Virginia Beach City Council votes to form mass shooting memorial committee

Virginia Beach

Building 2 at Virginia Beach’s municipal complex as it was adorned on the anniversary of the mass shooting, May 31, 2020 (WAVY Photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Virginia Beach will soon start accepting applications for a committee that’ll ultimately help guide the construction of a permanent memorial for the 2019 mass shooting at the Municipal Center.

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In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, Virginia Beach City Council decided the committee should be made up of 10 to 12 people who will come up with the overall vision, budget and location of the memorial.

The group will work alongside consulting firm Kearns & West to collaborate with families and survivors of the tragedy as well as members of the community to come up with the best recommendation for City Council. They’ll also oversee the final installation of the memorial and serve through its dedication.

Those interested in serving on the committee need to complete a questionnaire and application by Monday, November 1. Completed forms can be emailed to City Clerk, Amanda Barnes at abarnes@vbgov.com.

The goals of the 5/31 Memorial Committee shall include:

  • creating firm protocols for meeting structure and consensus-building
  • creating a vision for the memorial
  • setting project priorities goals, and building consensus on the design
  • leading a transparent process open to any interested members of the public or stakeholders
  • advocating for the families, survivors and community
  • soliciting input from the stakeholders and public
  • developing design goals and recommendations on the memorial site, and funding for the memorial using collected input
  • determining a preferred location for the memorial
  • providing project budgets and mobilizing funding
  • soliciting design proposals
  • reviewing proposals, conducting selection process, and making a final recommendation to City Council
  • overseeing the installation and dedication of memorial

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.

In December, City Council first approved the idea for the committee along with $115,000 for the hiring of Kearns & West, a national firm that specializes in facilitating complex processes for public involvement according to council paperwork.

Kearns & West will serve as the liaisons between family and survivors and the committee. They will also vet the applicants.

Per the city resolution, the membership of the committee shall consist of: two City Council members; at least two design professionals with expertise in the fields of architecture or landscape architecture; at
least one mental health professional having expertise in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, or a similar field; three members of the general public, including at least two directly affected by the tragedy; the family & survivor liaison; and one representative from the Historical Preservation Commission.

No timeline for the committee was established, aligning with previous comments that the memorial process “cannot be rushed.”

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