RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police are investigating the first homicide of the year on the city’s Southside at an apartment complex that is no stranger to violence.
Richmond Police officers were called to the Belt Atlantic apartments at 4000 Midlothian Turnpike just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Emotions were running high as family members found out their loved one had been shot and killed.
Witnesses describe the scene as “overwhelming.”
Charles Willis is the Executive Director of United Communities Against Crime, a non-profit organization. Willis told 8News he had received a phone call Thursday night and immediately responded to the scene to speak with family members.
According to Willis, the man who was shot and killed was babysitting his four-year-old nephew at the time of the killing. He was babysitting because his sister was at the hospital.
Willis said the child watched his uncle die.
When police arrived, they found a man who was shot and took him to a nearby hospital. According to Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards, the second man was found dead inside an apartment.
Just over two hours later, more gunfire was heard but it’s unknown where the shots came from.
“We had a very young man at the peak of his life who’s lost it and another young man who is who is suffering from severe wounds,” Edwards said.
This is not the first time the Belt Atlantic apartment complex has been a scene of violence. Residents said there had been many incidents recently and some residents told 8News they are scared.
A young mother and her child were shot dead in an April 2021 shooting. The mother, Sharnez Hill, was shot in the back of the head and killed. Her daughter, Neziah, was hit in the right thigh and the bullet exited her body on the left side of her abdomen. Three other people, including a 15-year-old girl, were sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds.
A young man was shot and killed in a double shooting last August. One of the victims, 31-year-old Rashard Lewis of Colonial Heights, died from his injuries.
Additionally, a baby was hospitalized, and a woman was brought into custody after witnesses said the woman held the baby out of a third-story window and dropped it.
Residents at the complex said they want to leave. A resident who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, told 8News, living here feels like a prison.
“This ground is just done. It’s just time to let it go. Knock it down. Start over,” they said.
Police units remained at the apartment complex today as officers spoke with residents to help them feel safe.
“We will be walking the neighborhood, talking with folks, seeing how we can best help and creating a sense of safety at least, at least for the time being,” Edwards said. “We understand that people are on edge. Obviously, it’s very concerning. And we want to make sure that this is the last shooting we have in this community.”
According to Willis, family members of the man who was killed were assaulted and attacked, including the man’s sister. He said he was able to bring family members involved to a safe environment.
“We need citizens to become more active in being proactive about the gun violence that happens within your community because if not, you’re going to be next,” Willis said.
According to Willis, he’s working on getting counseling for the family.
Richmond Police said it’s unclear if these cases are related and the identities of the two men who were shot have not been released to the public. Edwards told reporters Thursday night that the man who survived is in stable condition.
Police officers are expected to monitor the apartment complex for at least another 24 hours.
If you have any information regarding the incidents, reach out to the Richmond Police Department.