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Mass shooting VB Municipal Center 5th anniversary looks at memorial plan

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – It’s been five years since a former city employee entered the Virginia Beach Municipal Center with a plan to shoot his former co-workers.

The WTKR News 3 investigative team continues to monitor new developments and efforts to get more resources to those affected by the mass shooting.

We met Jason Nixon, whose wife was killed in the shooting.

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Nixon has been the most outspoken among the families directly affected and fought to get them more resources and money.

“I think the fifth year is actually worse because it falls on the actual Friday,” Nixon said.

Five years ago, on Friday, May 31, the gunman – a city engineer – stormed Building 2 and opened fire on his colleagues, hours after leaving his position.

Five people were injured and twelve died, including Nixon’s wife Kate.

Nixon has been working for years on the new permanent monument that would be located near the intersection of Princess Anne Road and Nimmo Parkway.

Check out last year’s coverage: Victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting were remembered at the vigil four years later

Victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting were remembered at a vigil four years later

Nixon said working on the project has been emotional with several ups and downs, but he is grateful that movement is being made.

“I’m glad the memorial is happening,” Nixon said.

City leaders say they have selected an architect for the permanent monument and now have plans for what it will look like. The next step is to select a contractor.

A group that lost loved ones the day of the shooting, called 5/31 Families United, and others have been fighting for more money and resources for those affected by the tragedy.

Attorney Justin Fairfax said he represents seven of the 12 families who suffered losses that day. On Thursday, he sent a letter to the Virginia Beach City Council asking it to vote for a non-binding formal mediation to discuss sustainable mental health care, implementing recommendations from the state commission report and more financial support for the families.

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“It is intended to identify areas where there are ongoing, unmet needs and opportunities,” Fairfax said.

He said more could be done to support affected families.

Families had requested $40 million from the state budget. They didn’t get that money in 2023, but the General Assembly did approve $10 million for the Virginia Mass Violence Care Fund.

Joe Samaha, whose daughter was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech Mass Shooting, founded the group VTV Family Outreach Foundation and pushed for this fund.

However, this is not money that is immediately available.

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The Virginia Beach Police Department dedicates a new headquarters in the renovated Building 2

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He said there is currently a working group formulating legislation that would determine how the $10 million will be invested and spent to help people recover from the mass violence in the state.

He said the money could be used for needs not covered by insurance.

The VB Strong Center, an organization in partnership with Sentara and the city, was founded with grant money, intended to be a place that helped people who were struggling.

The grant money expires in September.

Sentara has provided us with the following statement:

“Sentara, the City of Virginia Beach and our grant partners have maintained the VB Strong Center for nearly five years, extending the original two-year federal grant to continue supporting the community. As we prepare for the center’s closure, we believe that behavioral health services in our community are much more robust than when the tragedy at the community center occurred. Sentara stands ready to provide behavioral health services to the communities we serve.”

View a related story: Virginia Beach Police Department dedicates new headquarters in renovated Building 2

The Virginia Beach Police Department dedicates a new headquarters in the renovated Building 2

As for Nixon and his family, they are grateful that the memorial is making progress on their journey to healing.

“This is something that will be permanent in the city of Virginia Beach,” Nixon said. “My children can come here and know that their mother meant something to Virginia Beach.”

Nixon says the monument is expected to be completed in 2026.

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