Saturday, December 9, 2023

The city auditor hopes to choose a firm this week to investigate the Municipal Center shooting

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 dedicated to the 12 victims. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Law firms from cities like Chicago and New York are among the 15 bids to be reviewed and possibly selected to investigate the May 31 mass shooting in Building 2 of the Municipal Center.

“The goal is to have a firm selected by mid-week and a contract signed by the end of the week or no later than next week,” City Auditor Lyndon Remias said.

Remias said he’d been reviewing bids since the request for proposal closed at 4 p.m. Friday and will be conducting interviews to have the firm on track to begin their investigation “as early as the last week in July,” and before the Aug. 15 deadline specified in the City Council’s resolution.

“Once my staff and I select the firm, we need to enter into a contract and then the firm can begin as soon as they are capable,” he said.

RELATED STORY: There will be a third-party review of the Municipal Center mass shooting

Here’s where the bids came from:

  •   Name of Firm Location
    1 Augustus Global Harwood Heights, IL
    2 Chris Swecker Law Charlotte, North Carolina
    3 CNA Arlington, Virginia
    4 DLA Piper, LLC Washington, D.C.
    5 FH + H, PLLC Tysons, Virginia
    6 Fishwick & Associates Roanoke, Virginia
    7 Freeh Group International Solutions LLC Wilmington, Delaware
    8 Gentry Locke Attorneys Roanoke, Virginia
    9 Hillard Heintze Chicago, Illinois
    10 Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps New York, New York
    11 Police Foundation Washington, D.C.
    12 Professional Investigations Williamsburg, Virginia
    13 SIGMA Threat Management Associates LLC Alexandria, Virginia
    14 The Volkov Law Group LLC Washington, D.C.
    15 Wolcott|Rivers|Gates Attorneys at Law Virginia Beach, Virginia

Remias said “as we made it clear that firms would be excluded if they have conducted business in the past or are currently doing business with the city.”

The Auditor’s Office staff also has the job to select the firm without any input from external committees, boards, or the Attorney General’s Office, according to a Facebook post from Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten, who wrote the office submitted a statement:

“Attorney Mark Herring fully supports the city’s approach and he believes that it is the best way to proceed. There are a number of firms here in the Commonwealth and around the country with the capacity and expertise the city seeks. If our office can be of assistance in any way to the team that is selected, please let them know they can contact us directly.”

Vice Mayor Jim Wood also posted messages from Remias regarding the participation of Tim Heaphy, the attorney who conducted the investigation after the 2017 deadly riots in Charlottesville and was recommended by Katherine Nixon family’s attorney, Kevin Martingayle.

RELATED STORY: Nixon family attorney: ‘Authorize the investigation everyone knows is necessary’

While the review process is still underway, Remias said the price the city will pay for the investigation cannot be revealed — the Charlottesville investigation carried a $350,000 price tag.

And, price is not the primary quality the office is looking for in a consultant.

“Selection of the firm will be under a best value procurement (BVP) which is a method that looks at factors other than only price, such as quality and expertise when selecting vendors or contractors,” Remias said.

Remias noted the chosen vendor’s review will include:

  • Creation of a timeline of events.
  • Review of the perpetrator’s employment history and workplace interactions.
  • Review of relevant city policies, procedures, and practices of those related to
    • Facility security
    • Prevention of workplace violence
    • Employee alerting and response to active shooter notifications

In their July 2 meeting, City Council unanimously voted on the resolution authorizing the City Auditor be the “liaison” who awards a contract for an independent investigation into the events surrounding the tragic deaths of 12 people and the wounding of four others in a city building May 31.

“By quickly perusing the bids I am confident that we will select a very experienced and qualified firm,” Remias said.

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