VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - During its first meeting with the public Tuesday night, a Chicago-based firm hired to conduct an independent review of the Virginia Beach mass shooting gave the community an idea how they'll conduct their investigation.
Transparency, public trust and competence were the three promises made for the weeks ahead.
"We're here as fact-finders. We have to undiscover why," said Arnette Heintze, founder and CEO of Hillard Heintze.
That "why" is still unanswered - almost two months after the mass shooting that killed 12 people.
"There have been so many rumors and so much talk about what may have happened, and we need to know what happened and put this behind us," said concerned citizen Jim Davis.
Making their first appearance in Virginia Beach, members of the Hillard Heintze team addressed the public, breaking down the three-phase plan to complete the investigation in about 12 weeks:
Phase 1: Listening and Learning On-Site
- Will take 2 weeks
- They will meet with families, city employees and Virginia Beach citizens
- Review Human Resources and supervisory files and other documentation relevant to the shooter's employment history
- Public listening sessions are scheduled for July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center and August 8 (location is still to be determined)
- Employee listening session is scheduled for July 30 in Building 19 at 5 p.m.
Phase 2: Incident Review, Investigation and Security Assessment
- Will take upwards of 8 weeks
- This will include a review of security camera footage, interviews with city employees and security personnel, a review of all available documentation related to shooting
- Investigate supervisory and HR actions that were implemented in relation to the shooter prior to the May 31 shooting
Phase 3: Key Findings, Recommendations and Presentation of Final Report
- Will take around 2 weeks
- Deliver the final report
- Present findings or recommendations to the Virginia Beach City Council
- Support or facilitate a public meeting to explain the independent assessment process
"We know this is ambitious, but it needs to be ambitious because the community, the victims' families and the employees of Virginia Beach need answers, and that's what we want to deliver for you," said Heintze.
A team consisting of former secret service agents, fraud examiners and law enforcement officers will leave no stone unturned.
"We're going to look at this individual's motivation, intent and capability of carrying out an attack," said Matt Dougherty, Senior Vice President of Hillard Heintze.
Heintze, however, understands that there are challenges in the road ahead.
"We want to help in any way that we can and to understand any point of view, perspective, concern that they have. That is our biggest challenge, and we want to do that right," he said.
The company has acknowledged that because of size and publicity of this shooting, it's unlike others they have done in the past but they'll do whatever it takes to uncover the unbiased truth.
The team wants to be transparent and gain the public's trust, but they said people need to understand that facts won't be released until the investigation is complete. However, they will be holding periodic briefings every three to four weeks to update the community as much as possible.
The project is expected to cost the city just under $400,000.
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