Police break up riot at teen's vigil

By Laura Geller - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – A candlelight vigil for dead teenager erupted in violence in Chesterfield County Monday night.

Fists were flying and people running and screaming at the remembrance for 18-year-old Joshua Franklin, who was hit by a train Friday night.  Our cameras were rolling as it all went down.

This was a volatile situation from the get go.  Hundreds of people were crammed into a small area for the vigil.  Sources told NBC12 within that crowd were members from different neighborhoods and rival gangs.  Some of those who showed up weren't wanted there.

Lights and sirens blared as extra officers and plain-clothed detectives raced in to control a situation that quickly escalated.

It started out as a somber vigil for 18-year-old Joshua Franklin, who was hit and killed by a train near the Defense Supply Center Friday night.  As the crowd started to disperse tempers flared and chaos erupted.

One girl told us to, "Get that camera out of my face. Move that camera out of my face."

Sources told us the trouble started when a rival gang showed up.  We could hear people yelling things like "they don't need to be here" and "they're disrespectful; it's disrespectful."

Originally only two uniformed Chesterfield Police officers were visible but sources explained the extra units were nearby and on alert should trouble start.

It took nearly ten minutes for authorities to get the situation under control.

It was a glaring difference to the scene just a half hour earlier when students gathered to mourn the Meadowbrook senior.  Then, Franklin's mother and best friend told us the large turnout showed how much everyone loved Joshua.

"I know what I raised and I know what type of son I had," said Chrisandra Franklin.  "I'm very blessed for all these people to be here for all this support."

Franklin's mother also told us she hopes other kids learn a lesson from her son's tragedy.  He was using a popular short cut to make curfew when he was hit by the train. She wants everyone to stop walking there.

No one was arrested in the incident.

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