Community march to be held in Newport News following the death of high school football player

Newport News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Woodside High School football standout Justice Dunham was shot and killed Tuesday night outside Menchville High School. Police say a Warwick High School student, 18-year-old Demari Batten, pulled the trigger.

Justice Dunham (Photo courtesy: Dunham family)

Newport News School Board member John Eley just left a school board meeting and was seated for dinner when he received a disturbing text message. Something horrible had happened at his alma mater He remains traumatized by what he saw on the scene.

“It affected me deeply. Just seeing the kids — the parents of the victim — running to the scene asking ‘Is that my child laying on the ground?’ [It was] definitely an experience that I never want to experience again,” said Eley in a Zoom interview. Police say three weapons were found on the scene; two were found in the victim’s vehicle and one was allegedly used by Batten.

Demari Batten (Photo courtesy of Newport News Police Department)

While police are still sorting out the details in the case, Eley is sorting out what has happened over the decades that created a population of teens who are armed and dangerous.

“Throughout the community, a lot of the youth activities have been removed from different community centers. We must install those activities back in the community to give those kids the option of joining positive projects and positive activities because as a result of that, instead of our kids joining activities they are joining gangs and that’s not acceptable,” said Eley, who has served on the school board for nearly six years.

A community in mourning will join Eley at Anderson Park for a Save Our Children Community March.

Regina Mobley: “People turn to government — municipalities — saying ‘Help us.’ What can be done in each individual household?”

John Eley: “Parents have to take back their household; parents have to check their children’s room they have to stay engaged.”

And, says Eley, parents must closely monitor their children’s activities on social media.

For more information on the march, dial 757-469-5646.

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