CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A Chesterfield County mom is calling on parents to do their part in preventing gun violence among youth after six young people were shot at a graduation party in Chester Friday night.
Police said 20-year-old Taborri Carter was killed in the shooting, and five victims between ages 16-21 survived. Two additional teens were hurt from non gun-related injuries.
“For that to happen at a graduation celebration, it is disgusting," said Shanda Gaston, an anti-violence activist. “No one is safe nowhere these days.”
Officers said between 50-100 people from all across the region gathered on Stepney Road Friday for the party after it was promoted as an open invite on social media.
They said it took a violent turn when two fights broke out and then about 50 gunshots were fired. Investigators believed at least four different weapons were used.
Gaston said the shooting marked another grim example of how a rising number of youth will turn to guns to settle disputes.
"They have easy access to guns," she said. “Honestly, I think Project Exile needs to be reinforced because there are too many guns in these young children's hands."
For reference, Project Exile was a controversial crime-fighting tactic where the state partnered with the federal government to prosecute criminals with illegal guns and shipped them out to federal prisons across the country for at least five years.
Gaston said the party shooting should serve as a wakeup call to parents to strengthen communication with their kids and keep track of where they're going, what they're doing, and who they're with.
“I think it starts at home," she explained. "Us as parents, we need to pay more attention to our children. We need to be a little bit more nosy. We need to be going through their phones, all of the above, to figure out what type of lifestyle they are living.”
Some viewers commented on the WTVR CBS 6 Facebook page with questions about adult supervision at Friday night's party.
During a press conference Saturday, Major Brad Badgerow said an adult woman was home but did not host the party.
“My understanding is that there was a lady who lives at the house where the party was held," Badgerow said. "The resident— not that lady, but she's an adult— Her grandson, I believe, was hosting the party for another Thomas Dale graduate.”
Badgerow also encouraged parents whose kids went out Friday night to have conversations with them and come forward to police with information that could help in the investigation.
Gaston said she would now like to see her county and law enforcement leaders connect with the community in an effort to stop violence.
"We are dying for help," she said. “Bring us all together so we can all have a voice and say, 'Hey, what can I do? What can we do? What can we all do to make a change?'”
Badgerow said the police department prides itself in developing a strong relationship with its community. At Saturday's briefing, he mentioned ways in which citizens can get involved including the Neighborhood Watch program and the National Night Out event happening this summer.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660, or through the P3 app.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org to send a tip.