RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A young man was shot and killed near a popular bar over the weekend in Richmond’s Fan District.
Richmond Police have identified the victim as Jeffrey Swiney of North Chesterfield. Swiney’s family sharing with 8News that the 20-year-old was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ and died in his cousin’s arms after a bullet fatally struck him in the leg, piercing a vital artery.
Swiney graduated from what was then known as Lee-Davis High School, worked as a dedicated Walmart employee and to family he was adored.
“He was a loving, kind individual,” Monique Coleman, Swiney’s cousin, recalled. “I’m going to miss his smile. He was very respectable and goofy.”
Swiney had his whole life ahead of him, but it was suddenly cut short early Sunday morning. Around 1:30 a.m. officers were called to West Main Street for reports of a shooting near District 5, a busy restaurant and bar that also serves as a night club.
“It’s shocking, sad,” Coleman cries as she becomes visibly emotional wiping away tears. “You’re numb. You really can’t explain because you never really would’ve thought it would be your loved one. You see it all the time, but this just hit really close to home.”
Coleman elaborates on more of what happened during those early morning hours. She tells 8News her son and Swiney were just walking by District 5 when a fight broke out on the sidewalk near the establishment. Coleman goes on to say Swiney stepped in to try and get things under control, but gun shots rang out and people started screaming and running.
Another family member told 8News on Monday that at least five shots rang out. Swiney took off running and collapsed in the parking lot shared by District 5, Virginia ABC, and Family Dollar. He died in his cousins arms and was too distraught to talk on camera about it.
Coleman said Swiney and her son were best friends, cousins and roommates. The loss has been traumatic for everyone, but Swiney was not the intended target.
The 20 year old leaves behind a large loving family, still in disbelief.
“He just always wanted to be the protector and that’s what he was, our little Jeffrey,” said Linda Holman, Swiney’s aunt.
Their ‘little Jeffrey’ is the latest to lose their life to gun violence in the city that’s spiked in recent weeks.
“Everybody needs to put the guns down,” said Coleman.
Swiney’s family is leaning on each other for support as they seek justice for their loved one. They want anyone with information to call police and report it.
8News reached out to Virginia ABC who says they are aware of the incident and have 48 hours to conduct their own investigation, which is normal protocol anything an incident of this magnitude happens at or near a licensed establishment.
No arrests have been made and no suspect information is available at this time. RPD are asking witnesses who were in the area during that time to give them or Crime Stoppers a call.
Family members say they are planning a service for Swiney next Monday.