VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Following months of discussion over the existence and possession of a personal computer belonging to the man who gunned down 12 people last May in Virginia Beach, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a public statement.
The FBI says it does not have a personal computer belonging to the shooter — disputing what independent investigators said — and is “not aware of the existence” of a personal laptop.
The agency says it does have the man’s city-owned work computer — but that’s it.
This comes two weeks after 10 On Your Side released a story in which the Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera said there is no truth to the Federal Bureau of Investigation having a “personal computer” belonging to the gunman.
The chief said they have everything the FBI does. The only computer that exists is the gunman’s work computer, but there are other devices such as a cell phone, tablets and flash drives. Those are all in possession of the Virginia Beach Police Department.
Cervera said Hillard Heintze, the independent investigator hired to look into the mass shooting, erred in saying last November that the FBI had access to a computer that the police — and by association, Hillard Heintze — did not.
Hillard Heintze said a personal computer could reveal more information on the shooter’s motive.
“Every piece of equipment that [the suspect] has, we either have the physical custody of or we have the mirror of,” Cervera clarified in an interview with 10 On Your Side.
City Auditor Lyndon Remias confirmed Hillard Heintze erred in saying the FBI had evidence the Virginia Beach Police did not.
Hillard Heintze said in November it had access to everything Virginia Beach had, and Virginia Beach Police have said they have access to everything the FBI has.
Here is the FBI’s statement in full from Martin Culbreth, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office:
“The FBI’s role in the criminal investigation of the Virginia Beach mass shooting that occurred on May 31, 2019, has been to assist the Virginia Beach Police Department by providing investigative support as requested by the department. At the request of the police department, the FBI conducted numerous victim/witness interviews, a digital forensic analysis of the shooter’s work computer, and the forensic crime scene investigation and evidence recovery operation in Municipal Center Building 2.– Martin Culbreth, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office
The FBI did not seize and does not possess a personal laptop computer owned by the perpetrator of the mass shooting. The FBI is not aware of the existence of a personal laptop computer belonging to the shooter.
The FBI obtained the shooter’s city-owned work computer during the evidence collection process and immediately created a mirrored digital image of the hard drive which contained the contents of the computer. The FBI provided the image containing the contents of the work computer to the Virginia Beach Police Department on June 1, 2019 for investigation. It was the only computer tower collected by the FBI.“
Cervera also has said that while the FBI is assisting the police with their review of the shooter’s documents and devices, their focus is on a thorough forensics review of the crime scene.