VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A delegate representing Virginia Beach gave 10 On Your Side exclusive new details into the contents of a laptop she claims belonged to the Virginia Beach mass shooter.
The gunman opened fire in Municipal Building 2 on May 31, 2019, killing 12 city employees. The FBI and Virginia Beach Police Department released their final reports into the incident in 2021.
On Monday, Virginia Beach Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler claims she was given the personal laptop.
10 On Your Side has not been able to independently identify the owner of this laptop.
Where did this come from?
When she was told about the laptop, Del. Convirs-Fowler said she wasn’t surprised.
“I kind of figured that there was something that was going to pop up at some point,” she said.
A big question many have had, how did a state delegate get her hands on this laptop?
The sister of one of the victims was in the mass shooter’s condo cleaning items out when someone with her discovered the laptop.
But what were they doing in the shooter’s house?
“One of the family members filed in civil court against the estate of the shooter and won,” said Convirs-Fowler. “So there was a court order for the property and the property was transferred.”
Court paperwork, including the wrongful death lawsuit for over $2 million and the deeds, backs this up.
As of October 2022, the family of one of the victims now owns the mass shooter’s condo where this laptop was allegedly found.
What’s on it?
After logging on, she says she’s fairly certain this laptop belonged to the shooter.
“We want to make sure people know that there was a laptop, although, despite what the police investigation said,” Convirs-Fowler said.
Before taking a look at some of the documents, 10 On Your Side asked Convirs-Fowler what if this laptop wasn’t the shooters.
“Then somebody put his stuff on it,” she said.
There’s been no official confirmation by any experts or law enforcement agencies as to who owned the laptop and whether the files found on it originated on the laptop.
10 On Your Side got exclusive new details and an in-person look at what’s on it.
In a May 2019 personal expense report, which was last modified on May 7, 2019, there’s a noted purchase of a Ruger AR556, an AR-15 style rifle.
The final report from VBPD says the shooter used .45 caliber handguns during the tragedy, but had purchased other weapons in the past.
Also seen on the laptop were dozens of other photos, including those of the shooter, as well as other personal documents.
Virginia Beach Police and others react to the discovery
On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach Police Department issued a statement about the laptop. In short, VBPD said they found multiple other items at the condo of the shooter, but did not recover a laptop at the time of the incident.
Read the full response below:
10 On Your Side also reached out to the Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Commission members to get their reaction to the news of the laptop.
Commission Chair Ryant Washington and Commission Vice Chair Robert Bracknell issued joint answers to questions asked by 10 On Your Side.
For starters, they say the commission was never told a personal laptop was recovered. The commission also doesn’t immediately know who searched the mass shooter’s home, but they’re sure “that info is in the police report and the warrant application.”
As far as the claims, they said, “We’d like to see the computer make its way to VBPD or VSP [Virginia State Police] for a forensic analysis. That is the only way to extract any probative evidence that’s useful to us.”
When asked whether they still had faith in the investigation, they said it’s too early to question anything.
“It’s hard to answer that without knowing where the laptop came from,” they said. “If it was in the shooter’s house and was missed in the search, that raises issues, but we really don’t know the context.”
A push for transparency and next steps
Convirs-Fowler was given the laptop on January 1 and two days later, she’s still piecing together her next steps.
“Where does it go next? And I think it’s going to have to be some type of authority over Virginia Beach that can do it,” she said. “So it might be the State Police, I think that’s just a question I need to have for my attorney.”
VBPD has asked her to hand over the laptop, but the delegate feels otherwise.
“It should not go back into the hands of those that missed it to begin with,” she said. “So, I think finding out who that was and then having some sort of responsibility there can help this not happen again.”
Convirs-Fowler is an open critic of Virginia Beach’s city government. 10 On Your Side asked her what her motivation is for going public about this laptop.
“I’m not thinking about reelection. I’m not thinking about those kinds of things when I do this. But all I know is, I don’t know how long I’ll have this platform, so I’m going to use it while I have it,” Convirs-Fowler said.
She also said it’s about transparency, which she says is lacking from Virginia Beach officials, and says talking about this discovery illustrates one thing.
“We are still vigilant, we’re still vigilant in getting information and getting answers for healing’s sake for all the people that have been affected by that mass shooting,” she said.
Again, there’s no official confirmation this laptop belonged to the mass shooter, but what’s been found on it does raise a lot of questions.