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Planning committee holds first meeting to discuss next steps for Virginia Beach mass shooting memorial

Virginia Beach Shooting
Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 23:34:53-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The 5/31 Memorial Planning Committee held its first meeting Wednesday in order to discuss the next steps in facilitating a memorial for the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting.

The hope is it will honor the 12 lives lost that tragic day.

This event changed so many lives, and those in the group that met today were all focused in how to move forward - and part of that process involves the creation of a space where they can remember those they lost.

“It’s very important that we’re having this meeting today,” said Michael Berlucchi, a member of the Virginia Beach City Council. “It has been a long time coming.”

Wednesday's meeting was one of a series of two-day meetings scheduled in the upcoming months.

Those present discussed their ideas for what the design for the memorial might look like, as well as the impact they hope it will have on the community.

“I believe I’d like to see something outdoors, not necessarily inside a building, but outdoors,” said Ervin Cox, the brother of Ryan Keith Cox, one of the victims of the shooting. “I would like to see the names, and there should be maybe a story about each one and what they did.”

The committee is comprised of Virginia Beach City Council members, family and friends of the victims and others who might be citizens of Virginia Beach or are just simply invested in seeing this project come to fruition.

The hope is that at the end of this process, they will have a memorial honoring the 12 lives lost on May 31, 2019, when a gunman opened fire in Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

“We should have started this process earlier. There are a lot of reasons for that,” said Berlucchi. “We’ve had COVID; we’ve had changes in city administration and a number of other situations.”

But those News 3 spoke with say the wait was a blessing in disguise because it’s given them the time to approach the tribute with the respect it deserves and honor the lives impacted by this tragedy.

“I would rather for us to take our time and get it right,” said Cox, “and do something that’s really going to represent Virginia Beach, versus we rush through it and don’t quite get what we want.”

“With time, we gained perspective. And this is an opportunity now for us to take this project very seriously - which all the members of this committee and city staff and the consultants are doing - and approach this work with the seriousness it deserves,” said Berlucchi.

Berlucchi told us that "Virginia Beach Strong" is an expression that came out of this incident, and he told us that he’s feeling very hopeful for this committee to get this memorial done properly because he got a sense of that same unity, love and support that the community shared in the aftermath of this tragedy.

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