NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News police are stepping up patrols in City Center following a quadruple shooting outside a busy movie theater early Monday morning.
Police say the shooting happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. in front of the Paragon City Center 12 theater at City Center at Oyster Point.
Officers arrived on scene and found three people — two females and one male — who had all been shot in the leg. All three were taken to the hospital with injuries classified as non life-threatening.
A police spokesman tells 10 On Your Side’s Rico Bush that the incident was a drive-by shooting.
Police say a fourth victim, a female, showed up to the hospital overnight with non life-threatening gunshot wounds. All four are expected to recover.
Police spokesperson Jamie Bastas says a 21-year-old Newport News man, a 19-year-old Newport News woman, a 16-year-old Newport News girl and a 22-year-old Hampton woman were injured in the shooting.
A source tells 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox that the four people shot were intended targets.
“We have strong indicators that this was not a random incident,” Police Chief Richard Myers said in a statement Monday afternoon. “All of the victims in this matter were in the immediate presence of and associated with the likely target of the assault.”
Police say the victims are not cooperating in the investigation. No suspect information has been released.
“‘Snitches get stitches’ — People are living by that mantra,” Newport News Councilwoman Sharon Scott said. “But we have seen a paradigm shift in some of the communities. People are actually starting to talk in their communities.”
A witness at the scene said she was with a group of about six friends, leaving the theater when she heard the gunfire. She and her friends scattered after hearing the gunshots. She says she came back to the area and found two of the victims, bleeding and begging for help.
Another witness said, “As soon as I step on the sidewalk, I hear shooting, you know. I hear like eight times, back to back. Just back to back. And my friends — the girls who were right beside me — and I just started running. I just started running to my car.”
One woman who spoke with WAVY’s Andy Fox said she helped two victims into her vehicle after the shooting. She said the victims were sisters and she planned to take them to the hospital before medics arrived and took over.
“You can still see blood on the car. I tried to clean it up, but there is still a little bit left,” she said. “It was like crazy. We like to think this can’t happen here because this is our home.”
Click here to see a photo of the blood stain in the vehicle. Viewer discretion is advised.
The woman described what she was thinking when she started putting the two sisters in her car: “In my head, I’m thinking they might try shooting again, and I was trying to leave as soon as possible, trying to get everybody in the car because I didn’t know if they were coming back.”
Police tell WAVY News that there were two shooting incidents in City Center in 2016. The first was at Manhattan’s, a nightclub located at 601 Thimble Shoals Boulevard on April 8, 2016. The second was on August 14, 2016 at the Magnuson Hotel, at 1000 Omni Boulevard. The Magnuson has since closed, Chief Myers said.
This is the first shooting incident in City Center this year.
“When you are in this area you feel safe,” Herbert Cannon said of City Center.
The location of the shooting concerns Councilwoman Scott.
“I am really disappointed. I’m flabbergasted. I don’t know what to say,” she told 10 On Your Side. “City Center is our economic development of the city right now. We have invested heavily in there. It took us a long time to attract people to it and Paragon was the attraction.”
“Over the history of City Center, it has been and remains a very safe place to visit, dine, and participate in activities,” Chief Myers’ statement reads in part. “The very infrequent criminal activity in this area has been mostly limited to theft of items from unlocked vehicles, a preventable crime.”
Chief Myers says officers assigned to the Central Precinct — where City Center is located — will be increasing patrols. There will also be assigned foot patrols during peak entertainment and business hours, starting immediately.
“Despite the fact that this unusual incident occurred on one of the quietest periods of activity during the week for this area, the NNPD will focus seven days a week on the area to ensure the safety of patrons,” Myers said.
The commander of the Central Precinct is talking to businesses nearby where the shooting happened to explore interest in any extra duty officers.
The theater’s general manager offered no comment Monday when 10 On Your Side asked about the shooting.
Police urge anyone who knows anything about this incident to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.