Richmond organization suspends community events in response to surge in gun violence


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The recent surge of gun violence happening throughout the city of Richmond is forcing one local organization to cancel all its’ events in the community.

Ricky Johnson, the founder of the Ricky Johnson & Friends Foundation, told  8News that in his 16 years of managing the foundation he has never taken such drastic measures, but feels it’s necessary because he has never seen the gun violence this bad.

“Richmond is not a community right now, “said Johnson. “The city is not safe.”

Over the past month, there have been a rash of shootings in Richmond, leaving several dead and others hurt.

Richmond residents share they’re tired of the violence and noticing a spike a crime as blue light continue to flood their neighborhoods.

The uptick in gun violence continued this past weeked in city. On Friday, Sept 11., Jeremiah Darden was shot and killed on East Blake Lane. On Saturday, a triple shooting on Westover Hills Boulevard left one victim in critical condition.

From left to right: Jeremiah Darden, Timothy McMorris, Jamarea Whitlow. All three of these men were killed shootings over the last few weeks.

And on Sunday afternoon, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the leg. That same day Richmond Police swarmed Drewry Street for a double shooting that killed a teenager and left two others hurt.

“This generation has no respect for themselves or anyone else,” said Johnson. “They don’t care if the sun up or sun down–if you’re young or you’re old. It’s just senseless murders happening.”

Johnson has dedicated his life to serving city residents, notably known for his annual toy drive around the holidays, but he also has been touched by gun violence.

Johnson shared his story with 8News back in June when his uncle was shot nine times inside of a car in the Fulton neighborhood.

Johnson and volunteers load up four buses, three times a week, with food, clothes, vitamins, and PPE and deliver the essential items to neighborhoods in need.

However, due to the recent surge in violence Johnson was forced to temporarily suspend services into the community until further notice.

“We don’t want people congregating together in their neighborhood and something happens and then I have that blood on my hands,” Johnson shared. “So therefore I have to lookout for the safety of the staff, volunteers and community itself.”

According to online records from the Richmond Police Department, so far in 2020 there have been 42 homicides and 176 people have been shot.

Johnson is calling on city residents to put the guns down, so he and his team can safely serve the community.

“Cease fire please,” exclaimed Johnson. “This is a direct hit on the community. We are asking our neighbors, our friends, and our community to please cease fire so we can resume our duties of blessing the people and going to where the people are. Not everyone has the money to ride a bus, and not everyone have a car–give us the ability to get back into the neighborhood where we belong.”

Those in need of essential supplies can still visit the foundation headquarters on East Belt Boulevard. Its doors are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Johnson says he is willing to get back in the communities if his team is escorted by security or police. If you’d like to help call the foundation at 804-774-0099.

Johnson also goes on to say that he would like to get back on the road when there are no murders or shootings in the city for two consecutive weeks.


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