PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — As Portsmouth Police continue to investigate the six homicides in the last nine days of 2022, community members say there’s more work to be done.
In one of the incidents, a 17-year-old was fatally shot. Another 17-year-old and a 16-year-old were charged with aggravated murder, among other charges, in the case.
It’s shocking to those in the community who’ve worked to make their neighborhoods safer for those living in them.
Eugene Swinson is the president and co-founder of Big HOMIES Community Outreach in Portsmouth. He says hearing about these incidents is disheartening.
“That would, that would be the word to come up with. I know that there’s a lot of people out here that’s put a lot of work in to have Portsmouth kind of slow down a little bit, as far as the gun violence, especially when it comes to the younger people,” he said. “But it kind of just lets you know there’s more work to do.”
Swinson says these incidents prove there needs to be continued community involvement in helping teens in the community.
“I think we tend to think at times that these kids can’t be influenced because they went so long without getting into anything, that you feel like it can’t happen, but it’s happening and it’s happening fast. Those kids are the ones turning into first-time felons. It also goes back to saying like, all the kids are at risk. Not just the ones that come up in low-income neighborhoods or high crime areas, like, everybody at risk. The influences are heavy out here outside of the home,” Swinson said.
He says people at home play an active role in mitigating violence and it’s as simple as checking in on teens in the community.
“Calling out to people who know some of the kids, calling their parents because that’s what I do. A lot of these kids, even some of them from last year and the year before, I may know an uncle, I may know an aunt, I might know your mom,” he said. “I’m going to reach out and let them know what’s happening.”
Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover addressed the recent gun violence Monday, telling 10 On Your Side, “Unfortunately, this is what is happening in many urban areas. Gun violence is unacceptable anywhere and everywhere. We as a city continue to work and create a culture that fosters hope and accountability and will continue to partner with faith-based leaders and violence interrupters.”
The City Of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Police Department are holding a prayer vigil this Thursday night at Portsmouth City Park. It starts at 6 p.m.