First look at renovations to building where Virginia Beach mass shooting occurred

Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS

VIRGINIA BEACH — Building 2 in the city’s Municipal Center complex will reopen soon as the new home of the police department’s administration offices and First Precinct.

It’s been more than four years since a disgruntled city employee killed 12 people and injured six others before he was fatally shot by police at the site on May 31, 2019. Members of the police department provided news outlets a tour of the building Wednesday, highlighting the services that will be provided there.

Following the tour, Police Chief Paul Neudigate addressed the elephant in the room.

“Walking through here today, we have to acknowledge what happened here,” he said. “We have to acknowledge the tragedy that occurred in this building that we can never forget.”

Counseling is provided for staff who responded to the shooting.

“We’re doing our best to identify any of our team that may feel that they may have some angst about coming back into the building,” said Neudigate.

Plans are under way to build a memorial park honoring the victims and first responders. A plaque also will be installed at Building 2, Neudigate said.

From the outside, the Colonial-style three-story brick building hasn’t changed much. The main entrance is now adjacent to City Hall.

But the interior was gutted and renovated.

“Everything in this building, except for maybe the elevator shafts, was intentionally redesigned so that anybody that walks in those doors will not be reminded of the previous building,” said Neudigate, who was an assistant chief in Cincinnati at the time of the shooting. He became Virginia Beach’s chief in October 2020.

The building previously housed the public works, planning, public utilities and information technology departments. Nearly 400 employees worked there. After the shooting, workers relocated to temporary offices.

The city allocated $84 million for renovations to Building 2 and two other municipal buildings that will become the offices for the relocated departments. The cost to update Building 2 was $42 million, according to a city spokesperson.

About 300 people will work in Building 2 when it opens in January.

A police badge is embossed in the foyer floor. Light shines through a glass atrium that required the removal of 225 tons of concrete from the center of the structure.

Construction dust still covers some of the counters, and blotches of paint dot the walls, but in about four weeks, the renovations will be mostly complete and staff will begin to move in, Neudigate said.

People can access background checks, make Freedom of Information Act requests, obtain permits and submit an internal investigation complaint on the first floor of the building. The First Precinct also will be on the first floor.

Other areas will not be open to the public.

The basement will house property and evidence, uniforms and supply and a gym. The upper floors will be home to the Detective Bureau, administrative offices and rooms to monitor real-time data and live camera footage. Nine new civilian employees dubbed intelligence analysts will be based out of the new Real Time Crime Center, where they’ll monitor calls for service, license plate reader activations and social media.

“Not only do we have a dedicated space that really guides conversation and decision making, we have software and investments that have allowed us to raise our situation awareness so that we understand what our officers are doing at any given moment, we understand public safety needs as they’re coming in and then making decisions at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. William Zelms, who led the tour.

Officers will bring people they detain or arrest into the new precinct through a secure area, Zelms said.

Some called for the building to be demolished. But the City Council ultimately decided to renovate it because of the value of the structure and to relocate the police department’s aging headquarters, which is 800 feet from Building 2.

Renovations began in 2021. A dedication of the new police headquarters in Building 2 will be held in January, according to the city.

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125,