Va. lawmakers call on Virginia Beach to do independent investigation of mass shooting

Almost a month after a man fatally shot 12 people in a Virginia Beach municipal building, and two weeks before Virginia state lawmakers return to Richmond for a special session to consider new gun safety laws, two delegates say they want to be armed with more information.

Virginia Beach delegates Cheryl Turpin, D-Virginia Beach, and Kelly Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach, sent letters, asking the Virginia Beach City Council to conduct an independent investigation into the May 31 shooting, in which 12 people were killed, and four were wounded. The gunman was shot dead by police.

Shortly after the shooting, Gov. Ralph Northam announced he’s using his executive power to call a special session on July 9, to discuss new gun laws.

“We need an independent review of the policies, procedures, and events leading up to this tragedy,” Turpin and Fowler wrote. “The General Assembly must know every detail of the events leading up to the 31st, as these details may help save lives.

The letter cites reports of “first responders’ inability to gain access to the building where the shooting was occurring because of issues with the electronic locks,” as well as communication failures, and victims’ families having difficulty getting information.

“In the aftermath of the August 2017 riots in Charlottesville resulting in injuries and deaths, there was an investigation requested by Charlottesville officials and it led to a public report,” said the lawmakers.

Attorney Tim Heaphy, who is now General Counsel at the University of Virginia, which makes him part of the Attorney General’s office, was the primary author of the Charlottesville report.

“Perhaps he can take the lead in this matter, as he did with the Charlottesville investigation and report,” wrote Turpin and Fowler about Heaphy.

WTOP has emailed Heaphy, to ascertain whether he would be available or interested in leading the investigation, but has not received an immediate response.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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