As Virginia Beach searches for answers, the community pulls together

(Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
(Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — As the long process of healing begins in this city, hundreds of city employees – all affected by Friday’s mass shooting at the Municipal Center – were in the Convention Center Monday.

It was a somber private gathering (employees only) just three days after a gunman opened fire inside Building 2, killing 12 people and injuring four others.

Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as DeWayne Craddock 40, a longtime city employee.

Among the dead from that carnage were four other engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator. In all, they had served the city of Virginia Beach for more than 150 years.

One of the two city fire trucks parked outside the Convention Center had a huge American flag hanging from a ladder.

Michelle Walz is a supervisor in the city’s Parks Department. He says City Manager David Hansen spoke to employees and told them they will stick together and work through the tragedy as a “family.”

The city is making a large number of counselors available for employees, officials said.

There were other memorials Monday around the city. Public schools, businesses all around the state – and perhaps the country wore blue, a sign of solidarity and support to the victims of Friday’s mass shooting.

City officials are inviting the public to come to “VB Remembers,” an event to remember the victims. It will be on Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Rock Church, 640 Kempsville Road.

Here’s a list of other remembrances planned this week:

Wednesday:

  • 6 p.m. — Old Dominion University, outside Webb University Center, located at 1526 W. 49th St. (Norfolk).

Saturday:

  • 10 a.m. – Memorial walk  Virginia Beach victims, families & community at Mount Trashmore Park, 310 Edwin Drive.

Sunday:

  • 7 p.m. Hampton Roads Ecumenical Council of Bishops prayer vigil, Grace Bible Church, 2956 Ansol Lane

For those wanting to donate to the victims, Virginia Beach has asked United Way to partner on this response. The victims affected by the tragedy will receive 100 percent of the funds raised. Please note, because the funds will go directly to individuals, donations are not tax deductible.

Donate by clicking here, or by texting the keyword VABEACH to 41444.

FAC

The Family Assistance Center is at Princess Anne Recreation Center located at 1400 Nimmo Pkwy. Representatives are on site to provide resources for survivors, families and city employees.

On Monday, June 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the following support is available:

  • Grief counselors
  • FBI Victim Services Division – Crisis Intervention and Needs
  • Assessment
  • Virginia Victim Fund – Compensation for Victims
  • Salvation Army Chaplain
  • Employee Assistance Program information
  • Virginia Beach Payroll staff will be on hand to answer questions regarding benefits.
  • Employees can also visit the FAC to file a request to retrieve personal property through FBI Victim Services.

The FAC will be open through Friday, June 7 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) 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.