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Norwalk woman's nephew 'first one killed' in Va. Beach

Cary Ashby • Updated Jun 4, 2019 at 7:25 AM

It has been nearly impossible for Nancy Sharfenberg and her family to get any sense of closure in the tragic shooting death of her nephew Friday in Virginia Beach.

The Norwalk woman’s nephew, Robert “Bobby” Williams, was a 41-year veteran in the Virginia Beach public utilities department and a special projects coordinator who lived in Chesapeake, Va.

“He was the first one killed,” Sharfenberg told the Norwalk Reflector on Monday morning. “He was the first one shot out of the (victims). I understand he was already in his car. They were all getting ready to go home.”

Williams was one of the 12 people fatally shot by a 40-year-old man at a Virginia Beach municipal office Friday afternoon. The shooter — a longtime public utilities engineer who had resigned for personal reasons that morning — shot Williams in his car and then entered the building, where he fired indiscriminately at victims on three floors near the end of the workday.

The shooter was fatally wounded during a lengthy shootout with police.

In addition to the dozen killed, several other people were wounded. As of Saturday, three people were listed in critical condition and one was in fair condition, hospital officials told CNN. At least two were expected to survive.

Sharfenberg was notified about her nephew’s death through his sister.

“My husband was buried April 23 and he (Williams) was there and he drove me to the cemetery,” said Sharfenberg, as tears began forming.

The Norwalk woman hasn’t been to Virginia or spoken to Virginia Beach city officials. Since authorities haven’t disclosed any information, Sharfenberg said it’s been difficult, if not impossible, to find closure about her nephew’s death.

“As of yesterday (Sunday), his wife did not even know where his body was. No belongings. No information whatsoever,” she added. “We know nothing.”

Williams’ wife and family are handling the tragic news “badly,” Sharfenberg said, especially since they have “no information.”

Before the massacre, the shooter emailed a resignation letter, but wasn’t forced to quit, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen told reporters. The man was a certified professional engineer who worked for the city for 15 years.

His “performance was satisfactory,” he was “within good standing in his department” and had “no issues of discipline ongoing,” Hansen said.

About 40 members of law enforcement agencies, mostly FBI agents, scoured the building to collect evidence. Authorities reportedly found two legally purchased .45-caliber pistols at the scene — one purchased by the shooter in 2016 and the other in 2018.

One pistol had a suppressor and several empty extended magazines and investigators found even more weapons in the man’s home, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera told CNN.

Sharfenberg saw a tribute to her nephew and other shooting victims on the national news Sunday night.

“In fact, it showed a cross and a heart with his name on it,” she said.

During his four decades of working for the city of Virginia Beach, the city presented Williams with a service award eight times, the last occurring in December.

Norwalk Reflector Videos