HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A mother in Hopewell who lost the father of her child is speaking out against the senseless gun violence in her city.

Kamesha Russell says she feels a lingering sense of hopelessness as she had to tell her 12-year-old daughter that her father was one of the two victims in a deadly shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

“I had to go pick my baby up from school and let her know that her dad is never coming back,
Russell said. “And she broke down in front of that school and said ‘mom, why?'”

Flowers have been left at Arlington Park where 33-year-old Robert Lewis Bryant Jr. and 35-year-old Jessica Lynn Collins of Hopewell were both shot and killed inside a vehicle in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

According to Russell, Bryant was her daughter’s father and Collins was the woman she called stepmom.

“He has kids that want answers and they questioning me and his grandma, ‘why?’ … I usually have the answer for everything, and this is an answer I do not have,” Russell said. ” Y’all don’t understand the outcome y’all actually have when you pull that trigger.”

According to police, Bryant and Collins were in the same vehicle, exchanging gunfire with another vehicle when they crashed at Arlington Park. Following the crash, police said they believe the suspects exited their vehicle and shot the victims. After hearing from witnesses, police said they now believe there may have been more than one shooter.

Upon their arrival, police officers performed CPR before pronouncing both victims dead at the scene. An estimated, 60 to 70 shell casings were found at the scene.

“Y’all had to shoot that many times?” Russell questioned.

A spokesperson for the Hopewell Police Department said this was the city’s third homicide of the year — more than the same time in 2022. Last year was also a record year with nine homicides, the most Hopewell had seen since the 1990s.

Former police chief and law enforcement consultant, Michael Jones, says Hopewell isn’t the only city dealing with a rise in violence.

“My consulting world runs from Philadelphia to Savannah and I’m hearing this everywhere … Even in rural areas that have smaller towns,” Jones said. “It’s not so much that we are overwhelmed with an increasing number of murderers. We have murderers that are continuing to murder more people.”

Russell says she just wants all of this to stop, for everyone’s sake.

“We gotta do better,” she said. “We just want justice”

The Hopewell City Council held another meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19, continuing their push for “Operation Ceasefire”, a group violence intervention effort to reduce gun violence.