Her sister died in the May 31 mass shooting. She questions the lack of info — city officials are ‘not giving us the time of day’

"Why are they cutting us out of all this?" she asked.

(Southside Daily/ Courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Debbie Borato knew City Council would be meeting Tuesday when she sent an email with an attached magazine article to each member.

“I found out my sister was in the stairwell from her co-workers and then I read it in a magazine,” she said. “I didn’t get that from any city officials or supervisors.”

Borato said with city officials “not giving us the time of day,” she’s had to piece together information from co-workers and the media to figure out what happened to her sister, Michelle ‘Missy’ Langer, on May 31.

Similar to Jason Nixon’s story about his wife Kate, Borato said after she waited nearly 24 hours before finding out where her sister’s body was, she drove to Virginia from her Florida home as quickly as she could.

Did she pass away in a hospital? Was she in the morgue? We didn’t know anything,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Kate Nixon is one of the city employees who died May 31: Her family is not settling for the city’s answers

Borato said she’s at the point of “exploding” as the only communication she has received from city officials was for her to “be patient.”

“They could’ve at least pulled us in to tell us what happened and at least have our back and say ‘you know what, we’re going to find out why he did this,'” she said. “We got nothing like that just ‘wait, don’t believe what you read, be patient’ that’s all we’re getting.” 

The city’s lack of information and contradicting reports, Borato said, are the reasons her family has decided to support Nixon in his request for an immediate third-party investigation.

“They’re saying there’s no evidence this man had a record, that he had ‘satisfactory’ work but we’re having trouble accepting that there weren’t signs,” Borato said.

City spokeswoman Julie Hill recently said, “these requests (independent probe) appear premature while the criminal investigation is ongoing and these requests can be discussed and considered after, and with the benefit of, the findings of that investigation.”

Nixon family attorney Kevin Martingayle said he’s not at all surprised other families want an independent investigation and “the pressure will continue to build.”

“Any public official opposing is making a mistake because it doesn’t look good, it looks like you’re hiding something, and it lessens the public’s confidence,” Martingayle said.

RELATED STORY: Virginia Beach vice mayor: Call for independent probe on the May 31 mass shooting ‘makes no sense’

Martingayle also said the idea of an investigation is not to place blame on anyone but to learn from the horrific event.

“The point of the report is to tell us what we did right, what we did wrong, and how we can move forward,” he said.

Langer and Kate Nixon were among 11 city employees who were shot and killed where they worked in the Municipal Center’s Building 2.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter as DeWayne Craddock, a 9-year public utilities engineer who’d sent a resignation email to his boss that day.

Borato said she wants a transparent investigation for the sake of closure.

“Why are they cutting us out of all this?” she asked.

“I think the only way we’re going to get answers is if we all bond and ask for them together,” she said. 

Borato said Langer was her only sister who she talked to almost every day.

Now, she finds solace in her sister’s co-workers who told her “they loved [Missy], adored her, and that she brightened up their day.”

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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.