Petersburg police chief addresses shooting death of teen

15-year-old’s death marks second juvenile death in city in 2022
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 8:25 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 8:26 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Since Sunday, Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian has been trying to find the person or people responsible for the death of Le’Quan Smith.

“To see someone of that age lose their life to a senseless act of violence such as this is bothersome to us,” Christian said.

Police say Le’Quan Smith and another teen he knew were inside the Shortt’s Convenience Store on Harding and Mistletoe streets around 9:30 p.m. when the shooting happened.

Neighbors near that store said they could hear shots ring out during that incident. Both teens were rushed to the hospital. Le’Quan died from his injuries, but the other teen is expected to recover.

“We’re still working on that and interviewing family members,” Christian said. “We’re really not sure why he was in the area other than visiting perhaps family or friends in that area, but we’re really not why he was in that particular area at that time of night.”

Police believe a silver Ford Explorer seen outside of the store at the time of the shooting belongs to the suspects. They are reaching out to the public for assistance.

Police say this vehicle was scene in the area of a double shooting Sunday night.
Police say this vehicle was scene in the area of a double shooting Sunday night.(Petersburg Police)

“Give us a call. Particularly for this incident here. It’s important for us that we bring closure to this family,” Christian said. “We have two young victims in this case, and it’s senseless, and we want to make sure that the individual or the individuals responsible for this, that we bring this case to a close.”

In 2021, the city recorded 18 homicides, which was the first dip the city experienced in three years. Before 2021, homicides in the city had been on the rise since 2018. Le’Quan’s death mars the second death of a 15-year-old in 2022 and the 2nd juvenile death in the past five years in the city.

Yearly Homicides

  • 2018 - 20 Homicides
  • 2019 - 22 Homicides
  • 2020 - 27 Homicides
  • 2021 - 28 Homicides
  • 2022 - 13 Homicides so far

“We’re at a point now where children are being affected, and families are being affected now. So, we want to do what we can do to bring these types of incidents to a stop,” Christian said. “We’re partnering with the Virginia State Police, and we’re partnering with state local, and federal partners so that we can dig into the root of what’s causing this.”

NBC12 has reached out to the family, but at this time, the Smith family is requesting their privacy.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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