Grief caused by two pandemics: The coronavirus and violence


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only issue disproportionately affecting the African American community.

Many families are struggling after loved ones have been victims of violence — and in some cases, they were killed by local law enforcement.

Now, there’s a plan to create a safety net for those who suffer.

Former Christopher Newport University assistant football coach Kendal Rivers was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 25, 2021.

He died on Easter Sunday.

(Photo courtesy: Kenny Rivers)

We have been sad every day my brother was 28 years old very young,” said Kenny Rivers.

His son, Kyrie, tearfully added a fond memory of his uncle.

“He used to play with us and train football with us,” said Kyrie.

(Photo courtesy: LaToya Benton)

On Jan. 9, 18-year-old Xzavier Hill was shot and killed by Virginia State Police in Goochland. The killing was ruled justified.

His mother’s twin sister, LaTonya Snow, who lives in Virginia Beach, remains in denial that the child she was with the day he was born will never smile or tell her another joke.

“I have a hard time believing they took Xzavier… I’m still kind of in disbelief,” aid Snow.

Hill’s mother, LaToya Benton has participated in a number of protests in Goochland related to her son’s death.

(Photo courtesy: LaToya Benton)

On March 27, 25-year-old Donovon Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer. The use of deadly force remains under investigation.

“We have faith God is going to provide for us. The truth will prevail,” said his father Wayne Lynch.

25-year-old Donovon Lynch (Photo courtesy: WAVY News 10’s Andy Fox via Lynch’s family)

If you are impacted by gun violence, other violence, trauma, or COVID-19, help is on the way.

Hampton Roads resident Cameron Bertrand — himself a victim of gun violence — and his business partner Ashlee Fallin are creating a nine-week grief support program to wrap arms around those who are crying out for help.

The inspiration for the initiative came on the day Donovon Lynch was laid to rest.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“On that same day, I found out my teammate Kendal had passed away. So these are things hit back to back to back with so much trauma. I had to kneel down and ask God why is this happening… there has to be a way, a solution, to deal with all these things,” said Bertrand, a Christopher Newport University graduate.

The grief support program will be free for those in need and funded by contributions, and grants. Organizers hope to begin providing services in late June.

For more information contact Violence Intervention & Prevention LLC at

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