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City receives grant to open a “VB Strong Center” for victims of mass shooting

Virginia Beach Mass Shooting

Del. Kelly Fowler holds her daughter Sophie, 6, in front of the row of crosses at the memorial located by Building 11 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Sunday, June 2, 2019, in Virginia Beach, Va. Twelve crosses were placed at the memorial to honor the 12 victims of the mass shooting that took place at the center several days earlier. (Sarah Holm/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Virginia Beach has been awarded $3 million from the Department of Criminal Justice Services, which will be used to open a “VB Strong Center”.

City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to appropriate the federal funding to this project.

According to city spokeswoman Julie Hill, they hope to have the facility open in October. She said they are considering a location in the Landstown Commons area.

The grant was awarded through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and specifically designated to be used toward recovery and support from the May 31 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Twelve people were killed in the shooting. Four others were injured.

Through a partnership with Sentara, the VB Strong Center will provide long-term resources and serve as a referral center for survivors, victim’s families, hospital staff, city workers, and first responders affected by the tragedy.

Some of the direct services that will be available at the center is case management work, a 24/7 Crisis Hotline accessible for victims during times the center is closed, and navigation of community resources to help with rehabilitation.

“I think its a great opportunity for us to be a resource to continue to play a role in the city’s recovery subsequently in the wake of this tragedy a number of the victims we care for, ” said Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital President, Elwood Boone.

Boone says they will be allocating nearly a dozen employees to run the center as well as a director.

The center will ultimately be managed and operated by Sentara with City oversight.

The period of the grant to keep the center open is a maximum of three years.

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