Saturday, December 3, 2022

Pressure mounting: City Council gears toward possible independent probe on the May 31 mass shooting

(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)
(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Council members presented two different resolutions in their workshop Tuesday that would allow the city auditor to retain a third-party firm to conduct an independent investigation into the May 31 mass shooting.

Vice Mayor Jim Wood initially presented a resolution with the “goal council will get behind it as a group.”

The presentation was a last-minute addition to the workshop.

Wood outlined an independent resolution wouldn’t happen quickly and would only begin after receiving written assurance from law enforcement investigators “an independent firm would not infringe on the criminal investigation.”

“Investigations have taken six, eight, 12, Sandy Hook took 24 months,” Wood said.

While the city attorney said the city auditor would sign the contract and follow up to justify spending tax dollars on the investigation, Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten presented an alternative resolution with the auditor having “very little authority,” and the investigation starting “expeditiously” with or without written consent from law enforcement.

“I have no assurance it’ll go forward in a timely manner or if we’ll ever get the written consent from law enforcement,” Wooten said.

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’

Calls for an independent investigation have been mounting on city officials with the latest coming from State Dels. Cheryl Turpin D-85, and Kelly Fowler D- 21 in a letter to all council members.

“There is yet another report that family members of victims are not receiving adequate information about the city lead investigation,” the letter said.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach considers independent mass shooting investigation

Wood said the independent investigation “would fill in the gaps the police investigation would not” with focus entities like employee history, interactions, and workplace climate.

In past statements, City Manager Dave Hansen said the shooter DeWayne Craddock was a “satisfactory” worker. But Wooten asked, “what pushed him over the edge? People have the right to know.”

One topic of discussion in the meeting considered the number of politicians involved.

“Getting the investigation done right away, expediently, and that’s it’s not done with any conflict,” Wooten said.

City Council is expected to continue discussions on the resolution during their next meeting on July 2.

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