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What Can We Learn From the Virginia Beach Shooting?

On the afternoon of Friday, May 31, 2019, the City Municipal Center of Virginia Beach, VA was the site of another mass shooting in the United States, which makes 150 mass shootings in 2019 alone.

The Virginia Beach Police have not yet released a motive for this senseless act, but some workers are speaking out and saying the offender was a disgruntled City Engineer who was recently involved in physical scuffles with other city workers and may have been facing some form of disciplinary action. The police have not confirmed this as of this time.

What Led Up to The Active Shooter Incident

  • The offender had emailed his resignation to his employer on the morning of the event giving the City his two-week notice.

  • The offender later appeared in the 3 story building, with 400 employees. He had a handgun with an attached suppressor (silencer) and began shooting on all three floors.

  • The suppressor lowered the decibel level and distorted the location of the gunshots. The building was going through some renovations and many workers attributed the noise to a ‘nail gun’ or other construction tools.

  • The offender used the suppressor, his familiarity of the building, his military training, and knowledge of the best places to hide to his advantage.

  • At 4:08 pm, police were notified and were on scene within two minutes. The offender barricaded himself in a room, and one police officer was wounded after the offender shot through an office door and wall. An intense firefight ensued, and the wounded shooter was taken into custody by the police. Tragically twelve lives were lost due to gunfire from the shooter.

What Lessons Can We Learn From This Tragic Event?


  • Survivors admit the suppressed shooting was not initially identified as gunshots.

  • There was no formal communication between floors alerting others to the shooting. Most employees were notified by phone calls, texts or word of mouth.


  • We saw a wide variety of responses - some people fleeing the scene, others barricading themselves inside of offices and even some jumping out of a second-story window to escape. There is not a ‘one-size fits all’ response for these situations. All of these responses are viable options. Our training must reflect this reality.

  • The offender was successfully shooting through office doors and walls which highlights the need for proper barricading techniques.

  • Office furniture should be used to barricade doors. All room occupants should remain out of view and away from any hallways and walls that may be shot through by the offender.


  • City employees had been through active shooter training and many admit it helped prepare them for this event.

  • We train to run, hide and fight. But we need to know what is happening in our building to select the best response to an active shooter incident.

  • Identifying the sound of gunshots and notifying other building occupants is crucial for our survival.

Although the offender tragically took 12 lives, because the Municipal Center had practiced active shooter preparedness, response, and recovery, survivors were equipped with the knowledge to barricade themselves inside of rooms and stave off the offender.

At The Institute For Childhood Preparedness, we report on active shooter situations because we’re committed to sharing knowledge and making sure everyone is more prepared for an active shooter incident. If you have not yet taken one of our evidence-based courses, visit our website and request a training today.


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