Firm conducting independent investigation into Virginia Beach mass shooting releases findings

Posted at 3:19 PM, Nov 13, 2019

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After a nearly four-month long independent investigation into the Virginia Beach mass shooting at the Municipal Center, Hillard Heintze released its findings.

<p class="wp-caption-text" id="caption-attachment-723404">The 12 victims of the May 31 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center

This investigation comes after a gunman killed 12 people and wounded five others in and around the building in which he had worked for more than nine years.

Hillard Heintze, the Chicago-based firm selected to investigate the shooting, shared the conclusion of its report with Virginia Beach City Council during a special meeting on Wednesday.

It met with the victims' family members before meeting with the public.

During its investigation, officials conducted hundreds of interviews, sifted through thousands of documents and looked into claims of a toxic work environment within the Virginia Beach City government.

Investigators created a timeline of the killer's life dating back to 1996. Red flags showed up: A divorce from his wife, questions with job performance and in 2018, visiting websites about other shootings.

"Retrospectively, we can look at those elements and go, 'This individual is struggling and is potentially on a path to violence,' but there's not a point in time where you can say, 'This guy's going to carry out this act,'" said Arnette Heintze.

When looking into claims of a toxic work environment within the city government, they said the incidents were "isolated and there wasn't a systemic problem."

With the information they were provided, investigators said the shooter didn't display warning signs, only what they're calling "stressors."

The firm was given access to city documents and data from the Virginia Beach Police Department. They said currently, the gunman's personal laptop is being combed through by the FBI.

From interviews and looking through social media and electronic records, the firm compiled a list of six key findings and 58 recommendations.

The findings include restructuring the city's Human Resources Department, adding a mandatory workplace violence prevention program and updating physical and technical security.

How these are interpreted and implemented are up to the city to figure out now.

News 3 reporter Erin Miller spoke with Jason Nixon after the meeting. His wife was killed in Building 2. He said he is disappointed and angry by the firm's findings.

To read the full report of the findings, click here.