VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — “I think you say ‘why?’ Everybody wants a nice clean reason — and in this case that didn’t come forward.”
The statement made by Debra Kirby with Hillard Heintze, the Chicago-based firm conducting an independent investigation into the Virginia Beach mass shooting, is the most concise way to sum up their findings.
Kirby, along with firm founder Arnette Heintze, shared the results of the 16-week probe in front of City Council on Wednesday night.
The presentation comes nearly six months after city engineer Dwayne Craddock, 40, shot and killed 12 people and seriously hurt four others at Building 2 at the city’s Municipal Center. Craddock was also killed in a gun battle with police.
Hillard Heintze created a timeline of the shooting and reviewed the shooter’s employment history and city policies. The full 262-page report includes six key findings and 58 recommendations.
Overall, investigators said they found rumors about the incident — such as the shooter being passed up for a promotion — were unsubstantiated. However, what can be proven is the shooter was unhappy at work.
The investigative team conducted 230 interviews, met with a majority of the affected families, held 4 listening sessions, combed through 335,000 emails, 6,500 documents and commissioned two surveys.
Before the special Virginia Beach City Council meeting, Hillard Heintze met privately with family members of victims to brief them on the findings.
During the meeting, Heintze presented six key findings of the investigation.
The first key finding revolves around heroic actions documented by investigators about employees of Building 2 during the shooting. One called 911 from his office, providing details before he was shot and severely wounded. Another person helped lead her coworkers to safety.
“We believe that the actions of many of these employees helped save countless lives,” Heintze said.
The second key finding was about the attacker. Hillard Heintze investigators say the shooter did not show any warning signs in the workplace ahead of the shooting, although he did visit mass shooting websites leading up to the May 31 tragedy.
“He didn’t have relationship at work that could’ve potentially provided insight into his struggles,” Heintze said.
The third key finding revealed there was room for improvement in Virginia Beach’s workplace violence prevention plan. The fourth finding said the city needed to centralize its Human Resources function to improve employee engagement.
Hillard Heintze also found, in its fifth key finding, that the city needs to expand its critical incident response system to include mass notifications and other functions.
The sixth key finding made recommendations for improvements to the city’s physical and technical security. First responders did not have access to critical areas of the building during the mass shooting.
Heintze indicated the FBI may have more answers, depending on what they find on the shooter’s computer.
“The subject did not leave a manifesto, at least to our knowledge as the F.B.I. has his personal computer,” Heintze said, cautioning that still, more could come out. A final draft report from the federal agency is not expected to be completed for another four to seven months, police indicated.
City Council member Sabrina Wooten said she was concerned the Hillard Heintze report didn’t take information from the shooter’s computer into account, and that she hoped the public could learn more about him once the FBI releases information about what was found on the device.
“To me, that’s a missing key here,” Wooten said.
Kirby added Hillard Heinze investigators did learn “a lot of information” about the attacker, but are hesitant to say why he did it because there could be relevant additional information uncovered on his computer.
Investigators confirmed they found several emails in drafts on the shooter’s computer disputing discipline he had received at work that he believed was unjust.
Those emails were never sent.
The group also looked into claims of a toxic work environment, after meeting with two groups of employees who say African-Americans are treated unfairly.
Heintze said investigators did not find widespread evidence of a toxic work environment or racist culture in the Virginia Beach city workplace.
A city survey shows claims of a toxic work environment is not widespread. 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox just did a special report on the hostility claims within the city.
An independent survey contracted through Hillard Heintze also mimicked the findings of the city’s survey, Heintze said. About 42 percent of the workforce answered the survey, which is considered a statistically valid sample size.
Much of what Hillard Heintze revealed matches what Virginia Beach Police revealed back in September.
Look for updates on the special meeting here on WAVY.com.