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Member of Virginia Beach Mass Shooting investigative commission talks frustrations, departures

Originally tasked to write a report on the gunman's background, motive and to come up with recommendations, one member worries about the group's "lack of progress."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — David Cariens didn't ask to be a part of the Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Commission, but when approached, he felt he had no other option. 

“When someone comes to you, and they’ve lost their wife, there are three little girls suffering from stress and they say, 'Can you help me,' the answer has to be yes," he told 13News Now on Monday. 

The former CIA analyst and writer -- who lost the mother of his oldest grandchild to a mass shooting in 2002 -- was asked to serve the 21-member group after a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed 12 people at the city's municipal center on May 31, 2019

Originally tasked to finalize a report on the gunman's background, motive and to come up with recommendations based on the shooting's circumstances, Cariens fears for the commission's "lack of progress" since beginning work with the group. 

According to Cariens, there have been 10 departures from the commission since he's joined, leaving the body with almost half as many members from the original group of 21. 

“We can’t vote on anything, we can’t adopt anything," he said. "We’re down to 11, that is the number we work against a quorum on. In theory it should be easier to have a quorum, but in our November meeting, we only had four members there.”

RELATED: State commission investigating Virginia Beach 2019 mass shooting seeks missing 'piece of the puzzle'

He says the commission, which meets about once a month, still has yet to complete important work, including filling the vacancy of a position intended to represent the voices of the victims.

"Has been vacant from the outset," Cariens said. 

He also criticized the slow nature in which the commission operates, noting how it didn't hold the first meeting until roughly a year after the commission was established in the first place. 

When asked whether he was worried about backlash from publicly speaking against the commission's progress, he told 13News Now "absolutely not."

"As a matter of fact, it's one of my duties," he said. "I wrote something that I distributed to the members, I'm not accusing anyone, I said 'I'm not on this commission to pad my resume. I'm not on it to prove my career. I'm on it because 12 people were murdered, 4 wounded and countless suffer from PTSD. That's why I'm on this commission.' And I think some members have lost sight of that."

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