‘Your heart sinks’: Mayor, superintendent lead town hall on Richmond gun violence

RPS hosts gun violence town hall

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Community members came together to discuss a big issue Richmond is facing - gun violence.

Mayor Levar Stoney joined Richmond Public Schools superintendent Jason Kamras to have a conversation on how to cut down on the number of shootings in the city.

From drumming to clapping, those are just a few ways community members bonded, but the main purpose of the town hall is to address the gun violence in the city. Officials say 26 students within Richmond Public Schools were shot last school year.

“I have no words to see a 9-year-old in a casket,” Kamras said.

Markiya Dickson was the 9-year-old girl killed while at a community event just a few months ago. An 11-year-old boy was also shot at the event, but he survived. Whomever fired the shots has not been identified.

“This year we have had 43 homicides,” Stoney said.

Officials say 33 of those homicides were shootings.

There have also been 170 aggravated assaults with guns and more than 100 guns were stolen from cars in Richmond so far this year.

“Your heart sinks when you hear that," Stoney said. “No child who lives in any community should be victimized by that sort of violence.”

Many people from all walks of life gathered at Martin Luther King Middle School. Kamras hopes this town hall will help start the conversation of what to do next and provide healing for the many students affected.

“The pain they feel every day coming to school. How that affects them and their ability to learn, to think and to dream,” Kamras said.

Stoney hopes those in the state legislature will bring stricter gun laws to the commonwealth.

“They had an opportunity in July but they could only muster 90 minutes up to do anything," Stoney said. “That was disrespectful to the families and to the victims themselves.”

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.