VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — City Council is poised to form a committee to help plan for a permanent memorial that’ll pay homage to the 2019 mass shooting at the municipal center.
If approved Tuesday evening, the resolution on the council’s agenda directs City Manager Patrick Duhaney to hire two outside consultants that will help the committee complete its work.
While it has been 18 months since the tragedy, Emily Labows, Director of Cultural Affairs stressed to council in September that a memorial process “cannot be rushed.”
“Our commitment (is) to a special place of remembrance,” Labows said. “To ensure the victims, survivors, and those who responded on 5/31. Will never be forgotten.”
It was on May 31, 2019, a city engineer shot and killed 12 people and seriously hurt four others before being killed by police at Building 2. Almost all victims were city employees.
The community donated hundreds of trinkets to form a memorial near the police station in the immediate aftermath. Those items have since been collected and documented.
Labows, along with Recovery Program Manager Lauren Heath, told council that in studying other cities that have undergone similar tragedies, establishing a committee for the memorial was the right way to go.
The ultimate goal for the committee is to gather public input, look for possible locations and provide funding and design recommendations to the memorial.
The resolution sets aside $115,000 for the city manager to hire two outside consultants. One would serve as a liaison between the victim’s family & survivors and the committee and the other would gather input from the rest of the community on what they want to see in a memorial.
Both would assist the City Council in coming up with the makeup of the body. Council members will ultimately appoint the committee members.
Jason Nixon, whose wife Kate worked in Public Utilities and was killed, said he has already expressed interest in being on the committee.
Nixon has often criticized the cities handling of the tragedy, being one of the louder voices looking for investigations into the massacre. Thus far no motive has been found.
Nixon said a memorial should have already been erected and that consultants would only waste money.
“I already did the leg work,” Nixon said.
Nixon is referring to sketch of a grief stricken King Neptune with 12-broken turtle shells at its base.
“That’s Virginia Beach. That is what we families are feeling,” Nixon said.
The goal of the committee is to find consensus. The role of the liaison will be to ensure that the memorial “has elements that speak to each of the families, survivors and their loved ones.”
While no firm timeline is set. Council’s resolution calls for a progress report no later than June 2021.
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