Virginia Beach City Council briefed on planning process for mass shooting memorial site

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Posted at 3:06 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 17:17:59-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The offices inside Building 2 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center have remained empty for 14 months. Right now, city officials don't have the cash for renovations due to COVID-19.

News 3 learned Tuesday how they plan to move forward with a permanent memorial to honor the 12 lives lost during the mass shooting on May 31, 2019.

"We have the utmost respect for everyone’s grieving process," said Emily Labows, Director of Cultural Affairs with the city.

Labows told Virginia Beach City Council that for the past year, her team has consulted with the Department of Justice as well as other communities like Blacksburg, Aurora, El Paso, Newtown and Orlando, which have also endured mass violence in the past.

"We have been told this is a process that can't be rushed; it should be carefully planned, and we were advised to wait until after the one-year remembrance," she said.

Jason Nixon, who lost his wife, Kate, inside Building 2, believes progress is far overdue.

"This is the most historical event the city of Virginia Beach has ever had, and we still don't have a memorial over a year later," said Nixon.

Debbie Borato says she, too, is ready for a site to reflect, find peace and honor her sister, Missy Langer.

"I am in favor of pretty chimes hanging with names, maybe a butterfly garden or some benches where family and city employees can sit, listen and relax," Borato explained.

Plans and designs are far off. First, the city manager must approve an Appointed Memorial Committee that would include family liaisons to gather ideas from survivors, responders and the community, as well as a Public Input Consultant.

"The committee would solicit input, examine possible locations, set project goals and provide funding and design recommendations," said Labows.

Labows vowed to make the entire process transparent.

"Feedback from families and survivors and community are key while building trust through the process," she said.

There is no word on funding, cost or a timetable of completion of the memorial.

Click here for full coverage on the Virginia Beach mass shooting.