NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When reports of a late-night shooting came into the Virginian-Pilot, editor Sean Kennedy called their on-call reporter that weekend, Sierra Jenkins, to go cover it.
“Sean is very sweet. He’s like ‘Sierra sorry if I’m waking you up, but there’s a big incident downtown and we need you to get on it as soon as possible,’” said fellow Virginian-Pilot reporter Jane Harper. “He called three times and she never answered.”
Not answering an editor’s phone call was extremely out of character, according to colleagues.
When Jenkins didn’t answer, Jane Harper got called in.
“He said ‘We can’t reach Sierra, would you please fill in on covering this shooting?’ I said sure,” said Harper.
A few hours later, they all found out why Jenkins wasn’t answering. She was one of the people shot that night in the 300 block of Granby Street. She was one of the two victims who died from her injuries.
Sierra mainly covered education for the Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press.
Her editor, Brian Root, knew she had filed one last report scheduled for publication Monday. He still had to edit it.
“To open the story, I just had to click on the link. I had her Slack message up on my screen for quite a while with the URL and all I had to do was click it, and I just didn’t want to. I just didn’t want,” said Root.
It was the type of stories reporters at news organizations churn out on a daily basis. The topic was about how Hampton University was inviting Ukrainian students to campus for the summer.
”Every second of it, you know, this is it. This is Sierra’s last one. And it’s not fair,” said Root about the editing process.
Root said Jenkins was one of those reporters he just knew had a bright future ahead.
“She believed very much in local journalism. She believed it was important. She believed it could be a force for good in the world and she wanted to be a part of it. She wanted to make her mark in it. And instead, this happened and it’s not fair,” he said.