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Virginia Beach Vice Mayor On Shooting


Another mass shooting in America; this one, Friday afternoon at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, Va. Twelve victims are dead. The shooter is also dead. The city manager, Dave Hansen, says that next of kin were contacted overnight.


DAVE HANSEN: This morning, I have the responsibility to inform friends, co-workers and the public of those who lost their lives yesterday. All but one of the 12 victims were employees of the city of Virginia Beach.

SIMON: We're now going to turn to Virginia Beach's vice mayor, James Wood. Mr. Wood, thanks so much for being with us at a busy and a sad time for you.

JAMES WOOD: Yeah, thank you.

SIMON: You must have known some of the people in there.

WOOD: Yeah, I did. I knew several of the people who were the victims and some of the wounded people as well.

SIMON: Well, I'm sorry. Do you have - can you tell us - I am told, by the way, that you were once on the police force. Is there any indication at whom the shooter might have targeted, if anyone in particular?

WOOD: You know, I think it's way too early to determine that. There's an ongoing investigation. I think it's virtually impossible to determine someone's motive when they do something evil like this. I just don't think we're going to be able to tell right now.

SIMON: Yeah. What's your understanding now of how events unfolded yesterday? Because I still think a lot of people wonder, how could someone come into a municipal building and cause this human destruction?

WOOD: It - well, first, you have to remember this person was a city employee who had access to every room in that building via his key card. It's an open, public building. This - look; this is where people get building permits. This is where they pay water bills. There are - several hundred employees work in this one particular building. And citizens come in there all the time. It's an open, public building.

SIMON: What are your thoughts about what needs to be done to secure public buildings in your area today, recognizing it does no good for the lives who've been lost now and their families?

WOOD: You're right. The speculation doesn't do any good. But what I will tell you is, you know, there are buildings all around the country that were built certainly before 9/11, before Oklahoma City, before a lot of the tragedies our country's experienced. And cities around the nation are slowly but surely as they can - when they rebuild and renovate buildings, they're increasing security. But it's also important that we have to maintain access to the public.

SIMON: Yeah.

WOOD: You know, that the thing. It's a very difficult thing.

SIMON: How do you see the city trying to deal with this in the weeks going ahead, sir?

WOOD: It's not a quick process, and I think that's something that people need to understand. It is going to be a long-term healing process. We're working closely with the families and with the - with our employee assistance programs and with counselors. And we're trying to help everybody that we can. It's not just the people who were in the building. It's city employees who knew and loved these people as well.

SIMON: James Wood, who is the vice mayor of Virginia Beach, Va., thanks so much for joining us this morning, sir.

WOOD: Thank you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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