Police Release Updated Timeline - May 31, 2019 Shooting Investigation

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

​The Virginia Beach Police Department reexamined the timeline of events leading up to the May 31, 2019 mass shooting after Virginian-Pilot reporter Gary Harki pointed out a discrepancy and detectives received access to previously unavailable data. On May 31, a lone employee gunman killed 12 people and wounded five others in and around the building in which he had worked for more than nine years.

On Sept. 24, 2019, the Virginia Beach Police Department provided an interim report on the criminal investigation to the Virginia Beach City Council. As part of that report, Deputy Chief Pat Gallagher provided a verbal walk-through of the events that indicated the shooter's movements based on cell phone data, key card access at certain doors, eyewitness testimony and physical evidence.  

"We made a typographical error on one time stamp that Gary pointed out to us. We also recently received access to data we didn't have before, which helped us refine the timeline," said Police Chief Jim Cervera. "These two factors caused us to reexamine every entry. When detectives did that, they discovered five clerical errors that this updated timeline reflects. While the changes to the timeline are inconsequential to the major actions and outcomes of that day, it is critically important to the overall investigation that we have everything right. Going forward, we will be adding more reviews to verify and cross-check data," he added.

"The rest of the updates are typical of any investigative process," Deputy Chief Gallagher added. "Adjustments are routinely made when new information becomes available and new evidence is presented. In some instances, we have conflicting data, which is the case here, between the suspect's phone data and the vehicle locator data. As a rule, we give preference to data from a personal item, like a cell phone. The updated timeline reflects the best information we have today. Anyone who believes they have pertinent information and have not yet spoken with detectives is encouraged to contact the Virginia Beach Police Department Detective Bureau at (757) 385-4101."

As Deputy Chief Gallagher indicated during the Sept. 24 briefing, the final report is expected to take six to nine months to complete, as many elements are outstanding, including the FBI's results of its forensic evidence recovery, which is essential to the department's ability to finalize its investigation.

Among other issues being worked on is developing updated building maps to finalize evidence and documentation of events. "Building 2 has been renovated and modified over the years and we don't have floor plans that accurately correspond to the current configuration of the offices and departments as they exist today," said Facilities Manager Tom Nicholas. "We are working on a process to establish updated floor plans for all locations, it just takes time and resources, which are currently stretched rather thin."

May 31, 2019 Shooting
Updated Timeline - Oct. 22, 2019

Original Time Updated Time Difference Event Log Notes
6:58  Suspect leaves his residence 
7:16  Suspect arrives at municipal center 
7:21  Suspect swiped card for entry 2nd floor Engineering North Hall 
7:23  Suspect starts up his work computer and checks email 
7:41  Suspect plugs in his IPOD 
10:00-10:30  Suspect conducts web searches of: Building 2 maps, ECCS and Municipal Center Building Map  
10:30  Suspect sends email to supervisor resigning due to "personal reasons." Supervisor responds hoping that suspect resolves his personal reasons, asks, to be clear, if his last day will be June 14th. Suspect confirms. 
10:46  First-line supervisor responds with the above information to suspect and copied mid-level supervisor 
10:52  Suspect swiped card for entry at 2nd floor SW hall of Building 2 
11:23  Suspect sends work-related email 
11:2711:33+6 min Suspect sends work-related emailClerical error

Suspect sends work-related email Suspect swiped card for entry at 2nd floor North Hall

Clerical error
12:1412:08-6 min Suspect swiped card for entry at 2nd floor SW HallClerical error
1:00  Sends work-related emailClerical error
1:131:00+/-12 minSuspect swiped card for entry at 2nd floor hallClerical error
1:221:04+/-18 minSuspect and 2 co-workers leave Building 2 drive together in one vehicleTwo competing data sources: suspect's phone vs. vehicle GPS
1:56-3:111:06:38 - 3:06:11+/-10 minSuspect and 2 co-workers visit three project sites as part of routine "ride-around" inspection processTwo competing data sources: suspect's phone vs. vehicle GPS
3:243:06:11+/-18 minAll three arrive back to Building 2 (2nd floor hall)Two competing data sources: suspect's phone vs. vehicle GPS
3:55  Suspect sends work-related email




Approx. 4:00-4:03:30 

2 deceased outside


Adjusted based on newly retrieved evidence
Approx. 4:03:41 Suspect walks into Building 2 Adjusted based on newly retrieved evidence
4:02 (approx.)Approx. 4:03:41- 4:03:51+/-1:51 min1 decease in stairwell – Suspect walks up stairs towards 3rd floorAdjusted based on newly retrieved evidence
Suspect enters third floor (5 deceased, 2 injured)Adjusted based on newly retrieved evidence


(Key Card)

Suspect enters 2nd floor/east side (2 deceased)

4:064:06:32+0:32 secFirst 911 call is receivedNot error, providing exact time


(Key Card)

Suspect enters west side of 2nd floor (1 deceased)
4:10 (approx.) 

Suspect walks to 3rd floor (1 injured)


VBPD officers and detectives enter building

4:11   4:11:26+0:26 secSuspect walks back to the 2nd floor – citizen pulls fire alarm Not error, providing exact time


(Key Card) 


Suspect enters west side of 2nd floor


(Key Card)

  Suspect walks into east side of 2nd floor (1 deceased, 1 injured) 
4:16  Officer shoots suspect 
4:19  "Officer down" radio broadcast 
4:26SWAT on scene
4:44Suspect in custody, first aid rendered
5:32Suspect pronounced deceased at Virginia Beach General Hospital


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