NORFOLK — The day after four people were killed and three others injured in two separate shootings, police released few details about what precipitated the violence.
As the community copes, all eyes are on city leaders “because they’re not doing enough,” said Freddie Taylor, president of Stop the Violence 757 – a nonprofit that works to raise awareness of gun violence across Hampton Roads.
Five people were shot – three of them fatally – on Thursday afternoon in an apartment complex near Tidewater Drive. Norfolk Police described the incident as a shooting inside a unit at Fenner Gardens apartments in the 7400 block of Fenner Street, near where the road ends. On Friday, police said everyone involved “knew each other”.
Jarred T. Davis, 35; Quinton O. Sessoms, 43; and Calvin L. Wood, 44; died in the shooting and a man and a woman in their 40s were injured, Norfolk police said on Friday.
A separate shooting about two hours earlier on the causeway at Wards Corner claimed the life of 19-year-old Norfolk resident Johnathan D. Clark. A 17-year-old boy was also injured, police said on Friday.
According to Taylor, Fenner Street is an area notorious for drug use and dealing and the flats behind Wards Corner have also had drug and crime problems. When violence has hit these neighborhoods before, they haven’t received the same attention from the city as when violence erupts downtown, Taylor said. He noted the city’s crackdown on bars and nightclubs, announced at a press conference held by the city manager, acting police chief and sheriff the day after four people were injured in the of an August 5 shooting outside a downtown nightclub.
City leaders, Taylor said, are focused solely on promoting downtown Norfolk as a tourist destination and “grossly neglecting” poor and struggling communities.
“They only think of tourism. The city wants to attract tourists and cruise ships and turn community facilities into luxury apartments,” Taylor said. “But when are they going to stop these illegal weapons and drugs flooding our communities?”
But Mayor Kenny Alexander said Friday he was concerned that more incidents of gun violence appeared to be happening in neighborhoods that “have not traditionally experienced gun violence.” He called the rise in violent crime “insane”.
“Families are in mourning. Communities are in mourning,” Alexander said. “We cannot just accept the loss of life.”
Alexander said the city government continues to fill police vacancies while also focusing on long-term violence prevention, such as deconcentrating poverty in troubled neighborhoods.
As of Friday evening, police had offered no possible motive or publicly identified any suspects in the two homicide cases.
The fatal shooting rocked residents of Norfolk, who stood outside for hours as police dealt with the scene on Thursday.
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A crowd of around 15 gathered in the parking lot of a convenience store bordering the police tape at Wards Corner. They listened to a police scanner on a woman’s phone, trying to piece together what happened.
“A shooting in broad daylight,” said a passerby, shaking her head.
As the crowd listened to the scanner, “five knocks on Fenner” came over the loudspeaker. An audible shock echoed through the crowd.
A group of people sat outside an apartment on Friday afternoon on Fenner Street, with three star-shaped balloons tied to the railing and three lit prayer candles nearby. A man was sitting on the ground drinking from a bottle of beer. He told a reporter who was traveling the area to “be careful”.
“Family members were literally murdered in their home yesterday,” Taylor said. “This trauma is going to afflict this community.”
Editors Jane Harper and Daniel Berti contributed to this report.
Caitlyn Burchett, 727-267-6059, [email protected]