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FBI: Shooter in 2019 Virginia Beach mass shooting 'was motivated by perceived workplace grievance'

Virginia Beach Shooting
Posted at 11:04 AM, Jun 10, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had concluded its investigationinto the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) regarding the mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on May 31, 2019.

The FBI said it had provided a final verbal briefing to the police department.

The FBI release said, "At the request of VBPD, the FBI provided significant law enforcement assistance to the police department’s response and investigation of the incident. In the immediate aftermath, the bureau deployed crisis management and operational personnel to assist with the local response. This included field Evidence Response Teams and experts from the FBI Laboratory who conducted a complex 10-day evidence recovery operation and forensic investigation of the crime scene in Municipal Center Building 2, and specialists from the Victim Services Division who were deployed to support victims, family members, and others impacted by the incident. In support of the police department’s investigation, FBI agents conducted numerous victim and witness interviews, and computer experts examined digital evidence."

Below is a copy of their findings

FBI Assessment of Attacker’s Motivation

As part of the investigative team’s effort to determine the shooter’s motivation for the workplace attack, VBPD requested assistance from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), based in Quantico, Virginia. BAU has completed its analysis of the information and evidence gathered throughout the investigation and shared its key findings with VBPD during the final briefing.

Following is the summary of BAU’s key findings:

  1. BAU assesses the shooter was motivated by perceived workplace grievances, which he fixated on for years. BAU found the shooter struggled with how he perceived his own work performance and how others at work viewed him. The shooter’s inflated sense of self-importance contributed to this conflict and led him to believe he was unjustly and repeatedly criticized and slighted. The shooter viewed violence as a way to reconcile this conflict and restore his perverted view of justice.
  2. BAU assesses the shooter’s perceived grievances began taking shape as early as 2014, and he purposely isolated himself by disengaging from relationships to conceal his intentions. For this reason, BAU assesses that no individual or group was in a position to see the confluence of behaviors that may have forewarned the attack.
  3. BAU assesses that the shooter suffered from significant mental health stressors, which appear to have contributed partly to his decompensation in advance of the attack; however, mental health stressors alone cannot explain the Virginia Beach attack.

Click here to read the entire report.

The FBI said, "BAU further assesses that the Virginia Beach Municipal Center shooter is similar in many ways to other active shooters studied by the FBI. Mass shootings are a predatory act, generally with planned and purposeful violence intended for an identified target, person, place, or institution. It is important to note that only the shooter knew the real reason why he committed this horrific act of violence; however, at this time, the FBI is confident, based on evidence collected, that the above assessment is accurate."

The FBI’s report determining a motive behind the mass shooting comes to no surprise to Jason Nixon.

His wife Kate was one of 12 victims shot and killed by a co-worker at the municipal center.

“From day one, I’ve said this, from day one,” Nixon said. “I know for a fact that he was upset because Kate didn’t hire him as an engineer four. Everybody knew what his motives were. Everybody knew that he was upset with the way he's being treated. There's nothing that we didn't know already.”

Mayor Dyer released a statement on Wednesday saying, “We appreciate our FBI partners for their assistance, both for completing this assessment as well as for providing critical evidence recovery and investigative support in the hours and days following May 31, 2019. This report has reminded me that, no matter how much information we have about some situations, it may never be enough to really explain what happened and why. This senseless tragedy defies reason. In the two years since 5/31, we have seen the worst evil one person can do and the very best of what a community can do when people come together. As we continue to heal, let’s remember to treat each other well.”

News 3 reached out to the Virginia Beach Police Department for comment. The department says they have nothing further to add.

The FBI’s report contradicts the Virginia Beach Police Department’s own report that found no evidence of a shooter’s motive.

“All we've asked for from day one is the simple, honest truth, transparency, and accountability,” Nixon said. "Why did this happen? What led up to this? How can we prevent this from happening again?"

In March, the final investigation from the City of Virginia Beach on the mass shooting was released. According to the letter sent to families by the Virginia Beach city manager, investigators "deliberately and methodically processed evidence, conducted interviews, ran tests, and tested theories."

The final report detailed the tragic events that took place on May 31, 2019.

However, the letter states that unfortunately, "no evidence was found that sheds light on the shooter's motive."

The mass shooting left 12 people, including 11 city employees and a contractor, dead, five people physically injured, and hundreds more impacted.

According to federal agents, the city employee hid his intentions by dissociating himself, which they said may explain why red flags were missed.

Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyer Sonny Stallings doesn’t believe the mass tragedy could have been prevented.

“He kept it to himself, it appears. He was quiet. He isolated himself.” Stallings said. “He worked there, so he automatically had access to the building. I don't see anything anybody could have done.”

Nixon disagrees.

While he said the federal investigation offers some closure, Nixon believes the city ignored warning signs.

“I just want to see Virginia Beach take ownership of what's happened to my wife,” he said. “Their failure in policies and procedures and protocols to their HR department got my wife murdered.”

Antoinette DelBel and WTKR Staff first reported this story.