by Monica Galozo, ABS-CBN News
VIRGINIA BEACH — Filipino residents say that while they are shaken and devastated after last Friday’s mass shooting at a municipal building, this kind of tragedy should never define their community.
In the aftermath, Filipinos joined the rest of the community who are angry and devastated — grieving for the 12 victims in a makeshift memorial at the scene of the crime: the Virginia Beach municipal complex.
“A lot of my colleagues and I. We work for different elected officials, we often frequent or would have to go to municipal complexes for anything. It could have been easily one of us in that building,” said resident Brandon Randleman.
Virginia Beach has the largest concentration of Filipino-Americans in the state of Virginia — an estimated 22,000.
Kababayans who live here are heartbroken and mourning with the rest of the city because of the shooting rampage that killed 11 city employees and a contractor.
“It’s really very disheartening, to think about it. I’m sorry,” said Marrisa Mayor. “We have to always come together as a community to heal well and see what we do for each other.”
“I’ve been here for 39 years and I’ve served this country for 20 years in the Navy, and I’ve been retired since last year, the only thing that I can say is, look out for each other,” said Tito Mayor.
Retired city engineer and now local church pastor Noli Jarina worked in building number 2 of the municipal complex where the deadly shooting happened.
He was extremely shocked when he found out that his former coworker was among the 12 who got killed.
“The guy’s name is Richard Nettleton, he’s an engineer of public utilities and I was an engineer of public utilities and in the planning department. So when I learned on the TV that he was one of the victims, it shocked me so much that until now, I’m still grieving. It’s unbelievable.”
Despite this horrific tragedy, Virginia Beach residents say this tragedy shouldn’t define how they live their lives, moving forward.
“As a church family, we definitely want to pray for the families and all the people involved as well as the first responders, healthcare providers, police department and some of the people that are trying to unite the city again. And show us what Virginia Beach is really about.”
The Virginia Beach municipal offices are closed today while building 2 where the shooting happened will be closed indefinitely.