Virginia Beach marks 4 years since municipal building shooting
At City Hall, a crowd gathered to remember the 12 people killed at the Municipal Center four years ago in a mass shooting
In front of a dozen spotlights, planters with bright yellow sunflowers sat with name cards, one for each victim: LaQuita Brown, Tara Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Gusev, Kat Nixon, Ryan Keith Cox, Richard Nettleton, Joshua Hardy, Christopher Rapp, Missy Langer, Bobby Williams and Bert Snelling.
“Today, we observe May 31, marking four years since twelve kind souls were tragically taken from our community,” said Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.
It was a candlelight vigil that culminated in the twelve spotlights shining at the night sky in front of the new City Hall building, next to Building 2 where the shooting took place.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools students performed music and candles were handed out. City officials and first responders shared their thoughts about the day with mourners.
Dyer told the crowd that he was proud of the city’s response in 2019.
“We saw the people of the city step up, and give of themselves in so many ways, to help carry our collective burden,” said Dyer.
Investigations following the shooting gave conflicting information about the shooting.
The city’s independent review of the shooting couldn’t identify a motive for the shooting; a later review by the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI said “the shooter was motivated by perceived workplace grievances, which he fixated on for years.”
The shooter believed he was “unjustly and repeatedly criticized and slighted. Violence was viewed by the shooter as a way to reconcile this conflict and restore his perverted view of justice,” the report stated.
Another independent review recommended enhancing the city's human resources department and centralizing employee records in hopes of finding patterns of behavior faster. It also found that the city's mass communications systems weren't enough to reach all employees — enrollment was voluntary.
Former Lieutenant Governor and attorney Justin Fairfax represents some of the families of the twelve victims.
“I know Virginia would never want to leave anyone behind, let alone families that have been through so much tragedy,” said Fairfax. “And so it is my hope in this moment that we all come together, really elevate — fully support — these families.”
Jason Nixon, Kate's husband, retained Fairfax because he wants the city to be held accountable for what happened that day.
State lawmakers established a commission to review the shooting and make recommendations about laws, policies and government institutions to “minimize the risk of a tragedy of this nature from ever occurring again in the Commonwealth.”
The report hasn’t been completed yet.