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Thursday, May 23, 2024

May 31 mass shooting victims’ families to hear investigation update from VB Police

Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera talks to press about details surrounding an active shooter at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on Friday May 31, 2019. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)
Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera talks to press about details surrounding an active shooter at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on Friday May 31, 2019. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Families and survivors of the May 31 mass shooting are being invited to a Virginia Beach Police Department presentation of criminal investigation findings after City Council’s workshop next Tuesday.

The police department did not immediately respond to requests to say if the presentation’s findings are conclusive, or if this is just an update to the ongoing investigation.

Arnette Heintze, CEO of Hillard Heintze, is also scheduled to provide an update on the independent probe at the meeting.

In a letter sent to the victims’ family members on Sept. 12, Mayor Bobby Dyer said travel for out of town survivors will be reimbursed as “it is critically important” they hear the briefing.

Dyer also said because some have asked, they’ll also arrange for families to go inside Building 2 where the shooting happened, after the meeting.

Michelle ‘Missy’ Langer’s sister, Debbie Borato, said she’d been wanting an opportunity to visit the site.

“You see those people who lay their flowers on the side of roads where their loved ones passed away — that’s how I feel,” she said. “I want to go to the spot where my sister took her last breath.”

In their Aug. 6 meeting, police Chief Jim Cervera provided City Council with an impromptu update and said investigators had conducted more than 200 interviews and closed the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the mass shooter’s death.

Cervera said in the meeting the criminal investigation into the events on May 31 was “close to being finished without the piece from the FBI.”

And, in an effort to avoid influencing the third-party investigation, Cervera has also said even if the criminal investigation was completed, the results wouldn’t be released until Hillard Heintze’s independent review was done.

RELATED STORY: VB top cop will not release PD’s probe into the mass shooting until the independent review is done. And the auditor said this

In Heintze’s last update on Aug. 27, he said the team had been mulling over 6,500 documents, 335,000 emails with attachments and some 10 hours of police body-camera footage.

Heintze also said during the meeting, the team accomplished more than 90 interviews with more to schedule and has continued to receive emails and phone calls from the public reporting information they see relevant.

RELATED STORY: May 31 independent probe might take longer than expected

Going by their initially proposed 12-week timeline, Hillard Heintze should have a public report of investigation findings by Oct. 11.

Although that goal still stands, Heintze said in the August meeting, confronted with the massive workload he “can’t specifically call an investigation and say it’s done in exactly 12 weeks.”

After the public investigation update briefing on Sept. 24, police officials are also meeting with the victims’ families in private, according to Dyer’s Sept. 12 letter.

The presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at 2401 Courthouse Drive For those who can’t attend, it’ll also be broadcast live on the city’s website, on channels 48 and 45 in Virginia Beach, or on the city’s Facebook page. 

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