‘Gun violence is not the answer’: Norfolk police chief addresses recent homicides

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In four days, there have been four homicides in Norfolk.

Larry Williams Jr. was identified Thursday as the victim of the city’s 15th homicide of 2017. 18-year-old Nateria S. Powell and 23-year-old Richard Eyerman were killed Sunday in separate shooting incidents. Five people were arrested in Virginia Beach Wednesday in the shooting death of 24-year-old Pedro Cain.

Norfolk police say the total violent crime rate is down compared to 2016. However, the police department says there is one common denominator between the yearly statistics: Gun violence is being used for conflict resolution.

“Solving our problems and concerns with firearms is not acceptable, nor will it be tolerated in our city,” Police Chief Larry Boone said in a news release Thursday. “Since Sunday, my investigators made arrests in two of four homicide cases, taking a total of six people into custody in less than one week. We’re sending the message that pulling a trigger to solve an issue has significant consequences, consequences that may involve spending a lifetime behind bars.”

Norfolk police stepping up patrols, community calls for violence to stop

Police say they have already taken steps to increase high visibility patrols and are concentrating on areas that experience violent crime. Patrols include additional marked police vehicles, walking officers and patrol assistance from the K-9 unit, the tactical bike patrol unit and the gang suppression unit.

The department also created an online gang activity tip form so residents can submit tips about gang activity easily and discreetly.

“Each of these homicides is an isolated incident involving different people, different motives, and different circumstances,” Chief Boone said. “Conversely, they also share a theme that cannot be ignored: A criminal mindset that validates the use of a firearm to solve a problem. Unfortunately, some of our victims were purposefully targeted for their involvement in this type of element. Changing this kind of mindset begins at home and within our communities. We have to instill in our children and our future leaders that gun violence is not the answer. The root of our children’s fascination of firearms and the reckless behavior behind them has to be corrected for sustainable change to occur.”

Police are calling on the community to reach out to police about any suspicious activity or people via the Norfolk non-emergency number at 757-441-5610. If you’d like to stay anonymous, submit tips about criminal activity to the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.