In a span of fewer than 24 hours over the weekend of March 18-20, 15 people were victims of gun violence in the Hampton Roads cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News and Chesapeake, with four of them being killed.
One of the most noted shootings involved Sierra Jenkins, 25, who was a reporter for the daily mainstream newspaper the Virginian-Pilot/Daily Press.
She was among the individuals shot and killed in an early Saturday morning shooting that left one more person dead and three others injured, according to the Norfolk Police Department (NPD).
According to the police report, Jenkins was leaving a restaurant, Chicho’s Pizza Backstage on Granby Street in downtown Norfolk.
At the same time, NPD said, an argument started outside the establishment, followed by gunfire.
Officers found Jenkins and two men with life-threatening gunshot wounds. One of the men, 25-year-old Devon M. Harris, was pronounced dead on the scene, and the second was transported to the hospital, police said in a news release.
Jenkins was also transported to the hospital where she later died, police said.
Two more men found by police at the scene with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds were also taken to the hospital for treatment, according to police.
(UPDATE: Devon “Malik” Harris, 25-years-old from Portsmouth, was one of the victims who died in the shooting on Granby Street. Norfolk’s Police Chief Larry Boone told the Downtown Norfolk Civic League that a spilled drink launched the argument that caused the deaths of Jenkins and Harris.)
“Our hearts are heavy this evening, as we mourn the loss of Sierra Jenkins,” according to a statement from Lisa Godley, the President of the Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals (HRBMP). “It is always heartbreaking when a young life is cut short. Sierra’s bright light, infectious smile, and journalistic talent made an impact on the Hampton Roads Community and will not be forgotten.”
The 25-year-old journalist had been working at the paper for two years and recently shifted from covering breaking news to working as their education reporter. Jenkins grew up in Norfolk, graduated from Granby High School and Georgia State University. She also interned at Atlanta Magazine and CNN.
Jenkins was “a bright and talented woman with so much promise,” said Virginian-Pilot editor-in-chief Kris Worrell. “Her passion for journalism was undeniable and our community is better because of her reporting. She brought both energy and empathy to her work as an education reporter.”
After hearing about the shooting, a newspaper editor attempted to contact Jenkins, who was on a breaking news shift Saturday morning, but couldn’t reach her, Worrell told CNN.
“When he didn’t hear back, we called in another reporter,” Worrell said. “In reporting the story of the shooting, we discovered that Sierra was one of the victims.”
Jenkins had also been an editorial research intern with CNN for three months in summer 2020, and a news assistant with CNN Health from September to December 2020.
She had also previously worked as an editorial researcher at Atlanta Magazine.
Speaking to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Jenkins’ father, Maurice Jenkins, described his daughter as a hard-working young woman who loved being a journalist.
“She wasn’t much of a going-out kind of person at all,” Maurice Jenkins said. He said her childhood best friend was in town and the two decided to go out together.
Perpetrators of the deadly shooting have yet to be arrested and the police are seeking them.
“Locally, we will do our utmost to seek justice and accountability with the laws we have,” said Ramin Fatehi, Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney on
Twitter. “But the solutions to gun violence start with
good personal choices and sensible reforms to our national and state laws to keep guns out of the hands of bad actors. We must come together.”
Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander and other city leaders quickly spoke out against the violence and vowed to develop policies to curb it.
The number and intensity of gun-related murders and wounds in the region, notably among young African Americans, is on the rise in all of the region’s cities.
“This has to stop,” said Mayor Alexander, during the Engage Norfolk Event just hours after the deadly shooting on Granby Street. “If we don’t do something, we are just as much of a problem as they are.”
According to tallies from daily news reports Norfolk alone has recorded some 14 murders; thirteen of them
caused by firearms, and most of the victims have been African Americans.
A day before the Norfolk Mayor spoke out on the violence, NPD was called to the 2700 block of Myrtle Avenue, near Norfolk State University, around
11:30 p.m. . Police found Leonco S. Lamb, 31, of Norfolk, suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
Another man was shot in the leg at 9:35 a.m. Saturday in the 3400 block of Argonne Avenue, in the Fairmont Park neighborhood. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Another shooting was reported at 1 p.m. Saturday when a man walked into Sentara Leigh Hospital with a gunshot wound. NPD said the shooting is believed to have occurred in the 3300 block of Kimball
In Chesapeake, a man was killed on Friday, March 18 in a shooting at the Holly Point Shopping Center, located at 211 Providence Road. Chesapeake where
police responded to a report of gunfire on the side of the shopping center around 2:50 p.m. The man died in transit to the hospital.
In Newport News, three men were injured in a shooting around 10 p.m. on Friday, March 18 in the 600 block of Ivy Avenue. All three were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Two shootings were reported in Portsmouth. Police responded to the first at 8:40 p.m. on Friday March 18 in the 3300 block of Portsmouth Blvd. Officers found a man with a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital. Portsmouth police said another shooting occurred at 4:46 p.m. on Saturday March 19 in the 3900 block of Long Point Road.
Early March 19, a man walked into Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk around 2 a.m. with a gunshot wound. The man told the Suffolk Police Department the shooting happened in the 100 block of West Washington Street. Acting Deputy Chief Mark Erie said the man was “not very forthcoming” with information and police were unable to locate the crime scene.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m. on March 19, Suffolk police were called after several shots were fired around the 900 block of Brook Avenue.
Witnesses told police that two groups of people were fighting when several people pulled out guns and started shooting, according to a news release.