VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The husband of a woman who died during a mass shooting in Virginia Beach has asked city council to release the employment personnel records of his wife’s killer, and to hire an outside law firm to fully investigate the shooting and to make those findings public.
Attorney Kevin Martingayle emailed the request to Virginia Beach City Council on Monday on behalf of Jason Nixon, whose wife, Katherine, was shot and killed inside the Virginia Beach Public Works building on May 31.
42-year-old Nixon was an engineer for the city’s Public Utilities Department. She’d worked for Virginia Beach for 10 years. She was one of 12 people who died after being shot by another Virginia Beach city employee named DeWayne Craddock.
Little is known about the 40-year-old suspect, but officials have confirmed that he was a longtime employee of the city’s Public Utilities Department, and that on the day of the shooting he resigned from his job.
In the email to City Council, Martingayle asked officials to immediately release the suspect’s full employment and personnel files, as well as communications within the city where people expressed concerns or complaints against him.
Although personnel files are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, government agencies can use their discretion to decide whether or not they will make those records public. Most often when an agency withholds a record and justifies it using a personnel exemption, it is to protect the privacy of an employee. In the case of this suspect, that employee is no longer living, Martingayle said.
“We also know that before the shooting, there’d been some concerns about the shooter. We knew there had been some expressions of concern related to him,” Martingayle said during an interview.
“There might be something in those documents that suggests he had problems that suggested a fair amount of alarm and concern,” he added.
In the same email, Martingayle asked for City Council to authorize the City Attorney to find a qualified law firm to investigate the mass shooting and who would make any findings or recommendations public. He pointed to a similar outside investigation launched by the city of Charlottesville after a deadly riot happened in August 2017.
Martingayle also sent a separate email addressing an outside investigation to Mayor Robert “Bobby” Dyer. In that email he said that he’d spoken with attorney Tim Heaphy, who now works as the general counsel at the University of Virginia, and would be willing to help investigate the Virginia Beach mass shooting if requested by the Attorney General. Heaphy is the same attorney who investigated the 2017 riot in Charlottesville.
Martingayle said that a few incidents that happened after the shooting make him even more convinced that an outside agency should conduct a full investigation.
These include Jason Nixon’s 24 hour search for his wife’s body. He located her body the day after the shooting, after Martingayle helped him make several calls and they got in touch with someone at the medical examiner’s office who knew Katherine Nixon from their joint participation in the Pembroke Meadow Civic League.
Martingayle also expressed concern that the families of the victims found out through the AP that Virginia Beach Police Officers had trouble accessing certain parts of Building 2 when they responded to the shooting because they didn’t have the key cards needed to get through certain doors.
“The more we are hearing and learning, the more obvious it is that this calls for the initiation of an investigation right now. No further delay, no more excuses. Stop kick the can down the road,” Martingayle said.
Julie Hill, a spokeswoman for the city of Virginia Beach, confirmed that City Council had received the Nixon family’s requests. In a statement, Hill said that the requests appeared “premature while the criminal investigation is ongoing.” She added that the Nixon family’s requests will be considered after the city’s internal investigation is complete.
“I think that is a huge mistake,” Martingayle said.
Katherine Nixon leaves behind her husband and their three daughters, aged 13, 6 and 1. The last time her husband spoke to her was a little after 4 p.m. on May 31 when Katherine Nixon called him to tell him she’d been shot and ask him to call 911.
It’s a memory that will haunt her husband for the rest of his life, Martingayle said.
“It’s unbelievable and awful,” he added.