VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - So far, three agencies have analyzed the Virginia Beach mass shooting that happened on May 31, 2019. They include the Virginia Beach Police Department; Hillard Heintze, which was hired by the city; and the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit.
"Our goal is to examine the shooting and come up with recommendations and lessons learned and what can be done to prevent further mass shootings," said David Cariens, commission member.
The state commission, made up of 20 members appointed by the governor, is on its way to conducting an independent review.
David Cariens, a retired CIA analyst, is on the commission. He lost his daughter-in-law, Angela Dales, in 2002 at a shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va.
"That's what got me started in this direction - I realized I wasn't being told the truth," he said.
He also authored a book on the Virginia Tech shooting, written from the perspective of the victim's families. He is now using his expertise to help uncover why a gunman open fired on 12 of his co-workers.
"When shootings occur, like the law school shooting where Angie died and Virginia Tech, there is tendency for people in authority to protect the institution, and they lose sight of human lives lost," he said.
Cariens is not saying the city is to blame - yet - but he did find several red flags thus far.
"The human resources department seems to have had a scattered approach. They didn't track problem employees, and they were not trained to spot the signals," Cariens said.
He also believes proper police training and active shooter training was lacking.
"Why couldn't first responders get access to the building while the shooter was carrying on the rampage? They should have had floor plans," he said.
Cariens says this was the first task commission members must complete, with a full report due by the end of 2022.
"At the end of the day, we need to look families, survivors and others impacted in the face and say, 'We did the best we could, and here our our conclusions,'" he said.
Gov. Ralph Northam approved $77,000 for the independent investigation.
Other commission members include:
- Robert Gray Bracknell of Norfolk, a retired officer of the United States Marine Corps
- Walden University professor and owner of Anchor Counseling and Wellness Rebecca G. Cowan of Chesapeake
- Veteran and business owner Richard Diviney of Virginia Beach
- Bob Geis of Virginia Beach, a Chesapeake deputy city manager
- United States Secret Service Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jaison A. Harris of Occoquan
- Jim Redick of Norfolk, director of Norfolk’s emergency preparedness and response
- Ryant Washington of Fluvanna County, former deputy secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
- Chesapeake Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge David J. Whitted of Chesapeake
- Kristofer J.W. Chester of Virginia Beach, an enterprise architect at Verizon