Norfolk sees surge in violence before the peak of summer


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Thursday night at the Shop ‘N Go just off the historic Church Street, 46-year-old Norfolk native Derrick Roundtree was killed by gunfire. There’s no word on a suspect or motive.

Just steps from the place where Roundtree was killed, someone taped beer cans to a pole and adorned the base with artificial flowers.

Blocks away at the corner of O’Keefe and Freemont streets there are two memorials and a “guns down” sign in a vacant lot.

This type of makeshift memorial can be found in neighborhoods across various parts of Norfolk.

These memorials — some fresh and some faded — are the symbols of decades of crime, poverty and hopelessness that have destroyed neighborhoods, families, and lives.

Norfolk’s latest crime victim attended Booker T. Washington High School with Pastor Kaya Stephen of Community Empowerment Ministries.

“He was a beautiful brother. I don’t know the ins and outs of what took place last night but I am deeply saddened about it,” said Stephen.

(Photo courtesy: Pastor Kaya Stephen)

Stephen says Roundtree helped him over the past few years with community programs to curb crime.

Roundtree died at a hospital Thursday night.

Roundtree’s death came amid a series of other fatal violent incidents across the city in less than 24 hours.

Thursday morning, a man was killed and a woman was injured in a shooting in the Berkley section of Norfolk. Another man was killed outside his home Wednesday night.

The crimes involving four victims remain unsolved.

Stephen and activist Chukuma Awanna say many institutions, including the church, have failed to address the issues that contribute to crime.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“What about the fact that we want to point the finger and blame at police and yes in some cases that’s true but the elephant in the room is ‘why are we killing each other?'” said Awanna.

Stephen, himself a former heroin dealer, says parts of Norfolk are in store for a long and violent summer.

“If you look at how violent our community has become and the summer hasn’t even kicked off yet, so imagine what will happen a week from today or two weeks from today if we don’t work to hold our community accountable,” said Awanna.

Statistics from the Norfolk Police Department show over the past 60 days, there have been 248 violent crimes in Norfolk, including 12 homicides and 184 aggravated assaults.

( Source: NPD)

Stephen and Awanna will hold a Unity Day in Park Place on August 14 from 1-4 pm at Community Empowerment Ministries at 610 W. 25th St. in Norfolk.

Awanna, of Unity Strategies, predicts if the trend continues, Norfolk will record another 21 homicides before their event takes place.

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone was unavailable to participate in an interview regarding the recent violence.

If you have any information about unsolved criminal cases in Norfolk, police ask that you submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or download the P3 tips app to your mobile device or visit www.P3TIPS.COM and submit your tip.

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