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Virginia mass shooting hits close to home for church member

‘It's just such a shock,’ says member who frequently conducts business at building where rampage occurred.

When Eugene Thompson learned of Friday’s mass shooting at a government building in Virginia Beach, Va., he immediately thought: That could have been my son.

That could have been me.

Thompson, a longtime member of the Princess Anne Church of Christ in that coastal city, owns a dozen-person architectural firm.

He, his son, Gideon, and the firm’s staff frequently conduct business inside the municipal building where 12 people — including 11 city employees and a contractor trying to get a permit — were fatally shot Friday afternoon.

“Team members are often there pulling permits or dropping off drawings,” Thompson told The Christian Chronicle on Saturday. “Thankfully, we didn’t have anyone there on Friday.”

Before authorities released the names of the victims, the church member said, “I was so fearful for the people that I know and work with nearly daily — emailing and talking on the phone. We were really terrified.”

When Thompson saw the list, he recognized a few of the names. However, he hadn’t worked with those city employees directly.

Like so many in Virginia Beach, he expressed shock at the nation’s latest shooting rampage.

“You see it on TV … but you just never really imagine that it’s going to hit home — something so close to you.”

“You see it on TV … but you just never really imagine that it’s going to hit home — something so close to you,” he said. “It’s just such a shock, I think, to … become a part of that statistic that we see across the country.”

The Princess Anne church — with about 50 members — will do all it can to support those affected by the tragedy, he said.

“It’s obviously going to affect our entire community,” Thompson said. “I think it’s always unfortunate with tragedies like this that everybody does turn to prayer and then fades away with it after the pain is gone.

Virginia Beach, VA, USA

“Right now, we’re here just trying to reach out to those that have been affected and those around there and support them as best we possibly can,” he added. “I’m sure we’re going to be opening up our doors to help those that are struggling.”

Filed under: mass shootings National Top Stories

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