Newport News police chief discusses recent incidents

FILE -- Newport News Police Chief Richard Myers updates members of the media and local community on recent incidents and investigations on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Credit: WAVY Photo/Rob Rizzo

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Police on Thursday updated the public and members of the media on several recent incidents.

Chief Richard Myers talked about eight different cases at Thursday’s news conference — all have happened since his last media briefing on Jan. 5.

Officers made arrests in a handful of the eight cases Myers discussed Thursday.

Michael VanHook, a suspect wanted out of James City County, was taken into custody Jan. 25. He had fled from Newport News officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 22, and is now facing several charges.

Xzavier Darien Thomas was arrested for a Jan. 21 shooting and robbery that injured a 22-year-old man. He is facing charges of robbery, malicious assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey announced before Myers spoke that a $2,000 signing bonus will be offered to officers who join and stay two years. Officers who recruit new ones will also be eligible for a bonus of $1,000 or more, he said.

“We have been very concerned about the number of vacancies we have in our police department, because that causes a lot of stress and we can’t cover as much ground as we would otherwise so we want to do everything we can to try to incentivize folks to come and join the department,” Bourey said.

Myers said the community is tired of being portrayed as a dangerous place and dismayed by those wreaking havoc. Patricia Harris, with Mothers Against Violence, is tired too. She said she’s lost several family members to gun violence, mostly recently her 24-year-old son Eric Matthews, who was gunned down in 2001 on 16th Street in Newport News just before Christmas.

She had this message for those committing crimes: “They don’t have a clue of what really happens when they take our loved one. They don’t know the trauma and the pain and the suffering that goes along when you lose a child to a violent crime.”

Myers announced that from 2015 to 2016, the number of tips that came in to the Crime Line went up by 75, while the number of weapons recovered through program went down by 18.

Additional notes from Thursday’s news conference:

  • K9 Officer Duke passed away Wednesday night.
  • Myers says two juveniles are facing several charges connected to a Jan. 2 incident at Warwick High School. There was a report of a burglary alarm. The juveniles were taken into custody Jan. 20 and have been placed in detention in the Department of Juvenile Services.
  • Myers provided an update to a Jan. 16 shooting on Garden Drive that injured one person. The victim is a documented gang member, and is still in the hospital. Police do not believe the shooting was random.
  • One of three suspects wanted for a Jan. 24 home invasion was arrested. Myers says the victims were able to chase down Aaron Martin and detain him until officers arrived. Two suspects are still wanted.

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