Family questions handling of deadly river altercation in Petersburg

Family questions handling of deadly river altercation

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - A family is speaking out following a weekend shooting that left a beloved Petersburg business owner dead in a park along the Appomattox River. Willie Noise’s relatives have concerns about the deadly altercation at the river because, as it turns out, police had been called to the scene twice that day.

“I never would’ve thought, ever in a million years that I’d get a call on Sunday saying that my uncle, the same person that goes to this river and helps all of those people down there, helps those people with jobs, bring food everything and love everybody, white, black all, indifferent…to come down there and shoot him and kill him the way that he did,” said Connita Enyioko.

It’s a heavyweight to bear for the family of beloved Petersburg hair salon owner, Willie Noise. The 74-year-old would often come to Patton Park along the Appomattox River, joining a host of people who frequent there.

Willie Noise’s relatives have concerns about an altercation at the river that claimed his life.
Willie Noise’s relatives have concerns about an altercation at the river that claimed his life. (Source: Family)

“You’ve got the river here, a nice view. It’s peaceful, relaxing…Any given day you’ll find people hanging out playing cards, playing Dominos or Checkers.”

Sunday, it was anything but peaceful. Police say 52-year-old Jimmy Merhout showed up, allegedly driving recklessly along the gravel.

“His vehicle was causing a lot of rocks and dirt to hit people…He was speeding and almost hit some of the innocent bystanders that were there,” Enyioko said.

That’s when Noise approached, asking him to stop, and an argument ensued. Noise’s family says he called the police, who arrived and told the two to part ways.

“Officers left the scene, everything was squashed at that point,” Deputy Chief Chambliss said.

It wasn’t squashed. A couple of hours later, Merhout came back and shots were fired on both sides. Noise died at the scene. After investigating, police charged Merhout with murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and discharging a firearm in the commission of a felony.

“He’s facing thee felony charges over an argument, something he could have definitely walked away from,” Chambliss said.

A grieving family questions if more could’ve been done.

“I’m not understanding why, at this particular time, the only course of action that these particular two officers took was to say ‘please leave the area’…If they would’ve just took him right then and there, there wouldn’t’ve been no deaths,” Enyioko said.

NBC12 took the family’s concerns to police who said they are investigating whether there’s more officers could’ve done the first time they showed up. The suspect is due in court in September.

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