Teen's murder raises new concerns about park safety

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The City of Richmond Parks and Recreation Department insists the parks along the James River are safe.

This after a Chesterfield County teen was found shot to death three days ago, a mile west of a popular family recreation spot.

Richmond mom, Tracy Henderson, and her husband bring their little boy to Pony Pasture often for early nature lessons.

"Just getting him used to just the beauty that is Richmond," said Henderson.

But you won't catch her in the parks alone, even though Sunday's murder of 18-year-old Osbin Hernandez-Gonzales appears to be an isolated case.

"Certainly when I come out with my husband I feel really safe but very reluctant to come out by myself," Henderson said.

Richmond parks officials did not want to comment about the deadly shooting, but said the James River Park System is as safe as it ever was.

"The parks stay safe because we have wonderful people to always tell us what's going on in our parks," said Tesha Davis, a spokeswoman with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.

Still, Richmond police have stepped up patrols around Pony Pasture as well as Huguenot Flatwater, where a makeshift memorial now stands.

The medical examiner office confirms the Chesterfield teen died of gunshot wounds to the head.

The patrols are just one layer of security at the parks, which are closed at night.

"We tell people you're on your own after dark," Davis said.

There are at least five of emergency call boxes in the James River Park System. Most of them are located on Belle Isle and Pony Pasture -- the park's most busy locations.

All one would have to do is push a red button and the call goes directly to 911 dispatchers. The bright yellow boxes were installed three years ago.

"It's comforting but when you're kind of down on a trail or out running around you don't have access to those and it only takes a quick second for something to happen," said Henderson.

A visitation for Hernandez-Gonzales is tonight at Morrissett Funeral Home in Chesterfield. The funeral is Thursday at 2 p.m.

As far as the homicide investigation, Richmond police tell us they're not able to release possible motives.

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