WASHINGTON — Family members of some of the victims in the 2019 Virginia Beach mass shooting are meeting with lawmakers in D.C. this week to lobby for support and policy changes around mass shootings.
Twelve people were killed inside Building 2 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on May 31, 2019. Others were wounded and many more witnessed the shooting and its immediate aftermath, as hundreds of city employees were present in the building that day.
Five surviving family members, alongside attorney and former Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, are meeting with members of Virginia's congressional delegation Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a press release from Virginia Beach 5/31 Families United." They are:
- Jason Nixon, the husband of Katherine Nixon, and their three daughters
- Matthew Gayle, Mary Louise Gayle's son
- Dwight Brown, Jr., LaQuita Brown's brother
- Alexi Gusev, brother of Alexander Gusev
The families will be joined by Joseph Samaha, the father of Reema Samaha, who was killed in the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech.
"We’re trying to set a precedent for the entire nation. These families are shattered and it seems like nothing is being done," said Nixon, whose wife Katherine Nixon is one of the 12 victims of the shooting.
This February, the families represented by former Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax lobbied for this request in-person at the state capital in Richmond days before the end of the 2023 General Assembly session. The request comes from claims by the families of feeling unheard, and unsupported by the City of Virginia Beach in their efforts to move on with their lives.
On Tuesday, family members began one of two days of Congressional visits to Virginia's federal lawmakers, scheduling meetings with Virginia's congressional representatives and senators. Included in the handful of meetings was newly elected Rep. Jen Kiggans, whose Congressional district includes Virginia Beach.
"We want the Virginia Congressional delegation to not only be aware of the request to support the 12 families and over 400 municipal workers that day that remain traumatized, but to actually support it," Fairfax said.
While Fairfax represents eight of the 12 victims' families, he said the request is for the entire collective of victims' families. $25 million of that request is for the support toward them, with the remainder intended for to support the municipal workers at the complex building that day.
The group will be in Washington D.C. both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Separately, one of the proposed budget amendments unveiled by Governor Glenn Youngkin late last year include $10 million directed toward the creation of a Mass Violence Care Fund.