NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The attorney for one of two brothers charged in the MacArthur Center shooting on Valentine’s Day says surveillance video shows his client is not to blame.
In the mall filled with holiday shoppers, a melee broke out among several young men and shots were fired.
The high-angle video, from a surveillance camera mounted above the second-level entrance to the former Nordstrom store, shows the incident unfolding near an escalator.
D’Quan Melvin is wearing lime green sneakers and holding a shopping bag. He had arrived at the mall that afternoon with his older brother D’Vegan and their friend Kevin Holloman.
A group of young men surround D’Quan Melvin in the video. They appear to be trying to to snatch his items, and the fight breaks out. His brother enters the video frame and comes to his aid.
Norfolk Police investigators said the incident was the culmination of a rivalry between two gangs in Norfolk and Portsmouth. Both brothers face felony gun and gang charges, among others.
Jeremy Mason, D’Quan Melvin’s attorney, claims the video is proof he was targeted.
“It shows that he’s innocent. It shows that he’s a victim, that he’s not an aggressor,” Mason said.
Mason says Melvin was the target of jealousy because of his success as a rap artist.
“They see that he’s becoming more popular, and a lot of people feel that they should be in the situation, and some people take things into their own hands,” Mason said.
The video shows a person entering the frame from the top and firing a shot — but that person is neither D’Quan nor D’Vegan Melvin, according to Mason.
Although the incident happened in Norfolk, the case was split between special prosecutors in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. The Melvins’ cases are being handled by the office of Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney Nancy Parr, who had no comment on the video or the case in general.
Norfolk Police also did not comment.
The stakes are especially high for D’Quan Melvin because he has a felony record from 2017 for stealing a gun and burglary. His attorney says Melvin entered an Alford plea in the case — admitting no guilt but conceding that the state’s evidence was enough for a conviction.
“They were not in any gangs. I know for certain,” said Kajeana Mainor, whose passion to defend her sons came out in court earlier this year at one of their hearings.
“As a mother, I was irritated [when prosecutors] kept saying that this was gang-related, and going off the grid of what this case was all about,” she said.
The judge felt Mainor was disruptive and charged her with contempt.
“They gave me two nights in jail. It was definitely worth it, because my kids are innocent,” she said.
Holloman pleaded guilty to criminal activity as a gang member and firing a gun in a public place.
Mainor says her sons are the victims of guilt by association.
“Kids that are actually growing up in the same neighborhoods — you’re saying that they’re gangs. They may have what they call squabbles or beefs or whatever, but it doesn’t say that they are gang-affiliated,” she added.
Police say the Melvins and Holloman were part of a Norfolk-based gang known as Creme 2K. Mainor says that’s just the name of D’Quan’s record label.
“They don’t go around putting out hits and things of that nature, terrorizing the community,” she said.
So far, three people believed to be connected with the Portsmouth gang have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in the case, including two juveniles.
Mainor says she worries about D’Quan’s safety as a rap artist, and sometimes wishes he had chosen another career.
The next court date for D’Quan and D’Vegan Melvin is December 2.