NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Community activist Bilal Muhammad is often seen in neighborhoods plagued by gun violence, but his presence Friday near Vernon Drive had added meaning. That’s the part of the city near Campostella Road where Muhammad was raised.

He’s working to comfort the family of a 15-year-old boy who police say was shot and killed Thursday afternoon in the 1700 block of Vernon Drive.

“It hurts, because I have a history here,” Muhammad said as he remembered the neighborhood how it used to be when he was growing up, and gun violence was not a factor.

“No way! A gun? A gun wasn’t even thought of. That wasn’t even in our vocabulary,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad lost his own son, Ali, to gun violence in Norfolk just four months ago.
He said if there’s any hope of bringing it under control, the entire community has to get involved.

“We have to police our community along with the Norfolk Police Department,” he said.

Norfolk police are looking for leads in Thursday’s deadly shooting, and have yet to release any information on a suspect.

“When we was kids, we just had fun,” said Joan Spaulding, who has lived in the area around Vernon Drive for more than 30 years. “Now, they think it’s an honor to die,”

The news of a teen shot and killed has shaken her to her core.

“It hurt me so bad I couldn’t even sleep last night,” Spaulding said. “It just hurt so bad that we just keep losing our children for senseless violence,” she said.

Muhammad has a call to action for those parents who are no longer part of their children’s lives.

“I say to the fathers, if you’re not spending time with your children, please do so,” Muhammad said. “They need the role model of the father.”

If you know anything about the shooting on Vernon Drive, you’re asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or use the P3tips app.