VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A ceremony was held Friday morning to rename a Virginia Beach post office in honor of Ryan “Keith” Cox, who lost his life while trying to help others during May’s deadly mass shooting at the city’s Municipal Center.
Witnesses said Cox, one of the 12 people who died in the shooting, sacrificed his own life that day to save his colleagues. Cox is hailed as a hero.
“If it wasn’t for him there would have been several more people that had perished,” said Cox’s colleague Christi Dewar. He was a hero. A guardian angel that walked this earth that didn’t deserve to leave us so soon.”
The renaming ceremony was held Friday morning in front of the post office on George Mason Drive. This post office is directly across from the Municipal Center. It’s also where survivors gathered directly after evacuating Building 2.
Family, family, coworkers, and legislators all attended the ceremony.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who introduced the bill to rename the post office after Cox, was among the speakers.
Luria’s bill was passed unanimously.
“During his final moments on earth showed his friends his bravery and resolve that is what it means to be Virginia Beach strong. He will always be remembered as a pillar of our community,” Luria said. “This is our chance to honor Keith’s sacrifice. It will never bring him back it those who see his name here at this post office will remember a hero who saved lives and in doing that lost his own.”
Mayor Bobby Dyer also spoke.
“We are a city of heroes and Keith is a perfect example of one of them,” he said.
The idea to rename the post office came from Postmaster Joseph Croce.
“Who knows how many countless lives that Mr. Cox saved and how many families he has saved from going through the same pain that the Cox family is going through right now,” Croce said at the ceremony.
And finally, those at the ceremony heard from Keith Cox’s father, pastor Dr. E. Ray Cox. He said he’s proud of his son.
Cox ended with a message for the shooter’s family.
“What we would like to do is have an opportunity to let the family know that there’s no hate on our hearts. There no mistake about it, there’s hurt in our hearts, but no hate,” he said.
Some of Cox’s former coworkers attended the ceremony. They said not a day goes by they don’t talk about him. What they miss most are his hugs and constant encouragement on tough days in the office.