Virginia Beach city manager gives update on municipal center shooting investigation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Thursday, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen gave an update on the deadly mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center that took the lives of 12 people.

A police light is seen near building number 2 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, the scene of the mass shooting, in Virginia, Beach, Virginia on June 1, 2019. - A municipal employee sprayed gunfire "indiscriminately" in the government building complex on May 31, 2019, police said, killing 12 people and wounding four in the latest mass shooting to rock the US. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

"In the aftermath of the most horrific tragedy in Virginia Beach, we understand the intense interest in finding out why one of our own conducted this deadly rampage. No one wants answers more than we do. We, like the families, coworkers and community, want to understand the circumstances that played into this tragedy as best we can. While there is no justification for the violence that occurred here on May 31, the Police are looking into every lead and examining every avenue in search of the facts," Hansen said.

Virginia Beach Police release timeline of response to mass shooting 

Hansen said Virginia Beach Police have identified 240 people to be interviewed who were either witnesses, were present in the building during the shooting and/or had significant information. He said the number of people to be interviewed has continued to increase as detectives reassemble what happened.

Faces of the Virginia Beach mass shooting 

The FBI released the building to police Monday, who immediately began working for additional forensic evidence, Hansen said. Police then released the building back to the City of Virginia Beach Wednesday for cleanup and remediation, which included retrieving personal items to return to their owners. He said this process is underway.

Hansen also addressed the fact that in the week since the last briefing, there have been "rumors, inuendo, conflicting theories and speculation," including that one of the names that was redacted from the shooter's resignation letter was that of Katherine Nixon's and reports that the shooter was "confrontational, argumentative and engaging in fights."

He said "the investigation has not uncovered evidence corroborating these allegations."

Hanson said once authorities have completed the entire criminal investigation - from both the FBI and police - and the Commonwealth's Attorney has reviewed it, they will determine whether to conduct an independent investigation.

News 3 reporter Chelsea Donovan spoke with Jason Nixon, Katherine's husband, who is calling for an independent investigation. The Nixon family has hired an attorney, who is asking for more transparency as to what happened inside the walls of Building 2.

Read Hansen's full statement below:

In the aftermath of the most horrific tragedy in Virginia Beach, we understand the intense interest in finding out why one of our own conducted this deadly rampage. No one wants answers more than we do. We, like the families, coworkers and community, want to understand the circumstances that played into this tragedy as best we can. While there is no justification for the violence that occurred here on May 31, the Police are looking into every lead and examining every avenue in search of the facts.

The speed with which we responded to the shooting was coupled with a demonstrated commitment to transparency. Within 16 hours of the incident, we shared publicly the identities of the victims and the suspect. Within 48 hours, the Virginia Beach Police Department provided the timeline of events and engaged the local FBI field office which offered resources for the processing of the scene. Within 72 hours, we released the resignation email the shooter had sent in which he provided his two-week notice.

Update as of 8 a.m. June 13
The police identified 240 people to be interviewed who were witnesses, present in the building and/or had significant information. The number of people to be interviewed has continued to grow as detectives reassemble what happened.

On Monday, June 10 the FBI released the building to the Virginia Beach Police Department who immediately began working in the building for additional forensic evidence.

On Wednesday, June 12, the Police released the building back to the City for cleanup and remediation, including retrieving personal items to return to their owners—that process is under way. We are also securing paper and electronic files that may have relevance to this ongoing investigation.

In the week since the last briefing, there have been rumors, inuendo, conflicting theories and speculation. There have been suggestions that one of the names redacted from the shooter's resignation email was Kate Nixon. We have confirmed she was not an addressee on the email as she was not a supervisor in the shooter's chain of command.

Additionally, the Police have investigated reports of the shooter being confrontational, argumentative and engaging in fights. The investigation has not uncovered evidence corroborating these allegations.

It is our unwavering commitment to conduct a complete, thorough, professional and responsible investigation. Once we have the entire criminal investigation completed (both FBI and Police) and reviewed by the Commonwealth's Attorney, we can determine whether there are still unanswered questions that merit an independent investigation.

Update - Thursday, June 20: 

In another update issued on June 20, officials said "thousands" of investigative hours from the FBI and Virginia Beach Police have been dedicated to this case, which is being co-managed by Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth with the FBI Norfolk Office and Captain Theresa Orr with VBPD.

A task force consisting of at least four homicide detectives and one lieutenant are assigned full-time to the investigation.

City officials say more than 300 interviews have been conducted and say there are more to be completed as an "enormous amount" of evidence is being reviewed and prioritized.

As of now, no arrests have been made, and no evidence has been reviewed that implicates other people in any criminal involvement. However, officials say there is a substantial amount of evidence that has yet to be reviewed.

While the FBI has indicated that it might take as long as 12 months to complete their forensic overview, they said they will have a preliminary report withing a much shorter timeframe, which has yet to be determined. Officials say investigations of other mass shootings of similar scope and complexity have taken 6-10 months to complete.

Read the latest update in full below:

Over the past 20 days, thousands of investigative hours (FBI and VBPD) have been dedicated to this case, which is being co-managed by Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth (FBI Norfolk Office) and Captain Theresa Orr (VBPD).  A task force consisting of at least four homicide detectives and one lieutenant are assigned full-time to the investigation. One VBPD captain and one Detective Bureau sergeant have been assigned to a separate investigation of the officer-involved shooting of the suspect. The investigations are parallel and ongoing.

More than 300 interviews have been conducted and there are more to be completed. An enormous amount of evidence is being reviewed and prioritized. This includes thousands of email messages along with information captured through more than 20 search warrants executed for cell phone and computer data, personnel files, medical records and financial records. The investigative folder contains over 69 gigabytes of text-based data that must be organized, analyzed and linked. In addition to this file, which expands every day, there is body-worn camera footage that must be reviewed. Note the four officers who engaged the suspect were not wearing cameras; other responding officers were wearing cameras, including those who searched the building and helped people exit.

The VBPD's efforts to identify a motive for this crime and/or determine any pre-indicators on the part of the suspect prior to the shooting are ongoing. To date, no arrests have been made and no evidence reviewed thus far implicates others in any criminal involvement. However, there is a substantial amount of evidence yet to be reviewed.

The VBPD is coordinating efforts with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Medical Examiner's Office and the FBI to ensure a thorough and complete investigation. While the FBI has indicated it might take as long as 12 months to complete their forensic overview, they will have a preliminary report within a much shorter, although undetermined, timeframe. The Crime Scene Reconstruction Report will be cross-referenced with the interview results to provide as complete a reconstruction of events as possible. There is no timeframe for completing this investigation as the persons to be interviewed and additional evidence to evaluate are expanding daily. Investigations of other mass shootings of similar scope and complexity have taken 6 to 10 months to complete.

Progress on Remediating Building 2, Relocating Staff and Services
The remediation process is approximately 85% done and should be finished next week. Police and Public Works personnel began collecting staff members' personal items and returning these items to them. As of June 19:

  • 198staff members have completed the online forms for identifying personal items to be removed, and personnel with Police/Public Works have removed items for 180 of these individuals.
  • Crews began working on installing an eight-foot-high security fence to reduce the need for additional manpower/security requirements. Until the fence is completed, Public Works will maintain a perimeter barricade of bicycle racks around the sidewalk surrounding Building 2.We estimate the fence and gate installation will be completed before July 4, and privacy slats will be installed by mid-July at an estimated total cost of $64,000.

Click here for our full coverage on the Virginia Beach mass shooting. 

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.