Monday, February 6, 2023

Community remembers the victims, proclaims ‘we are Virginia Beach strong’

(Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department)

VIRGINIA BEACH — People of all faiths, creeds and walks of life gathered together at Rock Church on Thursday night to grieve the loss of the 12 people who were gunned down last Friday in Building 2 of the city’s Municipal Center.

The service was a mix of speakers and singers from all faiths.

The pinnacle of the evening was the naming of each of the 12 victims with a photo and music ensemble to commemorate them.

City Council members took turns standing up and saying their names, with each mention followed by a moment of silence.

Among the speakers of the evening were Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, Vice Mayor James Wood and Mayor Bobby Dyer.

When the vice mayor was asked if he was surprised by the outpouring of love and support from the community, he told the crowd he would have been surprised if the community hadn’t responded this way.

“This is Virginia Beach and this is what we do,” he proclaimed.

Dyer spoke highly of all the emergency personnel, city staff and volunteers who’ve worked around the clock during the past few days.

Among the dead were four engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as a longtime city employee who worked as an engineer in the Municipal Complex. The shooter sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

“We are resilient and we are people of resolve. We will not let an act of evil define who we are,” he said.

The Virginia Beach community gathered Thursday night to remember the 12 people who died in a mass shooting May 31. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/Southside Daily)
The Virginia Beach community gathered Thursday night to remember the 12 people who died in a mass shooting May 31. (WYDaily)

The crowd gathered, cried together and mourned together, but they ended the way people of one community do, they sang together.

To find out how to support the 12 families and those injured, click here.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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