Virginia Beach official resigns over mass shooting response

National News
Dave Hansen

FILE – In this June 1, 2019 file photo, Virginia Beach city manager Dave Hansen speaks at a news conference on a shooting at a municipal building, in Virginia Beach, Va. Hansen announced his resignation Wednesday, Aug. 28. Hansen helped lead the city’s response to one of the worst mass shootings in Virginia history three months ago when a city employee killed 12 people at a municipal building. But family members of some of the victims have been critical of Hansen’s response to the shooting, saying he has not been responsive to their requests for information or treated them well.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Three months after a Virginia Beach city employee killed 12 people in a mass shooting , the city’s executive resigned Wednesday following criticism from victims’ family members and others about his response to the rampage.

In his resignation letter, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen urged city employees to work together without “pointing fingers.”

“Our most recent tragedy will take all our energy, strength and patience so we can walk the long path of recovery ahead,” Hansen said.

Hansen worked for the city for 13 years, including more than 3 years as city manager where he oversaw day-to-day operations of the city. Criticism of his leadership style has been long running, but the May 31 shooting and the city’s response brought heightened scrutiny.

Family members of some of the victims have said he has not been responsive to their requests for information or treated them well.

“A lot of performance problems led to this day. It’s more than just one event. If he’d consistently communicated and acted in a gracious manner, he’d probably still be city manager,” said Kevin Martingayle, an attorney who represents the husband of one of the shooting victims.

He said his client Jason Nixon, whose wife Kate was killed in the shooting, thinks Hansen’s departure is “very good news.”

Members of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference called for Hansen’s departure earlier this month, saying his poor leadership helped create the “toxic work environment” that contributed to the shooting.

Almost immediately after the shooting, demands began for more information. Concerns were raised about the behavior of the shooter, DeWayne Craddock, before he opened fire and about the police response. City officials have pushed back against what they described as “rumors, innuendo, conflicting theories and speculation.”

Craddock was shot and killed by police.

Vice Mayor James Wood said Hansen should be commended for his handling of the tragedy.

“I could not imagine anyone doing a better job,” Wood said.

Hansen’s leadership style has been faulted before the shooting. He once sent a text message saying he wanted to punch a top state official, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper and was forced to apologize by the city’s mayor.

Two city council members and a group of black ministers called on him to resign last year over concerns about Hansen’s conduct related to city contracting.

The city council is set to name an interim manager Sept. 3.

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An earlier version of this reported erroneously that attorney Kevin Martingayle represents several of Virginia Beach mass shooting victims’ family members. He represents the husband of one of the victims.

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