Father charged in shooting death of 4-year-old in Norfolk

Rayvon A. Messer. Credit: Norfolk Police

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk police say a father has been charged with murder after a four-year-old boy died from a gunshot wound Wednesday night.

Police say emergency crews were called to 19th Bay Street, in the Ocean View area, around 7:45 p.m. for a report of a child shot.

Minutes later, dispatchers talked to a caller who said that the gunshots came from a moving vehicle, according to a police source. Officers then started looking for two possible suspects in a gold Toyota Camry.

Once on scene, officers found the boy suffering from a gunshot wound. He was rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and died shortly after arriving.

Gallery: Scene of deadly shooting

Rayvon A. Messer, Jr. (Family photo)

The child was identified as Rayvon A. Messer, Jr. Police originally said the boy was three-years-old, but confirmed Thursday that he was four.

Police say detectives arrested 26-year-old Rayvon A. Messer early Thursday morning. He’s charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Police have not confirmed that a drive-by shooting ever happened. Even family members say the situation didn’t unfold that way.

Messer’s brother, Tommy Spencer, says the boy found his father’s registered and legal automatic pistol beneath a pillow on the couch, while his father was taking out the trash.

“I don’t understand why they would want to charge [Messer] with murder,” Spencer said Thursday afternoon. “I understand that he was reckless with where he left his gun, but to accuse him of murder is too far fetched. It was a complete accident.”

Spencer says the family is devastated by the loss of the nephew he knew as “Junior.”

“He was just full of life. It’s just so sad,” Spencer said. “He had his whole life ahead of him.”

Spencer says he hopes his nephew’s death does not lead to a murder conviction for his brother, who’s being held at the Norfolk City Jail without bond.

“He just lost his son. It was an accident, and he is going to have to live with that for the rest of his life,” Spencer said. “To say that he murdered him? That’s devastating.”

Messer was arraigned Friday. He has a bond hearing set for next week.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.