HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Following several shootings in Henrico County involving minors, police are reminding gun owners about the safety and security of their weapons.
In the last two weeks, there have been two shootings involving juvenile suspects and victims. One of them, the murder of 13-year-old Lucia Bremer; the 14-year-old suspect now detained at the Henrico County Juvenile Detention Center.
“We gotta stop killing our people, and we have to protect our youth so we can all grow up,” said Jaylon Travis, of Henrico.
18-year-old Travis urged people to stop the violence, especially involving children.
“I think it’s pretty sad,” he said. “I feel sorry for the families, and I hope they get through it.”
“Fear; fear for the kids, fear for the parents,” said Sheila McLean.
According to Henrico Police, overall gun-related violence has increased across the county by 14% compared to this time last year.
- Firearms used in homicides increased 150%; in commercial robberies 20%; in assaults 91%; and in shooting into occupied dwellings 55%
- Firearms used in robberies of persons remained unchanged; in vandalism decreased 32%; and in discharging of firearm decreased 19%
“We must work together as one community to end gun violence,” said Henrico Chief of Police Eric English. “Business owners, faith leaders, community members, teachers, elected officials, police, friends and family - we all have a role and responsibility in public safety.”
“Securing the firearms is the most important thing you can do to keep them from falling into the wrong hands,” said Corporal Matthew Reed, the HCPD Gun Range Officer.
Reed said action needs to be taken to prevent these crimes from happening.
“It’s very concerning when these teenagers are not only being in possession of these weapons but committing crimes,” he said. “It’s a big concern.”
In both Wednesday’s shooting incident and the March 26 homicide case, police have not said how these weapons got into the hands of these juveniles.
However, McLean has suspicions on why some minors may choose to carry one.
“To feel powerful because they’re young and they’re vulnerable,” she said. “To feel powerful over one child or an adult for that matter. The gun is an ultimate power tool for them.”
“People blame it on video games and different stuff like that, but I think it’s just how people are raised, how they might grow up or live their life,” Travis said.
Meanwhile, Reed is reminding gun owners about safety locks – the cable lock which automatically comes with the purchase of a new firearm – and a trigger lock.
There are laws in place to ensure children remain safe around firearms. Those include:
- It’s illegal to leave a loaded unsecured firearm out if it’s available to someone under the age of 14
- It’s illegal to leave someone under the age of 12 unsupervised with a gun
- It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be in possession of a handgun or assault weapon unless they are using it legitimately to hunt or under the direct supervision of an adult
However, Reed also encourages families to have an open dialogue.
“Educating your kids on if you do have a gun, for it to not be the forbidden fruit,” Reed said. “Make them aware if they do see a gun, they need to notify an adult.”
Reed said now is also the time to remind citizens about the purchasing ages for firearms:
- Adults 18 and over may purchase a shotgun/rifle and ammunition upon meeting the state requirements
- Adults 21 and over may purchase a handgun and ammunition upon meeting the state requirements
“We have officers conducting high-visibility patrols in vulnerable areas of the county,” English said. “Crime analysts are continually evaluating data and trends. We’re collaborating with surrounding jurisdictions to prevent and solve all acts of violence. We can’t do it alone though.”
Contact Henrico Police at (804) 501-5000 with information or concerns about crime in your neighborhood or place of business. Submit anonymous tips to Metro Richmond Crime Solvers at (804) 780-1000 or through its P3 Tips app. Always report found, lost or stolen guns to police. Always dial 911 in an emergency.
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