VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Charges were set aside in state court Friday morning for three men arrested less than a week after a chaotic night of shootings at the Oceanfront on March 26. Instead, their cases will now go to federal court.
A federal indictment handed down Thursday charges Gerald Scott Thomas, 35, with being a convicted felon in possession of a gun involved in interstate and foreign commerce. A separate indictment charges Tyereis Smith, 18, and Jhaimeek Carter, 19, with selling a short-barreled 12-gauge shotgun in violation of the National Firearms Act more than a month before the Oceanfront incidents March 26.
Those shootings — one of which was officer-involved — left two dead and several others injured.
None of the initial state charges, nor the federal indictment, allege that Carter, Smith or Thomas shot anyone that night.
Smith and Thomas appeared for their hearings by video. Carter was represented by his attorney Sonny Stallings, who said he doesn’t understand the switch in tactics.
“I’m not sure why they elected to go with federal charges on Mr. Carter. None of the guns that he allegedly sold were involved in the shootings down at the Oceanfront. They were actually seized before that even occurred,” Stallings said.
However, police said after Carter’s initial arrest that the guns were seized during a search at homes in the 100 block of Shoreview Court and 900 block of Atlantis Drive on the Sunday following the March 26 shootings.
Stallings said he believes there’s pressure on authorities to get justice following multiple shootings that Friday just before midnight.
“I think [my client has] been caught up in the political issue of that, and therefore the feds are picking him up,” he said.
Stallings said the decision to set aside the state charges and the move to the federal courts is a negative development for all three men.
“It’s bad news. [Federal authorities] have more resources. They have prosecutors that, before they charge anyone, basically have everything put to bed,” he said.
Attorneys for Smith and Thomas declined to comment. All three men will be transferred to federal custody Monday and be arraigned on the federal gun charges next week.