New monitoring in Virginia Beach school parking lots aims to cut down on illegal firearms at sporting events

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Police Department is teaming up with Virginia Beach Public City Public Schools to keep people safe at sporting events.

It became a priority after weapons started showing up where students and parents were gathering for sports.

Police are going to increase monitoring of school parking lots during sporting events by looking in car windows. 

“The police will just walk through the parking lot and look in cars. They aren’t opening cars, they aren’t conducting full searches of vehicles, that is not what this is about. They are just looking in cars,” school division Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said. 

Spence says the September event that inspired this additional monitoring of school parking lots was the seizing of nine illegally possessed weapons at Salem High School, which led to the arrest of four men.

“Because that happened, we had conversations with police to make sweeps of those parking lots a more regular occurrence,” Spence said.

Spence was also moved by the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Justice Dunham following a high school Basketball game at Menchville High School in Newport News on Dec. 14.

“The lives that are ruined are not just the person who lost their life. There are many lives ruined in that split moment. None of us as educators want that for young people,” Spence said. 

Another high school student, Demari Batten, was charged with second-degree murder. Police said Dunham had two guns in his car, too. Police have not said who owned those guns. 

“We wanted to send a message out to the community these guns are not appropriate to bring onto school property. There is a federal law, and that ban prevents guns on school property,” Spence added.

The additional monitoring of cars is designed to find guns.

“The fact we had a police officer in a parking lot at a game, they were able to identify guns in a vehicle and able to deal with those people appropriately,” Spence said. 

Spence says we should not be surprised by gun violence, but should still work to fight it.

“It’s the unfortunate truth. Gun violence is a part of what happens in our community. The fact that it happens at a school is a horrible tragedy,” he said.

In the end, Spence said this is about too many guns, too many shootings and too much sadness.

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