RICHMOND, Va. -- Friends and family of deceased Richmond Fire Lieutenant Ashley Berry hope the new year brings justice for their loved one.
Berry was shot on Thanksgiving 2019 -- November 28 -- outside a home in Hopewell. Her family said she died of her injuries early the next morning.
No one has been charged for her murder.
"It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense," her friend, Chenice Johnson, said. "It’s sickening and it’s hurtful."
Berry was not the intended target when gunfire erupted outside the Hopewell home she was leaving with her young son, according to Crime Insider sources.
"It was senseless. She had nothing to do with it," Johnson said. "Her last act in life was saving her son. So, that says a lot about her as a person."
And as the holiday on which she was killed happened, Berry's cousin, LaTrae Moore, said he planned to let it pass this year.
"I feel guilty to a certain extent celebrating the holiday when her life was taken and there has been no justice," Moore said. "So, for me, I'm good."
Fire chief: 'Words cannot fully express the deep sense of loss'
Richmond Fire Chief Melvin Carter said his department continues to grieve and pray for Berry's family.
"Ashely’s tragic death continues to cause pain in our department and the broader community. Ashely was a beloved member of our department and words cannot fully express the deep sense of loss we continue to experience," Carter said in a statement. "Lieutenant Berry enjoyed a career in the fire service often risking her life to save others. Ashely like all victims of crime deserves justice. Our department cannot fully begin to heal until those responsible for this senseless act are held accountable."
Hopewell Police said detectives are still investigating what they call “the senseless shooting of Lt. Ashley Berry” and have asked people to come forward with tips “and assist in providing justice for the Berry family”.
“During this holiday season, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Berry family. We are not giving up our efforts and need the public to come forward to bring the offender(s) to justice,” Hopewell Police Detective Lt. Michael Langford told CBS 6 by email.
Online campaign aims 'to keep her name alive'
Since February, Berry’s loved ones have embarked on an online campaign to keep her memory alive.
"We've done things from Richmond to Hopewell. Posted things on billboards, we've done rallies, we've passed out flyers, we've worked with Crimestoppers to see if we can get the community to give us any kind of information that will be helpful," said Johnson. "We just try to do something monthly, weekly, to keep her name alive. So, that people know she's just not another person with a tragic ending. That she has family and friends that care about her."
"We’ll never get her back, but we still want the people who did this to be held accountable for their actions. Because they caused a lifetime of pain," Berry's daughter, Ya’Mya Braxton, said.
Anyone with information about the case can contact Lead Detective Mark Polumbo of the Hopewell Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) at 804-541-2284. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Hopewell-Prince George Crime Solvers at 804-541-2202 or through the P3 Tips app.
Crime Solvers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for accurate tips.
The Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division is offering an additional $5,000 reward for tips in this case. Anyone with information can contact that agency at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family and the Richmond Fire Department will hold a vigil from 3-4 p.m. on Sunday, November 29 at her old fire station, 21, to mark one-year since her death. Due to COVID-19, the vigil is invite only, but her family said the service will be streamed on their “Justice for Ashley B” Facebook page.