Tobacco Row attempted robbery leads to shooting

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Wednesday morning, gunfire erupted in a relatively quiet part of the city.

Tobacco Row in Shockoe Bottom is not a place where gunfire normally rings out. But that's what happened in the 2100 block of East Main Street. An attempted robbery ended with one person getting shot.

NBC12 has learned those people were just walking on the street, minding their own business, like anyone would do coming home from a night out, when the suspect tried to rob them.

It was 2:30 in the morning on a quiet part of East Main Street. Local business owner Justin Ayars was just leaving work.

"As I was getting into my car, I heard two gunshots," he remembered.

A group of people, who had just been approached by the alleged would-be robber Terrance Johnson, ran away, as Johnson allegedly shot in their direction.

One person was hit. Ayars said he saw EMS and police quickly.

Unlike many cases, the victims didn't see only the barrel of the gun — they focused beyond that to give police a good description of the gunman.

Police said suspect Terrance Johnson was in handcuffs within minutes. Deputy Chief John Buturla sat down with NBC12 Wednesday to discuss the incident.

"A shooting in the city is a shooting in the city, and it affects all of us regardless of where it is," he explained.

But this is an area working hard to revitalize. Old tobacco warehouses are now lofts filled with young professionals and more are on the way. New restaurants are popping up. The early morning violence isn't causing business owners to question their decision to move here.

"Just because we're located to another neighborhood that has had a history of some of this kind of thing we're not really concerned that that's going to be coming up this way," Ayars told us.

Police said statistics are on their side. As of Wednesday, violent crime is down 22 percent city-wide.

"It's a safe city," Buturla said. "We are working hard to make it safer."

Police wouldn't get into specifics about tactics when we asked if they'd be moving their weekend blockades down Main Street now that there's more development. They did point out, however, just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they're not there.

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