NORFOLK Va. (WAVY) — The Old Dominion University Alumni Association announced its plans to build a memorial to honor the lives that were lost in the Municipal Center shooting in Virginia Beach.
The tragedy is especially painful for the ODU Monarchs. As WAVY has previously reported, five of the victims had connections to the university. They include Tara Welch Gallagher, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox and Alexander Gusev.
“It’s been extremely shocking, something so devastating in our community. Like everyone has said, you just never think it will come this close to home,” said Joy Jefferson, ODU’s Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations.
After word got out about the shooting, many alumni wanted to do their part to honor their former classmates. They decided to build a permanent memorial to ensure that their memory will live on in the coming years.
“Our alumni had an outpouring of concern and love for all the victims, but especially since we had five victims who were once students here,” said Jefferson. “They wanted to see something permanent on campus that will be in honor of the victims.”
Although they are still in the beginning stages of planning, they intend to plant a tree with a bench and plaque engraved with the victims’ names. Jefferson hopes that it will be a place where people can sit and remember those 12 precious lives taken too soon.
“It’ll be a nice setting on campus where people can come and kind of reflect. A place where the victims will always be remembered,” Jefferson said.
They’re hopeful the memorial will help the community start to heal and process their loss.
“We are still in shock that something so tragic could happen here in Virginia Beach, but ODU is a family and we feel as though it’s only fitting for us to honor those who are part of our family,” Jefferson said.
Although the location is still being determined, they are leaning towards ODU’s Kauffman Mall, or possibly outside of the engineering building. They plan to unveil the memorial during homecoming week in late October.