues During The Shooting

Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

Christi Dewar of Chesapeake, Virginia, has been an employee at Virginia Beach’s public utility department for 13 years. When she first started hearing popping sounds going off on Friday while at work, she initially thought nothing of it. To her, it sounded like it could be a piece of equipment being used, perhaps a nail gun. When an alarm went off and she realized that a shooting was taking place, she turned to one of her colleagues and best friends, Ryan Keith Cox. She urged him to join her in escaping to the break room, where she hoped they could hide from the shooter. However, Cox had a different plan, according to NPR.

Rather than putting his own safety first, Cox was thinking of the welfare of his other colleagues still out on the floor. While Dewar and seven other employees found refuge in the break room — where they worked together to barricade the door — Cox took off on his own. Dewar remained hidden, hoping that somehow Cox would be able to avoid harm’s way. She watched as two bullets slammed into the filing cabinet that she and the rest of the employees in the break room had used to block the door. While they remained safe, Cox was taken down.

“Two bullets almost came through the back of the cabinet. That’s when he got Keith,” she said, emotion filling her voice.

Dewar and Cox were more than just people that happened to work together — they related to one another on another level. They’d both started their position at the public utility department on the same day more than a decade ago. Whenever Dewar was having a rough day, he was there to cheer her up in any way he could. While brokenhearted over his loss, she was not surprised one bit that he was selfless enough to give up his life for others — that was simply who he was.

“I called him my big teddy bear. Every time I was upset, he would give me a hug. When I was upset about something, he knew exactly what to say to make you smile. He’s the type of person who you know would lay down his life for someone, just like he did.”

Twelve people in total were killed during the shooting, and several others were injured. DeWayne Craddock, a former employee at the plant, has been identified as the suspect. He was killed after being shot by police.