Thursday, September 28, 2023

Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: Finding answers, sorting through the chaos

Photo from FBI Norfolk's officials Twitter account. Their office is working in conjunction with other FBI offices to collect evidence of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. (Southside Daily/courtesy of office FBI Norfolk twitter)
Photo from FBI Norfolk’s officials Twitter account. Their office is working in conjunction with other FBI offices to collect evidence of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. (WYDaily/courtesy of office FBI Norfolk twitter)

VIRGINIA BEACH — After a mass shooting at the Municipal Center’s Building 2, investigators have to process the site Police Chief Jim Cervera described as a “war zone,” and come out with answers.

Virginia Beach Police spokeswoman MPO Linda Kuehn said investigators are “working meticulously” with FBI evidence recovery teams through a unique scene.

“We understand people want answers, but we want to ensure we’re providing information that is 100 percent accurate,” she said.

And, the large and extensive scale — victims were found on all three floors of the building — serves as an obstacle, Kuehn noted.

The FBI is supporting the Virginia Beach Police Department’s investigation into the May 31 mass shooting that left 12 people dead and four injured.

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.

(Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department)

Chief 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.

FBI Norfolk spokeswoman Christina Pullen said FBI Evidence Recovery teams expect to complete their evidence investigation by Wednesday.

“This is Virginia Beach PD’s investigation, the FBI is providing specially trained evidence recovery teams in support of the police department’s investigation,” she said.

The evidence will not only provide answers for the public but also serve as learning tools for the FBI.

“The evidence is valuable for studies on security and law enforcement response,” Pullen said.

Evidence Recovery teams from Baltimore, Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Norfolk FBI field offices have all come together to provide a whole story or picture of what happened in Building 2.

And, “we only have one shot to get it right,” Pullen said.

The Norfolk field office is the third smallest office in the FBI, “we’re a small office with a big mission and the same responsibilities as larger departments,” she said. “But we don’t have to do it alone.”


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.

Related Articles