Friday, December 8, 2023

Remembering the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)

May 31, 2019.

That was the day a gunman killed 12 people, seriously wounded 4 others and terrorized hundreds more during a shooting rampage in Building 2 of the Municipal Center in Virginia Beach.

City officials unveiled their plans for remembering the victims – but that, too, needs to be adapted to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Lighting the Path: Together We Remember” reflects input the city received from employees, family members and others to create meaningful tributes to the victims and their families as well as everyone who bears the scars of that day, according to a news release.

The plans include a variety of activities that allow people to remember and reflect in their own ways and on their own time.

“This is a very difficult time. In the midst of a pandemic, reflecting on the worst day in the history of Virginia Beach seems even more daunting,” said Acting City Manager Tom Leahy. “Still, if I’ve learned anything in my four decades with this city, it is this – we persevere. We grow. And we continue to put one foot in front of the other, even when that feels almost impossible. Our goal with these activities has been to honor the memories of those we lost a year ago and the incredible contributions they each made to our lives and our city.”

The city has created a specially designed symbol based on the Forget-Me-Not flower that includes elements representing the 17 victims and the community that surrounds them. The explanation of that design as well as details for the at-home and ceremonial activities planned beginning May 29 are included on the newly redesigned memorial website.


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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.

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