May 31st Memorial Committee meeting to discuss public input for Virginia Beach mass shooting memorial

Virginia Beach Shooting
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 17:29:29-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The 5/31 Memorial Committee is meeting Monday afternoon.

The public meeting, the committee's fourth since forming, will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at The HIVE.

Monday's meeting comes after the public was invited to give their thoughts on a permanent memorial to honor the 12 victims who were killed at the Municipal Center in Virginia Beach on May 31, 2019.

The online survey went up in April and stayed open until June 5. It asked questions such as location of the memorial and whether there should be more than one location for it; perhaps one component at the Municipal Center and a second at another site such as the Oceanfront. It also asked questions about the size and visibility of the memorial as well as the type of components, like a list of names, information display, photos or videos.

More than 400 people took part in this community survey. A lot of the focus was on the location and design elements of the memorial, as well as a need to get a location selection soon.

The May 31st Memorial Committee went over two potential locations for the memorial site at Monday's meeting.

One would be near Princess Anne Road and Nimmo Parkway. The other would be West Neck Road and Nimmo Parkway.

81 percent of the community survey respondents believe the permanent memorials should be at the city's municipal enter.

Most participants believe part or all of the memorial should be on city-owned land and at or near Building 2.

Many families and survivors support the idea of the permanent memorial being close to Building 2, and prefer an indoor memorial component as well.

Others in the community support a marker at or near Building 2 directing to a memorial elsewhere. There was also strong support for a water feature, benches or seating and integrating painted rocks as part of the design.

Virginia Beach City Council member Michael Berlucci talked with News 3 about why it was important for the committee to hear from the public directly for this memorial.

"Including the families, including employees, including first responders who were there that day, but also people from every neighborhood. Every community in Virginia Beach who also experienced loss and grief, and had relationships with people who may have lost their lives or impacted by the event," Berlucci said.

Berlucci also talked about some public input he has received, which has been the need to accelerate creating the memorial.

"We want to make sure that we’re doing it the best we can," he said. "We’re going through a process, and that’s important. But, I think our community is ready to see movement,a concept, a sight selected, maybe some shovels in the ground hopefully soon."

There have been in-person planning meetings for the memorial. According to the City of Virginia Beach website, city council appointed 12 members, including the families and survivor liaisons, to the committee during their formal session on Dec. 14, 2021.

The city hired consulting firm Kearns & West to facilitate the 5/31 Memorial planning process.

A list of 5/31 Memorial committee members, committee goals and meeting recordings can be found online here.

On Tuesday, committee members will attend the City Council informal session at City Council Chambers to give an update on their work. The time of this council meeting is to be determined.

Immediately following the group’s presentation to Council, committee members will adjourn to Building 19, Training Room A to allow members to reflect on the process they have participated in to date. That gathering will have no formal agenda, but will be a period of conversation among committee members with Kearns & West.

The public is invited to attend both the presentation to City Council, as well as the gathering following that presentation.