PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The last two weeks of 2022 were devastating in the City of Portsmouth, as guns were used to kill 6 victims across the city.
One of the incidents, which took place four days before Christmas, took the life of 17-year-old Jesse Hogg. Three suspects, who are now behind bars are 18, 17, and 16 years old.
According to data from gunviolencearchive.org, gun deaths have risen by 36% in Portsmouth since 2020. The data shows 33 people were killed by guns in 2021 and that number rose to 41 last year.
With crime up and the numbers being down in police departments across the country, Portsmouth is now calling on men and women of the cloth.
Police Public Information Officer Victoria Varnedoe met with 10 On Your Side to explain the goals of a hastily called prayer event set for January 5 at 6 p.m. at Portsmouth City Park.
Regina Mobley: The City of Portsmouth has thrown a lot of possible solutions at the crime problem, now prayer?
Victoria Varnedoe: We’ve had several resets. We do that every time there’s a homicide; that’s meant to address trauma in a specific neighborhood.
Varnedoe added that the event will include comments from Mayor Shannon Glover, Interim Police Chief Stephen Jenkins, and Police Chaplain Steve Hassell.
A one-time incident can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but what happens in communities around the region, 24 hours a day, is called Urban Traumatic Stress Disorder. Varnedoe says this event will also address the trauma the community is facing due to the violence.
“The prayer is to address community trauma to address [that is] the trauma we are experiencing as a community as a whole,” Varnedoe explained.
Regina Mobley: In Portsmouth, in Hampton Roads, and nationwide, I’m not seeing a lot of progress; we have a lot of work ahead?
Victoria Varnedoe: There is no one solid answer. I can tell you from what we are seeing is an abundance of access to firearms and a lack of conflict resolution.
The event is dubbed An Urgent Call to Action for All Who Care. It is sponsored by the police department and will be held at Portsmouth City Park at 6 p.m. Varnedoe told 10 On Your Side organizers will also accept prayers for the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day.