Friday, July 19, 2024

Municipal Center mass shooting investigation is a long way from done. Here’s why

Virginia Beach residents visit a memorial outside of Building 11 dedicated to the 12 victims lost in the Municipal Center shooting. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)
Virginia Beach residents visit a memorial outside of Building 11. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

VIRGINIA BEACH — On June 10 and just 10 days after the tragic shooting in the Municipal Center, FBI recovery teams finished collecting evidence — but their work was far from over.

City officials wrote in a news release Thursday, “While the FBI has indicated it might take as long as 12 months to complete their forensic overview, they will have a preliminary report within a much shorter, although undetermined, timeframe.”

Although FBI Norfolk spokeswoman Christina Pullen could not confirm the timeframe cited by the city, saying”that didn’t come from us.”

She did say the field office continues to support the Virginia Beach Police Department in their criminal investigation.

“It is a Virginia Beach Police investigation and they have requested our assistance and we have provided a number of resources to support their investigation,” she said.

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

After a mass shooter left 12 dead and four injured in Building 2, FBI teams from around the region arrived here in what Pullen called  “a crisis response situation operation.”

Evidence Recovery teams from Baltimore, Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Norfolk FBI processed the scene and will make sense of the data.

“The evidence collection teams are the best example of a resource we provided for the Virginia Beach Police’s investigation,” Pullen said.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth and Virginia Beach Police Capt. Theresa Orr are co-managing the case, city officials said.

“We’re key partners and our partnerships are essential,” Pullen said. “We don’t do anything alone we do everything in coordination with our partnerships.”

Virginia Beach Police spokeswoman MPO Tonya Pierce said the large scale of this investigation “encompasses everybody.”

“Evidence includes thousands of email messages along with information captured through more than 20 search warrants executed,” officials wrote in the news release.

At the same time, officers are also involved in the concurrent investigation of the officer-involved shooting that killed the suspect while “doing their jobs” responding to calls for service, Pierce said.

Which makes those partnerships with the FBI all the more necessary.

“Although we’re the lead agency, we still utilize other agencies to complete the goal,” she said.

According to the news release, “more than 300 interviews have been conducted and there are more to be completed. An enormous amount of evidence is being reviewed and prioritized.”

It’s hard to say where the investigation stands while getting new information that could possibly negate other information, Pierce said.

Recently the families of Kate Nixon, Michelle ‘Missy’ Langer, and Joshua Hardy, have publicly called for an immediate and transparent third-party investigation into the shooting death of their family members.

RELATED STORY: Her sister died in the May 31 mass shooting. She questions the lack of info — city officials are ‘not giving us the time of day’

While the city said “there is no timeframe” for completing the law enforcement investigation, they will continue to defer an independent investigation until it’s done.

“Once we have the entire criminal investigation completed (both FBI and Police) and reviewed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney, we can determine whether there are still unanswered questions that merit an independent investigation,” officials wrote.

RELATED STORY: Victims’ families to city: So why not release the Virginia Beach mass shooter’s personnel file?

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