Richmond community still asking ‘why’ after mass shooting; past court records show men accused were largely nonviolent


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Why five people, including three children, were shot while enjoying the weather in a courtyard on Tuesday night is still on the minds of many in Richmond.

Court records show three men have now been charged with first degree murder. RPD arrested and charged Donald Hemmings, 22, Shyheem Martin, 23, and Sha-Mondrick Perry, 19, for their connection to the shooting that claimed the life of a young mother and her 3-month-old daughter and sent three additional victims to the hospital. The living victims are 11, 15 and 29 years old and all in stable condition, according to police chief Gerald Smith.

Police identified the victim who was killed during the shooting as 30-year-old Sharnez Hill. Her 3-month-old daughter, Neziah Hill, was also shot and died later at the hospital.

On Thursday, a spokesperson could not confirm with 8News how many people the department is still looking for; however, said “suspects are still sought.”

8News spoke with Amy Williford-Brew, a woman who said she knows both the victims family and distantly knows one of the suspects. “We always say Richmond is so small because everyone is so connected,” she said.

Williford-Brew said the community needs to intervene before more shootings occur.

“The cycle is just continuing to repeat itself and it’s just devastating,” she said. “It’s gonna take every single person. It can’t just be the police, it can’t just be the parents, it can’t just be the school and the teachers.

Out of respect for the families involved, Williford-Brew said she didn’t want to comment on the suspects. However, hearing that another shooting has claimed the life of two more Richmonders, “it just makes you question… what are we doing wrong,” she told 8News in an interview Thursday.

She’s a social worker in Richmond and said the gun violence is “crippling” the city’s Black community.

“I just hate continuing to hear the community say that Black Lives Matter, when some people, not many that I know personally, don’t value back lives,” the RPS mom told 8News. “We keep saying Black Lives Matter but when will they matter to us?”

She said she’s working with others on proposing a gun violence intervention program to Chief Smith. “It’s less policing but it’s getting more community involvement,” she said. “This program even gets those who are offenders, or previous offenders, to join forces with the community to say ‘how can we stop this?,” she said. “Things like that is what I think is gonna be essential.”

Since Tuesday’s shooting, 8News has been digging into the suspects’ criminal records in Virginia.

According to the Virginia courts database, the three suspects weren’t violent criminals before these murders they’re accused of committing.

The charges include expired vehicle registration, speeding and a marijuana distribution charge. One time, a suspect was charged for fleeing from law enforcement. Hemmings is currently on probation for a misdemeanor, carrying a concealed weapon. The youngest suspect, Sha-Mondrick Perry, is due in court this year for misdemeanor alleged embezzlement and driving without a license.

8News still has many questions police have not answered, like if the men had the guns legally, when exactly the men were arrested, and if they have any sense as to why the shooting happened.

A Gofundme has been set up for the victims killed in Tuesday’s shooting.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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