NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News police charged two people Friday night with carrying a concealed weapon during Hollydazzle.
Keron Lamar Jones, 18, and Quinn Oshae Wesley, 21, were arrested Dec. 5 for weapon violations after police received public and private tips ahead of time for possible criminal activity, according to a press release from Newport News Police Chief Richard Myers.
Myers said the tips suggested juveniles or young adults would bring weapons to the celebration in City Center at Oyster Point. So, officers looked into the individuals and criminal activities indicated by the tips, including digging through criminal history.
Myers’ statement didn’t detail what specific threats they had been informed of, nor what he called a “multi-layered plan” the police department put into action Friday night, involving other city agencies. He did say the precautions led to Jones and Wesley being arrested and several others being questioned about their involvement with the possibly criminal activity.
Jones, from Chesapeake, and Wesley, from Newport News, were each released on summons for carrying a concealed weapon.
“I would like to say that while the department cannot share the details of the process and all that went into the preparation, I can say that the safety of everyone attending was always paramount and in the forefront of each decision,” Myers said in the press release. “The teamwork and cohesive working relationships came forward during this event.”
WAVY.com received tips and rumors of shooting and riot threats in the days leading to the event and the night of the fireworks as well. But nothing 10 On Your Side heard was ever confirmed or verified.
10 On Your Side asked Newport News Assistant Police Chief Trent Sturgis why the information about the threats was released almost a week after the event.
“In reference to the arrests, they were released on summonses. Chief Myers and myself put this information together and then the PIOs put it out,” Sturgis said.
WAVY’s Brandi Cummings pressed Sturgis further, asking why the information wasn’t made public the night of Hollydazzle or the day after. She asked why they waited six days.
Sturgis replied: “That I can’t answer.”
Sturgis told 10 On Your Side the information about threats included everything from fights, a protest, even a “punch out,” where people punch unsuspecting victims and knock them out.
Christian McAndrew, who manages Tuscanos Brazillian Grille in City Center, worked the night of Hollydazzle.
“I think I might have seen some questioning, a little trouble off to the side there, off the other side of the fountain, but nothing in front of our store,” McAndrew said. “We would have liked to have known, just so we could increase the caution and everything, but it seemed pretty safe.”
Police said it took about 30 officers and nearly 300 hours prior to Hollydazzle to make sure there was no violence.
“Because of what the public gave to us and all the information that we were able to gather from all the sources, I say it was a very safe event,” Sturgis said.
“It doesn’t make me feel safe, that’s for sure. And I don’t want to bring my kids to Hollydazzle, so we won’t be attending Hollydazzle,” resident Lyndia Amundsen said.
A local couple heard about the threats before Hollydazzle and changed plans: “It did make me stay upstairs a little bit more I think, knowing that was going on,” Yvonne Gurley, of Hampton said.
Strugis said there seemed to be less people at Hollydazzle this year, but the department had more officers there than previous years — but not because of the threats. They were there to help with traffic needs and garage issues. He said the increased number of people giving information made the difference.
“We were able to put a bigger piece of the puzzle together, which helped us get out in front of any events that could take place,” Sturgis said.
Police say there were no other arrests at Hollydazzle.