Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: City employees will get paid as they take time to heal

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

VIRGINIA BEACH — With exception to those who worked in Building 2, city employees have returned to work and offices at the municipal center reopened Tuesday.

In meeting Tuesday morning, city officials hoped to start acclimating employees back into a place they experienced terror just four days before.

Spokeswoman Julie Hill said the city is doing its best to “wrap their arms around everyone” by offering services to individuals who need it.

In addition to establishing a family assistance center, “there are counselors available and the city manager is making sure we have different ways to address needs and concerns of individual employees,” Hill said.

If four days wasn’t enough, the city will accommodate anyone who doesn’t feel emotionally ready or safe to come back to work, she said.

And, with no definite return date for those who worked in the ongoing investigation site, employees can take that time without having to worry about their finances.

“They are receiving their full salary paycheck with no leave situation,” said Regina Hilliard, the city’s director of human resources.

When it comes to determining how long after the city’s established return date an employee can take, Hilliard says, “we’re not there yet.”

Other than making sure employees receive full-time pay, the city also partnered with United Way of South Hampton Roads to start the “Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund.”

Kelsey Mohring, a spokeswoman for United Way of South Hampton Roads said, 100 percent of the donated funds will go to the victims and families affected to cover costs like “offsetting lost income, children education funds, or medical bills.”

“The first step is making sure people don’t pay anything out of pocket to bury their loved ones,” Mohring said.

United Way has been in constant communication with the city’s budgeting team and human resources department who will ultimately decide and guide how donations are issued, she said.

People can continue to donate to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund by clicking here, or by texting VABEACH to 41444.

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.

Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as DeWayne Craddock 40, a longtime city employee who worked as an engineer for the public works department.

He sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

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