RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– There have been six shootings so far this week and two people have been shot and killed.
Last year the City of Richmond recorded 90 homicides- the most the city has seen in 15 years. Judging by the events of this year so far, the trend does not seem to be going away.
“It has become too regular and too familiar of a scene each and every night to see the blue lights and the yellow tape because someone lost their life to a violent incident,” said Mayor Levar Stoney.
On Sunday a man was sent to the hospital after being shot on Labrook Drive. Hours later 30-year-old Lakeith Ruffin Jr. was shot and killed in Shockoe Bottom. On Tuesday night 27-Year-old Kenneth Cooper Jr. was found shot dead in an alley near Hanes Avenue.
Yesterday a man was shot near Selden Street and is now fighting for his life. Just this morning there was another shooting on N. 20th Street, in the East End
There have been 13 homicides so far this year and nearly 494 reports of theft from vehicles. According to Richmond Police, this includes everything from laptops, backpacks and bags to firearms. 134 of the reports involved a stolen firearm.
Richmond Police said many times these vehicles are left unlocked and that these kinds of crimes are preventable.
Residents should remove valuables from their cars and be sure to lock them. They also shouldn’t store firearms in their cars. They should be stored in a gun safe or even a portable gun safe.
“This is a crisis we can solve,” said Stoney. However, he said it won’t happen overnight.
“I ask that not only do we have the police department with all hands on deck, not only do we have our human services division with all hands on deck- social workers, volunteers, nonprofits, but we need the community to have all hands on deck as well,” said Stoney.
According to Richmond Police, there have been 135 felony charges, 84 misdemeanor charges and 146 guns seized through Operation Red Ball, which is a task force to prevent violence that began in November 2021.
The Operation Red Ball task force works in collaboration with federal partners, including ATF, DEA, FBI and the US Marshalls.
Stoney said positions for “violence interrupters” are expected to be posted to the City’s website.
A gun violence prevention program focusing on middle school students is ongoing.
The city received a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services for the program that focuses on students from Martin Luther King Jr. and River City Middle School who have witnessed gun violence or have a sibling who has committed violence.
The city also hopes to launch a gun buy back program before the Summer. $500,000 in federal COVID relief funds will pay for the program.
The city has hired a community safety coordinator to help implement some of these initiatives.