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‘We heard a sea of gunfire erupt’: Police identify man killed in shooting on I-95

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 7:57 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 4:24 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State Police have released the identity of a 21-year-old man killed in what police are saying appears to be a “targeted and deliberate” shooting on Interstate 95 Monday night.

Investigators said the shooting happened along a three-mile stretch of I-95 around 11:30 p.m., starting in Colonial Heights.

A handful of neighbors who live near mile marker 55, just north of Temple Avenue, told NBC12 they heard a “sea of gunfire erupt” around that time.

“We have a witness who advised us a black sedan was shot at,” said dispatchers via the VSP Broadcastify archive.

Police said a black 2011 Ford Focus with three men and another vehicle, unknown make/model, with at least two people inside continued driving north on I-95.

When approaching mile marker 58, near Ruffin Mill Road in Chesterfield County, the Focus pulled off onto the right shoulder; the unknown vehicle pulled in front of the Focus also stopping on the shoulder.

“A few minutes later we heard another set of gunfire go off,” one neighbor said. “It was much quieter than the first round, so you could tell it was further away. It was probably not even five minutes after the first round went off.”

According to police, a male in the unknown vehicle had gotten out and continued shooting at the Focus.

“This vehicle has been shot up pretty well,” first responders said via the VSP Broadcastify archive once they arrived on scene.

More than two dozen shell casings were collected from the crime scene at the 58 mile marker.

“Based on the evidence, state police have determined there were at least two different firearms used in the shooting,” a VSP press release said.

Investigators said as the shooting unfolded, the driver and a passenger of the Focus fled on foot.

“We’re still on the phone with one of the occupants from the vehicle,” a dispatcher said. “They ran away from the vehicle - that’s who is in the Nissan parking lot.”

The passenger, a 22-year-old Richmond man, came back to the scene to speak with police; he was not hurt.

However, the shooting left Jamari Phillips, 21, of Richmond, dead in the backseat of the Ford Focus.

As for the unknown vehicle, police said the driver drove off during the shooting.

Meanwhile, the shooter also fled the scene off on foot through the car dealership parking lots.

“A cleaning crew observed them jumping in another vehicle, unknown vehicle description, taking off,” said a first responder on scene via Broadcastify.

Police said the whereabouts of the driver of the unknown vehicle and the shooter are unknown.

The location of the driver of the Ford Focus is also unknown. Based on evidence collected at the scene, he may have been injured.

Investigators said it appears the shooting was a targeted and deliberate act. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information relating to the shooting is asked to contact Virginia State Police at 804-609-5656.

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