As Dwight Brown turned 61 on Friday, he received a devastating call, informing him that his daughter LaQuita was one of the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.
“I had just got out of the hospital on Thursday with congestive heart failure,” Dwight tells PEOPLE. “Friday afternoon since it was my birthday I decided to go over to my best friend’s house.”
While he was “watching what was happening in Virginia Beach on the news,” Dwight, who lives nearby in Norfolk, got a call from his son. “He told me that my daughter was dead and he said, ‘Your baby, LaQuita got shot at that Virginia Beach thing. They airlifted her.’ I jumped in my car and we went there.”
On Friday afternoon, a gunman opened fire on a Municipal Complex which houses the city’s public works, public utilities and printing operation. The gunman killed 12 people and injured more, before he was killed in a shootout with police. All but one of the victims worked for the city.
LaQuita, a right-of-way agent with the Virginia Beach Public Works, had been with the department for 4½ years.
Although Dwight had last spoken with his daughter a week before her death, he had no plans to celebrate his big day with her as LaQuita was a devout “Jehovah’s Witness and they don’t celebrate birthdays.”
Opening up about his daughter’s character, Dwight says that she was “very religious” and spent much of her free time providing humanitarian relief around the world and preaching.
“Any time there was a natural disaster she went to help,” he shares, adding that she had also learned French and Spanish in order to be of more help.
“She was just everything. She was everything to me. I know nobody’s perfect — but from the time she was born, she had no faults,” her father says. “She was the best person to walk on the planet other than Jesus.”
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LaQuita also helped her father through a very difficult time three years ago, when one of his brothers was killed by a hit and run driver.
“She saved me,” he says, adding that had it not been for LaQuita, “I wouldn’t have made it through that.”
The grieving father adds, “The world is in the worst shape without my daughter in it.”
In the wake of his daughter’s death, Dwight shares that his “only comfort” has been seeing all of the Facebook messages from people whose lives had been touched by LaQuita.
“She just impacted everybody she came in contact to,” he says, opening up about one post, in particular, written by a woman whom LaQuita had helped through her job with the city.
“She told her husband she was going to write a letter to Virginia Beach thanking my daughter,” he shares, adding that the woman said she “had never had someone treat her with so much care.”
“Days went by and she never got a chance to email my daughter to thank her and my daughter got killed. That’s the type of daughter I had,” he says. “She’s the female version of me. I’m a very caring sensitive person. She was my daughter, but she had my heart. And she always saw the best in people – even when everybody else would see the worst.”