PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth Public Schools staff member was seriously hurt in a shooting Thursday morning.
It happened around 8:45 a.m. near the intersection of Deep Creek Boulevard and Jefferson Street, and the woman was found in the area with a gunshot wound to her upper body, police first said in a tweet at 9:07 a.m. The location of the incident is near Emily Spong Center, which a PPS spokesperson identified as a school administrative building. They told staff to leave the premises and go home for the day following the shooting.
Police said the woman was taken to the hospital for treatment, but have not released her name yet.
10 On Your Side’s Jon Dowding confirmed just before 12:45 p.m. that the woman was a staff member with Portsmouth Public Schools.
Victor Bryan, who lives nearby, said he didn’t expect to hear five or six gunshots ring out Thursday morning.
“It was probably about 10 police cars out here and two firetrucks, the ambulance. It was a lot,” he said.
Portsmouth Vice Mayor De’andre Barnes says the shooting is expected because the city hasn’t properly addressed gun violence issues.
“She’s doing her job to try to save some of the kids. And unfortunately, she got caught up in the mess that our city government created by not addressing some of the issues that lead to what happened today,” he said.
He says it’s time to address the root issues of crime in the city.
“The root issues are jobs, lack of opportunity for our children, giving them things to do,” said Barnes. “Just things like that and we’re really not addressing those issues.”
The Portsmouth School Board addressed the issue during Thursday night’s board meeting. Dr. Cardell Patillo, board chairman, told 10 On Your Side’s Michelle Wolf he hopes to work with police for more security and patrols in neighborhoods of concern that border school property.
“I heard that she was doing well and we’re just praying for our staff member as the day goes,” Patillo stated.
Neighbors say they just want to see signs of city leadership listening to their concerns.
“We need more of a police presence so nothing like this will happen,” said Bryan. “I don’t think they’re out here enough or seen enough. That’s the only thing and I know that they’re short of manpower, but it could be a lot more. They can do a lot better.”
Portsmouth police obtained images of what is believed to be the suspect vehicle, which they released to the public Thursday afternoon. The vehicle appears to be a gray or silver four-door sedan with possible damage near the front right headlight.
On Friday, police also released a photo of three people who were seen in the area after the shooting happened. Police did not say they are suspects, but asked for information relating to them. Later, police said they had been located and were no longer considered persons of interest.
Dr. Elie Bracy, III, Portsmouth’s superintendent, sent this message out to all staff on Thursday.
Good afternoon, PPS team –
I am writing you today in light of some unsettling news. This morning, a shooting took place in the community, close to the Emily Spong Center. The specific events are still under police investigation, so I am limited in what I can share with you. However, we do know that one of our own was injured due to this senseless act of violence.
Undoubtedly, this is upsetting for all of us. Our hearts go out to our colleague, and we are hopeful for a swift recovery. In addition, I know it can also be troubling as we naturally question the impact of this on our day-to-day routines.
Let me share that we have been in constant communication with both the Portsmouth Police Department and the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office. We are working with our city manager and other city leadership to identify ways to strengthen security in our communities, especially our schools’ surrounding neighborhoods.
Most importantly, we do not want you to feel alone during this time. Please feel free to reach out to your school administrator or supervisor with any concerns you may have. As always, the Employee Assistance Program is free of charge to employees and can connect you with mental health professionals who can provide counseling support. You can access more information about this at https://www.ppsk12.us/heretohelp.
I thank you all for everything you do for our schools and the outstanding service you provide the children of this city. I ask that you continue to keep our PPS teammate in your thoughts and wish her all the best in her recuperation.
Thank you all,Dr. Elie Bracy, III, Portsmouth superintendent,
The scene of Thursday’s shooting is close to where another woman was shot on Saturday in the 2200 block of Columbus Avenue. That’s just down Jefferson Street.