RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Community members, local leaders and law enforcement officers joined hands in prayer Wednesday afternoon for a vigil at the site of the quadruple shooting last week that claimed the lives of two children.
“There’s no bigger message that’s going to come until we circle in prayer and bless these grounds for us to ever be able to advance,” Richmond Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Patrol Operations John F. Hayes, Jr. said. “There’s not a person in this city that likes what took place. There’s not one person, and they have to be able to grieve and have it come out, and this is where it came out.”
Residents gathered outside the OMG Convenience store at Nine Mile and Creighton Roads, joined by the loved ones of the children who were killed in Friday night’s shooting.
“I will never want a parent and I would never want a mother to ever feel the loss of their son or daughter in any way, shape or form,” Hayes said. “There is nothing that cuts to the soul more than the loss of their child. There is nothing that hurts a community more than a prospective genius in the making whose time was cut short, and that hurts the community.”
Last week, 9-year-old Abdul Bani-Ahmad and 14-year-old Rahquan Logan were gunned down, alongside two adult males. All four were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The children succumbed to their injuries. As of Tuesday, 8News was told that the adults were in stable condition.
Chief of Police Gerald Smith was on scene Friday night after he heard what had happened.
“As Chief of Police, I have to push those emotions down and I have to go out and do my job,” he said Wednesday. “After that, I usually, when I’m home alone, I usually do have a moment, and I will tell you the truth: the next morning after this, I woke up really angry and frustrated because it doesn’t make any sense.”
In addition to supporting one another, Chief Smith said that community members gathered together to solidify the commitment to put an end to such acts of violence.
“The prayers were for the community and for this to stop, the gun violence to stop,” he said. “The ones that this is affecting are young people. They’re the ones committing these acts, and they’re the ones being affected by these acts, and that’s who we need to engage.”
In addition to the two juvenile victims who lost their lives in Friday’s incident, four suspects are in custody for their alleged involvement in the shooting, all but one of them under the age of 18.
Wednesday night, the Richmond Police Department sent out a press release detailing the fourth arrest. The other three suspects were arrested earlier in the week. According to the release, the fourth perpetrator is a 17-year-old, who has been charged with the following:
- Murder — two counts
- Use of a firearm in the commission of a felony — eight counts
- Aggravated malicious wounding — two counts
- Possession of a firearm by a minor
- Shooting into an occupied vehicle
- Shooting from a moving vehicle
- Attempted murder
Local resident Sharmar Hill told 8News that he has seen incidents such as this happen far too often in the neighborhood.
“The community needs to come together more and stand up,” he said. “It’s not right, you know what I mean? No one should have to live through this.”
Hill said that he knows the pain of the young boys’ families all too well, having lost his own son last February.
“I constantly have my son on my mind all day anyway,” Hill said. “It hurt to have to continue to see somebody else having to go through this pain.”
As everyone gathered outside the convenience store Wednesday, they said that they hoped it would be the last time such a vigil would have to be held.
“It’s for us to be together, and for us not to have to gather like this again,” Chief Smith said.
“We have a chance now to actually make a change,” Deputy Chief Hayes said. “All we got to do is grab onto our piece of it.”