Commission's report offers 50-plus recommendations after Virginia Beach mass shooting

Virginia Beach Shooting
Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 08:21:55-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A new report from the State Inspector General on behalf of the Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Commission now sits on the desk of Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The deadly shooting happened on May 31, 2019, when an engineer began firing at the city's municipal center. The attack left 2 dead and four others injured.

The 16-page report offers a road map for responses to future mass shooting incidents.

It's broken down into sections, including lessons the commission learned from certain situations. One being interviews with some city employees who were fearful of retaliation.

"For example, one man refused to talk to the Commission because he did not have subpoena protection. He indicated if he did talk to the Commission he might be fired," the report reads. "Another would only talk to the Commission after he had left city employment and found a new job. And still another, said she overcame her concern about retaliation and decided to talk with the Commission."

The report indicated commissions for future incidents should have the power to subpoena, which protects those talking to the commission from retaliation.

"Subpoena power is a powerful tool that helps a Commission break down obstacles as well as overcome managers’ and employees’ lack of willingness to cooperate in an investigation," as stated in the document.

Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Commission Report
Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Commission Report

In addition, the report said the commission should have had adequate funding and pro bono lawyers. With a budget of $38,504, the commission said it "did not have the resources to bring in specialists for consultations in the fields of psychology, security, Human Resources, or lawyers who specialize in handling mass shootings."

The report also established the need for a Mass Violence Care Fund which would provide long-term medical and psychological benefits to victims and family members.

More human resources staff, added safety standards at public buildings, and regular emergency and active threat drills are also highlighted in the report.

Jason Nixon's wife, Kate, lost her life in the shooting. Nixon said now it's time for the state to act.

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"I mean, we gave them a road map. So now it's time to start acting on it," Nixon said. "For me, if you're going to be serious about taking precautions and not let this happen to another family, then take some of these things and incorporate it. I didn't like that there wasn't really a full investigation. But it's something that can further any more damage to other families."

Jason Nixon
Jason Nixon

WTKR obtained the report the same day the 5/31 Memorial Committee met with Virginia Beach City Council to provide an update.

Nixon said the council is mostly on board with the plans, though council member, Barbara Henley, of District 2, took issue with the $8 million cost.

"The reality is that we do have to talk about how we're going to pay for this," Henley said. "The city is providing the land. Is that part of this cost or is that additional money?"

She said it's a pretty substantial cost.

"People are definitely going to want to know what the break down of the amount is," Henley said.

It was suggested that fundraising be option.

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Nixon, however, believes the city should pay for half and the state should match that amount.

"If you want to do a fundraiser do it for the families, because we're still trying to fight for insurance," Nixon said. "We want to work with the city. We want to make this all better for everybody. And this is a way to get there. And I don't think the cost is really that it really shouldn't be compared to anything."

Nixon, who also sits on the 5/31 Memorial Committiee, said this will be part of the healing process not just for the victims' families, but for the city as a whole.

The memorial is expected to be completed in 2024 or 2025, Nixon said.

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