FBI: Man charged in shooting at Social Security building brought 600 rounds of ammo, sandwiches, beer

Crime Tracker

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Federal authorities have charged a 44-year-old Chesapeake man in connection with a shooting that injured a security officer at a U.S. Social Security Administration building in Norfolk.

Court documents filed Thursday in federal court reveal more details about the shooting, which happened around 4 p.m. Monday at the building at 5850 Lake Herbert Drive.

44-year-old William Douglas Rankin is charged by federal authorities with attempted murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government in performance of official duties, possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, assault of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government in performance of official duties, possession of firearms in a federal facility and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes Rankin brought about 600 rounds of ammunition, a 9 mm rifle, three sandwiches and three beers with him in a rifle bag just before he shot the 52-year-old security officer in the lobby area of the building.

The case affidavit, which was filed by an investigating FBI agent, also says that when Rankin first tried to enter the Social Security building and was denied entry, he yelled “I want my money.”

The security guard, identified only by the initials “I.W.,” told Rankin that the building was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said Rankin would need to call the phone number listed on the door.

About 150 people work at that building, but the majority of them were not there on Monday.

Then, Rankin clarified he was there “because he wanted his mother’s money.”

Again, the guard said no one could help him at the building. Rankin said he wasn’t going to leave without his mother’s money and pulled out a .380 pistol.

The security officer attempted to calm Rankin once the pistol was pulled out, but Rankin grew angrier. Rankin demanded the guard remove his weapon from his holster and put it on the ground, but I.W. said he couldn’t do that.

Image shows William Rankin allegedly brandishing a pistol at the Social Security Administration building in Norfolk on Monday, Feb. 8. 2021. (Photo courtesy: federal court records)

Then, Rankin allegedly fired at least five rounds at the guard at close range, about 6 feet.

The guard was shot in the left arm, left shoulder, left leg, right leg, left upper chest and lower abdomen, documents said.

The security guard then fired back at Rankin, who was moving toward the front door. He fired several rounds that struck Rankin, causing him to stop and sit down in the entryway by his rifle bag.

“Despite being shot multiple times, the security guard was still able to get in the elevator and reach the second floor of the building where he informed others that he had been shot, and to call 911. He then went back downstairs to watch Rankin until back-up officers arrived,” documents read.

Rankin’s injuries were life-threatening, police said. The security officer is expected to fully recover.

William D. Rankin

After the shooting, investigators conducted a search of Rankin’s house and spoke with his wife.

10 On Your Side also spoke with his wife, who refused to give her name but said she had didn’t know why her husband allegedly shot the guard.

At the house, authorities found several empty boxes of 9 mm ammunition that matched the make of the rounds in the magazines recovered at the crime scene. Rankin’s wife said he had been dealing with Social Security over the phone for the past several months regarding his mother’s Social Security benefits.

Federal court records say Rankin was previously convicted of a felony in Kerrville, Texas, on April 14, 2005, for possession of a controlled substance, and at the time of the offenses described in this
affidavit knew he had previously been convicted of a felony.

10 On Your Side checked local court records and found Rankin was previously convicted of threatening to bomb or burn and damaging property in 2017. He sentenced to 12 months on each count with 12 months suspended. He was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.

On Wednesday, 10 On Your Side obtained a message from Paragon Protective Services, the company that provides security at the Social Security building and other federal sites, sent about the shooting. It detailed parts of the incident.

Paragon said the officer’s protective vest saved his life.

The 52-year-old security guard’s family Tuesday said he commuted to his job in Norfolk every day from North Carolina and is a retired New York City police officer.

The message from Paragon Protective Services Tuesday also says the security guard has been on contract with the company since 2009 and has an “exemplary service record.”

He received the Public Service Unsung Hero Award from the Norfolk Disability and Determination Services.

If convicted of the charges, Rankin faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

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