RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Homicides are up in much of Central Virginia, compared with the number of such tragedies in the region in 2020.
Among Chesterfield County, the City of Colonial Heights, Hanover County, Henrico County, the City of Hopewell, Louisa County, Prince George County and the City of Richmond, only three localities did not see an increase in the number of homicides from 2020 to 2021, and that’s with more than two weeks remaining on the calendar.
As of Dec. 12, there had been 10 homicides in Chesterfield County, compared with a total of 16 the previous year. But on Tuesday, a fatal shooting on Barkbridge Road left two dead.
Meanwhile, the City of Hopewell had six homicides in 2020, compared to two so far in 2021.
Louisa County has had no homicides in 2020 or 2021.
Det. Chuck Love with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said that the keys to maintaining a safe locality have been to ensure that those who commit such crimes are held responsible, and make outreach efforts to engage the community.
However, since the City of Richmond reached its highest number of homicides in 15 years back in November, the locality’s death toll has only continued to increase. The Richmond Police Department (RPD) reported to 8News on Monday that its homicides had surpassed 80 for the year.
“I’ve had to touch it, I’ve had to deal with the families, and I know the hold that it leaves in a community, in a neighborhood, in a school class,” Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones said.
The councilman told 8News that the solution to such violence is multi-faceted.
“As adults, as administrators, as School Board members, as council members, mayor, all of us, we have to show this generation that we care,” Jones said. “How do we do that? Making sure that schools are clean, making sure that neighborhoods are clean and safe, making sure that teachers are checking in with them, as they do.”
Jones said it’s also up to local leaders to work to create opportunities for the city’s youth to deter problematic behavior.
“It’s giving young people something to do because if not, you remove all hope, you don’t know what you’re going to get,” he said. “How can we get a large number of jobs in this area that people can live and have dignity and hold their head up high and say, ‘I’m taking care of my responsibilities’?”
Law enforcement officers in Dinwiddie County and the City of Petersburg did not provide homicide data to 8News. Statewide, a spokesperson for Virginia State Police (VSP) said that 2021 data is not yet available. However, there were 431 homicides across the commonwealth in 2018, 457 in 2019, and 546 in 2020.
Henrico County has also seen an increase in such tragedies in 2021.
8News spoke with Henrico Police Chief Eric English earlier in December at a vigil for the locality’s homicide victims.
“Domestic violence is creating a lot of issues. Eleven of our homicides we’ve had this year have had some type of domestic nexus to them, and so that has created a lot of issues for us,” English said. “Lot of juveniles, lot of young adults that are carrying firearms.”
In all of 2020, there were 15 homicides in the county. As of Dec. 12, in 2021, there were 23 homicide incidents with 24 homicide victims.
“We’re trying to work collaboratively with our schools, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office,” English sad. “We’re meeting every couple of weeks, just to kind of discuss some of the issues that we’re seeing — not only in our schools, but what’s festering in communities, bringing it into schools — so we can see what we can do in order to try to resolve some of those issues and get people the help that they may need.”