Shootings in Richmond up 32% in 2019; RPD continues arrests in high-profiles cases

Published: Dec. 30, 2019 at 7:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As 2019 comes to a close, families in Richmond impacted by violence are reflecting on their crippling loss.

Gun violence was up 32 percent in 2019, compared to the year before. There were 266 shootings, 65 more than in 2018.

Richmond police have counted 59 homicides, eight more than 2018. The latest statistics show 88 percent of those murders were caused by gunfire.

Richmond police are making arrests in some of the year’s most high profile cases, particularly involving children.

Markiya Dickson, 9, was gunned down in a South Richmond park, Memorial Day weekend by stray gunfire. Six months and countless leads later, Richmond detectives arrested three suspects who are now all awaiting a murder trial.

“That just shows you bullets have no names on them. They just flying at people. So ignorant,” said Mark Whitfield, Markiya’s father.

Newly sworn-in Richmond Police Chief William Smith joined Mayor Levar Stoney to help to pass a city law requiring lost or stolen firearms to be reported within 24 hours. City Council passed the measure.

RPD reports 454 stolen firearms this year.

“We’ve had a number of cases in which the time (from illegal purchase) to crime has been relatively short… In many cases, 20 days or less,” said Chief Smith during a press conference in October.

However, guns weren't the only way lives were lost.

Seventeen-month-old Nariah Brown was killed from blunt force trauma, after being sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend in a motel, in May.

“I said, ‘baby, I love you’...and I’m going to let you go with him... and I’ll be right back,” said Nariah’s mother Aija, of the last words she said to her daughter, during a vigil

Barron Spurlock is now awaiting his murder trial next summer in Nariah’s death.

Tommie, the dog lives on in countless hearts around the world, after he was tied to a fence and set on fire in Abner Clay Park. Tommie’s killer, Jyahshua Hill, was tracked down by police and animal control officers. He was sentenced to the next five years in jail, the maximum sentence.

“We had so many people reach out,” said Christie Chipps Peters, director of Richmond Animal Care and Control. “(Richmond police) had more people from the community rally around this case, than they have seen in a very long time.”

Richmond police say they’re continually ramping up efforts to connect with the community, both to help prevent crimes, and get help in solving them.

RPD is also now partnering with the Neighbors app to help residents share doorbell camera footage with each other and detectives. New technology can be critical to solving crimes well beyond package thefts.

“I want (the suspects charged with killing Markiya) to remember every day her name,” said Whitfield. “I want them to see her face when they close their eyes. They need to know what they took from us. Our lives will never be the same. We have to live with this until we are dead and gone.”

Overall, violent crime in the city is up about two percent, compared to 2018. Property crimes, like car thefts, were down by three percent.

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