Virginia Beach approves independent investigation into mass shooting


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach City Council has voted to order an independent investigation into the May 31 mass shooting that left 12 dead and four injured at the city’s municipal center.

Starting Wednesday morning, the City Auditors office will begin searching for firms that would be qualified to complete the council request.

In the resolution approved by a 10-0 vote, with Councilman John Moss absent, whoever undertakes the investigation will be tasked with the following:

  • Creating a timeline of facts relevant to the shooting
  • Reviewing the shooter’s employment history and workplace interactions
  • Reviewing relevant City policies, procedures, and practices to include those related to facility security, prevention of workplace violence, and employee alerting and response to active shooter notifications.

All findings, as well as recommendations for what the city can do better, will be submitted to the council in a written report.

“I’m confident that I will be able to select a firm that will meet your expectations,” said Lyndon Remias, Virginia Beach’s City Auditor, in council’s informal session Tuesday afternoon.

Remias explained that bids will close on July 12th. He said in selecting a firm to conduct the investigation he will not look at the lowest cost but rather who has the best experience, best resources and no conflict or appearance of conflict.

“We want to select someone who is not doing business with the city or expecting to do business with the city,” Remias said.

Remias hopes a contract can be signed by the end of the month. The resolution requires the investigation to be underway by August 15th.

“We want to be quick, but we do not want to be rushed,” Remias repeated several times to council.

Remias, was selected by Vice Mayor Jim Wood as the person to handle the hiring of the firm as he is appointed by members of the council and doesn’t fall under the authority of the City Manager. He was steadfast that he will only be the point person so that the investigators have “unrestricted access to all employees, reports, documents, and other
records necessary to complete the independent review.”

“In no manner do we influence them in regards to areas’ they are going to review, exceptions they are going to report. Nor or we going to have input into the final report,” Remais said.

This investigation will be in addition to current probes by the city’s police department and the FBI.

Several of the victims’ families have called for an outside investigation after reports that the shooter’s standing within the city’s public works department was different than what the city has reported.

“We need total and full transparency, and that is all that we ask as a family, for all twelve families, including my sister-in-law,” said Mandy Nixon-Hammer before council Tuesday night. She is the sister-in-law of Katherine Nixon.

“I am glad that an investigation has been approved,” said Kevin Martingayle, the attorney for the Nixon family. “I hope it begins promptly and that the full report is shared with the public when the report is completed. The victims’ families and citizens of Virginia Beach deserve immediate action and full transparency.”

In a letter to City Council calling for the independent probe, Virginia Beach delegates Cheryl B. Turpin and Kelly C. Fowler also shared concerns about issues with locks at Building 2 that kept police from accessing areas in the building, “communication failures and delays” after the shooting and a reported lack of communication with the victims’ families.  

More coverage: Virginia Beach council members support independent shooting investigation

Remias explained to expect something similar to the report prepared about the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

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