Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: Here’s what city officials talked about regarding Building 2

The mass shooting happened in Building 2, May 31, 2019. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
The mass shooting happened in Building 2, May 31, 2019. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council discussed temporary placement of departments and long-term plans for Building 2 during a briefing Tuesday.

Building 2, which houses the public works, utilities, and planning offices, has been a closed investigation site since the mass shooting on May 31, leaving some 384 employees displaced and working from as many as 28 different locations, officials said.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: Building 2 may not reopen

City Manager Dave Hansen said officials would not finalize anything but, Tuesday’s meeting served to “get the conversation started.”

“I appreciate the public’s patience in working with to allow us time to overcome the shock of this event,” he said.

Public Works Department Director Mark Johnson showed a photo of employees at what looked like a conference room table and said, “they are functioning.”

“We have set up 12 work stations where our project managers are working one day in the office at that space and the next day at home or offsite somewhere,” he said.

Within the recent week, the city announced in news releases the planning customer service counter is temporarily located in Building 19-North and Public Utilities is available by phone as of Monday.

Facility engineer Tom Nicholas presented three long-term options for City Council to consider including renovating the building and renaming it in memory of the shooting’s date — Building 531.

That option, Nicholas said, includes renovations in Building 1 and 11 and is “much faster” than demolishing the site with Virginia Beach Police precinct and administration moving in fall 2021.

Keeping in their promise, Building 2 employees would not have to walk into the building after the trauma they’ve experienced — each plan has public works, utilities, and planning departments going into either Building 1 or Building 11.

With Building 2 being a new addition to the city’s renovation plans the city will have to take into consideration how it pays for the remodel.

“Something needs to be canceled, some taxes have to go up, or something needs to be rearranged,” said Nicholas.

The city is also considering not putting all the departments affected in one space to avoid having to stop significant business in times of emergency.

“This easily could’ve been a fire, hurricane, tornado, anything that could’ve done that,” said Vice Mayor Jim Wood.

On May 31, 12 people died and four more were injured after a longtime city employee opened fire on his co-workers inside Building 2.

Among the dead were four 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.

(Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department)

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as an engineer in the Municipal Complex. The shooter sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.