NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After gunfire interrupted a vigil in Norfolk over the weekend, family and community members came together Wednesday to finish it on their terms.
On Wednesday afternoon, about a dozen people came out to the basketball court in the Berkeley section of Norfolk to pay respects to 22-year-old Marvin Milton Jr. who was gunned down one week ago.
“He was just the life of the party. He just brightened up the room. He loved to dress, he loved music. He was just marvelous,” said his mother Stacey McEachin.
A lifelong Norfolk resident, McEachin is holding it together as best she can after losing her baby and then experiencing the horror of gunfire at a vigil for him Sunday.
“It’s never been this bad and it has to stop. It has to stop,” she said.
Some in the community blame police.
“It’s senseless crimes that keep happening over and over out here, and because of the lack of security of police patrolling these areas around here,” Latisha Riddick told WAVY.
The vigil organizer told us he invited the police chief and the mayor to attend.
Police Chaplain Ronnie Hall and Capt. Renato Aponte attended and represented the Norfolk Police Department.
“We want our citizens to be safe especially when they are mourning the loss of someone else,” Aponte told WAVY.
Aponte said the department was not notified of the vigil Sunday, and would have sent extra security as they have done with other vigils in the past.
Despite a manpower shortage, he said they are doing all they can to protect people.
“We’re focusing on putting more manpower in our patrol cars and investigations. If that means shifting some people around to different positions so we can have more uniformed officers on the street, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Aponte said.
New cameras along Granby Street add a layer of security downtown, but not the southside, in Berkeley.
Riddick fears the long summer ahead.
“These kids are not going to be able to go outside because there’s no security out here no safety for them,” she said.
Aponte told those in attendance that there are three areas of focus that will help cut crime: suspect, victim and opportunity.
There’s not much you can do about the suspect, he said, but you can avoid becoming a victim by being aware of your surroundings and having an escape plan.
As far as opportunity, he said lock up your guns, report them if they’re stolen, and don’t buy guns for other people.
Those with information are encouraged to submit a tip via P3 tips or call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.